My Father Killed My Creativity But He Probably Saved My Life

My mother had a long-term boyfriend when I was 10 years old. She was going to marry him and, wow, he was like a father to me. My dad had exited my life at the age of five. He was a serial cheater; a man that loved to have women at every port whilst his wife was back at home barefoot and pregnant. He had come into my life again a year beforehand, willing to mend broken ties. His dad had just died and when Mum and Dad were at the funeral she told him. Told him how well I was doing at school, how well I had integrated myself and struck long lasting friendships. He must have been impressed because he wanted to see me, wanted to be part of my life. Yet Dad only allowed a visit once per year. I wanted to see him more.

I couldn’t do the things with my Dad which I could with John. John kept our balance really well. He praised me when I did good things and was strict when I was in the wrong. I came back home from school one day proud. Proud that I had stood up to my enemy and fought to tell the tale. I had won a fight at school. So he grounded me. I wasn’t allowed any fun things for a month.

“That’ll teach you to be a bloody bully” he told me.

Truth is, he was right. I learned a hard lesson. John was good for me. I loved John. John was like a real parent that took the rough with the smooth. Dad was like a knight in shining armor. Dad would swoop in on the good times and take me away for amazingly fun things. He was never there for the bad. But his work took him abroad so I can’t blame him too much for that. Although. Once a year?! Once a friggin year?!

John died late 2012. He contracted malignant stomach cancer and was dead within six months. Something inside me died that year with him. The zest for life and the creativity that came with it faded like a dusking sun and was enveloped with strangling insecurity and bitter anger. Angry at the world. Angry at life.

"Alex" by Yoda Navarette

“Alex” by Yoda Navarette

My boyish naivety and thirst for life was soon replaced with hurt, anger, pain, and confusion. I peered at life through the bottom of a cheap cider bottle and the smoky haziness of a badly made joint. My friend circles changed that year. I went from being associated with all the top achievers and “do gooders” to people that barely had a hope in life; They all had issues. I sought solitude from them as I tried hard to come to terms with the internal confusion I was feeling at the time.

My old friends started to drop off. I can’t honestly say that I blame them. I had devised such a self-destructive path that I was reeling everyone in with me. The future looked bleak. I was becoming a person with no hope, no chance in life, nothing to look up to. I was broken. And here ended any sort of creative genius. I couldn’t write, or draw, or create

Writing has always been a thing for me. I remember when I attempted my first fictional writing piece in primary school. It’s strange. I still remember the colored pencils in the middle of the table, the strange look my friend Alison would give when she was concentrating very hard, trying to please the teacher like the good girl she was. I remember it vividly. Perhaps that’s what you need as a writer? A vivid memory. I haven’t thought about it much but it has served me well in the past. Anyway, my first attempt. “Daily Life on Planet Fandango”. Truth be told I can’t remember any of the story, but I wish now my mum had kept my childhood things like my aunties did. They still have all my old writings.

But I stopped writing. Christ, I could barely think let alone create.

A glimmer of hope shone on me in the summer of 1997. My dad, in all of his wisdom, decided to try and get me back on the path of straight and narrow. Let it be said that for all of his faults he did manage to separate me from the nasty, unproductive crowd that I associated with. Dad had just been let go from his last job in Nuclear Power and was finding it extremely hard to get a new one. He had more time for me, to talk on the phone, to see what I was doing, to involve himself with my life. He was angry. Bitter that he couldn’t get a job and swilling the alcohol faster than George Best.

He visited me shortly afterwards in Scotland. His partner at the time had gave him some money to go up and see his family, get some restpite from the trials down their way. He decided to come and visit me. He knew I was having a tough time and Mum–Mum was at the end of her tether. He came along to our house to help.

That day he was staying at ours he answered all of my phone calls. Anyone that dared to call me was met with a swift “Fuck off. He doesn’t associate with total cunts like you” and hung up on. I felt scared of their response, but it never came. My father did me a favor in actual fact. I was never bothered by these people again. I was able to make my clean break. This was my get out clause. Truth is I found out many years later that they were scared to contact me. They thought my Mother had a new man in the house. Typical of friend abuse, it’s more often than not the single parent families that get roped into things like this.

A year afterwards, Mum and I moved out of the area. It was unhealthy,and bad for me. We moved to a better part of our town. She had far better luck with me this time. I went to college and met new friends. Positive people, people that were like me, just trying to make sense of the world. However I became somewhat disillusioned with it all. The following summer I found the internet.

