Post Revisited, Reedited, Reworded, Reblogged From May 27th 2018
Don’t Rush Me!!
“Don’t let others tell you what you can’t do. Don’t let the limitations of others limit your vision. If you can remove your self-doubt and believe in yourself, you can achieve what you never thought possible.”
There are a few things that l have a bone of contention with in this world and also that l consider somewhat overrated, these being:
People’s expectations of others
Achievement vs. underachievement.
The last one on that particular list is the one that l find the most irksome, having lived with it directly as an insult right up until my early forties from my early childhood years. It changed from that point because l confronted the insulter and basically told him to fuck off. The insulter was my Father who loved to bandy around the term freely when describing his Son to anyone who would listen.
“Oh yes my Son, absolute underachiever!”
After that confrontation with my father he ceased to say the words to my face, however it didn’t prevent him from saying it to anyone else who would listen. One of the people he constantly repeated it to was my sister, as during the whole process of the estate probate she has mentioned it quite a few times. She uses it as a weapon when she wants to make a point.
Every time l hear her say it or write it, just makes me think back to my father’s love for addressing the term. Before the man died last October, someone l met in his house, also made mention to it in front of my father, who told the woman to hush down.
For me that insult began from around the age of two, in truth l cannot specifically remember that, but my Mother informed me of this for years as a kid, that my Father considered me quite useless. I do however remember one incident with clarity when l was literally around the two and half years of age mark. We had emigrated from the UK to Australia and for the first six months l hadn’t actually spoken a word, whereas prior to that l had been quite a talkative little chap. [Australia can have that effect on some people!]
Doctors many years later would say that was the visible start to my Asperger’s, although none of us knew that back in 1965. My first words after the absence came during one breakfast time where my Father was constantly complaining about something and that l was taking my time eating. When l simply stopped what l was doing, looked up from my bowl and said “Don’t Rush Me!!”
From as young as five to my later teens l was never good enough for my father. I would achieve something and be quite proud, and he would widen the goalposts once more, say he wasn’t impressed and that any son of his should be trying harder. I used to wonder when he said this, how many sons did the man actually have? What expectations he actually had from a five year old or a ten year old is quite beyond me, he never said to me what he expected of me except to ‘be better!’
A further definition of ‘being better’ was basically to be the opposite to any of the following ….‘waste of time as a human’, ‘never amount to anything’, ‘absolute underachiever’,’ ‘he’s not my Son’, ‘he’s gay’, ‘he’s on drugs’, ‘he is too shy’, and the diatribe continued forever with even more nothing comments.
My father was always carting an anger around with him concerning higher education. As the eldest in his family and before the arrival of his brother, the last child born to the family, he had hopes of attending university. With the last birth, those hopes were dashed in his eyes and he therefore failed to attend a higher education and from that point on in his eyes his life simply got worse.
I am not going to lie and say that those terms didn’t upset me, because they did, most assuredly they did and bloody deeply too. At my own concession for reasons unbeknownst to me l did struggle at school, it wasn’t a case of not trying, l did my absolute best at everything l did. But my concentration was short; although if it was a subject l was dedicated to l absorbed everything.
Some of my own teachers constantly referred to me in the same insulting manner and the best line that l had from a young age was ‘The lights are on but nobody appears to be home. Rory is an intelligent child, but lacks the oomph to get started. He considers other children to be annoying. Sadly unless something happens, l can never see him amounting to anything except a school drop out!”
What you have just read was on one of my report cards when l was around 8 in Australia, but it wouldn’t be the first time they would appear there. No, many teachers became extremely frustrated with me.
Of course this kind of report card did absolutely nothing to bring me closer to my Father. He was a brutally strict man and a very stern disciplinarian. Back then, spankings were a regular activity in my household and l was punished with a great deal of frequency for underachieving.
The strange thing was that there were topics that l did excel with, English, Biology, Art and Classical and British History and some sports like running, hurdling and jumping, hockey, badminton, baseball and swimming. However l was useless at Mathematics, Chemistry, Languages, Technical Drawing, Metalwork and Woodwork and Religious Education, Cricket and English Football or Soccer. Of the topics l was good at, l won awards and recognition for, even if my grades were not spectacular.
But they were never good enough, not in the eyes of my Father. Instead of praising me for the topics l did excel at, he only criticised me further by stating that l should be exceptional in all topics and not just the ones that l liked.
Growing up in my household was a challenge, my parents were constantly arguing, there was domestic violence, mental cruelty towards my Mother and myself and to boot, a man who was by all accounts a fixated self-loving wack job. I was terrified of living at home and l know this reflected badly on my years at school.
If we can forget the presence of my Asperger’s which although was with me since my birth but 1] never known about and 2] never allowed to flourish as this would have identified me as more of an oddball. I am actually quite surprised that l did leave school with some qualifications, because l was determined to NOT be a drop out. I was ambitious but was never really allowed to exercise these enthusiasms openly.
My Father could only see himself as being the ‘perfect one’, this meant that especially and more so, my Mother and l in his eyes were completely and utterly useless excuses for air breathers. As to my Sister, she had faults but they were forgivable.
My Father’s expectations of his underachieving Son were never totally explained in any detail except “You are going to have to pull your socks up if you ever hope to achieve anything in this world Sonny!” On pressing, and l do remember countless times trying to understand what his actual expectations of me were? He would simply yell “Better!! Be a better person!”
