I am a victim of child sexual abuse.

The perpetrators were not my parents.

They are wonderful people, who have loved me deeply throughout the ever-winding and often poisonous course my life. Mum and Dad are mere innocents, who I have thoughtlessly harmed in so many ways over the past 40 years, in the process digging a deep dark ravine of regret, guilt and despair that sinks so far down that  I sometimes feel that I will never escape from it, no matter how much remedial repair and reparation I try my damnedest daily to do.

I was an absolute c*nt. I hurt so many people.

I didn’t mean to – the only person I wanted to hurt was myself – but it didn’t turn out that way. In the blindness of my self-hate I ended up hurting everyone else.

I did terrible things as  a teenager, but although they should have, my sins didn’t stop there, and I continued to hate, hurt and harm others until deep into my twenties, oblivious to the self-evident fact that the person I was really hurting the most was myself.

mmmmango

Then one day an angel flew above my head, circled around and landed right upon my shoulder, and forever changed my life. Although at that moment two decades ago I didn’t realise it. In fact it took me almost forever to understand the simple fact that this angel loved me unequivocally, and the gift that she held in the unlined palm she stretched out and offered me, empty of guilt or stain or sin.

How on heaven or earth could a sinner like me deserve such an unspoiled gift like this?

Sometimes you just get f*cked by a fairy.

And if you are blessed far beyond any blessing that you ever deserve,  the fairy turns out to be an angel instead of a sick psycho who wants to suck your dick and slip his schlong into your teenage arse.

2016 art prizewinner

2016 art prizewinner

From time to time I still do bad things, most often unwittingly, but sometimes deliberately too in a whacked out rendition of a victims retribution driven by anger and malice and hatred sparked by the things that devils long ago did to me.

Call me callous, but I don’t believe that I will be judged harshly for these sins on the day that I reach the pearly gates. Justice is writ large and the truly guilty must always one day pay. Although I feel terrible shame and guilt – that through my latter day deeds I desperately attempt to wipe away – I refuse to believe that the retribution that in my sometime madness I seek is a sin.

Justice is poetic. And I am a poet.

And why should the guilty escape?

But. But. But.

One shouldn’t begin sentences with prepositions. It is a literary sin  or so my dearly beloved Grandmother used to tell me constantly.

‘But, but, but – if you employ a preposition once more then I will presuppose that you are a fool’ she used to say.

I wanted to tell her about buts, and butts, but I didn’t have the courage. I wanted to explain my pain to perhaps the only person who I knew would understand, but I just couldn’t summon the strength to admit what had happened to me.

And why and how and by whom.

I didn’t tell my parents either.

Instead I stole from them, abused them, and treated them like enemies rather than the friends they were – and are, and remain – as in the throes of self-loathing I tried to make them hate me as much as I then hated myself, and thus forsake me as I had foolishly in hurt forsaken myself.

It didn’t work.

Thank God.

Their love was unequivocal.

If it hadn’t been,  I would no longer be here to tell you this self-indulgent, difficult and deeply personal tale.

Lost and alone I would surely have drowned in a terrible ditch of my own tortured tears and hung myself from a tree in the forest of lost youth, a jungle into which I had been banished by the bastards who cared only for their own desires and not for the needs of the innocent others that they betrayed.

One cold morning – after decades of allowing depraved demons to flit in and out of my dark nights, telling me that they loved me, while I tossed and turned and sweated and screamed in the black torture I once called sleep, I woke and sat up right and said to myself enough! I’ve had enough of this.

By ‘this’ I meant hiding. Hiding from myself, from my past and from the truth of what had happened to me when I was just a young boy.

For three decades I had hidden. I had lied, and deceived, and pretended to be what in my delusions  I believed others wanted me to be, and I was damn good at it too. Nobody ever knew me, and inside I laughed at those that presumed that they did.

The f*cking fools. How stupid they were. They never knew me at all, not one little bit.

They do now though, for like the Emperor I have taken off my clothes and laid myself naked, bear and bleeding before the world.

This is me. The real me. This is Archie.

I am the fool.

Like me, love me, lump me or leave me.

I really just couldn’t give a f*ck anymore.

I refuse to pretend for a second longer.

Here I am baby, take me by the hand if you want to, and f*ck off if you don’t. It no longer matters to me, I know who my real friends are, and I couldn’t give a tinker’s toss about what you think about them – my mates – either, cos they’re mine not yours, and I love them and if you don’t then it’s your loss not mine.

mates

Anyway, this is a long intro to a short story.

The story is about a little thing called PTSD.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

It’s the thing that happens to you when a thief carves a cavern in your chest, reaches inside, and violently strips out your soul.

