This post was set on its way by Jessica and Plan B, thanks to both.
Between the ages of 12 and 16 I did some terrible things to myself and to other people. I am still haunted by those struggles, still haunted by the ghosts of dead best friends and text messages from people I used to know saying another brother is inside for holding up a supermarket, or another brother has took his life; leaving behind a family; the blues of a life trapped in drugs and violence: a pure fucking fury that puts the gun in your mouth. I'm still haunted by the punishment I administrated to my head: flash backs, panic attacks, everything falls apart now and then.
This is not a complaint. This is my punishment for the crimes I committed.
When you feel you've nothing to lose you can do anything.
One of the ways I tried to pay penance for my past was to work with the hardest, the toughest, the hardest to help young people in Nottingham. Versions of me, scuffed up humans with hard hearts and scarred fists; with habits and issues and no trust and no love for themselves or anyone else. Taking out the punishment meted out to them by railing against the whole fucking world. Attention and love needy little adults, heading on a pre-determined path to failure, a path well trodden, a path some of us fell off, jumped off or died on before it could be fulfilled.
And don't give me that shit that we're in control of our lives and we can be whatever we want to be and if you try hard enough you can reach the stars. Some of us start from a place that's so dark we ain't ever seen the stars, we don't know what control is because no one took the time to teach us and the constant dull ache of failure and rejection has sucked the life out of our hearts; that's why we can do the things we do.
Smashing up someone's body is easy when it means nothing to you, when these extremes are all you can ever feel.
It breaks my heart.
So I did the best I could and I did it for them. Giving all I could, even last sinew strained to help, getting them to trust me, showing them respect, going the extra mile because you have to, because you can never give up; you have to show them you're different from all the other bullshit adults that cross their path full of judgments and lies and vagueness. Put your heart on the line and they'll follow but sometimes they'll stab you in the heart when you're at your most vulnerable. You have to hold the hand that hurt you and show them there's plenty more blood where that came from.
It exhausted me. Even worse I got cynical. I became like every other grown up. I knew my time was over.
When I look back on the years I spent supporting young people, being part of lives changing, I think of all the people who moved on, who went on to realise that the stars are on the ground not up in the air and of those that never could. At least they had someone to hold their hand now and then, someone who believed in them, even if it was for a short while.