Many people may be living well below their true potential as a result of some earlier childhood experiences, and they may not realise it. There are too many people who have developed harmful addictions and behaviour patterns that are directly linked to past childhood experiences. A high percentage of violent crimes may also be as a result of these experiences as well. It is hoped that the information in this book will help those affected to understand themselves better and then guide them to pursue wholeness in their lives so that they can ensure a healthier and happier life in their relationships and overall wellbeing.
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“Without Love I Am Nothing”
By Des Bowman
Published by Des Bowman
© 2011 Des Bowman
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At the time of writing this book, I am 60 years of age and have been married to Ann for 35 years. We are the proud parents of two children, Daniel & Kate, and grandparents to five delightful little ones.
At the age of 52, I began a journey of healing when I realized the enormous influence that certain events from my childhood had on my life, and my reactions to life's experiences.
Never at any stage throughout my life, until this point, did I connect the way I had lived to those early childhood experiences. Even though at times there was enormous emotional pain associated with confronting the past, I was determined to be set free of anything that would restrict me from being the best person, husband, father, grandfather and friend I could be.
I wrote this book and my earlier books to help you reach your full potential by confronting the past, showing you my journey, and what I had to do to be set free.
You may come upon information that reminds you of events that took place in your own childhood that were hurtful. These may cause you to become emotional or stressed. An unaddressed childhood trauma may be restricting you from living up to your full potential.
It is not my intention to make anyone feel any pain, guilt, or shame whatsoever. Childhood experiences often influence the way we see and deal with life. With any revelation of hurtful past experiences comes a responsibility to get the help we need to live the remainder of our lives as free as possible from that earlier damage. The damage I speak of affects not only us personally, but also many others that we are in contact with throughout our lives.
This is not a self-help book but more my memoirs and opinions combined with some researched statistics and information that show a trend in harmful behaviours amongst many people.
If you choose to implement some of the strategies that I applied then that is your choice. At no time am I making firm suggestions to all readers. Your circumstances and that of others may vary dramatically.
My own healing journey is detailed in the last chapter in this book. For some readers I would just like to leave you with this piece of homespun philosophy:
"Just because it hasn't been your own personal experience,
doesn't mean it's not true!"
Over many years educators, scientists, governments and medical practitioners have come up with various strategies to help young children to function in a manner that they consider “proper behavior.”
Despite undertaking many years of study and spending massive amounts of funding, there appears to be little, if any, progress. In fact, ground seems to have been lost instead of gained. This could be due to the lack of acceptance by our decision-makers that the most powerful ingredient, application, or strategy appears to have been overlooked – that is simply “Love” itself.
One of the greatest fears people have is to lose someone they love, especially one of their children, due to suicide. Unfortunately, many end their lives this way.
Often unless it happens to someone close to us, then we would rather not concern ourselves with such terrible events. Throughout the world today, there are many young children who self harm and or take their lives. Many adults do as well and it is often due to events in their lives that occurred while they were kids.
You can turn away now if you wish. You might find this book a bit too confronting. However, it is not as frightening as the thought that, by not reading this book, you may miss an opportunity to learn how you might equip yourself to save a life by learning to identify those behavior patterns that people at risk, especially kids, are likely to portray.
* Over 1 million people die by suicide worldwide each year.
* The global suicide rate is 16 per 100,000 populations.
* On average, one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds somewhere in the world.
* 1.8% of worldwide deaths are suicides.
* Global suicide rates have increased by 60% in the past 45 years.
(Information sourced online at Suicide.org. Suicide Prevention, Awareness and Support)
As devastating and frustrating as it may be for family members of these victims of suicide, it also should also be a concern for governments, educators and members of the public. Who is to know which young person is next? It could quite easily be one of your own children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces or next-door neighbors. What is it that drives these people to commit suicide? What is it that overwhelms them to the point where ending their lives appears to be the only option available to them, or where they would rather end their lives than get help to deal with their problems.
