A perfect family does not exist, as there is no perfect parent. To create and better yet, to maintain a family is undeniably hard work, for bonds of blood alone are not enough to form a family as a single unit of trust and love. It is not necessarily the lack of physical presence, but rather the lack of a true bond among family members that can break a family into a group of estranged individuals. Sensa Nostra recently spoke to a guy whose life story is a perfect example of the consequences of a lack of real communication, as well as a lack of acceptance within a family. He takes us on his journey to find a home where he felt he truly belongs.
I was six years old and I was playing football with my brother outside our house, as we usually did. But then all of a sudden, a big black car appeared out of nowhere and pulled in our driveway. Before anybody realized what was going on, two giant men—the kind that could easily get the part in all the Hollywood action movies—stepped out of the car and headed towards us. Without saying a word, one of them grabbed me. The other reached for my brother, and they hastily dragged us both into the car. By the time my father had noticed what was going on and started to run towards us, it was already too late. The car had taken off and no amount of screaming, yelling and fighting would make them turn around. I was terrified as never before and never again. I remember shouting in panic while crying my eyes out, when suddenly, this lady in the front seat turned back to me, looked me straight into the eyes and said, “Calm down. I’m your mother.”
Turns out, she was. When I was two years old, my mother and my dad separated. Apparently, she met someone younger and richer than my father and had decided that he would be a better fit for her. For reasons I‘m not sure of, she wouldn’t give away the kids. She fought hard and won the custody battle. My dad just couldn’t deal with it. He loved me and my brother way too much to just let her have us—and when he got the chance, he kidnapped both of us. I was a small child and therefore have little memory of that period of my life. But during the past few years, I have learnt almost everything about the flow of events back then. I know now that I spent my early childhood years travelling third-world countries with him, always on the move to prevent my mother from finding us. It was a tough life, but nonetheless a happy one. From what I’ve learnt, I was a very gifted child, always willing to learn. At the age of five, I was already bilingual, I was playing a piano and had some writing skills. Or at least that’s what they told me. It is hard to believe it now—that child seems nothing like who I am today.
When my mother found us in what I now know was Cambodia, she took us back to Australia, where we all used to live together. That’s where my story as I remember it begins. This woman might have been my biological mother, but to me, she was a stranger. Unlike my dad and me, she and I have nothing in common. Perhaps my mother saw too much of him in me, and that’s the reason why we never could get along. She was not a motherly type of woman, at least not towards me, and as the years went by, we were drifting further and further apart. It was even worse with my stepfather. He felt like he had power over me, since I was living under his roof, and I felt he had no right to use this power over me because he was not my father. I was never a part of that family. I was misunderstood and unwanted there, and was completely aware of that. At age thirteen, I realized that I couldn’t possibly live with them peacefully, and I started to run away from them. A few months later, my mother came to the same conclusion and she let me go.
From age thirteen to nineteen, I was a proper street dweller. I quit school and spent all of my time out on the streets with my friends, drinking, smoking and doing drugs. I don’t remember much of that time. I just know I tried every drug I could get my hands on, I was eating whatever I got, and sleeping wherever I could. I am sure I have suppressed a lot of memories from that time. That become undeniable when I started to revive a bit of memory while on psychedelics. My body, however, wouldn’t allow me to remember too much. Every time I get close to recalling suppressed memories from that time, I get sick and just throw everything up.
While I was living on the streets, nobody really cared for me and I cared about myself even less. That seemed to change when I met a man who was willing to give me a decent job as well as a place to live in. It looked like a dream scenario, but I soon realized that he was holding all the strings and he was controlling my whole life. He was exploiting me and in return, I started to exploit him. Together with some friends—or rather, people I hung out with—I turned his place into a squat house. And by that, I mean a major shithole: there were needles lying around everywhere, dog shit was covering the floor, and random junkies were dropping by all the time. It was disgusting, and no one in their right mind would live there. I stayed there for way too long before something in my brain finally clicked. I realized that if I continue to live there for another month, it would be the end of me. With no back-up plan, I packed the few things I possessed and returned to my mother’s place. She wasn’t too happy to see me, especially in that kind of a state, but she’d let me stay there as long as I’d pay for my food and rent. But our relationship didn’t miraculously change. If anything, we were more estranged than ever. As soon as I got the chance, I went my own way again.
Over the next few years, I couldn’t escape this pattern of moving around, turning each house I lived in into a squat, and finally returning back to my mother’s home each time I decided yet again I’d had enough. It was a pointless and vicious circle, but I didn’t know what to do to break it. I was hitting rock bottom and I knew had to put an end to this era of my life. The only way was to get away from it all. I had to leave Australia, my friends, and my mother to fix my life.
The opportunity to do so presented itself when my aunt and uncle from Germany offered to buy me a plane ticket to visit them in Europe. They wanted me to meet my relatives, but since I was so estranged to the term, all I saw in that plane ticket was a chance to escape my life and get a fresh start. I was nineteen at the time. Up to then, I have lived at least three different lifestyles, yet I was in desperate need to start a new one.
When I first got to Germany, I got really close to picking up the same lifestyle I was living in Australia. As soon as I got settled in, I started making connections to earn some money by dealing again, but then it struck me—my aunt and uncle were filling up the fridge and gave me a roof over my head. I didn’t need to earn money by any means. All the survival necessities were provided for me, and free of charge. I didn’t have to worry about what I was going to eat the next day, and so for the first time in years, I was given the opportunity to focus on myself.
And I did that. Since I got to Germany, I have learnt a foreign language, I am developing other skills, and I am a part of a longboarding business that allows me to travel the world. I am not as successful as I would like to be yet, but I am finally heading in a direction that leads somewhere. Maybe all I ever needed was someone to be there for me.
I owe everything I achieved to my auntie and uncle. They showed me how it feels to have a family. They made me feel worth something and they taught me that I can do anything I want in my life. My auntie and uncle actually like me for who I am, and only here in Germany have I fully comprehended that I might not be the abnormal and weird kid who is to blame for everything. My new family made me feel like I belong there; I was accepted and welcomed there. I realized that my screwed-up past is just a consequence of having a screwed-up family. I do not regret anything, because my past made me the person I am today, and I don’t want to think about what would happen if I spent my childhood with my father. It doesn’t matter, since I can’t change anything now. A few years ago, we got back in touch and we’re getting to know each other again. We talk on a regular basis now, and next year, I’m visiting him in Indonesia. I do intend to go my own way once more, but now I know that there is a place I’m welcomed to anytime I need to come back. I have a home I can return to.