The Making of A Wiser Man Part 1

I was born February 1989 as Kyle, outside Glasgow 4 weeks premature weighing just 4lbs. Two days later my Cousin was born in the same hospital. I spent 4 weeks in Intensive Care recovering from Jaundice, my Papa, spent most of that time watching over me while my mum recovered and then she joined him. I've been known as "Papas Golden Boy" ever since. From what I'm told and from photographic evidence, I cried...a lot and for at least the first 4-5 months of my life almost constantly. When I first smiled my Nana, actually cried with happiness.

A year and 10 months after me came my little brother A, born In December 1990.

From what I remember we were a pretty happy family, and spent a lot of time with the rest of our family aunts, uncles, Nana, Papa, Gran and Grandpa. I don't remember my Papa dying but I do remember missing him massively. His death was a big blow to all of us 

My dad left us when I was about 3 or 4 I think, the reasons for which I won't go into, we seen him on a fortnightly basis when he would take us out for the day usually a Saturday, we'd either visit my Gran and Grandpa or go bowling and have something to eat, this lasted around 3 years then we'd stay over at his and his girlfriends flat, Friday to Saturday, again fortnightly.

Between fortnightly visits from my Dad, my brother and I were with my amazing Mum, she never spoke badly of my Dad in front of us although she had good reason to. She always brought us up to be independent, free thinking and creative and made sure we knew respect both for ourselves and others. She didn't rule with an iron first, more of a fiery stare, one look and you knew you'd fucked up, so we fucked up as little as possible, we were well behaved in comparison to most of those we grew up around. Our Mum worked her backside off to provide for us and make sure we had what we needed.

Primary School I remember from start to finish, I was a pretty good pupil, sporty, clever and creative. We'd play football at break times on the concrete and tarmac using metal fencing as goals or wrestling on the bars of the disability ramp, the royal rumble was always great fun although a mission for me as I was shorter than every boy in my year and most of the girls too, the joys of being premature at birth. Luckily for me I had 2 cousins in my class D born the November before I was born and the aforementioned G, two more polar opposite people you couldn't meet, D a shy, quiet, smart and awkward personality, gangly and tall. G, sporty, confident, stocky and rough around the edges. This led to me being part of two very different social groups growing up, "The Geeks" and "The Jocks" if you will, which meant I was never short of something to do or friends to play with.

My favourite memory from Primary School is performing in the Schools version of "The Rocky Horror Show" I played Igor in Cast A. I loved the whole thing, reading lines, costume fittings, learning songs and choreography and finding a voice for the character. We had so much fun during that year and absolutely nailed the performance, with no prompts or mistakes, since then I've always been interested in acting and voices or impressions.

My Nana was a wonderful woman, strong, brave and loving. She suffered with diabetes and lost her leg to it and was wheelchair bound for years, I remember visiting her in hospital after she'd had it removed, there's a photo somewhere of it, she still had a smile on her face. We spent almost every day at her house our whole family did, she was the epicentre, the glue that kept us all together. I loved her so much, her laugh made me smile, she made the best tea and she loved all of us even when she argued with my mum or aunts and uncle. She was stubborn which is something that the whole family has inherited. She never let anything stop her from living her life though.

It was 1999 I was ten, A and I were woken up at around half past midnight and taken round the corner to my Aunt Gs house, Mum of my cousin G, and put to bed. In the morning I woke up first and looked at the clock by the bed, it was half 9 in the morning which was exciting because it was a school day and it looked like we were having a day off. Myself and A were in the same bed, we were talking and heard the hall landing floorboards creek and then the door opened and my Mum came in and knelt beside the bed and sat us up, I knew something was wrong as her eyes were red and filled with tears. That's when she said something that crushed us, she said that my Nana was taken to hospital and had died during the night. I felt like my heart had been destroyed, torn to shreds, I buckled and cried harder than I ever had or ever have since. Our world was turned upside down, she was gone. I went to her funeral, the first funeral I'd ever been to and the single worst day of my life so far. The service was beautiful, held at our local Salvation Army Hall that she had been a part of forever. I tried to sing the hymns but when I opened my mouth all I could do was cry. I still miss her very much, an awful lot of things would've been very different in our family if she was still with us.

Her death hit my Mum particularly hard, they shared the same Birthday, my mum never got a birthday card of her own until January 31st after my Nanas death. Having recently made up from a fight they'd had which had lasted a while, my Nana had apologised, something she never did, which to this day made us believe she somehow knew she was going to pass. My Mum also never got the chance to tell her that she was pregnant again with a little girl.

