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I CONFESS: Walking with hope

Barbados Nation

I CONFESS: Walking  with hope

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ONE OF THE things about getting older is taking responsibility for your actions. Even if you always blame others for the predicament you find yourself in – as I did for most of my life – the truth is we are the ones who put ourselves into particular situations through our decisions.

And when I said our decisions, I mean as long as we go along with something even against our better judgment, we made that choice. If we didn’t want to do it, then we would have refused to.

At 33 years old and after numerous failed relationships as well as little success in my working life mostly because of my attitude, I realise that much of what went wrong in my life was largely my fault.

I can admit that now because I understand the stupidity of lying to myself.

From experience, I know people who are doing what I did, don’t listen to anyone as we believe we know everything. And as you know, those who know everything can’t learn anything.

But I hope someone who reads this and recognises they have a loved one or relative whose behaviour is like what mine used to be, that they would encourage them to take note. I can only hope.

My mum often complained how, from a child, I was “own way and hard ears”. For as long as I could remember, she also used to tell me that I was going to come to a sad end because of my bad attitude, and when I do come to my senses there would be no one there for me.

I used to dismiss her as a miserable old fool. I could not stand her and often wished she would just die. And when she did, I didn’t shed a tear. Truth be told, at that time I could not care less.

I don’t know what had me like that. From a child I was always mouthy and opinionated, and took pleasure in disobeying authority. For example, my mum often told me not to go to town with a certain girl as her mother was a shoplifter and she might be too. I ignored her and still used to walk around with the girl. Then one evening the girl stole some items from a store and gave me one. But a sales clerk saw and we were both held.

I was taken to the police station where the girl confessed that I was not involved. The policewoman then advised me to stop walking around with the girl as I may not be so lucky another time.

I never had any intention of abandoning my friend, but she was sent to Summervale, so that situation took care of itself. 

That happened when I was about 12. The next big thing occurred when I was 15. I used to hang around my older brother and his friends in a shed they had built. They used to smoke herb and drink, and I would try these things as well. My mum told me to stop going around them as they were much older than me and one may try to take advantage of me. Again, I ignored her.

But on my 15th birthday, two of them held me down on the ground and raped me. They were drinking and smoking, and when I went there they took advantage of me. They never got charged for doing it though because I never told anybody. But I made them give me money on the threat that I would tell my brother who they all feared because he had a bad temper.

After that, I hated men and tried to rip off every one of them I met. The more they liked me, the more money they had to spend to get and keep me. I was a heartless vulture and had no problem having two and three men at a time. I was that bad.

At the same time, I could not keep a job. Having left school with only two CXCs and a poor attitude, I never lasted long wherever I worked. I invariably clashed with someone over some frivolous thing, or tried to rip off the business whenever I worked in a position where I was responsible for cash and/or goods.  

What changed me?

I saw a teenaged girl carrying on her mother in town one day like I used to treat my mum, who was by then dead. And the woman stood up and cried. She told the teen that one day she would realise how much she loved her and was only trying to steer her along the right path in life.

Those words struck me because that was basically the same thing my mother told me. They made me reflect on my life, how I lived it, and what I had to show for all my years of defiance.

I was 31 at the time with no true friends, no one who I could call on to help me in a jam, no place of my own, no steady income, nothing. My brother was in jail and my relatives wanted nothing to do with me given my behaviour through the years.

I was alone, and for the first time I realised how lonely I was.

That evening, I went by a friend of my mother’s who was a teacher and a Christian. I never could stand her, but that evening I poured my heart out and cried.

Since then it has been tough going as I had a bad reputation and people are always wary of me. My life is now a struggle to remain good and decent.

I believe in God and go to church, but what drives me even more than that belief is the realisation that I wasted my best years doing things that were meaningless. I am now determined to spend the rest of my life countering that, and hopefully, find lasting happiness.