Waiting to live

Have a read of this emotive account by a young man in Kerry, who has chosen to narrate his life in approximately 1700 words. I personally could relate a lot to his story, and I thank him for sharing it with Pen Relief. There is a lot of solid advice on how to try to cope with life, its trials and tribulations.

Take 5 minutes to read a modern story about survival.

I spent a lot of time wondering how to start this, although the unnerving

persistent thoughts of how other people would think about me are not as

dominant as they once were, I know they are an inherent part of me.

So I thought what better way to start then to be honest and say I care what

other people think of me. This very statement and the power I gave it in my life

shaped many years from as early as I can remember.

From a very young age I thought there was something wrong with me, I

was the newest member of a family that contained two older brothers and a

mother whom I shared no blood relation with, as my father had left my

biological mother and began to build a new family with them.

I have no memory of my biological mother and to this day have never seen her

face, but I now know that just because I consciously cannot remember her, it

does not mean that bond between mother and child didn’t exist in the first 3

years of my life I spent with her.

My step mother and I (who I will call my mother for the rest of this piece and

my life) always were at logger heads, I believe now that we were both trying to

punish each other, me punishing her for not being my real mother and her

punishing me for being a child from my father’s previous relationship.

I just cannot remember my life without fear, I was afraid of everything, yet I

learnt from a very young age the art of the smile that would serve me in

concealing my pain for many years to come.

I never really made real friends, I wondered around between the fringes of

groups and remained solitary for a lot of my child and teenage years.

I spent years wishing I could be someone else and the scariest part of looking

back on those times was that I had felt this way from my first memory so I

could never tell there was something wrong as I had nothing to contrast it


I also learnt that negative attention was still a form of attention, and from my

very first memory I recalled being screamed at, this pattern would follow suit

until I was 18 years of age, and although the law and society would have

deemed me of age for a lot of things, because of my fractured self-worth and

sheltered upbringing which consisted of weeks at a time in a room with no

stimulation as punishment for the likes of lying, stealing and repetitive


Although therapists of all types had tried to sit me down in these 15

years and ask the question why, every time replied I don’t know it made my

parents angry, I now look back and see a 10 year old in an 18 year olds body.

It became too much and the very fact that I was in the house was in my

opinion destroying the lives of my brothers and parents. So I left the family

home, I was free of them, free of rules and finally able to do what I want,

finally free to be happy.

My life struggle to fit in, but not to show too much of myself to get hurt,

continued as soon as I left home. I changed my English accent and began

talking in an Irish one as to not stand out.

I immediately looked for the people who looked grownup and did the things

that I considered to be grown up. I fell into the drink and drugs scene very fast

and for someone as immature and fragile of mind as I was, this as a very bad


I finally felt part of something, I felt these guys were my friends and that they

would stand by me, my naivety would serve to crush me on many occasions

over the next 10 turbulent years.

I don’t know exactly when it happened but I do know at some point I just could

not stand to be myself anymore, so any escape that drink or drugs could offer

no matter the cost I took.

This meant being homeless, mixing with dangerous people, blacking out, but

worse that all of these is what was happening inside of my head.

All those years in that room looking at the walls at home, I befriended myself,

my thoughts became my best and only friend, now that I was poisoning my

mind, these thoughts were turning on me and because I had been kept

company for so long by my mind, it was a part of me I was not willing to let go

of, so I suffered more and more as if betrayed by myself.

My mind fooled me for many years into thinking that I was happy, that I had

my life under control when really things were worse than ever.

It got to the point where I was sitting outside train stations begging at 6 in the

morning with no shoes, conning people so I could get my next fix.All the while I sat there I cried a lot as a child gave me a euro which sent my

emotions into over load just knowing the innocent place that kind gesture

from and how I would transform it by the evenings end.

‘I hate my life’ and ‘I want to die’ were thoughts that now rang through my head on a minute by minute basis, the drink and drugs now became the flammable substance that fuelled these dark thoughts I had.

The more I had thoughts of hurting myself, or others ,the more I hated myself

for and it and subsequently, the more I thought self-medicating would help.

I moved back home in the Christmas of 2014 and reverted to smoking joints

and drinking pints, I was once again fooling myself.

My last night ever poisoning my body started as a normal one. I played indoor

soccer with my brother and then went to the local quiz night for a few drinks.

About an hour into it I remember feeling this absolute pit of loneliness even

though I was surrounded by crowds of people.

I left the pub and began to cry, and the thoughts of ‘kill yourself’ really took over.

I went home, sat at the kitchen table and wrote a note to my family, then tried

to hang myself in the upstairs bedroom. It wasn’t working so decided to try the

shed, as I walked outside my brother called me and showed me something

funny on the TV and for a moment I forgot about what I was about to do. I fell

asleep that night mocking myself for not having the courage to kill myself. My

brother doesn’t know but he saved my life that night.

The next morning I woke up I knew although a happenstance circumstance had

saved me the previous night, it was up to me now to save myself.

I rang the local doctor and explained everything. He referred me to the local

hospital where I tried to have myself signed in. I was afraid of what I might do

but more than I feel I was afraid of facing my problems, of facing my reality

without the crutch I had relied on for so many years.

They denied my request to be committed and suggested AA meetings.

I went to my first AA meeting the following night with two members of my

own age. I shook, sweated, and looked at the floor for the entire session.

Although the thoughts were still there and the rawness had not left, I felt a

tiny bit of hope when I left that meeting.

Over the next year I began to cope, I was taught how to cope, I had never in

my life been taught how to cope emotionally with any situation.

I went from feeling like no one else in the world knew what I was going

through, to being in a room where everyone knew and never judged.

It was tough facing myself and to this day I still have a lot to confront but I am

in the best shape of my life emotionally to face any problem.

Since I changed my life I can now enter my family home and feel no

atmosphere, I can hug my mother and feel no fear. The most important thing I

have gained from learning how to cope with life is I can sit in a room with

myself and my thoughts and know I am a good person, know that like every

person will have doubts, I will feel fear over the smallest, and biggest, of

situations, I will sweat, and there will be times where I think that it is all too


Now I have a solution, to cope better now I am doing what I failed to do for 28 years

of life, I will talk about.  I will tell another person that I fear, that I sweat, that I

feel anxious, that I’m worried; and in doing that I’m confronting those feelings.

Coupled with the skills I have learnt with how to cope, my life is 1000 times better than what it was.

I changed my life because I didn’t want to die. I continue to work on it because

I want to have a life. I know now being alive and having a life, are two

different things altogether.

I am today comforted in the belief that no matter what I am going through,

there are countless others out there feeling the very same, and until we find each other, I must keep giving away what I have found, like a door to door salesman selling sanity.

I am one of the luckiest people in the world because I am alive, I am well and I have the power to pass this tremendous gift on to those in need, those who are in thesame shoes as me, the only difference is that I am a small bit further down the road.

I started by saying ‘I care what people think of me’ and today that has not


What has changed though, is that the first and most important opinion in my life today is what I think of myself, and do you know what?  I’m alright!!


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