27th February 2000, my little sister who is also an A was born, so, we'll call her bubble because she gets called that anyway. Having a little sister was a brand new experience especially with an age gap of 11 years but I loved having a baby in the house and helping with her.

I started High School in September of that year, I was scared and excited, I was a good student, I did well without really trying. In 4th Year I was Ill for a few months with stomach problems and hernias, I missed a lot of school work and when I returned my teachers recommended I resit the year as exams were coming up in the next month. I decided just to go ahead with the exams. I passed every single one, not with excellent scores or anything but I passed, even my physics exam, my teacher Mr T a favourite of mine because he was sarcastic and funny but you didn't cross him. He asked me to stay behind after class to talk about the exam, so I did, he asked if I knew how I'd done in the exam and I said I had done ok, he laughed and said "I have no idea how you managed to pass that exam after the amount of work you missed, even with the extensive work notes given to you there's no way you covered enough to pass. The fact that you did is amazing, I can only imagine how you'd have done if you hadn't been ill, well done." Possibly the proudest moment of my Highschool Career bar scoring from my own half in PE during a football match.

I had begun training with a local high ranking youth team along with my brother and his friend Dan, I loved football, I'm a massive Rangers and Scotland Fan. I was good at football, I was small but I was quick, skillful and could play using both feet and I scored goals. I was picked to start in there next match as a Striker, in full black and white kit, on a pitch next to my favourite teams Stadium, I was beyond excited. In the changing rooms the coach was filling out paper work for the game and asked my date of birth, as it turned out I should've been in the age group above the one they'd put me in, so the coach said he'd change it just now and play me anyway but I'd move up after that. So we went out to warm up and lined up for to start when the referee approached the coach and myself and said that a member of the crowd said they went to High School with me and that I was too old to be playing in this age group, which I was, by 2 months. I sat on the sideline for the whole game, furious and devastated. The boy who had told the ref I was too old was a Fan of the team I was supposed to play for but not a fan of mine, we had a falling out the year before because I beat him at badminton and he said I cheated and stormed out of class. A week later I was playing with friends in our local park and tore the ligaments in my ankle really badly and never fully recovered.

5th year, I absolutely hated, none of the subjects were ones I actually wanted to do and a couple of them were forced on me and I was still pissed off that my football career wasn't going anywhere due to the new weakness in my ankle. So I dropped out.

My first job was later that year as a Christmas Temp in a now extinct high street store, first on tills that barcodes had to be punched in number by number and then in the stockroom which was much better, the downside was they only had 1 Christmas CD on a loop all day. As a first job it was fun. After Christmas though I had to find something else, so I began working in a Meat Factory in a local industrial estate. I had so much fun in that job, the guys I worked with were a good laugh and made it a good workplace. We wore white overalls and blue hair nets every day, making burgers, square sausage, link sausage, black pudding, almost everything. Packing and labelling. Using machinery, vacuum packer machines, meat slicers, meat grinders and mixers. I spent about a year or so there until the Boss decided bills weren't important anymore and folded.

I've worked in Furniture stores, in a bookkeepers office, a taxi firm call handler and a newsagents. So yeah I've worked in a few fields all before I was 18 but temp work wasn't for me.

I was still living at home with my 2 siblings and my Mum and that's when I saw her. My friend Bobs girlfriend was having a birthday party for her 18th and I was invited, so I asked Bob if his girlfriend C had any cute friends and he said she suggested S. So it was the time of Bebo, MySpace and MSN Messenger, the dark ages, I messaged her on Bebo and we started chatting back and forth on MSN. By the time the party came around she had agreed to go with someone else, mainly because they asked her before I had. That didn't last long as he tried to force her to have sex with him. We became closer and closer and I asked if she'd like to meet up, she said yes. We met on the local Main Street and grabbed a coffee from a highstreet bakery chain (Romantic I know but remember Dark Ages) we walked around the town for a while and wound up sitting talking in the local park, I told her how I felt about her and she kissed me, I melted, it was my first real kiss.

We started "dating" we would meet up with plans to do things and end up just talking and kissing until it was dark and we went back home. After a few weeks we were inseparable. One day she text me (back when texting was fairly new) to come to her house, about a 20 minute walk away, so I started walking when she text again to say she was in alone and was just out of the shower, I made it to her house in 5 minutes and literally vaulted the gate at her house, she opened the door in a towel and we went to her room and both lost our virginity at 18.

