This is my story and this story is true…
The following takes place from 0-11yrs…
And so we begin…
The year is 1981, 30th July to be exact. Of course I don’t remember that date myself but I was there, in fact this was the day I was born in Wollongong hospital. Wollongong the beach side suburb, on one side beaches and the other a wall of mountain ranges, all of it lined with the stink of pollution, situated 2 hrs south of Sydney. Wollongong whilst its beautiful surroundings is primarily a town where people work in the smoggy steal factory and is littered with housing commission estates.
I often wonder back to that date, 30th July 1981. Were my parents filled with joy, tears in their eyes of overwhelming happiness, their little boy, there first born child. Did my parents get in close holding me, both glowing and smiling from ear to ear, look at me, then look at each other and kiss as there were no words to describe their happiness. Did they think big things for my future? Or was it the opposite looks of disgust, destine and unwant?? Maybe it was the red hair, this can sometimes put people off you see, Did my dad look at me run into the nurses quarters like a mad man, sweat dripping down his face grabbing any nurse by the collar panting and saying “Oh Jesus his got red hair, is there a chance we can get one of those dark haired babies I’ve seen around here”.
I do know however that in the years to follow I would get two younger sisters (Alexis and April) both of whom were treated much differently to me. My earliest memory was living in Port Kembla a poor suburb littered with housing commission flats one that we called home, we lived in the top unit over looking a quite street and beyond that a park with two play sets and a tennis court in the middle, I remembered the people who lived around us and feeling creepy, my earliest memories are snippets kind of like 30 second amature YouTube clips and a bit out of focus they are:
Being three: Going to London with my dad back to his home-town and getting lost on the plane after going to the toilet by myself and the air-stewart helping me after finding me crying not knowing where my seat was and all the passengers pointing to where my seat was, and really glad to see my dad but when I saw him he just said “where’d you go?”
Being four: Waking up really early one night to some commotion going on in the unit, I remember it being dark outside, I opened the door and saw my mum who had a big belly, I remember feeling excited, my dad got me and Alexis, my middle sister (who was two at the time) on bean bags and we sat on the balcony, he took my mum down the three flights of stairs into a waiting ambulance, that was the night my youngest sister April was born.
Being four: Me, my middle sister and a girl who lived in the units playing across the park by ourselves, I remember we used to do this a lot with no parents watching, I remember the girl putting us into lines and her being the leader and the boss because she was the oldest (by three months), I love how kids work out these things it just all makes sense. I loved being at the park because every time I was at home I was told to stay in my room and the door was slammed.
Not sure what age but around the early years at school, I came into the unit and a man was sitting at a table talking to my parents saying; “When his good you need to tell him his a good boy and when his naughty you need to tell him that as well”. This man looked friendly and looked directly at me and smiled. I was to meet this man later in my last years of Wollongong when I had to attend court to see where I was going to live, this man was from Family Services. The man years later told me that a neighbor called Family Services.
For those who know the adult me would find this incredibly hard to believe, but I actually enjoyed primary school, one of my first memories was in kindergarten putting an apple on the teachers desk to give as a present because that’s what I saw on a cartoon and thought that’s what people do, tv has and always will have a powerful effect on me 🙂
As the years went on I remember feeling different to everyone, I don’t think I had heaps of friends I remember feeling alone. But school was where I was happy, one exciting day was when I was in year one, I remember telling the teacher I was feeling sick so she told me to put my head on the table, I remember after a little while being kind of awake the teacher was handing out awards, she said I have an award for someone who uses his manners all the time and is always polite can anyone guess who that could be, eventually she said my name, bing, I woke up straight away and went over her to collect my award, grinning ear to ear, “me with an award” I was so excited with this piece if paper. When I went home I showed my parents and I stuck it on my door. I’m not to sure if it was from this award or not but manners has and always will be really important to me.
After school one day whilst in year one, I was across at the park like usual, Alexis and me were at the park, I climbed up the ladder of the giant slide like I had many times before, this time I decided to to see if I could look underneath whilst sliding down, bad mistake. I fell. I still remember laying there crying and my sister grabbing me, me holding my arm and running home, blood oozing out of my nose, climbing the stairs screaming in pain desperate to get home. Getting to the door, my sister opening it, my parents there, looking at me, and they…… Laughed. Laughing?? I remember in my six year old voice yelling “why are you laughing??” My Dad went into his room and got a tie and put it around my neck and my right arm and took me to the hospital. My arm was broken.
Eventually in year three I moved from one school to another, we changed schools because Alexis after kindergarten she was labeled a “slow learner” she also had very mild Cerbal Palsy. At this school I was really on the outset I don’t think I had any friends at all, my memories was me playing by myself. Was this the red headed curse. This is really when I remember my home life being different to other peoples, I remember playing football on Saturday, one of the dads on my team used to drive me to the games, I don’t think either my Mum or my Dad ever went to a game. I remember going to this guys house, an actual house with a back yard and garage and seeing the parents interact with each other, the Mum came over and kissed the Dad and when it was time to go to the game the Mum would come over and say “Good luck, I love you to their son”. I honestly remember this scene in the backseat watching this play out and me thinking “what is this all about?”, That afternoon when I got home I went to my Mum and said “Mum do you love me” and her saying with no eye contact “Only when your asleep” hmmm I thought should I go to sleep now?? When I saw my dad I asked the same question and got a push and a “Get away”. Things were defiantly different.
