Before we get started, the above line is not about me…calm down and big love for those who reached for their phones to text me. If I was feeling like that, I would tell someone. I learnt that lesson the hard way. This is about someone else…
I woke this morning to find a message on my phone that had been sent at…let me check my phone now…4:46 this morning. I woke about 6: 30.
I have people that I have known a short time and I trust them with my life. I have people I have known a long time and don’t talk to them anymore…or care if I do again.
Then I have a very small circle of people from my past…tiny in fact… that I keep in touch with. May never see them for years but we pop in and out of each other’s life’s. Sometimes they pop up when I have needed them most without me saying a word. I call them my family tree friends. There is a song that reminds me of them of the same title…can we add songs in Blogs? I will investigate. Family tree…play LOUD
So, I wake up this morning, after what I can only describe a emotional roller-coaster of a week, and see that I have a message from one of these family tree friends. I open it and it’s a video. He is talking, almost ranting, about not wanting sympathy or help. He just wants me to listen and show some empathy. He looks tired and has defo been drinking. He rants for about a minute and then…boom. He starts spitting/rapping/ spoken word…what ever you want to call it. His opening line is “Sometimes I’m suicidal, the fight with the mind it’s a battle for survival”. He is clear now, speaking each word. His eyes are closed, and he says the words like they are engraved on his heart. He talks about being sick of this world. He is telling me that he is not OK. He is telling me that the past is clashing with the present. He is talking of shanks and shives…things that are no longer part of his or my life anymore.
I didn’t respond straight away. I was trying to think what was best. I was just about to text another friend of ours to go check on him and then he must have seen that I had read the message and not responded. Se he sent one more message “Embarrassing, I get it” implying that his disclosure about how low he was had made things…awkward I guess.
I lay there, 6:30 this morning, and a couple of big hot tears run down my face. Embarrassing…as If bruv! I started talking to him, sounding out where his head was right now. He was calm but very low. We talked about the way life is for him right now and tried to rationalise some of it. It seemed to work. Then we started talking about back in the day. As the messages started to flow he stopped talking in riddles and I could see my old friend returning. We talked about my last blog, my trip to Margate when I was 13. He said he was sorry he did not come with me that time.
I told him to hush. No sorry ever needed. Back then, we were all fighting for survival.
He said “No one lived like you and us” referring to us and the group we grew up in. I told him that he was wrong. That there are still children suffering like we did. He could sence my fire on that one.
He replied “I mean no disrespect, you know that, But the gang game gets us all killed in the end…you know that”
That sentence there …blew me away. We meet when we were 11, me and this person. I am now 38. We have known each other a true lifetime. We have seen, done, and felt things that no child or young person should, both together growing up and when apart. And yes, we survived out of the hood without too many physical scratches.
But the mental health side of surviving the streets. That doesn’t go away. Waking up in hot sweats, dreams that wake you and do not allow you to rest, fast paced and hunting with a mixture of faces, sounds and feelings that you do not want to remember. Feeling low about the childhood they wouldn’t let you have. It brought me back to the conference on Wednesday when Dr Jane Wood spoke of the effects she had researched around the long-term impact of gangs. When she was speaking to the room on Wednesday, I felt like everyone was looking at me because my face was burning red. Because it was like Dr Wood was speaking to my heart. Like she knew.
Don’t get me wrong, I had some of the best times of my life with this friend and many others. But also, some of the worst. I have been as low as my friend was right now. Fuck, I was so low once I forgot who I was for a hot second. And have never been more scared. But, Like Eminem once said, “I’ve got problems, now everybody on my block’s got em”.
When we stopped talking he seemed ok. Better. One of the last things he said to me was “You should write a book about all of it, I know all the stories are pain, But nobody did live like you and us”
Maybe J…. maybe