It cannot only be the fact that some of these people have an addiction to drugs and alcohol that leads to, influences, or alters their normal state of mind, even though statistics suggest that a number of people are heavily influenced by these factors. Often the reasons they become addicted to those things are that they are trying to mask or escape from pain, or have issues in their lives that they cannot deal with alone and because they do not know how to seek help.
Given the ages of some of the kids who choose to end their lives, it is also unlikely that they have been the victims of huge financial losses from investments, have businesses going broke, or difficulties with gambling issues. One might also assume that stresses due to work or their own failed marriages cannot be the reasons either. So what might be their reasons?
The scenarios mentioned above are often the reasons given as to why adults commit suicide. However, these situations are not reasons why young people choose to die at their own hand. Maybe they do not know that anyone cares enough to listen to them when they have a problem, or perhaps they do not feel encouraged to discuss the stuff that bothers them. These reasons and many more unanswered questions prompted me to write this book.
As I sat in a shopping mall food court enjoying a cup of coffee one morning, I looked up to see an old woman in a wheel chair being wheeled by a nurse alongside a table near where I was sitting. Just at that same moment, a young mother was pushing a stroller with a newborn baby inside, up to a table on the other side of me.
The contrast in these people’s lives was significant to me at the time, in that here was someone who was nearing the end of their life, suffering with disease or from old age, and another life just beginning. What stood out to me the most was that both needed care, someone to look after them and guide them, and to help sustainthem in their daily living.
In between these two stages of living, there is a road on which many get lost. They lose the care and support needed to sustain their own existence. Many never get to be the old person at the end of this road. Some never get far past the stage of childhood due to circumstances that they encounter along their short, but sometimes, tumultuous life journey.
When someone dies by an act of their own will, especially if that person is a child or young teenager, the impact it has on those around them is often far more devastating than most people could ever imagine.
The guilt that some carry as a result of such a traumatic experience may even cause siblings or other people such as close friends to follow the same path.
• Some kids may believe they are responsible for the death of their loved one; because of hurt they caused, or perhaps because they failed to showed how much they loved them!
• This could contribute to the decision to end their lives.
• Maybe they do not feel loved!
• Maybe they feel unwanted and useless!
• Maybe they are told they are useless and good for nothing!
• Maybe they just cannot see a way out of their past or present circumstance,
which prevents them seeing a future for themselves!
When a kid takes his or her own life, there is often much speculation as to why they did it. “Probably on drugs,” or “More than likely carrying guilt for something they did wrong,” some may say. “Always in trouble, better off now anyway” others may suggest. These kinds of statements make it obvious that often people cannot deal with the real reasons behind such actions. They may prefer not to discuss it. There can be so much emotion surrounding such deaths, so much emotion that they try to forget it or bury it as quickly as possible.
Recently I met a family in which one of the two sons took his own life a few years earlier. His parents are about sixty years old and their surviving son is around thirty-five. It was so difficult for the father of this young man who died that he will not allow his wife or their surviving son to talk about their loss at anytime. This does not mean that he does not care; rather that he cannot handle the emotion that is attached to this tragic event. This father is a former navy man. Perhaps his reaction is consistent with the mindset of many men around this age group. To show emotion, to cry or express hurt feelings, is a sign of weakness.
This attitude is proving to be more harmful long term than the process of openly grieving and sharing their inner most thoughts.
Unforgiveness may cause greater collateral damage than most people realize. I will tell you some details of my life to help you understand the effect that unforgiveness may have on others, especially children in the home. I grew up in a home that was destroyed through an event that occurred in the lives of my parents.
In this chapter, I am going to disclose some very personal information in regards to my family life and my parents in particular. I do so with the intention of honoring my parents and not discrediting them in any way. They made mistakes in their lives, as many of us have done, and I am only highlighting their story in an effort to help others who may be living in a similar scenario. I loved them very much and wished things could have been so different to what they were in our home when I was a young boy growing up.
My father, whose name was also Des, also, grew up in the Gympie area of Queensland, Australia. Gympie was a town that gained a reputation in the early days from the discovery of gold, but my Dad grew up on a family farm outside the town where he lived with his parents and four sisters.
