Chapter 2 My Seemingly Normal Childhood

I was born in the autumn of 1984 in a working class northern town in England. Birthed into this world in the town of Mayberry raised by two normal parents. Their names were Sarah and David Harratt they named me Patrick. It was a stereotypical rundown humdrum derelict working class town that had suffered the devastating effects of de-industrialisation of mass unemployment. A urban landscape where grass never grew where dreams were crushed under the suffocating atmosphere of endemic poverty of my hometown.

A town where the citizens were trapped in a endless loop of tedious low paying dead end employment. This was a town in which dreamers people who aspired to achieve anything in life fled to fulfil their dreams. No hope no real life no excitement would reside in this rat trap of a town.

Even as a child i was struck by the lack of beauty the absence of colour of vibrancy that existed in Mayberry. The landscape was permeated with a bleakness with images of grey, black and brown streets. There was black cobbled streets with empty factories. Which once were filled with bustling thriving industry now these factories laid empty ruined. There was a atmosphere of sadness that ran through the town. Industry had died to be replaced by warehouses thriving prosperous industry employment superseded with meaningless low skilled minimum wage labour.

The death of vibrant factory industry factory industry gave way to poverty to desperation to alcoholism to rampant drug addiction. This is the land the atmosphere i derived from. The town of Mayberry was a microcosm of industrialised town and cities across 1980’s Britain. With mass unemployment fading failing industries to be replaced service job with meagre pay. These were the harsh conditions that surrounded my childhood. Despite the endemic poverty my parents weren’t poor more like lower middle class.

My mother Sarah was a qualified hairdresser working in a salon earning a responsible living. It wasn’t the usual paltry wages you would be expected to earn in a factory. Working as a hairdresser afforded my mum a more prosperous lifestyle. The conditions of a hair salon were considerably more favourable and sociable. Where the conditions the agreeable atmosphere was far removed from the stress from the tumult of factory life.

My father like my mother had liberated himself from the struggle from the grind of factory and warehouse labour. For all of his life he had worked as a plumber earning a respectable living. It was a occupation which afforded him to escape the uncertainty the economic austerity of being employed in a factory. My family consequently weren’t poor trapped in poverty like other families. We had a more comfortable existence never had to endure the adversity of living paycheck to paycheck or bein unemployed.

These were the economic conditions that my parents extracted themselves from. Rising above the trappings of poverty of endless economic struggle to a relatively well off lower middle class life. They escaped the estates the council houses moving away from the impoverished area of town. Owning property in the affluent suburbs away from the rough area of town.

My parents when i was born were two people who loved each other greatly. Having me when they were in their early twenties. I was their first mistake an unanticipated pregnancy yet they loved me abundantly throughout my childhood. My mother Sarah was a warm extrovert who exuded a love of life. She was a gregarious character, loving the social occasion. All of her life had a great capacity for forming friendships. She was vastly different to my introverted reclusive emotionally robotic personality. She had immense warmth people found her amicable generally enjoying her friendly countenance. She was considered attractive often changing her hair colour, routinely altering her physical look out of a deep need to remain a attractive. Despite her confident demeanour and outgoing persona Sarah regularly dealt with severe bouts of depression. Also in contrast to her open nature my mum kept these feelings hidden struggling to cope with the black dog of depression. Unlike myself she was able to unburden herself seeing a qualified professional. My mother had the fortitude had the emotional intelligence to address her prolonged states of depression. I on the other hand never had the courage being too emotionally repressed too damaged to ever divulge my emotional problems to a paid therapist or counsellor. This was my mother a open hearted emotionally accessible individual who was the epitome of maternal love who protected and loved her children. A emotionally damaged soul who struggled through life. Who had intermittent bouts of depression a trait i inherited from her. I didn’t inherit the emotional transparency of social lucidity but the melancholy the protracted periods of desolation. I wish i could be like my mother enjoy people enjoy humanity enjoy existing outside of my self imposed solitary confinement that is my life.