When l was nine years of age l started Drama and according to my teachers l was very good at becoming someone else, little did we both know back then l think now. I held several lead parts in school shows and received good results – everyone was thrilled except one person. Who never paid any compliments? He would constantly berate me that l was useless.
At the age of thirteen l started my own ironing business whilst at school and earned my own pocket money therefore relinquishing his role in having to award me any monies and bought my own freedom in many respects. This only stopped because the tax man paid me a visit one day at home after school and said l was earning too much money and not paying any tax and so l had to stop. Once more my Father reprimanded me and said it was ‘woman’s work anyway’ and not befitting a man! Oddly enough my father only learned to iron his own clothing when my mother divorced him, and when l was younger he never hesitated to have me iron his work shirts.
I am sure that by this time you may gather that l was terrified of my Father and for many, many years tried to prove to him, that l was anything but an underachiever and all to no avail.
With the money from my ironing business, as well other smaller enterprises like dealing in old books, antiques and house clearances l managed to pay for my two year course in Guildford Training College to become a chef because l saw this as the lead into management. The likes of some of the great celebrity chefs have nothing to fear from my culinary arts; however l am a qualified chef. This achievement was met with disapproval. I had originally wanted to work as a veterinarian, but my Father saw this occupation as a waste of time, hence why l took to catering as a learned skill.
I never attended university, mostly because my grades were not high enough for entry. But l did manage to secure work in the catering industry and progressed very quickly up the ladder to management.
All the way from around five years of age till my forties l tried so very hard to make my Father see that l was an achiever but l didn’t like to be pushed, rushed or cajoled into doing things that l had no love of. Over those years, l achieved many things and some of them were ‘great achievements’ not just in my eyes, but in the eyes of others also. I succeeded at many things that l put my hand to and have lived at my own concession quite the rewarding life. Even during the years leading to my early forties l was achieving more than most people ever achieved.
I only had my own expectations of what l could do in comparison to what l could not, and if l could not, then l would turn my hands to it and see – for me – if l could – and experience huge satisfaction when something proved successful. But never could l please the one man l was trying to prove to that l was most assuredly NOT an underachiever. He could never see in his eyes that his Son was the opposite; he could only ever see Failure.
Even during a mammoth breakdown which began in my early thirties and ended ten years later, l was still achieving more than most people would ever do. I was driven, almost hell bent on ensuring that l still battled this under achieving badge l had stapled to my forehead.
In my thirties with the breakdown, l started to isolate myself, this wasn’t just the hidden Asperger’s causing this, but the worthlessness l felt about who l was as a human being, that despite everything l had ever achieved l could never please the one person who l wanted to please – my Father.
During those years of breakdown, l battled demons every day, managed to not kill myself through countless suicide attempts, clung onto my sanity with a mind that wanted to close down and managed to, despite everything still try and hyper focus on living something akin to life. That alone is one hell of a fucking achievement, ask anyone who has ever experienced that shitload of mental angst and come through the other side what it’s like. To boot l was running a successful business through this period – l never gave up, despite desperately wanting to at times.
It is NOT easy.
By the time l started to emerge from the darkness, l confronted my Father and said enough was enough. I didn’t give a flying fuck what he thought of his Son anymore, that the problem didn’t reside with me, but him. That he was a bully and a mental abuser and that if HE didn’t pull his socks up, he would lose his only Son!
My father died in October 2018, not once did l ever hear the words l am proud of you from him with regards me. He mentioned it many times over to my sister, his daughter. On the birth of her children, with regards her two marriages – he was proud, and even when she was doing complete wrong of him, he was still always proud of her?
After our confrontation with my father all those years ago, it simply ceased to upset me, l moved on, l would still get the occasional jibe from him, he would throw the odd insult my way, but l simply cared not anymore. I came to realise that l would never be worthy of anything useful in his eyes, so l stopped trying and basically just got on with my life. I have lived in many senses of the word an extraordinary life, l have achieved much without any help from anyone except myself. Certainly in some respects l have achieved more than my father ever did. This doesn’t award me any glee, or self-righteous pride – if anything it saddens me.
That when l was younger, my Father instead of acting in the role he should have performed as in supportive and challenge orientated to motivate his Son was only ever interested in competing with him, proving that he alone was a God that needed worshipping. That he was the perfection of everything golden’, that he was the only person that mattered.
It mattered not to him at any time to simply stop in his tracks and look at what his Son had achieved with his life. He thought not twice of ridiculing him for not having children, or hitting on any of his girlfriends and trying to bed them. He thought not twice about boasting about his ability to play cricket and not poncy baseball, he never complimented him for becoming a hockey captain at twelve of the school team and the list went on.
I could go on however my point to this is this………..
FUCK what people think of you!!
We must all do the things in this life, our lives that make us happy, because we achieve more when we are not trying to please others or meet their expectations of what we should be achieving for them.
We are not here to live our lives for our parents or narcisstic Fathers, we are here to do what we love. I am not a judgemental person, and l try to live by that ethos. I am happy for others when they are doing with their life what makes them happier – because happiness is one of the hardest emotions to not just achieve and secure, but to maintain and sustain.
You were born to be the person you were born to be, it’s that simple, you cannot be someone else, how your path evolves is down to you, and you alone, no one else. Sure accept guidance, wisdom, motivation and inspiration, but DON’T bow down to anothers expectations.
I guess what l am saying is this … stop telling yourself or believing that you are an underachiever – l assure you, you have probably achieved more than you give yourself credit for – however – you have got to start believing in yourself more. The moment l started believing in myself more the more l realised l didn’t care what others expectations of me were.