The Darkness Within

Ghostly view of the bay

We all have a dark side. For some, it follows us around like a childhood ghost, just visible in the corner of our eyes. And then it’s knocking on the door, demanding to come in. Like we would ever want to welcome that dark guest into our lives.

But we do.

Your dark side goes through life gathering up anxieties and worries and stores them for those moments when you wake in the middle of the night and need something to be fearful about. And then you start the worrying game, worrying about things that matter but about which you can do nothing and worrying about things that don’t matter but seem so utterly overwhelming.

It helps to have a safe place to go. Not a physical place because you won’t always be able to go there. No, it needs to be a place inside your head where the child you once were can think about fireside stories, of cups of hot chocolate, and your faithful dog. The happy memories that create a warm glow, keeping you safe from the perils of the world.

We also need to know what triggers the darkness. Many of our fears and anxieties were laid down when we did not have words or sufficient thoughts to understand them. And then those terrors and dreads are there to drown our emotional state in blackness without the logic of any rational explanation.

In many ways, it is better that we acknowledge the existence of our dark side because denying its existence is like denying your enemy. Putting your head under the blanket in the middle of the night while the darkness grows stronger inside you.

So when darkness comes knocking on your door, ask what it has to say. Ask why you should let it in and what miseries it has brought as unwelcome gifts. What past regrets, what future anxieties does the dark side want to unwrap.

The truth of who you are is a bright light that shines from deep inside you. It is a light that creates happy memories and beautiful futures, like photo albums of human treasures. It is a light that fulfills your ambitions and denies the threats of failure that stop you from ever beginning. It is a light that can extinguish the suffocating darkness.

You need it to shine. And the world needs to see it. The light was there at the beginning and it needs to be there at the end.

Rejecting Paradise

200456192-001Sometimes we just want to feel alone, to feel sad, to feel failure. It’s not that we enjoy self-pity. It’s just that loneliness, sadness and failure are what we think we deserve.

Growing up with poverty and abuse creates a powerful sense of where you belong and what you are worth. In its most destructive form, it gives you an overwhelming belief in your own worthlessness.

As I distanced myself from poverty, I eventually realized that not once did I feel that I deserved what I had achieved. And as I formed loving and caring relationships, I looked for ways in which those relationships would be used to inflict emotional harm on me. The more my life became ideal, the more I seemed to want to reject it.

I was not worthy of love or success in any of its forms.

Sometimes it is a parent who infuses in you a belief that you must, “Never forget your roots,” or, “Don’t get ideas above your station.”

Other times, it is the bullying of a sibling who constantly tells you the world would be a better place if you had never been born.

And so, when life gives you good things, you work hard at pushing them away, at not being happy.

A friend of mine sold his company and overnight he became extremely wealthy. I asked him how it felt and he said, “I’m worried and I’m fearful. I’m afraid that I will lose it all.” As the conversation continued, it became apparent that he had grown up poor and didn’t think he deserved to ever have more than his parents had.

In the end, for me, it took one loving, beautiful person to come into my life and explain to me my destructive behaviors. To show me how powerfully I was rejecting paradise because of a deep-rooted belief that I was not worthy of it.

Some people may think this is utterly ridiculous. But to someone who has experienced the self-destructive behaviors that reject love, happiness and material rewards, it is all too real. For some, rejection is a way of life – so much so, that paradise is always just out of reach and therefore not even available to be rejected.

The Truth About Lies

AloneWe think we see the world as it is but we see it as we are. And it is through our own eyes, that truth can become corrupted by experience. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so too is truth.

That’s why it is so hard to expose lies. But to be free, we must hold truth close. In the end, we are our own evidence.

Victims of abuse so often find themselves in a conspiracy of denial. Those involved rearrange the facts and revise their memories to fit a rose-tinted pastiche of nostalgic fiction. And it is through the cliché of “the past is the past, so let it be” that innocence is granted to the perpetrators.

Those who are witness to abuse can never know the meaning of what happened to the abused with the same intensity of experience. It will always seem a lesser event to the observer.

As a victim of childhood abuse, I am passionate about the exposure of the guilty—whether they are still alive or not. Abuse never ends. It stays with the victims for the rest of their lives. We search for what is not there, in the desperate hope that the situation of absence is only temporary. Sometimes all that we are left with is the emptiness of sadness—that indifferent emotional state that is no longer committed to actual tears.

