There was once a time when I thought God was just a made up story, like Father Christmas, or the Tooth Fairy, or the Easter Bunny. Of course, there was also a time in my early childhood when I believed in all of the magic of the world; but by the age of eleven, when asked by my peers if I believed in God, I would respond with a firm: ‘No.’ A genuine disbelief? I’m not quite sure … A fear of being ridiculed? Most likely.
It wasn’t uncommon to be picked on for being different in our school. Those who grew up in the tough neighborhoods bullied the ‘posh kids’; the ‘posh kids’ looked down their noses at the ‘rough kids’. And if you came from the council estates like I did, but was raised with manners and respect – you were constantly pulled in both directions, your allegiance questioned at every opportunity. Social boxes became apparent from a very early age, and, although I was aware of the divide, I wasn’t quite sure where I fitted in.
Bullying would take place for all manner of reasons, verbal and physical; if you admitted to still believing in Santa, you were a ‘baby’; if you admitted to believing in God, you were a ‘bible basher’; if you didn’t have nice trainers, you were a ‘scruff’ or a ‘dosser’; if you did have nice trainers, someone would stomp on them with muddy feet and yell ‘Christened!’ (Kind of ironic really.)
As a result, much of my time at school was spent trying to keep a low profile and aligning myself with other kids smart enough to do the same. In doing so, however, it wasn’t long before I lost my sense of identity along with my ebbing belief in magic and miracles. By the time I reached the end of my primary years, the magic carpet had been swiftly pulled out from under my feet and I came crashing down upon the concrete floor of ‘reality’. There began my new life in secondary school, where things only went from bad to worse.
I was smoking by the end of my first year, drinking alcohol by the time I was fourteen and dabbling in recreational drugs by the age of fifteen. With the brief magic of childhood behind me, I took comfort in the false security of my peers. I was totally lost. And despite a continuing nagging that I was straying from all that I loved; books, Roald Dahl, drawing, Disney – I continued to follow the crowd throughout most of my teens.
If I did try to stay home – it wouldn’t be long before they would come knocking at my door, rarely taking ‘no’ for an answer. As an introvert, I had always struggled to say ‘no’ in case I offended someone – and my friends knew I was a push over, so off I’d go against my better judgement, dawning my hoody and trainers and joining them out on the cold, wet streets of Tameside, Manchester.
Mum would constantly tell me I was being led astray and that she didn’t like the person I was becoming. Whilst Mum was frank in her disapproval, she was not so forthcoming with solutions. I would resort to asking Mum to pretend I wasn’t home, but she soon tired of lying and eventually ran out of ideas of where she could pretend I was, especially since they came knocking daily. This would cause Mum and I to argue, her words felt like an attack and our relationship became more and more strained until eventually, those friends became my family and I was sleeping at their house more than my own.
Their parents were usually at the pub until late most nights. Feeling like rejects, we took solace in each others company. Despite the early exposure to the smoking and the drinking and the mayhem; we would make time to laugh, and sing and dance like the children we longed to still be – there was nothing that Spice Girls and Five couldn’t fix. Whilst we had no idea how to live, our bond had grown stronger and bound us together during those lonely days. As different as we appeared to be on the outside, at the core we wanted the same – love, belonging, understanding and connection.
By the time I was sixteen, my relationship with Mum was fairly beaten – I went to live with my Gran and stayed there for a year before moving to Spain with a friend and his family. All the while I felt separated from the world and my family – disconnected, lost. It never occurred to me that within, was a deep well of unconditional love that was just waiting to be accessed. Never once did I turn to God, to Source, for healing and guidance. I had forgotten myself – my true Self. There I was, wandering through life making unconscious decisions, partying too hard, living recklessly and failing to notice that whispering voice within. Is it any wonder, then, that God sent me a huge wake up call?
Are you able to pin point the moment when you began to feel separated? Disconnected? Have you managed to find connection again? Moreover, what do you do to sustain that feeling of Oneness?
To be continued… (I promise – there is a light…)