Shame, confusion, comparison, envy, self-loathing, inadequacy. These are the overriding themes from my childhood and adolescence.

They continue to taint my perception to a degree today, although they have far less power, it does not mean they are not there. I have felt like an outsider looking in as well as an insider looking out. The dysfunctional internal narrative began to be penned from the start.

From as far back as I can remember, I felt like I did not belong, I wasn’t sure of where I fit in.

How I imagined and perceived others’ to experience their realities, I felt estranged from. I wanted to be someone else, somewhere else, anyone other than me and anywhere other than where I was. My perplexity and dissatisfaction, gave way to an apathetic and ambivalent outlook; always wanting, longing, and never feeling whole.

At school I was attentive and achieving, yet disruptive and antagonistic. ‘Has Potential to achieve, if only he would apply himself’. I was social and outgoing. I had an easy time making friends, but a hard time keeping them. I compared my insides, to other peoples outsides, and I never stacked up. I felt like a walking paradox. I developed a self-acceptance issue, forever feeling maligned.

The suburb I grew up in was a poorer one, with lots of public housing, this suburb was sandwiched, by affluent suburbs. This socio-economic middle ground fanned the feelings of inadequacy for me.

I was not a kid from below the poverty line, and I did not have a silver spoon either. It was as if I was perched on the fence, receiving an abundance of opportunities to view how both sides lived and behaved. It was a purgatory that I embodied. The feelings of inadequacy and confusion were overwhelming.

I didn’t have siblings and was raised by my mother. I did not know my father. I craved a male role model, someone to encourage me to pursue masculine activities.


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My mother cultivated in me a softness, creativity, a highly emotional stance. At the time I resented it, I felt girly and weak. I tried my darndest to reject this conditioning, yet again falling short of the mark, because it was not my true nature, it was a rendition, an act I perpetuated, based on an inaccurate representation of the influence I sought out.

I have often thought it would be easier to exist at one extreme end of the spectrum.

Wealthy, handsome and intelligent or poor, ugly and stupid. My personal set of circumstances are a mismanaged hybrid.

Outwardly projecting a particular image, internally conflicted and pained by it being inauthentic. I invested so much time into hiding my true self, that I lost touch with reality.


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My own perceived imperfections, defects and faults began to manifest themselves outwardly. Finding an outlet in subcultures and anti-social behaviour. As life changed and progressed in different ways for me, I began to make decisions, some of which, the outcomes were irreparable.

I was not bad enough to be a bad guy, and not good enough to be a good guy. I tried to be tough but was frightened, I tried to be passive, but was fake. I have straddled the divide in all dualities of my life, never finding the appropriate destination, to settle and make myself comfortable.

Internal conflict has been excruciating. I had forged a tapestry, an adaptation of who I longed to be, who I wanted you to think I was and who I thought you wanted me to be. This maladapted fictitious character has caused so much grief and anguish, not only for me but for those close to me, I denied them the reciprocation of intimacy.

I’ve heard it said that when the fear of change is outweighed by the pain of staying the same; space can be created for development and transgression. This has been my experience. The neurosis I endured, brought me to a point where I could no longer continue living the way I was.

Through rigorous, honest, self-reflection and analysis, I have begun to chip away at my facade. Utilising and employing the turmoil and angst as an alchemy.

I have begun to accept myself and challenge my belief systems, evolving and maturing, closing in on the true essence of myself.

Had it not been for my early developmental experiences and the loss of self in my later years as a by-product, I would not have been jettisoned to where I am now. I am grateful for the journey. I continually carve away the detriment and the dysfunctional.

Honest self-appraisal is useful too, not everything distinguished as ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ is so.



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I am closer to my true source and identity. I am no longer shackled by my self imposed limitations of the past, I am more okay with being who I truly am than ever before. I acknowledge the light, and the shade, within myself, by accepting me I can accept you.

Be you, everyone else is taken. 


James Ryan is a writer, photographer and in recovery. You can view his images and read more of his stories on Instagram @cashmerethoughts__

Meg & Dom

Tags: Addiction, Honesty, Opinion

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