Before we get too far ahead of ourselves here there are some things you should know about me that may help you understand this story I am telling. For starters I am, and have always been, a very shy person. I won’t go too far into the reasons for this, (I have other blog posts that do a much better job of that), but to make it simple sometimes when you face a large amount of violence and abuse as a child you can tend to internalize a lot of things. I remember being the type of kid that would hide behind my mothers legs and never talk to strangers as I was too afraid to socialize.
This tendency to be closed off and shy has plagued me my entire life. I had friends as a child in school but not because I wanted to have friends, more because my parents and teachers thought it was important for me to socialize. Nobody ever once thought it might be a good idea to examine my home life to find out why I was acting so strange as a child. That is not something people did then, and not something people do now. If a child is acting strange and showing signs of abuse it is human nature to ignore that child out of a desire to not want to “get into the middle of another families problems” I totally understand that impulse as an adult but as a child I felt betrayed and abandoned by the world.
I had no desire to do the things that other children would do. I did not find sports to be fun, they just reminded me of my abusive father who would spend all of his time angrily yelling at refs on the TV. I was not really allowed to have other kids over to my house. I can’t remember if that was because my dad did not allow it (he smoked a lot of weed which was much more taboo back then) or if I just never wanted to invite them over because I was afraid of them seeing how I actually lived. Either way it is hard to make friends when you feel like you have to hide yourself from the world because you don’t want your abusive father to get in trouble for being abusive because if he did you would have to move away. Young me always felt trapped in a corner and threatened. I honestly do not have many memories of childhood other than being paralyzed with fear. Maybe other people relate to this, maybe someday I would find them I thought.
My young life was lived almost entirely in my head. I would talk to the people in my head and create vivid worlds for them to live in which I could travel to and go on adventures with my head-friends. I actually like this part of myself as it has endowed me with an imagination that is boundless to this day. No matter how many friends I had in my head, however, I still felt very alone. So when my mom finally got a computer and connected it to a dial up internet connection I was psyched to get out there and start meeting people I could talk to without having to have the fear of them knowing my sad situation in life. And meet people I did.
It should be noted that I did not live with my mother full time, she had lost the custody battle when her and my father divorced so I could only spend time at her house on weekends and over the summer. However before she got online my only time to use the internet was whenever I could use a public computer so even this limited amount of time I spent at her place was amazing to me. I quickly found myself deep into chat rooms, forums, and spending hours reading about my favorite subjects (mostly video games and porn at the time.) The internet had matured by ‘98 so you had some more diversity than just basic websites. Excite chat was the first social network that I really got hooked on. Excite needed to be installed to your computer to be used and consisted of chat rooms that were divided up by topic. You had a little 2D avatar in Excite chat that more or less functioned in a similar way that profile pictures do now consisting of just a square box with an image in it. I found myself getting deep into video game and computer chat rooms on this service and eventually found myself identifying with a “hacker” group on the service that would troll and take over rooms until we had our own private chat space. It was immature to troll, and I wish I never did that. The “hacking” was all just a facade however as none of use were actually breaking into things, it was just a cool persona to align with at the time and made me feel a part of the group.
Regardless of how stupid our antics were back then, this was the first time I really ever felt accepted by a group of people. For that group of people to also be random strangers was profound for me. If these people could accept me so easily having only recently met me why did the people in my own life reject me? I started to believe that I was not the defective one and that the people around me were the ones with a problem. If people could not accept me for who I am, they must have the defect. This line of thinking has defined me as a person more than almost anything else in my life. This defiant attitude that I developed from the confidence of being accepted and loved by strangers molded me into an entirely different person than I had ever been before. This was when Ian, became Ian.
Acceptance was just the start of things. Soon I would find a whole new love for myself, and I would fall in love with a new world.
Continued in Part Three…