My Life


Living up to my mother's expectations was impossible. She wanted me to become her blueprint, to carry on the musician side of her family, and nothing else was expected. Gradually I took back control of my life by seeing my mother as a controlling, self-centered manipulative individual guilt tripping me at every turn. Politely but firmly I battled her unpleasant ways while studying silversmithing. I compromised a little. In my spare time I learnt the guitar and as I began earning a living, so I began to save money by gigging at weekends and during busy Saturdays, busking. Busking earnt very good money. I chose a place whose archway amplified my voice and playing. Also to be legal I was granted a public performing licence. In a good morning in bustling Regent's street packed with tourists, my busking earnt a thousand pounds. Or perforning in one of the fashionable quarters of Paris, such as the Rue de Rivoli. I got the chance to buy a rare Martin Celtic Knot. While that stayed at home because of its high value, I played my other guitars in public. Having been professionally trained as a singer, that taught me a lot more self-confidence because my instructor taught me to 'throw' my voice. That became useful when performing onstage.

Every week hard earnt money went towards paying off a bank loan for my silversmithing course. Thanks to my mother selfishly denying me a financial allowance because I wouldn't kow-tow to her demands, I was strongly motivated to earn what was mine, and give to my daughter's needs. Even Saturday's busking paid very well though Sunday mornings were given over to my family and daughter. Peggy in pigtails and pulling her blanket around the apartment was my delight. Watching her grow up filled me with pride. Also my girlfriend Mandy and I became committeed in our relationship. Our aunts encouraged us, and Peggy became central to my own special little family. Mothering my daughter was constantly tiring, and then she grew up to shine like a star to become full of grace and gentleness. I'm glad for shielding her from my ghastly mother. Peggy also soberly accepted that though her father raped me and paid the price by imprisonment, she knew that my abiding love for her was to bring her into this world. She is the light of my life and the same for Mandy, my beloved wife.

Part of growing up was accepting responsibility for my actions, something my mother didn't encourage because I wouldn't let her have her own demanding way. While she spent her time working in America with the film score composer and record producer Hans Zimmer, I pursued mothering my daughter and working seven days a week, often into the night to achieve the coveted silversmithing degree. Also, I worked on my self-confidence, gaining a positive view of my own abilities and consciously pushing away the negative thinking that can so easily drag us down if we invite those negative feelings to take root. Okay, it's an inevitable part of life that we attempt things we cannot achieve overnight: in fact, it's part of the process of growth for normal human beings, a part of the process of acquiring the skills and abilities needed to achieve our objectives and then set ourselves slightly more difficult ones. That's what personal growth is all about, and years of dogged hard work paid off as I turned away from my parent to carve my own career and be a good mother to Peggy.

There is this nagging thought that what has happened in the past determines what will happen to us in the future. Actually, this doesn't have to be true if we consciously turn away from it. As a child my confidence was dependent on what others thought and did. But as I grew to become an adult, this was only true if I allowed it to be true! So I became a free thinker, deciding my future and working all hours to achieve it. I shunned psychiatrists because they cost money, and anyway, being referred on the NHS would have taken ages and I was not always in England. Growing up in France but away from negative thinking people gave me precious insight into what I could become if I worked hard at it.

I took a risk. New challenges were really opportunities to increase my self-confidence and motivation. Although it took of dedication, I engaged in positive thinking. I firmly told myself that though it wasn't possible to improve overnight, I was gradually improving day by day. I turned down my mother's advances to help because she was self-centred, everything offered would have to be paid back to her. Instead, I asserted myself. I said No to mother's manipulative demands and did so calmly and without being unpleasant. I also put up a boundary. I emotionally distanced myself from her, effectively silencing her demands and cruel comments and behaviour. Doing this I took control of my life and felt more powerful, though anxiety was something I had to deal with alone.

Mother's health went into decline; she had terminal cancer. Though she remained a tyrant, I didn't allow her nastiness to affect me visibly. Gradually she stopped her wheedling demands. By Boxing Day of last year she deliberately abandoned us by hastening her death. She did it, I believe, because of not wanting to reach the natural end of her life. She wanted out and painlessly. Mother spoke few words, and they were not encouraging. She never said she loved me, or anyone. Instead, she passed away with a smile on her face. Except it's those who are left behind who have to pick up the pieces. Over the months of this year, with my family and wife I picked up the pieces to carry on. To have courage. We have a life that is worth the living, and let us never forget, but there is always tomorrow to make that an achievement.

There is no way I'm going to allow the past to make me feel bad. Okay, this Christmas will bring heartache since mother died, but I'm not going to let what that emotional terrorist did to me. I'm stronger now and standing out from the crowd, wanting others to feel good when I'm around to build up their own confidence. Crucially, I'm a good listener. Like my family I want our friends to truly engage. Make eye contact and smile. To nod in agreement, but don't interrupt or over-talk. My friends and family's focus is on others too; not just themselves. And to remember to value others' beliefs as well because they are important. Because they are worth it.