I was born in 1975 to a loving mother and father and a brother 3 years older. I was raised in the mid north coast beach town of Coffs Harbour in New South Wales. Life was pretty good for a young boy growing up on the coast. I was a long lanky kid with ginger hair and freckles so I guess life was going to be tough because I wasn’t the ‘norm’. I didn’t take it personally nor tell Mum and Dad but it hurt sometimes. At the time, I didn’t know any different and just had a great time being a kid. I was a bit of larrikin I suppose, as my Mum would probably agree, and got up to my share of mischief.
We would ride our bikes all day, to and from the beach, surf all day and then ride home. We probably ate Mum out of house and home but we never went hungry. Mum stayed at home and looked after the house and Dad worked pretty hard as a plumber. We were well looked after.
We got mini motorbikes when we were a bit older and would take off to ‘the bush’ and ride all day there, creating havoc. I’m sure Mum doesn’t know half of what we got up to but it was above the law…well, sort of.
As soon as I learnt to skateboard, we were at the skate park all day, every day. We had a great neighbourhood and there were plenty of games of footy (rugby league) and cricket with the neighbourhood gang and we were taken on plenty of family holidays, visiting our very large extended family.
I started to notice things weren’t going all that well for me when kids would pick on me at school for being slightly different. I wasn’t invited to birthday parties, had very few close school friends and was always overlooked in sporting teams even though I thought I was pretty good at most sports. I guess you could say I was bullied pretty badly.
Back in those days, there weren’t labels on kids like ASD, ADHD or any of those and some might say I was a little hyperactive and probably had a condition like that but nothing was ever diagnosed.
Things turned worse by the time I got to puberty and became interested in girls. There were quite a few girls I liked but always felt uncomfortable near or around them. They were never interested in me. I guess you could say I had a face that only your mother could love but I was always a pretty nice guy, well mannered and from a good home. Unfortunately people can be so judgmental and superficial and base their opinion of you on how you look. No one ever got the chance to get to know me.
This isn’t a ‘pity party’ but as I’ve grown into an adult, I realised the way I was treated as a child may have contributed to poor self esteem and my eventual drug addiction.
In my teenage years I took up smoking cigarettes. It was all the rage in my group of friends. We’d get a few dollars any way we could, forge a note from our Mums to give the shopkeeper just to buy a pack of smokes and smoke them before we got home. I don’t know how Mum and Dad didn’t smell it on us.
About six months after leaving high school in 1992, I tried marijuana for the first time. It was a bit of fun. My mates and I would get stoned, get giggly, get the munchies and head to the beach for a surf. It was shortly after that someone got a hold of some hydroponically grown weed when my life changed for the worse but at the time, I’d never felt more alive, more in control and more accepted and a part of society. That’s when my addiction to marijuana began.