Of course, we should advocate forgiveness, not retribution. But that does not mean we should accept the denial of the guilty nor a corrupt rearrangement of the facts.

I wrote about my experiences from the perspective of a young child, through the eyes of that child. I wrote my book as a catharsis, but much more importantly to help others. Because it is only by revealing the truth that we can erase the obscenity of deception.

Throughout history, it has only been through the collective assessment of the facts that we have been able to define the truth. And by defining the truth, we are able to expose the lies and perhaps even to end the abuse.

The Boy Who Lived With Ghosts

FrontCover 2Chapter 1

I live in a haunted family, in a haunted house, on a haunted street. One day I will live in a place where there are no ghosts but right now they’re everywhere. Some people don’t believe in ghosts but that’s alright. Those people have orange nightlights glowing in their bedrooms after dark, reflecting little moons and stars on the ceiling, and cups of hot chocolate to make them sleepy before their blankets are tucked in cozily around them by their mums. I don’t think my mum believes in ghosts. If she did, she would not turn out all the lights when she puts me to bed at night.

I am almost five years old and I was born in our front bedroom with my twin sister Emily. It was on the Twelfth Night. That’s the night when the Three Wise Men visited the baby Jesus with their gifts. It was also my sister Margueretta’s fourth birthday. So we are three gifts for the baby Jesus. If I am a gift, I would like to be a lamb. Animals don’t go to Heaven but I am sure there is a lamb up there. I think there is also a donkey.

Margueretta hates me because I was born on her birthday and now she has to share it with me and Emily, so she locks me in the cellar in the dark. And there’s something scary down there in the corner that goes drip, drip, drip. If I die down there I will go to sit at God’s feet because Dad says God suffers all the little children to come unto him. And Jesus loves dead children the most because they will never grow up to become sinners.

God wears brown sandals and no socks but Jesus doesn’t wear anything on his feet and he washes God’s feet for him because there is a lot of sand in Heaven and it gets between God’s toes. Dad says Heaven is a warm place and you are never hungry in Heaven because you can have as much bread and jam as you want to eat. So you shouldn’t cry if a little boy dies, having been killed by his big sister who locks him in the cellar in the dark.

Nana says we will all go back to God one day so long as we are not sinners. Because if we are sinners, we will go to live with the Devil and we will scream and burn as we catch fire in a lake for all Eternity, which is a very long time. And Nana knows what a long time means because she is very old, which is also why she has hair that comes down to her knees. She ties it in braids on top of her head but I mustn’t see my Nana’s hair when it is down or that will mean I have been in her bedroom and a little boy should never go into his Nana’s bedroom or she will hit him on the back of his head with her hairbrush.

A True Story of Childhood Haunting – Available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle

I’m Living with a Fool

Droopy DogThere is a fool inside my head, but I have repeatedly denied knowing him. He knows everything about me—my hopes and dreams and my deepest fears and anxieties. But he never listens to me.

We grew up together, me and the fool inside my head. We were there in the blackness of the cellar, where my sister locked me as a small boy. We were both there when my dad said he was just going out for a drink and never came back. And we were together when we were cold and hungry in the dark of the night.

The fool inside my head judges people and holds onto regrets. He harbors thoughts of revenge and retribution. He lives in the past.

He is a fool and I’m not.

I am looking for the positive things I have learned from all the bad things that have happened to me. I am forgiving everyone and I’m moving on. I am building a terrific future that is based on what I have learned and how I can be a better person.

From abandonment, I found the loyalty of friends and the commitment to my family. From the hunger of poverty I found a burning ambition to succeed. From insanity, I found the comfort and joy of living in the perfect moment.

That’s why I deny knowing the fool inside my head.

Maybe there’s a fool inside your head, sapping your energy with negative thoughts, destroying your hopes and dreams with the belief that they will only end in failure.

There is no weakness in forgiving. There is no gain in retribution. There is no future when you live in the past.

Not all of the people from my past will be with me in the future. The one I am sure I am going to leave behind is the fool inside my head.

We may learn from the past but the greatest future is made in the positive beliefs of the present.

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