If I speak of moments in the dim and distant past, it’s not to suggest that I had the right to something that didn’t occur, as if to infer that I was deprived my due. That isn’t my intent at all. The way I see it, there was an individual who was bothered by me, but I was also bothered by them. As I understand it, we both made mistakes.
It then got complicated, because I misunderstood a lot of things, and misinterpreted interactions. Some of those misunderstanding I can now attribute to the psychosocial deficits of a chromosome disorder I didn’t know I had at the time — a cop-out for some, I’m sure, but those characteristics are found right there in the research literature.
Naturally, those misunderstandings jump out at me today as preposterous, for that individual couldn’t have been any clearer as to what they thought of me. They had fully imbibed the narrative which followed me around, and helped promulgate it. They personally intervened whenever somebody new sat with me, warning others away from me. They were actively engaged in all I experienced daily.
However, at the time, I had my own way of understanding all that happened. I blamed their behaviour on their friends, and on bad influences and peer pressure. I imagined that when they were on their own or were in the company of different friends, they were a completely different person, and their true self came to fruition. Thus would I come to think the best of them, despite all experienced reality.
On that basis, I came to believe — for a time — that I had been wronged. Foremost amongst that a threat, which a friend of mine had insisted was deadly serious. Whether it was or wasn’t, I will never know — I took what my companion told me on trust — but when I laughed it off, he told me frankly that I would be left in a mess, with a broken back, if I didn’t walk away. Although I did indeed heed that warning, unfortunately the entire episode then became an obsession of mine for a very long time.
Looking back to those events, I am clear about many things. I was very immature and out of my depth; I was oblivious to the cultural expectations of those I was walking amongst; I didn’t think of myself as others thought of me; my imagination ran away with me; my brain was just not functioning as it should have. Furthermore, other factors significantly influenced me.
For example, as my mother was one of the first female ordained priests in the Church of England, I viewed the world through the prism of a feminist egalitarianism. As a result, I was completely unprepared for the hypocrisies which governed gender interactions all around me. I wasn’t cognisant that while it was acceptable for young men to flirt with and serially date girls of my background, merely speaking to a girl of theirs was completely off limits. I didn’t understand that at all, until it was too late.
Against this backdrop, I think that individual would have been justified in some of their reactions to me. I was clearly clueless, oblivious to the world I had entered. Although my own family was already ethnically diverse by that point, that was a diversity limited to practising Christians, of a particular slant. I was not familiar with different cultures or other faiths, and what that meant for gender interactions. In those days, I knew nothing of arranged marriages or notions of female honour.
So that individual doesn’t owe me anything. I know that I was just a body passing them by for a time. I am almost certain that those interactions meant nothing to them at all — and that their behaviour then was likely a defence mechanism, as they readied themself for their life to come.
That I recently discovered that our paths subsequently crossed years back, unbeknownst to either of us: I don’t think this is supposed to mean anything to them. I believe it was a sign for me alone, thumping me on the nose, because of the obsessions that had preoccupied me in the intervening years.
Those events back then had a profound impact on me — that’s to put in mildly. In truth, they disturbed me long after we parted company. Not because I was deprived something I believe I was due. Mostly just because it fed into a narrative I carried with me for a decade: that to be treated like shit by everyone was my due.
In my interactions with many different people, this started long before we met and continued long afterwards. However, these particular events took on a life of their own because I wrote about them, informing the plot of my first novel and then nearly every novel that followed (not very novel, I know).
And so it came to this. I’m not entirely sure how it all started, but I may have wronged them — accidentally and in ignorance. They may then have wronged me, or they may have been perfectly justified in all they did. Who knows? But I feel that I wronged them again after we parted company, for exploring those events so extensively through my writing, however much it became a work of fiction. Perhaps that is the real source of my inner agitation. All of this.