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First blog post

Hello readers, welcome to my blog. I’m using this blog to publish a book I am writing. It is on going and I would like as much feedback as possible with regards to the entries I will be posting. I have never written a book before so any help and advice is greatly appreciated. Please feel free to comment and give feedback.

 

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Chapter 3: Can I be different?

Can I be different?

So it’s 6th year now, my final year. Not only that it was going to be the loneliest year, all my friends were leaving school. What will I do? It’s my first day and my first class was Business Management, I was worried. I knew everyone in my class already but I wasn’t close enough to anyone to be hanging out with them. It felt like I was starting all over again. More people from my year had left at the end of 5th year so in a way I didn’t feel too nervous, it seems to be the case that the decent people stay on and the trouble makers leave. In my case the people that I didn’t get on well with had left, apart from a few friends in my year and the year above. Class was about to start and we were sat in pairs. I was paired with a girl who was in a few of my classes in the previous year. Sarah was very pretty, long brown hair, medium height and, for her age, seemed very down to earth and confident. We got on well and she asked me how my summer was and what I got up to. We got on really well, we both had lost friends who had left. We started hanging out during breaks and messaging each other more outside of school. We used MSN which was very popular and spoke about everything. Everything apart from what I hid behind my mask. 

I was lucky that first day back, another girl I knew pretty well, Rachel, was in my Moral Issues class, we used to study together in 4th year and spoke every now and then in 5th year. We caught up and also started hanging out. Great, i had 2 friends, that’s enough for me. We were a trio, always hanging out during breaks and in our common classes. 6th year didn’t seem so bad after all, no bullies, decent class mates and a few friends. I was still really shy, I wouldn’t talk to any of the guys in my year because I never connected with them before. I spoke to some of them but I kept my distance from the majority of them. Sarah, Rachel and I got really close and I was still unsure and confused about my feelings towards girls and guys. I kept saying to myself I have to like a girl. I thought Sarah was really pretty and we got on so well. We started meeting up more outside of work. I kept thinking about approaching her about how I thought I felt…. I had no idea what I was doing. I hinted towards her on MSN about my feelings. We used to always joke around at school and pretend we were going out, as people often paired us up like that. I didn’t mind that at all to be honest. It was the first time in my school life where I felt normal only because of a fake relationship with a close friend. I would often hang out with Rachel too as we always used to study together. I knew she was jealous about Sarah. I felt closer towards Sarah but couldn’t explain or tell if any feelings were true or genuine.

I summed up my courage and asked Sarah out. However I knew it was too good to be true. Our pretend relationship was never meant to come into fruition. It was a bit awkward after awhile but we did chat about her reasonings why she didn’t want to be in a relationship. I was out of my depth. I would talk to my friends outside of school about this, to cover up my confusion about my sexuality, I’d ask about advice about talking to girls how to ask them out. This was my way of blending in to normality.

Chapter 2: Hell House

Hell House

I have always been close to my mother, even during my teenage years. We spoke about most things together, but not everything. I think every child’s response to “how was school?” is “fine thanks” then walks into his or her room and stays there till dinner or bedtime. I was no different. I never went into details about school unless I had some form of assignment to do or if I had some letter for Mum. It took me a while to open up about what was happening to me at school, and the name calling. It was difficult to tell her about my issues, especially with the ‘gay’ comments. It was complicated. I didn’t want to be gay, I didn’t know if I was and if I was there was no way I would want anyone to know, so the whole situation at school made it hard to approach. However a mother knows her son, she knew I wasn’t happy. We spoke about it, resulting in the “ignore them” approach. What else could you do?

There was me, my mother and our 2 dogs, and it was like that for a long time. You know what happens when your single mother finds a partner? You get anxious, scared and almost a sense of jealousy. The only person in your life so far is your Mum, and then someone else comes along, there’s instant jealousy. This guy she was seeing was at first quite decent, we connected and I felt at ease with him being in our home. That didn’t last for long. I began to dislike him more and more after every fall out they had. It got to the point where I lived in my room.

I began to connect more with John, my friend next door, for any reason not to be in the house when he is there. I started building a social life online, where social media was just starting to kick off. This was 2007 and 2008. Online messaging and social media sites like Myspace and Bebo were a hit at our school. Messaging services like MSN and Skype were becoming big. I reconnected with one of my close friends who left the High School in our first year, it was the online connectivity which helped me build friendships again, since my social life at school was going nowhere. It was online where I could be who I wanted to be. I didn’t have to worry about being called gay, or worry about being bullied. I can decide who I want to talk to, and I can be whoever I want. So I made friends online, and met friends of friends using MSN. I built my friendship circle this way. Ultimately this leads to my total in denial stance of not being gay. By this point I had convinced myself that I will lead a normal life, and not be gay. I started meeting these people and my old friend from school more often, we would travel to the mainland together, off the island, and meet up in the big towns and cities. I felt like I belonged to a group of people now.