About a month passed and I moved into my own flat and began working with my Uncle doing Joinery, I was hired as a labourer but was doing the job of a Joiner and a labourer for minimum wage 38 hours a week and sometimes 50hrs. S was at college doing a performing arts course as she wanted to be a singer and was at college 3 days a week. When we met up I would make dinner for us or vice versa and we'd spend as much time together as we could.

Preservation Joinery was brilliant, I loved it, working with my hands and in different places every week, I also loved working with my Uncle, we just clicked together we liked the same music and could talk all day, laughing and joking. We also made a good team at work, completing more jobs than any other pair in the company. Soon though my Uncles slightly abrasive attitude and opinions meant he and the Owner had a falling out and we were fired as I was working for my uncle and not the company. A week later he got us a job interview with a bigger company doing the same work and we got the job. That lasted all of 4 months over the Christmas period, when the company started forcing more duties onto us with no pay increase or extra hours.

Out of the blue we had a call from our old gaffer, begging us to come back, my uncle said he'd ask what I thought and get back to him. I said I had some conditions, I wanted to be on the companies books instead of my uncle's and an apprenticeship, I wanted my wages to match the increase I'd gotten when we moved to the other company. He relented to my conditions and we went back to our old Preservation joinery company.

The flat I was in was being sold so I moved in with S and her mum and sister. I never liked Ss family much, they were always very two faced and manipulated her by making her feel guilty. She was struggling with the acting side of her course and asked my advice, so I read her monologue with her and she asked if I'd act it out for her to see how I'd do it so again I did, she cried, so I assumed I had done ok. We spent the next 3 night's perfecting her performance and she was given best performance in her class for that project. I became her go to when she wanted advice on different acting assignments.

I began my Joinery apprenticeship the next year, having passed the entrance exam, remember all the stuff you learned in maths class that you thought "I'll never use this in real life"? That's exactly what I was now using again. Sp dropped out of her performing arts course due to a bad throat infection and we were living off of my wages.

So, she started a Childcare and Early Years course around the same time that I started my Apprenticeship Course, I dreaded college but it was excellent, I enjoyed everything about it, it was so different to High School and I was thankful for that, the work was fun and the lecturers were all really nice and funny.

We had been together for just over 2 years now and S became a little distant and irritable towards me, so I asked her what was wrong and she said she'd been messaging a guy she'd met when she was out with her college friends. I was devastated, she said she thought I should move back to my mum's until she sorted her head out, so I took a few things and went to my mum's. In college the next day I saw her in the corridor but she didn't see me. I went to class and was speaking with my friend Bryan about the goings on. He said just let her have her space and let her decide what she wants. So as I keep saying, I did.

Her decision took 48hrs, she missed me and wanted me to come back, I went back, I missed her too and she'd chosen me over this other guy. She told me that she'd cut him off and wanted me.

A few months later I cut my left hand really badly with a Stanley Knife in class and had to go to Hospital to get 8 stitches. I wasn't able to work for 5 weeks until it had healed and the stitches came out. S fussed over me the whole time and took care of me.

Five months later we were engaged, I asked her to marry me at the beginning of December and she said yes and cried but she decided we should tell people on Christmas Day. We celebrated with family over the New Year into 2012.

2012 started fairly normally, college, work and helping S with her studies. February came, my birthday was good, much as I don't like my birthday, I think it's because I don't like being in the spotlight too much. Sunday the 26th came, I woke up at about half 7 in the morning in mortal agony my left arm felt like it was burning, the pressure was immense and it had started to swell, the feeling didn't go away. Monday morning it was the same, I phoned the GPs office and made an appointment and was picked up and taken to the works offices to let them know I wouldn't be working that day.

The doctor gave me some tablets to take and sent me away with a sick note. The pain didn't subside and the tablets didn't work so it was back to the doctor. This went on for 2 months until the doctor sent me to a rheumatologist, who done a battery of tests and concluded that he thought I had RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy) a rare neurological condition which causes chronic pain, hypersensitivity and swelling in affected limbs, I cried when he diagnosed me because finally someone believed me and knew what it was.

The first treatment they tried had been used for cancer patients, Pamidronate IV over 3 days, going back and forth to the hospital with S. She was becoming more and more frustrated that I wasn't working but after the 3 days in hospital had begun to realise it wasn't through choice. The IV programme didn't help but the side effects were horrible, vomiting, dhaihorrea, dizziness and fever.