When my Dad finished his schooling, he worked as a timber worker, felling large forestry trees to go to mills for use as furniture and paper products. When my Dad turned 18 years of age, he joined the Royal Australian Navy and served on many different ships that traveled to different parts of the world. His classification was that of an Airman. He served mainly on aircraft carriers and reached the rank of Chief Petty Officer. In the year 1948, he was transferred to the United Kingdom where he was to meet and fall in love with a vibrant and beautiful young woman named Mabel Marshall.
This beautiful young woman in another three years was to be my mother. Mum was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland. She was about 17 years old when she and my Dad met, but apparently, they instantly fell in love. At some point, it became obvious that my Dad would have to return to Australia on his appointed ship. His term in the United Kingdom had ended. It was then that they decided they should get married. Mum would travel to Australia and they would get married here.
They were married in Sydney in 1950, and settled at a place called Nowra, which is approximately 100 miles south of Sydney. My father was stationed at the naval base near Nowra known as the “Albatross”. I was born at the Nowra Base hospital in 1951. Around the time of my first birthday, my Mum convinced my Dad to allow her to return to Scotland with me, as she felt so distant from family and friends.
My father’s family lived in Queensland some 700 miles away. Apparently, it was a real struggle for my mother as she felt quite alone at times and she needed family and friends around her.
Because of my mother wanting to return to Scotland with me, my Dad sought a discharge from the Navy so he could join us permanently in Scotland. Dad was initially denied a discharge from the Navy when he first applied in April 1954. It was during these times he was transferred to the Navy’s London Depot so he could be nearer his family, but was often transferred back to ships in Australia for long periods. This must have been especially difficult for my mother. It was also hard for us kids to understand why our father was hardly ever around. In the ensuing years, my sister Jan and brother Ken were born in Scotland and we all lived in a government housing apartment at number 3 Crewe Road Gardens, just outside Edinburgh. It was quite crowded in this small apartment. Our family consisted of my Mum’s parents, as well as my Mum’s sister Irene and her brother Raymond, whenever he was home from the Royal Marines.
I had a happy childhood from what I remember of those early years in Scotland. I loved it when it snowed, and still now remember playing at the end of a nearby soccer field, that had a steep hill, which my young mates who lived in the neighborhood and I would often use to slide down on our sleds.
We would also build snowmen in this park as well as have snowball fights in our street with lots of other kids. It was great fun.
Our family never had much money. As children, our parents provided us with the bare necessities. There were no fast food or multi-national takeaway food outlets in those days, with the exception of the local fish and chip shop that was commonplace in almost every suburb throughout Great Britain.
We sometimes had sweets from the local corner store when our families could afford it, but a regular treat that most kids in our street were given was something referred to as a “pig and a poke”. This was simply a small brown paper bag that contained enough sugar to cover its base, and a stalk of rhubarb that we would dunk into the bag of sugar and then eat the end of it and dunk it repeatedly until it was all gone. I would have been only around 4 years old at this time but I remember so much of what went on around my world.
I can recall my mother being pregnant again about a year or so after my sister Jan was born. I can also recall my disappointment when I was told that this baby boy had died during his birth.
I have heard the story quite often from relatives in Scotland of the time that I wandered off by myself at the ripe old age of five and could not be found. After many hours of searching I was located, standing at the end of a huge wharf at the shipping docks some four miles from our home.
It was suggested that I was looking for my Dad’s ship to come in, as I was just staring out to sea. It must have given the family a bit of a fright not knowing what had happened to me at that time.
Our father was eventually granted a discharge from the Navy in 1956, and rejoined his family in Scotland, only this time he was going to stay with us permanently. In fact, he got a job driving double-decker buses around Edinburgh.
The weather in Scotland can turn quite nasty, especially in the winter months. Some days the sun was not visible in the sky until around ten in the morning and at three in the afternoon darkness would creep up very quickly. Regular snowfalls were the order of the day, along with sleet and very damp and cold conditions. These were not ideal conditions for a sufferer of a chronic lung condition, such as that with which my Dad was diagnosed.
His condition became so severe that doctors told him that unless he moved to a warmer and drier climate his life expectancy would be dramatically shortened.