I’m now 17 and school is starting to become bearable again. Everyone in my year is more mature, the nasty kids have left and we all know each other pretty well now and things were nice. I have a larger friend group now, there is now 4 of us instead of just 2. Every now and then I’d hang out with some other friends too, so my social life felt good. We got moved to a new school building, everything felt fresh and new. I think that really helped me start new again. Mum is still with her partner and we have a new addition to the family. Things are really starting to get messed up in my head. My little brother was born just before I turned 17, that’s quite an age gap isn’t it? For 17 years I was an only child. It took some getting used to, there was jealousy, and annoyance, sleepless nights, arguments. It all subsides eventually. Mum’s partner is now a more permanent member of the family now, which I’m not happy about. However school was going okay, so the table flipped, I would rather more time spent at school than at home now. Don’t get me wrong, my brother means everything to me now. Back then I had no escape from the person I detested the most, my mother’s partner. Not just because of the constant arguing and disruption he caused our household, but the attitude, the lack of communication, the lack of care and emotion. To him, I wasn’t part of his family, I was just some kid living with his partner, if that doesn’t sound isolating I don’t know what’s worse.

All while this is happening, social life at school changes drastically once more. My 3 friends all leave. What am I going to do? I stuck out the final year of school. 2 of the 3 were in their final year and obviously graduated, and my best mate James, who I had spent most of my school life with has voluntarily left school to start working. That leaves just me, this is not what I want for my final year of school.

Chapter 1: Are you gay?

Are you gay?

Let’s start off with High School. As a 25 year old it feels like a life time away now. I spent 6 years at that school and since then 7 years has past. Nevertheless High School shaped me in many ways, some good and some, unfortunately, held me back, and still does to this current day.

Arran High is a small school with only about 300 or so pupils attending while I was there. A small school is great, more one on one time with your teacher, smaller classes, closer bonds with your class mates. For the first few years, this was great. For starters I will explain, our High School system combines the 3 way tiered system that the American and English systems use. We stay in the same school from the age of 13 to 18. We don’t have Junior High or Middle School. This means even more quality time with the same people you met when you were 13 for 6 years. Also by living on an island it means long bus trips to the school everyday. Fast forward 3 or 4 years. I’m 16, in the midst of my teenage years, going through some changes mentally and physically. Everyone changes at a different pace, for me I guess I was average, I didn’t shoot up all of a sudden to 6 foot unfortunately like some of my class mates. Felt like I was always playing catch up in that regard.

I was never a popular kid at school. I had a few close friends, we only hung out in pairs during the school day. Having one close friend who happens to be a guy seems to be consequential in High School. We would always hang out at the same spot during break or before classes started. Never where bigger groups of kids hanged out, and we always avoided the older students. You can’t always avoid them though.

There’s always a group of girls, in any High School that will try to get their opinion of you known to the world. It seems unavoidable and when you’re 16. Cliques always exist and normal human communication hasn’t appeared to have developed yet. We would casually walk around the school during our break and hear someone shout for a distant “Hey gay boys!”. I’d look back and see them follow us from a distance in the corridor, of course it’s them. The bitchiest girls in the year. They would do anything for attention. I look back and just ignore them and we continue walking, but they decide to continue to pursue us. I can hear them talking to themselves uttering words like ‘gay’ ‘poofs’ ‘lovers’. I lose my tempter and shout “Shut up!” in the corridor. Which worked, but they just snigger and laugh then walked by us. That was obviously what they wanted, a reaction. That was just the beginning. The friends you had a primary, aren’t there for you anymore. They would join in on the fun and shout “are you gay?!” in the High School grounds. You don’t respond because why would you. This is how you become a social recluse, you stop talking to people who verbally abuse you, but what else can you do? At this point I deny these accusations because actually, I did not know fully what being gay meant. And here comes the only child problem. As a single child you aren’t exposed to anything other than what your parents say and why would they challenge you on anything? Words like ‘gay’ ‘you’re sad’, ’boner’. You don’t know what that means? But you find out eventually to other’s entertainment.

During that year my one of my best friends from primary school speaks about me behind my back and then starts shouting out the gay comments along with the others. It really is a follow the crowd situation. I remain silent. This is only the beginning.