After college and at the grand age of 18 and about six months of pure internetting, Dad took me down to England to live with him for the summer, get me a job and send me on the path of getting some focus and proper motivation. I actually started to feel good about myself. Started to feel sort of whole again. That glimmer, that bit of hope started to stir inside of me once more and I started to create. I started to write stories again. And the creation flowed. Spilled out of me in a torrent of gushing words and sentences. I felt whole again, for a moment, at least.

I think the most encouragement I had for writing was from my auntie Marilyn when I was 8 and growing. She loved reading what I wrote, encouraged me to write more and corrected me when I got it wrong. She was my dad’s sister; like a second mum to me. They never had children of their own and took me on as practically their own. Auntie Marilyn and Uncle Rab would have me every two weeks on a Saturday. They would take us to St. Andrews, Beaches, Crail, St Monan’s, golfing, go karting and a ton of other places. If it was fun for a kid, you bet we would have visited there.

Every night after an amazing day out she’d sit us down and get us to recollect our time out in the car. What we did, who we saw, and what we saw. Then a story would be born. And you bet your last penny that we would end up writing about it. There were four of us; me and two brothers and a sister. They were her friend’s family and she liked taking them out too. We all received pure enjoyment from doing all of this. It was fun, all but happy memories.

I had a creative streak in me. One that couldn’t be ignored. I soared in English and Art & Design and would use my senses to recreate what was in front of me, it was amazing. Top marks throughout my first and second years of High School.

BUT my dad was old school. He saw writing, art and anything creative as an excuse to stay unemployed and barely living for the rest of your life. He read what I was writing and rolled his eyes. “You write like a child. This is absolutely pathetic,” he laughed and tossed the papers up in the air.

I wish, I wish back then I had realized that *actually* I still was a child, and that writing matures with the writer. I was hot-headed and arrogant. So I believed him. I felt saddened inside, but he was the adult, and he was right. So I continued my life without any sort of creativity for fifteen years. Would you credit it? Fifteen damn years. This is what poisonous words can do to your easily moldable children!!

Late 2012 I was 32 and I had just started a new job in the Mental Health sector. My dad had died two years previous and I was beginning to finally find my flair in life. The company I worked for were BIG on self-development and I guess they saw an old flame that needed to be rekindled. A man with such a creative streak but uses none of it. None.

I can’t thank this organization enough. They taught me to be true to myself. Be true to what I love and the person that I am and absolutely everything will fall into place. And they were right. It sort of just happened.

One night I had such a disastrous day at work that I decided to write about it on the internet. I researched writing tools and ended up with a free WordPress account. I wrote the story of my epically disastrous day at work and a beautiful thing happened. I looked back at it and received pleasure from the work I had just done. And you know what? Since I got it out of my system I managed to move on very quickly.

Well that flame was being rekindled BIG style. I started to write. Write big, and little, test out poetry and short stories. I later found out that I had an uncanny ability to infuse emotion with the words that I wrote. It became my outlet, my solidarity with the world. I began to write. I began to feel the sense of accomplishment that flows with writing. I was finally beginning to feel like a writer again. I wish I had only listened to myself back those many years ago.

Last year I was made redundant from that job. Sad to see it go but all good things must come to an end. I was a Community Projects Co-ordinator in Great Yarmouth. I built projects in struggling and deprived areas and brought everyone together. I created community feeling. A sense of giving back. I loved it so much because it was a learning curve each day. Such a powerful and rewarding job.

Afterwards I became so passionate about the feeling that writing gives me I had to infuse it with the prior work that I was involved with. Bringing people together. So I exist on the interwebs as The Relationship Blogger where I take my hands to the keyboard and publish all sorts of life-related problems. I recently started a YouTube account too.

And it won’t stop there. Oh no – there is a creative genius inside me that is just itching to claw its way out fully. Thanks to Dad. It’s hard writing this but he actually saved me to create another day.

Raymond Baxter is The Relationship Blogger. Find more from him on his blog and connect on Twitter

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3 Discussion to this post

  1. pathswewalk says:

    This is a touching story. It seems as though writing really helps you process your feelings, as it does for many.

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  2. It really does. I didn’t realise how much until I started to do it. That was back in 2012. 🙂

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  3. Raymond Baxter says:

    It really does. I didn’t realise how much until I started to do it. That was back in 2012. 🙂

    View Comment

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