This, here, is my birth certificate. As with everyone, it’s an incredibly important document as it represents the start of my journey in life and is the first to acknowledge my existence in this world. Whilst I’ve omitted my mother’s personal details for her own privacy, you’ll notice that my father’s details are absent and have never been present. Apparently, he did not wish to have his name placed on it. I can only speculate as to why this might be. Maybe he was ashamed of me? Of us as a family? Maybe he did not want the responsibility or financial culpability. Maybe, at 20, he felt too young to deal with the pressures of raising his second child? Who knows? I never will.
I guess then, that it is no surprise, that we don’t have a relationship. In fact, it must be around eighteen years since I last spoken to him or have attempted to make any kind of contact. If he wasn’t ashamed of me at birth, he certainly grew to be. At 17, when I was finding myself as a young man, he could not handle my sexuality as a gay man. He’d fire homophobic abuse at me and try to belittle me at every opportunity. This was typical of his character.
As a child, some of my first memories, although vague, are of him beating my mother. He’d throw things at her, punch her, pull her hair and drag her around and push her to the floor. He would control her, tell her what to wear, degrade and humiliate her and essentially take away her self-worth and self-respect. My sister and I, at that time too young and defenceless to be able to help my mother in any way, would watch in absolute horror as she screamed and begged at him to stop. There were times when he would hit my sister and me.. I remember my mother watching and doing nothing, perhaps scared of enraging him further and him retaliating by attacking her or us further. Occasionally, she would retaliate and hit him back which fired him up all the more.
My ‘father’ was alcohol dependent and smoked a lot of strong weed resin. No doubt this affected him, making him paranoid and a ‘man’ out of control. I must have been about three or four when he left for another woman and to start a new family. I didn’t understand at the time, but my mother was distraught, broken and unfixable from this moment on. He took from her the very essence of her being – her character, her self-respect, her dignity. She went from bad to train wreck. She was now herself drinking heavily and leaving my sister and I frequently in squalor whilst she was out drinking. The house was absolutely filthy, cold, and was in no way a ‘home’. What was once at least a house that would be tidied, it was now little better than a squat.
Shortly afterwards, she started taking medication to deal with her loss, and presumably the other causes of unhappiness which had plagued her young life – Tempazepam sleeping tablets. She became increasingly addicted to them, take a monthly course of 60 tablets in 2 days. Consequently, she required a lot of care from us as children. We had to bathe her, cook for us, wipe her face and hair clean when she would fall asleep in the food we made. We had to make ‘drug deals’ to buy extra pills for her when she had ran out. All our money went on those. I can still remember a 10mg Tempazepam tablet costing £1 each and a 20mg £1.50. Needless to say the majority of her state benefits went on these and, therefore, we were frequently hungry and going without. Neighbours would look out for us occasionally and to contact social services with their concerns.
I was about eight years of age when we were removed from her care after an incident in which I fell on glass whilst out playing which resulted in deep cuts to my hand which severed tendons. I knocked on a strangers door and they took me home. There was no answer and so they kindly took me to the local hospital. As they could not administer treatment without parental consent, the police tried to track down my mother. She was nowhere to be found initially but upon my information, they traced her at a nearby pub. There was no concern from her, and my aunt, with whom she’d had a close relationship advised that the unknown couple who had cared for me should take me. For the next four years, I would be in care with foster parents…
In some ways, looking at my birth certificate fills me with sadness knowing that at that time, I was unaware of the journey I would take. In some ways, it hurts me that my father’s name is not there, despite his inadequacy because it makes me feel incomplete. On other occasions, I am glad to not see his name there as he has never been a father to me. He has not nurtured, supported, encouraged me or cared for me. It can’t be said that my mother was much better, but she was around a great deal longer than he was and her fall from grace was largely due to him. I will never forgive him for that and I can swear from that day to this and every day forward, I will never have anything to do with him ever again.