I lived in a small village by the beach, it’s a wonderful place. I am blessed to have spent my teenage years there. I had some close friends there who were in my year at school and a year or 2 below and above. I nice mix and outside the normal cliques of the high school environment. I felt safe with them. It’s funny how they disappear while I’m at school though. We would always be up to some mischief around the village, hiding at the ‘den’ in the forest, using laser pens to scare neighbours, have bonfires by the beach. It was fun. One of my close friend’s at the time, we will call him John, lived next door. We could shout to each other from our bedroom windows, use walkie talkies, laser pens as a means of communication during ‘bed time’. I felt truly part of a friendship group outside of school. Of course, outside of school, school is a different world. We were always friends, but he moved onto other things way faster than me. He wanted to go to parties and drink, i wanted to hang out like we always used to. He was moving on and i wasn’t. That is when i thought to myself… ‘why is he moving on? Is there something wrong with me?’. That is when school just got a lot worse. Remember how i said those bus journeys to school were long?  Well they just started to feel a lot longer.

The bus to school, I’d get it every morning 7:50am. The bus of hell. One guy just hell bent on making my life shit. He was in my year, luckily only in 1 of my classes which was music… which was fine we just wouldn’t talk and I’d easily avoid him during the day at school. I couldn’t avoid him on the school bus. I’d sit quietly on the side or at the front just to avoid conversation. He’d always some how try to fit in “Ben’s gay!” in the conversation, either during or just as i was leaving the bus. I’d just stay quiet and not say anything. This carried on until he finally left school at the end of 4th year.

It was during this year where I started feeling attracted towards guys. This is where the confusion comes in. People at school must have been onto something. I had this friend during primary and high school he was the year above. We’d have these play fights and all of a sudden I’d feel attracted to it and I’d have to stop. I always thought to myself, i like this… but why? We lived in different villages so we hardly saw each other, we used to be close friends but grew distant as we got older. Being 16 was a struggle, the following years I will touch upon will focus more on home life and trying to be someone I’m not, hiding behind that mask.

One page outline

Welcome to my book. I will tell you a little bit about myself before we begin. I feel it is obligatory to introduce myself first, this book is my life, and no one else has had access to my stories before. So lets begin. My name is Ben, I am 25, born and bred Scottish. I have lived in Scotland all my life, in many parts. I’ll let this book be an insight to Scottish life as a youth, and a young adult as well as a major insight to being gay in a small island community, we’ll talk more about that later. To be precise, I live in Aberdeen which is the 3rd largest city in Scotland, which isn’t actually that large. This is my first book. I never thought I would write again after completing my dissertation at uni, never say never right? Being comfortable with you who are as a person is no simple feat. It’s even more difficult when you are young and gay. Sometimes you often find yourself hiding behind a mask, even when you are comfortable with your sexuality. You will be confused, scared, in denial but you learn something new every day they say, until you accept who you are.  This process is different for everyone but the one thing we all have  in common is growing up, maturing, meeting new people and learning new things. All these things will help you grow into the person you want to be and in this book I will tell you my story of growing up in a small island community, struggling with my sexuality and personality, dealing with bullying and change and coming to terms with who you are. We will talk about everything, this is my story and my life, through my eyes. I hope this will be useful for anyone struggling through their most difficult times, and helps you realise, nothing lasts forever. Everyone has their secrets and no one is perfect. We will start off at High School, it’s the best time of your life people will say. I beg to differ, but we will have  chat about that soon. i grew up on a Scottish island called Arran, it’s a nice place to grow up, a great place to grow old. Life in the middle? Not perfect, i’ll tell you that. Arran brings me many fond memories, growing up there as a child meant freedom, safety and friends. There is only one High School on this island, and every child who goes to one of the many primary schools there will go to that High School, Arran High. I’ll chat about my High School years, coping with bullying, my confusion about my sexuality, family life and trying to fit in, in a small island community. Moving on from that, i’ll chat about Uni. What a change of pace that was, we’ll talk about self acceptance, fitting in, change of environment and being free of constraints and experimenting using my new found social life. Following on from Uni, i’ll go over my attempt of trying to be an adult, I still struggle to come to terms with that, at the age of 25. My life post-Uni has been more of a rollercoaster than I would have anticipated. It goes to show that you never know what will happen in life. I’ll talk about dating, coming out, break ups and my career so far. It’ll bring you up to speed of where I am at now and a further explanation of why I decided to write this book. That about sums up what I’ll be talking about in this book, I’ll I hope you will enjoy it and join me on this interesting ride, telling secrets is fun after all. As a disclaimer, everything I write here is based on my life, however I may add some non-factual content, unfortunately my memory of these events will never be 100% accurate, to compensate I will add some fictitious flare, here and there.