You can shine so bright.

We’re all born the same, aren’t we? Full of happiness? Full of innocence? Full of sweetness? Not all full of cuteness, because in all honesty, despite what people might tell you, not all babies are cute.

Thom was essentially a happy, young child. His parents split not long after he was born, so he didn’t know anything else than just having to rely on his mother. No different to a lot of children around the world, some of us just grow up with only one parent around.

As a child, all he wanted was love from both of his parents. His father wasn’t around but he still loved him and he wanted that love reciprocated. At least that’s what he was told, his father wasn’t around. Your father didn’t care. Your father never visited. Your father never called. So, Thom just accepted it. As a young child, if your mother tells you something, it must be true.

It was just the two of them against the rest of the world, she told him.

At least until she moved on and met someone else and soon after, that someone else became the father figure that every person in the world wants and needs at some point in their life.

It didn’t matter that he wasn’t his biological father. Could that man be everything that he needed him to be? A man to look up to and to be in awe of? Someone to aspire to? Even for one so young, Thom quickly realised that it was better to stop looking for love that simply wasn’t there, it just didn’t exist.

He had to do whatever he was told, especially when his mother was at work. Tidy your room or get a clip around the head. Don’t talk back or else you’ll get beaten with the business end of the vacuum cleaner repeatedly.

All he wanted was to be able to connect. To have that intrinsic sense of trust and safety with someone who had suddenly become one of his parents. It wasn’t possible though and he couldn’t do anything about it. How could he? Thom was only seven years old. It was pretty difficult for him to take solace in an environment where everything he did wasn’t right. Come home with a great school report? Scolded for being too clever for his own good. Do well at sports? Belittled for making the other children feel inadequate. He didn’t understand, he was too young. Confusion reigned supreme. He didn’t dare question the person who had the most power in the relationship though. Was his mother oblivious? Thom sure fucking hoped so but he could never tell her what was going on. He was too scared. He thought being locked out of the house was acceptable even although he knew that someone was at home.

He didn’t even know what abuse was. Whatever it was though, he did know that it wasn’t obvious. A punch to the face? Of course not, a black eye at school could get noticed. Punches to the ribs and whacks on the top of the legs with a baseball bat are much less visible.

Thom found that it was easy to hate him, to never speak to him or look him in the eye. All he wanted was to not be in his presence.

He slowly started to see that reflection of himself as almost a will to live, as something tangible to help push beyond things. There was nothing coming from his mother and whilst that broke his heart, he could see a way out. He knew that it might take years but he knew that he had the self belief to make it happen and for everything to go back to the way that it was before.

Taking on a child that belongs to someone else must be difficult. There are people out there who are fantastic at it though. Thom knows this to be true. Some guys out there turn their family life into an endless road trip with fantastic intentions, they’re headed in the right direction as a new bunch of people. They should be applauded.

There is research out there showing that men who have abusive fathers show disrespect towards their female partners. Shitty as fuck, right? Undoubtedly, there is an amount of abusive men that do hate women. What is it? A sense of superiority? Just general contempt? Whatever it is, it’s fucking horrible. Maybe his stepfather was a nice guy? Spoiler, he wasn’t. Maybe he didn’t show his hatred towards women until he was in a serious relationship? Can anyone explain that behaviour without an expensive therapist? Good luck if you can, kudos to you.

Any child that is raised in a family is entitled to live a life with love. With fulfilment. Not a life of self doubt and fear. Why would you give a child growing up a period of hurt and difficulty? Why would you tell them that they wish that they’d never born? That they’ll go through their life without the prospect of being with someone else, someone important to them? Someone to love? The message must be one of control and manipulation? Is that man trying to create a dependency? Why bother if he’s just going to fucking beat him at every opportunity that he gets?

A day comes though. He was stronger. No remorse. Certainly there will be no fucking apology. He’s at peace, accepting that his parents won’t and can’t help him out of the mess that they created. It’s time to go it alone and it felt great!

His mother had given him life, and he was thankful for all of it. Turns out though, that everything that she told him about his father was a lie. He came every weekend, only to be turned away. It was her secret, a secret that she kept from Thom. It would have been easy to have a deep hatred for what she was but she was his mother. He loved her. The bones of her.

Maybe without a real man to help her and to love her, she didn’t know how to behave? It affected Thom but he’s at peace with it now. No point in holding grudges, right?

A day will come though when none of us needs to take the lies anymore, Thom especially. The most important people in your life might reject you for telling lies. Maybe you told lies to protect people. They might reject you for telling the truth about what happened to you? Maybe? If someone tells you something, you might believe it. It doesn’t make it true. None of us are alone.

You need to remember that you can be your own spotlight.