My father had a almost diametrically opposed personality type to my mother. He was a shy introvert almost withdrawn with a sparse circle of friends. My father David is nowhere near as introverted or emotionally glacial as me. He did though share my inability to express his emotions to people he felt an affinity towards. He was born into a poor working class family where you had to work in the suffocating factory to support the family. He was nourished in this grim environment where you worked a hard job to make ends meet. You never expressed your deep feelings keeping your lips stiff remaining emotionally repressed. Never was it acceptable for a man to be vociferous with his worries or inner torments. My father as previously mentioned through ambition and a staunch desire to escape the humdrum the oppression of working in a stifling factory setting trained to be a plumber. He escaped that life which to him was akin to being a prisoner or a indentured servant to the proprietor of the factory. Getting a trade as a plumber afforded my father a reasonable living. It was a liberation from the hardships of endless poverty, from the toxic work that gradually erodes all the hope all the light from you. He prospered in the lack of routine in being emancipated from the angst of the 9 till 5 monotonous schedule. By having the ambition the intelligence to pursue a plumber apprentice it meant he was elevated from the bleak prospect of subsisting on starvation wages to a more affluent vocation.

As i said previously my father David personality was in stark contrast to my mothers lively extroverted disposition. He was a shy introvert who struggled to ventilate his emotions especially to me. Striving with tremendous adversity to formulate friendships outside of his intimate group of lifelong friends. In many social situations when he was surrounded by strangers in unfamiliar company he appeared incongruous with an air of awkwardness. Still around his acquaintances he was lively dispensing with the austere countenance the aloofness he adopted around strangers. Around the warmth of friends there was a different person a fun loving convivial soul. My father could be funny with a dry sardonic wit capable of biting remarks. Around lifelong friends he exhibited warmth which he found tremendously difficult when meeting strangers.

David met my mother Sarah in the early 80’s it was the serendipitous meeting of two contrasting personalities. My mother this sociable women who exuded a effusive spirit and loved people. My father was this quiet shy soul who had friends but struggled around unfamiliar company. Yet these antithetical personalities connected physically and spiritually. It was amazing they connected they seemed not right for each other on the surface. The bond of love and friendship that was cultivated in a short period of time would endure for a lifetime. It was a relationship that faded slightly through the ravages of time but in the beginning in the initial period of marriage was a glorious alliance of love. Love, marriage and children that were harvested in a difficult conditions where this poverty and mass unemployment. My parents had the fortitude to go into vocations which weren’t dead end soul destroying jobs. Even a hairdresser a service sector job which paid a sufficient wage was elevation from menial labour. My father working away from the manacles of the factory giving a strong foundation for his children. Increasing opportunity for his offspring being away from the council estates into the middle class suburbs of Mayberry.

In autumn of 1984 was when David and Sarah brought myself into the world. I was a unexpected arrival a unplanned mistake. Yet in my early years I was showered with affection with love especially from my mother. At that point i had the semblance of normality of being a fully functional toddler with no abnormal behavioural issues. A few years after i was born my parents had another child a sister they called her Racheal. Racheal only 2 years my junior so for the majority of my childhood it was a close bond. We were more like close friends than brother and sister. Having a sister enabled me to mask my personality imperfections allowing me to connect to someone close to my age. It’s was a kinship based on bonds of blood and genuine friendship. My sister unlike myself was a extrovert who displayed confidence in social situations. Whereas i was a slow developer in my cognitive development. Taking longer to learn to walk to talk my sister was more agile in her early development as a infant. My stunted development was a symptomatic of my deficient interpersonal intelligence rather than a indication of a stunted intelligence My sister was more verbally dexterous and was more proficient in unfamiliar social situations. Still there was no indications up to this point of my dysfunctional nature

It wasn’t until i enrolled in primary school at the age of 5 when my parents and teachers viewed me as anything other than a normal socially adept child. When i began to go to school my social shortcomings my inept verbal skills became apparent. Teachers started to notice how uncommunicative how antisocial i was. How I barely spoke had difficulty in interacting with my fellow classmates. Struggling to forge any friendships i became this adrift aloof socially marginalised child. Now the genesis of my personality defects started to be exposed to the world. As teachers were concerned at my abnormal behaviour believing i had signs of learning difficulties or that i was severely impaired socially. As a 5 year old i was therefore suspected of being autistic or that i was on the autistic spectrum. Was never professional diagnosed by a child psychologist but was required to have a special needs teacher. A teacher appointed to assist me with my limited communication aptitude. The teacher did help me to formulate responses in unfamiliar anxiety inducing social scenarios.