I was referred to Pain Management Specialist at a Hospital in Glasgow. He confirmed the diagnosis that was already made after about 10 seconds of meeting him. After that I was having drugs thrown at me left, right and centre, I was a guinea pig.

S started going out with her friends more and more and even staying out all night. One night she had been drugged and her "friend" sent her home in a taxi, she was throwing up black bile and feeling horrible, she said she thought her friend had been the one that drugged her and swore never to go out with her again. A week later she was back out with her. We're now in about July/August of 2012 and S was out again with her college friends, she came home at half 5 in the morning and rolled into bed, her phone buzzed she looked at the screen in the dark and I saw the name on the screen was a guy and "thanks for a nice night sexy xxx" She put the phone down and fell asleep. I asked her who he was when she woke up, she said she didn't know anyone by that name, I said I'd seen her screen when she checked the text, S started crying, grabbed her phone and ran to the toilet. When she came back to the room she told me she'd made a mistake and all that happened was they had danced and kissed, it would never happen again she swore for the second time and for the second time I believed her like the gullible fool that I am.

Soon after she dropped out of her Childcare course, something her sister blamed me for even after I wrote one of her essays for her that passed with the highest mark in the class (don't ask me how, I'm just good at that stuff). She began working in a bargain store in the same area as the college we were at.

My treatments weren't helping in anyway and I had been through more tests than I care to recall. My mood was lower than it had ever been before and again S was becoming distant and irritated at me because she was working and I wasn't, for the first time in our relationship she was earning and I wasn't and it angered her.

I put in a personal accident claim against the college, which pleased S because of the prospect of more money and getting away from her mum.

The end of November came, S got up to get ready for work, I woke up and said good morning to her, which she ignored, I asked if she was ok, which she ignored. She picked up our laptop which she had been spending more and more time on than she would talking to me. I asked again what was wrong and was told that I was what was wrong, I asked what she meant and she told me she was sick of me not working and being so depressed all the time. I asked what she wanted me to do about it and was told she wanted me out before she came back from work, I was to take what I needed and pick up the rest later. My life was crashing down around my ears and I only had one arm to try and keep it up. I asked her if there was someone else, she bluntly said yes, I started crying and she started yelling at me that it was my own fault, that she was confused and needed time to think away from me. She left for work as I was packing some of my things into a suitcase, before she left I said I still loved her, she sneered at me and left.

I was now back at my mum's house in the run up to Christmas, S had said she'd text me when she had made her decision, whatever her decision was. It never came. She text me Merry Christmas. New Years Eve came and I had some kind of attack on the local Main Street and was hospitalised, doctors thought I'd had a mild heart attack and kept me in to try and figure out what it was. So I spent New Years in hospital alone, the nurses in the ward were brilliant, very funny but never even asked if I wanted some of the Chinese food they ordered to celebrate the bells. My Cousin D posted to Facebook that he hoped I got out of hospital soon and got better and Happy New Year they missed me. S must've seen the post and messaged to see if I was ok and what had happened, I told her and she said she hoped I felt better soon and they ended the conversation.

It wasn't a heart attack just a massive anxiety attack. My cousin D had a party a few weeks later and I got more drunk than I'd ever been in my life, I drank a whole bottle of whisky as well as many more spirits and beers. My brother and I left the party at around half 2 in the morning and started walking the 30 minute walk to my mum's house, as we walked my head was spinning and swimming with questions and doubts and fears and sadness, we passed my Nanas old house, I stopped, staring at the stars and said out loud "I don't want to be here" A heard and said "well let's go then, we'll be home soon" I told him "I don't mean I don't want to be here I meant I don't want to be here" this time he understood. He slapped me, hard, really hard like the , then pushed me and said "Move get down the road now" I followed him home.

My brother stormed into the house and slammed the door and began yelling to our mum that she "needed to talk to me" because I was being "A fucking arsehole". Mum came into my room, I was blootered, gubbed, the very definition of inebriated, she asked what happened, I told her, she was shocked but kept it together (she's good like that, always wants to hear what has to be said and reserve her feelings until she's asked, I inherited this quality from her,it comes in handy also empathy is a wonderful thing) she asked what made me feel like that and I told her the whole story of myself and S including the parts she didn't know already. We sat up all night talking and crying and going through everything, by the time morning came and the sun came up my head was banging and she said to get some sleep and we'd talk about what we were going to do when I got up.

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