Adam awoke with a start, sweat dripping from his forehead and his body shaking violently. It took him a few minutes before he had controlled his breathing and the shaking had slowed down, his hands were still a little shaky and he took deep breaths to try and get his body back to normal. He heard movement next to him and a light flicked on, blinding him at the brightness. He squinted at the figure sitting beside him on the bed.
“Babe, are you okay?” Adam looked over at the woman next to him and nodded slightly. He wasn’t okay but it was obvious to both of them that was the case.
“Another nightmare?” She asked. Again, Adam just nodded and continued to focus on the wall in front of him. He could feel Hannah’s hand rubbing his back and he could feel himself beginning to relax and calm down. Hannah and Adam had been going out for a year – but they had not moved in together. She understood that he had a troubled past but Adam had never disclosed to her about the abuse, or the extent of what he had been through. He told her that his father had been an alcoholic and there had been violence so Social Services placed him in care, but he never opened up about the abuse he suffered. He told her that he did not have a good experience in the care system and he’d bounced through many homes and families, and there were issues with drugs and alcohol but he never said anymore than that and Hannah didn’t push him. Hannah laid back down; knowing better than to question him. Although it frustrated her that he would not talk about his past, she understood that he did not feel comfortable discussing it and knew that when he was ready he would open up to her. And she would be there waiting for him. Would be there when he looked for someone to pull him back up when he was down.
Adam stayed staring at the wall; his mind racing faster with each passing moment, a jumble of thoughts mixing together, unable to make sense of everything. He loved Hannah, more than he had ever loved anyone else, but it was difficult for him to talk to her about his past. He found it difficult to talk to anyone about his past; as his counsellors had found out when he would just sit in the sessions, doing anything except answering the questions he was being asked. He was afraid of scaring her away with his past, it wasn’t a past that was easily acceptable. He had been through a lot and there were many things he regretted but he wasn’t able to change them, he had to live with the consequences. It had taken Adam a lot to allow Hannah into his life, allowing himself to love when he spent so much of his life feeling unloved and unwanted and beginning to wonder if love was real. But it had been easy for him to fall in love with her and he did love her, it was just difficult to allow himself to open up fully to her but that was a defence mechanism he had learned over the years.
Adam had just turned twenty-two, and a lot of his life had spiralled out of control. He was broken, ruined and had a lot of problems that had stemmed from having a bad childhood. It was one of the reasons he could not believe that Hannah had chosen to be with him, he didn’t think that he could be loved and yet she had chosen him. He had told her many times that she deserved someone better, someone who wasn’t broken as he was, someone who didn’t have a past, but she told him that she loved him for that. that his past didn’t matter to her because who he was now was the guy that she loved. He never forget how lucky he was and he thanked her regularly for being in his life.
He laid back down in the bed and stared at the ceiling sighing. He still had flashbacks of those years regularly, although he had tried to block it out. Adam suffered depression due to the abuse and had had many counselling sessions to try and help him come to terms with what had happened, but they had not worked, but that was because he did not want them to work. He didn’t want to keep opening up about the abuse; he had just wanted to forget, he had even refused to take the medication they had prescribed him. Trying to forget was what he had spent a lot of his teenage years doing – by any means that he deemed suitable. By the time he had reached nineteen he was drinking up to six bottles of cider and taking heavy drugs such as Cocaine, Heroin and Cannabis to try and take his mind off everything, although it was causing him more problems than those he was trying to forget.
Adam knew that his life was spiralling out of control but he didn’t want to do anything about it. With the drugs and alcohol he was numb to everything that had happened to him in his childhood. He wanted to forget all the pain, the hurt, the anger he had felt and there was a lot of anger that he was feeling. At himself and his parents, his mother especially for being so weak that she sat by whilst her husband abused their child and didn’t even try to protect him. Adam couldn’t remember much from his childhood other than the abuse, there was a lot of darkness surrounding that. There were a lot of blanks in his life and that was due to the drugs and alcohol he knew, but it saved him from remembering the truth, the pain. He didn’t have much of an education which was becoming problematic for him; his father had kept him off school for so long due to the injuries and once he reached fourteen he had stopped attending school and had failed to get any qualifications.