Being suspected of being on the autistic spectrum left me with lasting emotional scars. From this moment on i would forever regard myself as a outsider a socially marginalised figure. Needing a verbal coach left me feeling this sense of separation this deep rooted alienation from my peers. Before being required to see a special needs teacher i can recall seeing myself as a normal child having normal reactions existing in a realm of normality. From onwards seeing a vocal teacher who helped with my stunted behavioural problems i was uprooted from the classroom once or twice a week. This professional hoped to train me to converse like a normal child to learn to function with some semblance of normality. This period of being mandated a elocution teacher was intensely emotionally scaring permanently damaging how i perceived myself how i related to other people. It’s when i began to have these dark impressions of myself. Started to truly hate myself to have regard myself as a other a alien. From my early misdiagnosis of autism i struggled to connect adequately with my fellow classmates. Attempting with great adversity to form friendships. However being taken away branded as a social freak in mr preliminary school education left with wounds that would never heal. The school my parents tried diligently to help me to adjust to school to ameliorate my limited personality.

In hindsight i believe that I was clearly misdiagnosed as bring autistic. It was undeniable i exhibited symptoms characteristics that could be attributed to somebody impeded with being autistic. In reality i was abnormal child who had a atypical personality who was showing the first signs of a pathological personality disorder. The initial indicators of being schizoid were apparent with the terse laconic conversational patterns. The inability to foster meaningful friendships, the apathy towards other humans problems. The almost robotic restricted range of emotions having a reluctance a reticence to display my inner feelings. The habit of spending hours alone separated from other humans. Even as a small 5 year old child having this inclination for isolation for disappearing into my imagination. As a child having this proclivity of hours upon hours being engrossed with my toys with my cars fantasising about being a racing driver being somebody not encumbered with a defective introverted personality. Escaping into fantasy this vast alternative reality I existed in. Daydreaming a method of liberating of escaping the reality of being me. In the universe of fantasy I could exist vicariously thorough various alter ego figures. In fantasy embarking on exciting adventures escaping the humdrum of life in Mayberry. Breaking out of the chains of the prison walls of being this way. Being a pirate being a astronaut going on glorious expeditions to unexplored worlds. This vivid fantasising was a manifestation of my desires of the person the life i aspired to have. This confident charismatic extrovert who traversed the globe who was absolutely free living a life with no limitations. A individual who could connect with people with ease who lived with no walls no bars no restrictions from his internal neurosis. I always had this propensity this aversion from indulging in genuine human interaction by escaping to a isolated fantasy world. The fact was at this moment my fantasy escapades were just a part of a overreactive imagination. I think at the time it wasn’t anything unusual it was something a plurality of children escape into vivid daydreaming. Especially shy children who struggle to create friendships in their formative years. The fantasising was though the beginning of my condition which would fully escalate into a severe disorder in early adulthood.

At school though i stopped having the special needs help. The verbal training enabled to advance my stunted linguistic skills. After several years i become a seemingly normal child despite my peculiar habits. Was able to cultivate friendships to break free from my verbal and emotional paralysis. As i entered school i felt a modicum of normality despite my imbedded feelings sense of worthlessness and alienation. Became a ordinary schoolchild who wasn’t seen as particularly odd just a quiet laconic shy child. The experience being separated being branded abnormal with negative perceptions of myself which would endure throughout my life. Having this loneliness at the time this deep need to hide away to escape the environment that surrounded me. Always feeling like a alien creature like I wasn’t truly a human being who didn’t belong in this world. I can recall having dark envisions of my bleak adulthood that I’d be completely alone unhappy struggling to adapt in a cold cruel ecosystem. Envisioning that I’d be a loser with not friends in a dead end job unfortunately this dark prophecy came true.

Other people didn’t regard me as weird seeing me as normal despite my social deficiencies. The reality of my childhood was that i had a limited capacity for genuine emotional expression experiencing life without colour viewing the world through a black and white emotional spectrum. There were all these colours all these suppressed emotions crying to get out locked inside my emotionally constipated mind. Yes i was able to function to equip myself at school to become a balanced functional schoolchild. Breaking free from the verbal muteness from the dysfunctional behaviour learning to appear sane to put on a mask of normality. I drifted through my tenure at primary school being a standard average schoolmate never excelling. I would socialise with my classmates outside the realm of the classroom being invited to birthday parties. Partaking in ordinary childhood social events giving me a facade of normality. Managing to improve my behaviour to be accepted within a circle of friends finding these feelings off self loathing dissipated somewhat.

