- Continued from this previous installment
- As well, it is recommended to read Part 1 of Workshy Joe’s series ‘Men Who Go Ghost’, which inspired this series
As I mentioned in my introduction to this series, I have already been living Ghost-like for most of my life.
This has been partly through conscious decision, and partly influenced by my depression and OCD.
And like most people’s stories, this one began in my childhood.
Like many other Australian kids in the 1970s and early 1980s, I had a relatively normal suburban childhood.
By the age of 10, however, some worrying signs had begun to appear.
At my worst as a kid, I had been a timid crybaby who had been frightened of pretty much everything. I eventually learned to stop crying so much and screw up a bit more courage, but I also became very self-conscious, which in turn encouraged me to withdraw a lot into myself and not want to get involved in group activities – especially sports, which I mostly found boring anyway – but in turn that led to developing less and less physical and social skills, and gaining weight.
For most of my childhood I lived in a part of town far from most of my peers, and at school I was often in other classes from most of my closest friends. I did have other friends in those classes and my immediate neighbourhood – but often friends in one group clashed badly with friends from another. I varied between being trying to be a diplomat between both groups, taking one side and pissing off the other, or just getting tired of the whole fucking thing and keeping more to myself.
At home, life wasn’t bad and we never lacked for anything – but both of my parents could be short-tempered (as I’ve always been myself) and at times very intimidating. They were both in their twenties at the time and raising three young children on one low income, and when I later experienced my own twenties I appreciated what a crappy decade of a person’s life those years can be – but at the time, and coupled with what I’ve described in the previous two paragraphs, life became even more nerve-wracking. The idea of experiencing family life all over again as an adult didn’t seem all that appealing – and so, I decided that I didn’t want to go through it again when I grew up.
And last but certainly not least, there was the very strange behaviour I had developed.
I had somehow gotten it into my head that odd numbers were ‘wrong’ and even numbers were ‘right’. That meant I couldn’t do simple actions like walking through a doorway or patting my dog an odd-numbered amount of times – I always had to do them an even-numbered amount of times. As well, when my family and I went places I became worried that, for example, I may never get the chance to once more stand in the corner of a room of the place we were holidaying in – so I’d step out, step back in, and step back out (but always an even-numbered amount of times, of course).
I knew that this mad shit I was doing didn’t make sense – but at the same time, I couldn’t not do it.
This mad shit was frightening and frustrating, and it made me feel very ashamed – especially when my eldest sister caught me doing it, asked me why the heck I was doing it, thought I was just being silly, and then told my parents (or maybe they caught me as well; I can’t recall).
My parents weren’t angry about what I was doing – but they did find it very funny. Which I took very personally as ridicule, so I began to shame myself into not doing that stupid mad shit. Which in turn made me feel even more angry and upset at myself and the world.
I just couldn’t win, so I adopted the dangerous mindsets that:
(a) I was an idiot
(b) the world was against me
And then came 1983, my first year of junior high school.
I think it was Stephen King who once commented that high school is one of the most brutal and unforgiving social orders on Earth.
Years before I read that or anything else by Stephen King, I discovered that he was right.
I tried too hard to both fit in and be a comedian. Unfortunately, I bombed, took it very personally, withdrew even further into myself and became more of a social outcast.
The new way of doing school was intimidating – and early on, I made the bad mistake of getting on the wrong side of my even more intimidating maths teacher, who would also become my first sports teacher. I was dead meat.
For a while, I had the bad habit of forgetting to do some of my homework, which got me into trouble with more of my teachers. I was even deader meat.
And to try and prevent my parents from finding out about those fails, I started lying more and more – but unsuccessfully. I was utter dead meat.
in all seriousness, by mid-1983 I had decided that when I grew up, I wanted to become a hermit because I felt that I just couldn’t handle life and dealing with people.
In fact, I even once said to my mother that as an adult I wanted to become an ‘urban hermit’, which meant living in a flat somewhere near the centre of Sydney and entirely keeping to myself.
Not surprisingly, she wasn’t impressed.
Could things get even worse?
Of course, they could – because I was also entering puberty.
But that part of my story and how it would contribute to my Ghostliness will have to wait until Part 2 of this series.
Until next time, stay well and take care 🙂