The loneliest boy in the world

Ah!  A rare posting of autobiographical ramblings, although I’m sure I said last time was the last autism-related posting, so sorry!

I was going to post the photo above on my personal Facebook profile for some comedic purpose but decided against it.  The face, once mine and, full of youthful optimism, hope and adventure is one that’s been lost to me, to be replaced with a more cynical, but educated and thoughtful, l one weathered by an age that youthful face didn’t deserve to have to grow up through.

The choppy haircut (due to cowslick) and Y Cardigan (remember them?) aside that cheery little smile was hiding quite a lot.

The picture was taken approximately 1983/84, my parents hadn’t long separated which had started my long-term sense of isolation and my mother and I were living with someone who took a rather dislike to me and was frequently abusive, both verbally and physically.  In that world, I started to create my own, somewhere where I was the hero, somewhere where I was always alone so that no one in that world could ever leave me.  In that world, I was indestructible.

In that world, I grew to be the person I became much later, in fact, that person I am today (with a few more tales in between), but at that time I (obviously) hadn’t experienced the life I’ve endured, the loves I’ve lost due to the various madness that’s come back to curse at me time and time again, stripping me of every dignity and everything I ever grew to love, on those occasions I came out of my isolated world, my safe haven.

I never gave my safe haven a name, it didn’t need one, it was just ‘there’, that place where no one could touch me, away from the perpetual bullies at school who made me want to hide and be rid of everything forever, somewhere no Flashman bastard could touch me again!   Oh, how I tried to fit in again and again, but alas, that kind of thing was never meant for me!

I look at that photo, and yes, I do cry when I see him, I miss him, that youth, that hope, that sense of love that was to come in life, but so often would elude him, making him the loneliest man in the world.  Then again, he was that man even back then, but at least in his own little world, he was loved, loved for the man he was inside but unable to show the rest of the world.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m very proud of the person I’ve ended up becoming, and of the many things I’ve achieved in life, it has been very much an adventure, but like all adventures, it’s better to share it with someone, and I wish that young boy had thought of that at the time he set off on his great adventure, but isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing?  Sadly, along the road, I left him behind, and I don’t know what happened to him, but I like to think he’s around somewhere, lurking with a smile that will envelop the world and make it whole again.  Maybe one day he’ll awake from his deep dream and come save us all.

I said I cry when I see him, but that’s not out of any self-pity, it’s one of pride and longing for someone I once knew.  I’m proud of all the shit he stood against throughout his life, for the women he defended, and the ensuing bruises worn proudly like badges of honour, knowing he’d do it all again!  I’m proud that even though he’s been able to show love so infrequently that he’s (I hope) always shown it to the best of his ability, and even when things turned bad he did things nobly, even though others may not have understood at the time.  I’m proud of his individualism, his originality, and his ability to create new ideas that embrace everyone, even though sometimes they’re too bizarre to even make sense to himself!  I’m proud of the fact that he virtually taught himself to read and write, he left school with no qualifications yet created and edited a magazine with no experience previously, just learning along the way, often going without food and sleep to pay for it and make it work, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to help people! Also, if he gets his arse in gear, will be a Doctor in a few years!

Now, if he could only get the rest of his shit together and not be the loneliest boy in the world!

Tom Stanger
Host at Supernatural People podcast, Editor/writer at The Pilgrim Magazine, curator of the Pontyddim archives, tea drinker, hat wearer and autism advocate. PhD researcher on Gothic Literature & religion also does book reviews bad photography and other bits and bobs

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