My relationship with my mother and father as previously mentioned had the appearance of normalcy. My mother was this figure of warmth and compassion. She was their for me recognising my faults pushing me vociferously to get help for my conversational problems. With my attachment to my mother I felt human sensing i mattered in this world. It was this emotional blanket this shelter that alleviated my anxieties my abnormal habits. Indeed family life was at this crucial time in my development a source of comfort. In the family enclave i was showered with love with kindness. At this point in my childhood my mother and father were in a healthy happy relationship.

My relationship with my father throughout my life was a strained one. He did love though foiund it a immemsly onerous task to display any emotion. There was love there was random acts of kindness however it was a austere love not built on spontaneous acts of physical affection or encouragement. As I entered school and began to exhibit abnormal behaviour struggling to adapt to this new environment my father didn’t know how to respond to my social maladroitness. Our relationship as i was misdiagnosed with suffering from childhood autism became emotionally detached. As i was encumbered with my limited social skills my inability to express myself emotionally my father with his introverted withdrawn character found it impossible to connect with me to comprehend what i was going through.

At the inception of my primary education was the genesis of my detached relationship with my father. From this moment onwards we had this cold unaffectionate relationship. I understood he loved me even with his cold aloof emotionally repressed nature. He was somebody who was a incredibly old fashioned men a product of a time when British men never divulged their feelings. Where it was socially unacceptable to cry to appear emotionally vulnerable to other men. He was a old fashioned personality type totally unequipped in dealing with somebody with abnormal personality. He did love me but was precluded from expressing his feelings for me with his stereotypical english emotionally repressed austere comportment.

My childhood was a childhood of relative happiness permeated with copious happy memories despite my melancholic view of myself. Memories of great days out enjoyable holidays at home and foreign exotic destinations. Holidays where I didn’t perceive myself as a social outcast but found myself as another ordinary child being imbued with the wonder the beauty of being alive as a infant. It was with my family dynamic where i would discover order where there was assuagement from the external struggles i faced mainly at school.

The ameliorating relationship with my amiable sister allowed me to cope with the hardships i endured. My sister Rachel was a only a few years my junior therefore we were able to relate being of a similar age we had this emotional bond. With my sister there wasn’t this constant exertion and anxiety when vocalising my thoughts. With Racheal I was verbally lucid i was free to be myself. There wasn’t the crippling shyness the emotional constipation i found amongst strangers my own age. We were kindred spirits a connection built upon a genuine friendship. A friendship cultivated on love on the bonds of family. Friendships were these precious elusive gems that were challenging to forge to maintain. With my sister it was easy sharing all this joy all the beneficial memories. My family was this shelter this tranquil serene environment that temporary protected me from the storm of meeting new people. The family milieu enabled me to medicate myself from my social impediments helping me overcome my early behavioural issues. With my childhood intimacy I experienced with Racheal i never felt alone I understood i had another soul to connect with to mitigate the alienation of being a abnormal child. Throughout my early formative years it was this blind helping me to overcome these social hurdles facilitating my integration into mainstream society.

Overall my childhood was a relatively normal one. I overcome my early social antipathy my impassiveness to other humans. After the special needs training helped me to improve my verbal acuity I adjusted forming long lasting childhood friendships. The most severe negative personality evaporated as a result of the help from the vocal teacher who radically improved my conversational proficiency. Still i was left psychological wounds with deep rooted character flaws that persisted with me into my adulthood. Having this loneliness this inability to relate to people to competently convey my emotions. Being entrenched in this painfully shy personality never breaking free from the walls of my introverted persona. Indeed outside of school and immediate family other friends remained elusive incredibly rare occurrences. The occasional sporadic friendship developed but i remained alone away from the school life. Throughout my infant years was this aloof weird alien creature struggling to function in a frightening harsh world. On the surface was this normal child but the early signs of a personality disorder were all their. The predilection for solitude the propensity to escape into a elaborate fantasy daydreaming existences. The struggle to connect with people to have friends to be normal to not feel so alien so socially adrift. Still was able to find normality to find alleviation from anxiety. Procuring a tiny slither of happiness gaining real emotional binds that have been glaringly absent in my adult life.

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