It can happen when you are a soldier, fighting for what you truly – but wrongly – believe is right, and find that the people that you are fighting against or for (it’s confusing, this wicked thing called war) suddenly start shooting at you from behind small tin lids, and if you don’t start shooting back you are going to soon find yourself dead, or someone else will find you there anyway, then when the bullets run dry and your next task is to clean up the blood and brains and unbeating hearts of innocents in whom your life saving and life ending bullets now rest.

ira

It can happen too when you are a trusting teenager who believes in the goodness of the world, and then encounters evil, shaped in the form of sinners who slay your innocence with their sick, evil swords.

It can also happen when those that promise to protect you – but instead lead you to the altar of evil and then lay you down as a sacrifice to the demons that live within their demented hearts and souls – break the covenants that they have made and crack the core of your soul wide open.

These things change you.

They turn you into someone else, a phantom that you deeply despise but cloyingly cling to, believing that this brazen beast is the person that you must become if you are somehow to survive.

The years pass and you grow old.

Your teeth decay, the lines etch themselves into your now sallow skin, your hair grays and your body breaks down and the young boy that you once were begins to fade away.

But – and one should never begin a sentence with a preposition, but one should never have a  predatory prick pull their penis when they are a young teen either, so f*ck convention dear Granny – you slowly begin to realise that this thing that you have become is no longer the person that you wish to be.

This stranger is slowly strangling you, and the shell that like a turtle you have created in order to hide your sensitive soul from the world is now suffocating you, and the poison that is leeching from your pours is now seeping into the veins of your valiant saviors, and if you leave the hemlock unchecked it will soon start killing them softly and swiftly too, just as the your acidic angst has slaughtered so many sweet loves of your life before.

You know innately that this is wrong, and that if you allow those that you love, and who love you in return, to die inside in this way then you may as well just walk straight back into that lost forest, knot the coward’s noose, and hang yourself from the liar’s limb.

Judas was a silver dollar loving junkie, and 30 pieces aren’t enough to buy your life, so in isolation and desperation, you somehow summon a hitherto unknown kind of courage, and walk into a doctor’s clinic and fall to your knees and beg for intervention and help and some type of salvation.

The doctor that you dreamed would saved you declares that your craziness is chemical, and boldly decrees that you suffer from a Bipolar disorder.

You know that you don’t. But you are used to playing a role, and so you nod and accept the script that the quack proffers you, and for years afterward you fly to the pharmacist and fill it, and then for years after you float on ever-descending clouds that take you deeper and deeper into the darkness of the soul that you that you were desperately attempting to escape.

Then one day, tired of it all, you travel back into the forest of your lost youth, and you tie the knot that for so long you dreamed would save you from the unbearable inner pain that has forever been cutting you into pieces.

You climb that old, age-etched tree, and you walk along its quivering limb.

Through a blizzard of tears you begin to softly say your goodbyes, as you stare into the dark night seeking a shining star named salvation that in your life-long delusion you have convinced yourself simply isn’t there, has never been, and never will be.

It’s black and it’s bleak right now, and in the darkness you walk across the branch and stare down into the billabong, but just as the bough of your life is about to break you suddenly realise that the sinners that have sent you on this final journey don’t actually know you one little bit, and that in fact they never did, and they never will.

In this stark moment of clarity, as your spirit soars above the carcasses of craven assassins who tried to slay it, lightning strikes and thunder roars, and in an instant you understand that your illness is not mental at all, and that there is no medicine that can cure it. You’re not mad, you have simply been f*cked by felons who have forever left you writhing in a pit of hitherto improperly explained despair.

A light shines before your eyes, and in a heartbeat you realise the manifest truth of what you have always known, but because since the beginning of your abuse you have cursed the day you were born, thenceforth refused ever to accept.

You smile, because for the first time you understand that are actually OK.

In fact you’re better than OK.

You’re pretty goddamn f*cking fantastic.

It were them, not you.

They were the Satans.

They were the sinners.

It wasn’t you.

It was never you.

You climb down from the tree and you stand barefoot upon the sand, the vision of those you love before your eyes, burned deeply into every strand of your existence.

It was them, not you.

The angel that 2 score years ago landed upon your shoulder has saved your life.

Arms aloft, shouting in the triumph of survival, you walk away from the water, away from the trees, away from the billabong in which just moments ago you wanted to drown.

You walk away, and not once do you stop and stare back through the darkness toward the abyss into which you just moments ago so nearly descended.

The future is yours, you can so now clearly see.

The chain that nearly dragged you to the bottom of the waterhole is not Bipolar disease at all, it is simply PTSD.

There is no cure, but it doesn’t matter, for now at long last you are free.

And as the tears run down your cheeks you smile and laugh like athe Kookaburra sitting in the old gum tree.

You’ve found what you had long ago lost.

Once more you are me.