Who Stole My Life?

Movie TheatreOur ability to focus on what is truly important in life is sadly at its greatest when we are dying. For so much of our lives we worry about things that we cannot change or we bury ourselves in details, never seeing the bigger picture. Most of us have no idea how much time we have left, but still we find meaningless ways to “pass the time.”

Since I started telling people I was writing a book, the most common response has been, “There is a book inside me too.”

That’s true. There is a book inside every one of us. It is the book we write everyday. It has a beginning, a middle and it has an end. And you do not know the ending; you do not know what twists and turns the plot may take; you do not know what characters may enter or leave the storyline.

At first, I wrote my book to help me find dressings for the open wounds that were my “childhood.” I wanted people to feel sorry for the little boy who suffered all of that abuse and horror in the midst of addiction and insanity. I wanted people to be amazed at how I survived, how I made something of myself. I wanted people to laugh with me at the hilarious characters who were my relatives.

And as those words found their way onto the page, I realized something: every emotional detail of my childhood was still alive. The fears and abuse were still living inside my head. The ghosts of my childhood were still haunting me.

But I realized something even more profound: twenty years of my adult life were missing. I had been sleepwalking through my adult years by numbing myself from those childhood horrors. The story of my life had a beginning but it had no middle. I had surrendered my life to the banality of a meaningless job, the drudgery of monthly bills and the anesthetizing effect of the daily cocktail hour.

Someone had stolen my life. And I was the thief.

That’s when my life took on a new meaning. I could not waste another minute. For the first time, I wanted to do something that actually mattered, something I loved doing and something that made a positive difference to other people’s lives.

No one can give me back those missing years. But I am never going to waste another minute of my time. So now, I can’t sleep because I am too excited about being here in this life, doing something that I love and making a difference. And if you can’t sleep, you can’t sleepwalk through life.

There is a book inside every one of us. It is being written every day. Don’t leave any pages blank.

Make it memorable until the end.

Comments

  1. Inspirational..it is so important for us not to stop mid-life and think it is over, or be constrained by those expectations and beliefs thrust upon us. For example, that you have to stay in a job, marriage, life, or town that no longer fits or helps you grow. And most of all to learn about, accept, and challenge, where we came from and who we have allowed ourselves to become. And then we must keep going.

  2. I lost part of my life to psychosis– the hand I was dealt– and to the blur of alcohol– the way I dealt with it, hiding in a haze of alcohol. Now I am medicated and no longer drink and want to be as alive as possible so live on coffee and try to make the most of whatever time is left. Your story is inspirational. And it is also well written. Mine had the same goals (@stockdalewolfe.com) but does not have your talent.

  3. Once again, this so rings true. I didn’t live in poverty as a child, my father was a teacher, I suppose you could say a middle class upbringing. It was fairly typical of those that lived around us and of my friends. But overwhelmingly my future was shaped by being the only member of the family not being in a car accident that changed my mother, they were hit by a double decker bus. My mother became totally intolerant of any noise and was never the same again, I was 11 and she would fly off the handle with me constantly over silly little things that would not have happened previously. She’d had a whiplash injury that seemed to affect her forever. From then on what had always seemed an idyllic life became what felt like a torment that had to be bucked against. The stress caused me to not excel at school any longer, I began bed wetting, even though I had just entered grammar school. 5 years later I left with no O’levels which was unheard of, I always seemed to be going against the grain, I can remember being threatened that I would not be going on the family holiday but was going to be put in a children’s home instead, I don’t remember what I did wrong. My long desired new brief case would not materialise because my old one had got messy inside. The contents of it, my mother had thrown all over my bed. I was told the new briefcase had already been bought and the next Christmas my father got a new briefcase. I remember thinking how unfair and that I was just not loved, I was 13 by this time and received a Cindy doll!!. We (my younger sister and I) both felt we were constantly treading on eggshells. I ran away one night when I was 16, but they didn’t even notice I had gone until the parents of the person I ran to, rang my home and took me back.

    Many years later, I took a degree part-time, it was hard slog but I desperately wanted my father to say well done, I wanted to show him I could do it. He never said he was proud of me, but attending my graduation was one of the last things he did and someone else told me he had told them he was proud of what I had achieved – I was 45 when he died – 13 years ago. Then, as he had looked after my disabled mother for many years, I spent the first 5 years everyday after work with her till 9.00pm, before going home exhausted emotionally to my husband and family, it nearly drove me nuts, I got to crying every night, she was so needy and I didn’t know how to break the ties, then a cousin enabled to me to go and see my sister in New Zealand for 4 weeks and it was the best thing that happened. I put arrangement in place for others to visit her a few times a week and when I returned she was much more independent and we began over the years to get closer, then my mother finally admitted to me one day that she and my father were so in love and wrapped up in each other that they never really had any love left to give to children. I rang my sister immediately and told her, we sighed a sigh of relief it wasn’t us it was them. Mum is very different now we both appreciate each other.

    • Oh Sharon, such a traumatic tale. I really do hope that you are in a good place now. I have found that writing about my childhood has helped enormously. In the end, I wrote a whole book and it took me more than eight years. But it’s done now and no one can erase it. And now I understand myself so much more and am able to enjoy my life and not feel threatened by the ghosts of my childhood, even if they are still here with me. John

      • Sadly not in a good place, currently am involved in a case of abuse of a 97 year old uncle with dementia, whom I loved dearly. This has taken much of my time, as a result of various things to do with his abuser, he died a couple of weeks ago having starved himself to death once she got access to him again. We discovered he had changed his Will in her favour when he thought she was moving in with him to look after him for the rest of his life, she moved out a few months later and although was still officially his carer, spent very little time at the house and when she did she had made herself up a living room upstairs in his old bedroom, as he had moved downstairs. I had to arrange a traumatic funeral at which she was present which showed that she had formed allegiances to his dead wife’s family, even though she had always spoken of them as pariahs after his money. I am now having counselling and people have encouraged me to channel my anger in a fight to reverse his Will. It just all feels so sordid, as if I am fighting for money but in fact I am furious that she caused his death in this way as he had wanted to live to 100 to get his telegram from the queen. When I told her this 3 years ago she responded “Good God, heaven forbid!”. Not the words of a loving carer. I am concerned that she may have found work with another vulnerable person. She found out about him and sought him out when she knew he was vulnerable, her care was private not through any regulated agency, which meant she was not accountable to anyone. We have recordings of his allegations of abuse, the police were too late getting involved, she already had access again and he was too out of it to be able to communicate with them. He asked us to intervene for him and with all the notes, emails and text messages I have kept, I feel a book is in there sometime in the future once it is all over.

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