My Dad worked for the trains and fixed train line bridges, my Mum worked in different small jobs like delivering pizza for Pizza Hut, through out my realisation that things weren’t quite normal and being hit and told to stay in my room all the time wasn’t also normal, I also noticed that my Dad spent more time with my sisters than me and when I tried to get involved he would look at me and tell me to get outside, physically push me away and told to go in my room, I asked my Mum one day when Dad was at work, “Why doesn’t Dad like me” and she looked at me and simply said “I don’t know I guess he just didn’t want a boy”
As the years went on so did the distance between me and Dad, I don’t necessarily remember a close relationship with my Mother either, when I was in year four we moved for the fourth time to a suburb called Koonawarra, this place was still a housing commission house, but it was a house and had a backyard. My sister moved school to the school across the road. I remember one night before bed my Dad from the couch in front of the t.v yelling at me and said “Brush you’re teeth” so I went into the bathroom and brushed my teeth, came out and my Dad said, “I told you to brush your teeth”, I told him I had. He grabbed me by my pajamas dragged me into the bathroom and said “I told you to brush your teeth”. He then put me into a head lock with one hand and with his other hand got my tooth brush, placed it on the sink, opened the tooth paste and put it on the brush. He then said, “You’ll do what I tell you”. I remember yelling. “I did” Just before he rammed the toothbrush into my mouth and started brushing my mouth with me still in a headlock. It didn’t take long until blood was over taking the taste of toothpaste, whilst him ramming this into my mouth he was saying “You’ll….Do….What…..I….Tell….You”. When he finished he let me go and said “Wash your mouth you look disgusting”. With my shaking hand I rinsed my mouth out with water, blood was flowing out of my mouth. I went straight to bed, tears streaming down my face, and feel asleep.
After this things changed.
Up until this point, I was used to being pushed across the room and learnt not to get to close, I was used to being told to get away, so I just went to my room or went to the park, I was used to being slapped, but from this point on things got more physical.
The next day at school my teacher came up to me and said, “Are you o.k, Alexis said something happened last night”. I remember bursting into tears and told her what happened. She hugged me, I then went to the principal who asked me what happened again, I told him looking at the ground like I had done something wrong and I was going to get into trouble for saying what I was saying. I’m not to sure what happened after this but life just continued on as they had always gone on.
I remember that at school I was getting into more and more trouble, I remember feeling angry. I remember my Dad not even talking to me anymore. I remember being fearful of my father, I remember being resentful of my sisters. I remember hiding around the house to see if anyone would notice me gone, sometimes they did, sometimes they didn’t. I remember working out when to leave my room and walk quietly around the house to avoid being barked at, hit across the face or in the rare times spoken to by my adopted name “idiot”. As in “Hey girls can you get idiot, its dinner”.
In year five me and April moved to the school across the road with Alexis, one afternoon after school Mum told us to get into the car, so all three of us got in and she drove us to a place that looked like a childcare centre. A door opened and a smiling lady was there to greet us, we got out of the car, my mum opened the boot and got some bags, the lady said “Hi guys, you’re going to stay here tonight”. Me and both my two sisters walked up the stairs my Mum said “bye”, not even walking into the door. I was confused, we sat down and had some dinner, when I was to read my D.o.C.S file years later, apparently my Dad had become so angry with us, for whatever reason while we were at school, Family Services came involved and found a respite home for me and my sisters for the night to give my Dad some space. And there was me and my sisters in our school uniforms eating dinner in a kitchen with a lady we had never meet before. But there was something about her, the way she looked at us, she seemed…..kind. That night we slept on folded out beds in a large room, the lights turned off, and I just layed there.
The next day we were picked up by both my parents, we got into the car and drove to the near shopping market, an argument started, I asked why did we have to stay at the place last night, I was told to shut up and don’t ask questions, but I had enough, and kept pressing the issue, we were now in the car park of the shopping centre and I wanted answers. The car stopped and my Mum said “You can get out of the car”. So I climbed over Alexis, opened the door and got out of the car, I remember being so angry I wanted answers, I closed the door. And they drove off, I watched them drive out of the car-park and leave.
I was left there.
For a moment I was in disbelief, and then shock and then not knowing what to do, I went down the road to see if I could follow them, but they were gone. I went into the shopping centre and looked around trying to be busy and block out that I was by myself, thinking this was a joke and all of a sudden they would show up and say “surprise”. Hours later my surprise turned into realizing that this wasn’t going to happen, I then went out to the street again to see if they were there. All of a sudden our little green car came, my Dad was driving and my youngest sister, April, was in the passenger seat. I went to the road and and waved, my Dad didn’t even turn his head, and drove past. Did he see me? I don’t know. I went back into the shops and looked for a phone and saw a reverse charge phone number, I dialed it and called home, my Mum answered, I said “Hi”, Mum said “I was so worried, I didn’t know you would actually get out of the car”. I said that “I just saw Dad drive past”. Apparently he had to take my sister somewhere, my Mum told me to wait outside and she would come and get me. So I did and about half an hour later she picked me up.
The next day when dad was at work Mum told us to pack some clothes, thinking we were going to the same place again me and my sisters were a bit confused, but then we saw Mum packing clothes, we got into the car and Mum drove us to a house…….A women’s refuge.