Photo by Canva
Polite notice: This story refers to a sensitive topic.
Once upon a time there was a young boy. He lived with his mother, stepfather and two siblings, in a small town up towards the North. Early childhood at home had been mostly a happy time for this boy, and despite having few friends at school, he felt ok with this because his Alsatian dog Sheba was always by his side, ready to do whatever he wanted to do. He was naturally a bit of a loner, much preferring the company of animals over humans, choosing to spend most of his time with his favourite four legged friend. The two of them would often disappear together for hours on end, spending long summer days on their own adventures, meandering through nearby fields, losing track of time, and often stopping now and then somewhere quiet, just to delay going home. Aside from the boys love of collecting army models and playing war games, having this time to himself, was a welcome relief and distraction from thinking about the challenges of being at school, dealing with the bullying and teasing from the other kids, which would often turn to violence.
A kid of seven would would not be aware that he was being coveted by a man just a few doors down the street, and with such an isolated existence, the opportunity to be invited into a ‘friendly neighbours’ home to chat with them about your favourite hobby and to look at their top notch collection of army air-fix models, was an offer to good to refuse. Sadly, there were no air-fix models, instead this was to be the boys first experience of sexual trauma. The boy was told to stay silent by the neighbour, which he did, out of fear and shame, but the trauma had to express itself in some way. If it could not be spoken, then how? It was shortly after this that the boy started shoplifting on a regular basis.
The boy was only eight when he was first caught stealing some toy soldiers and the shopkeeper locked him in a storeroom while waiting for the police. Instead of the fear of being caught or being told off by the police, the boys only thought and fear was of the shopkeeper and if he was about to do what the neighbour had done to him before. This did not happen, and the police dropped the boy home. It would be a few years before the boy started shoplifting again. Life carried on in the same way after this, not much happened, still the bullying, still keeping himself to himself.
When the boy was eleventh birthday he decided to expand on his interest in all things army and took to the idea of joining the air cadets. This was a first for this boy who usually avoided any activities that involved being in a group with other kids. Even though he was too young, his persistence paid off and his parents let him join, mainly because they felt it would be positive for him on a social development level. The boy loved his new uniform, he liked how he looked in it and all the other kids had the same on. He felt equal, on the level. he felt like fitted in and belonged somewhere.
Just like all the rest of the boys, this boy had a high regard for the top ranking sergeant in charge of them, in fact, he almost idealised him. There was nothing at all in the beginning to suggest that any of the boys had any reason not to respect him. When writing his life story several years ago, the adult boy wrote that the sergeant “turned out to be another fucking nonce”. He did indeed turn out to be another nonce and he was to be responsible for the boys second experience of sexual trauma. This second time however, was not the same as before and it was not a one off. The sexual trauma was to last over a few months. When it happened, it would always turn violent and was always at knife point. The boy feared for his life if he did not return to the cadets each week for more of the same. The sergeant said as much. He said the boy had better come back each week or else.
As far as this eleven year old boy was concerned, he was at the mercy of a trained killer, who had threatened to kill him and his family if he breathed a word. Eventually he could no longer deal with it and stopped going. His family knew nothing and just assumed he had lost interest. The boy would spend many nights awake over the following weeks, terrified that the sergeant would come and kill him and his family, just like he said he would. How many of the boys, looked at the other boys, wondering if they had suffered a similar fate.
When we are faced with sudden threat or trauma, we have a natural biological response known as fight/flight or freeze. If we can’t fight we flight (run away) and if we can’t fight or flight, then we freeze. All of these times in the boys life would have triggered this response, but one in particular that occurred age eleven, would stop the boys emotional development in its tracks. He was literally frozen in that moment. From then on, the emotional learning the boy should have been able to experience growing up, the learning's that would help him to cope with stress, life and relationships as an adult, were denied. On an emotional coping level, the boy has not aged at all. As an adult, he still feels the boy trapped inside.
With his stepfather working overseas, the boy, now age 12, had little guidance in the way of discipline and although he knew that his stepfather's work was for the family, he felt abandoned by his stepfather and took it very hard. At high school, the boy was making a name for himself as a troublemaker, with a kamikaze approach to anything or anyone. He was earning the respect of the older boys in the school, who found him entertaining and ‘amusing’. He would do any stupid thing they asked of him, he would steal, beat people up, run errands etc, and in return they let him hang out with them and made sure the bullies his own age finally left him alone. Now he was near to his teens, to the young girls in the town, his dark chestnut hair coupled with his dark brown eyes was very appealing, ensuring he was never short of young female attention. He wasn’t just appealing to the younger girls, his looks and his lovable rogue image had been noted by the older girls in his group as well.
Hanging with the older boys was cool. Even though he was two/three years younger then they were, they included him and they let him do all the cool stuff that they did, like smoking, drinking and sniffing glue. The young boy was able to indulge in all the wrong things that teenagers sometimes do, but at a much younger age. By the time the boy reached 15, he had sorted out the bullies and had become a bully himself. He stayed out till the early hours and was causing much heartache and conflict at home. The only person able to have any influence on him was his stepfather, who was still working overseas. Now 16, the young adult had few passions, but one he did have was rugby. He was actually pretty good, being chosen to play professionally for the country’s under 18 team.
A hard tackle on the pitch one day, left the young adult in a leg cast for 6 months and having physio for 6 months after that. Away from the pitch, the young adult was spending most of his time in a drunk and stoned haze of alcohol and cannabis. He never played rugby again. As soon as he was old enough, and In a bid to get some sort of control over the boys reckless behaviour, his mum requested he join the army. The young adult passed the fitness and intelligence with flying colours, but in the interview, he would tell the officer that he smoked puff and was only there because of his mum. He was promptly rejected.
The young adult was first introduced to speed while working on the motorways. Swallowing speed made the long hours and night shifts easier and this young adult needed all the help he could get. On his 17th birthday, his new best friend had the idea that they should try injecting the speed instead of swallowing it. According to his friend, the buzz was meant to be amazing. The young adult did not really like the idea of this at first, the thought of sticking a needle in your arm was freighting, and his view was that if you injected you were officially a no good junkie.
Rather than follow his instincts he went ahead anyway, after all he didn't want to be seen as soft or chicken, not in front of his new best mates anyway. His friend was right, the buzz was indeed amazing and the young adult was pretty much hooked from the start. Not only did he feel great but he also felt like one of the lads. Over the next few years the young adult would pick up and inject anything he could get his hands on. Amphetamines, barbiturates, dry amps, wet amps. Temazepam, Diazepam, anything that could be crushed, as long as it could make its way from the syringe, down the needle and into a vein.
It was only a matter of time before someone was to mention the word smack. This drug was not readily available in the young adults small town, so a trip to Manchester was planned in order to try out this so called drug of all drugs. From the young adult's perspective, It was indeed the mother of all drugs. Once the initial first hit nausea and vomiting had ceased, the young adult, for the first time in a long time, felt total calm and peace. He felt the warm ready brek glow that only heroin can bring. Right there and then, nothing in the world mattered, not his past, not his present and not his future.
This was to be the young adults own personal holy grail, his drug of choice, for the rest of his life. The first cut of the skin as the needle went in, was the deepest. The deepest because that first hit is normally all its takes to fall victim to heroin. And so the sorrowful story of being an addict really begins...
Author - Sharon C (Love Wasted)
Adapted from notes of a true life story and with permission of Steve L.