This would have been a major concern for both my Mum and Dad, as my father was only about 30 years of age at the time. Before we knew it, we were on board a ship back to Australia. The year was 1959. I had just turned 8 years of age. As young as I was at the time, I will never forget this journey, mainly due to the terrible experience with seasickness that we all experienced. Our cabin was below water level, and it was closed in and confined. When one of us became ill, it usually led to the lot of us being afflicted. I think it took about six weeks to complete the entire journey back then, so we did not have much choice but to get familiar with the conditions.
The ship had its own swimming pool and I recall learning to swim on the way to Australia, so there were some positives that came out of this long journey. We also had one stopover on the way out at a little Middle-Eastern town called Aden. Now Aden was not the Garden of Eden. In fact, I remember it as a little place with smelly goats running around everywhere. When those goats died, they were just left on the ground to rot. The skeletons of these animals seemed to be everywhere you looked.
I was pleased to get back on board the ship, and be on our merry way once again.
When we finally arrived back in Australia, we moved in with my Dad’s sister Iris and her husband Jim, who lived in the suburb of Ashgrove in Brisbane.
They were a great couple, this Aunt and Uncle of mine. They were to have a huge influence on my life in the years to come. They were the most genuine people you could ever want to know. We stayed with them for a while and then went to live at my Grandmother’s house at Bald Hills on the northern outskirts of Brisbane. This area was mostly a farming community at this time, but due to expansion, it is now one of the more popular residential areas of northern Brisbane.
I was very close to my Grandmother especially. Even now, I remember the day she died as though it was yesterday. In fact, my Dad’s mother was the only person I knew whose birthday fell on Christmas day. I would have been about fourteen at the time she died and when she passed away, I felt like I had lost my closest friend.
Such was the influence that this wonderful woman had on my life.
We eventually moved into an apartment building on the Redcliffe Peninsula, it was small but it was finally a place of our own. There was my Mum, Dad, my sister Jan, and our brother Ken, who made up our family at this time. A new brother in Steve would soon be born, and the youngest brother, Paul would come along a few years later.
Our mother had a job working at the nursing home, which was right next door to where we lived, and our Dad had managed to get a job with the local Fire Brigade. In the next couple of years, we were able to move in to a house at 120 Main Street Scarborough, which gave us a lot more room. We never knew what it was like to have so much space. Our backyard was wonderful. We had two huge mango trees that not only produced great fruit, but also were fantastic for us to spend our day climbing on. It was just recently that I was in this area and was surprised to find this humble little home still standing, with the huge mango trees in the backyard, more than forty-five years after we lived there. This particular area had recently undergone massive development and that little cottage was surrounded by brand new high-rise apartments.
My parents enrolled me at a nearby Catholic boy’s college, and I was to encounter cruelty and fear at a level that I had never previously experienced. There may have been many good things happening at this school, but for me personally, the negatives certainly out-weighed any positives about the place.
I recall one Christian Brother who seemed to take a personal dislike to me, and set upon me violently at any given opportunity. One particular day when I could not do something correct in respect to my schoolwork, he made me stand on top of my desk. Then he took my school tie and placed it over a pipe that ran the entire length of the classroom ceiling. He kicked the desk out from under me whilst holding on to the end of the tie, which was still securely fitted around my neck. He held it for a few seconds and then let it go, probably because there were around thirty other witnesses in the classroom. This particular Christian Brother was physically cruel to many other kids as well. Just a few months back at the beginning of 2010, my wife Ann & I had dinner with another person from this class who recalled the cruelty that was also dealt to him. He also mentioned that this treatment had robbed him of any confidence he may have had. It still affects him today, at the age of 60. I became disruptive, unruly and difficult to teach. I was eventually asked to leave this school at the beginning of my last year and sent to a local public high school where I completed my education. I wished I had been sent there years earlier, as I learned more in those few months than I did in the previous two years, even though I gave many of the teachers a tough time.
In the meantime, things were not good at our home. There was lots of fighting and arguing, which eventually turned ugly, especially whenever alcohol was involved. Both my mother and father would physically attack each other with their fists,
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