He had been taken into care at the age of nine, when the authorities realised that Adam was not attending school and went to the house to find his father abusing his mother. They had immediately removed him from his parent’s care and he was placed into emergency foster care. His parents had been arrested and charged with child abuse and neglect and his father was made to attend a rehabilitation centre. His parents were banned from contacting him until he was sixteen – stating that having contact with them would be detrimental to his health.
He spent a lot of years bouncing between foster homes because they could never look after him for more than a couple of months because of his troubled childhood. He often lashed out at other children and he would destroy property when he became angry, which was becoming a regular occurrence. People tried to control him but it wasn’t possible and only resulted in him becoming angrier. He often played truant from school, would drink and smoke and constantly ran away from his foster homes, although it wasn’t long before they caught him and took him back. He didn’t want boundaries, he hadn’t had any as a child so he didn’t want them now that he was a teenager. He didn’t think he deserved to have a family; to have someone that cared for him so he pushed everyone away.
One of his foster mothers decided that she could not cope with him and after a move decided to send him back into the system. Adam heard the Social Worker telling his foster parents that they thought it would be a good idea to send him to Military School as it would teach him discipline and help him get some boundaries in place. But Adam had other ideas, this was something that he was not interested in at all and decided that he would not give them the opportunity, so he ran away before they had chance to talk to him and sign him up. He stole some money from his Foster Mother, took some items from one of the other children’s rooms and disappeared. He didn’t leave a note and went to the train station to see where the next train could take him. He settled for a train that would take him to Swansea, that was due to leave within a few minutes of him arriving at the station, he just hoped the money he stole was enough to cover the train fare. It was hundreds of miles away in a different country, and he knew that although they would search for him, there was no link to him being in Swansea.
Although he had been there as a child, he did not know the area at all and there was no one in the area he knew so there was no place he could stay. He had some money left over from the train that he would be able to survive for a couple of weeks if he bought some basic food. He had to lay low for a couple of months because it was on the news that a 16 year old boy, matching his description, had disappeared and that a nation-wide search was being undertaken to look for him. Adam would often keep his face hidden when he went into shops, hoping that people would not recognise him and tried to stay away from the public as much as he could. Once the news had died down about him – the police said he was a troubled runaway – he came out of hiding, but was still forced to live on the streets because there was nowhere for him to stay.
It wasn’t long until the money ran out though and he resorted to petty theft and foraging through dustbins in order to find food. He was beginning to regret the decision of running away when they came along. A group of lads, similar to him in age, who found him shivering in an alleyway, sleeping under a tatty old coat he had found in the bin of a charity shop. They introduced themselves and told him they had a place for him, and they could help him. The leader, David, said he had been living on the streets for two years and had come to learn how to survive. Adam, wishing to have someplace warm to sleep, took them up on the offer and followed them.
They escorted him back to their place. It was a small run down house that had clearly been abandoned for years; but they had furnished it and made it liveable, there were dirty mattresses on the floor, a table and a few slightly broken chairs in the corner, and what appeared to be an old cabinet in the other corner which housed a few ornaments and knick knacks. Showing Adam a mattress on the floor, David said that he was welcome to stay there as long as he wanted and they would help him to find his way in the world. It didn’t take long for Adam to be introduced to drugs and before he knew it he had become hooked and had stopped eating and needed to feed the urge with the drugs.
At first it was a great escape for him, a way to forget everything that he wanted to. But as the years rolled on and he became nineteen he realised that he was starting to become the person that he despised. He was becoming his father; allowing drugs and alcohol to become a part of his life. Allowing it to take control of him. Something inside him clicked and he knew that he had to get away from this life; that he had to try and move on and make something of what he had before he threw it all away. He left the house and got himself registered into a rehabilitation centre. It was a difficult journey and there were times when he thought that he wanted to give up but he stuck by it and after four months he was discharged from the centre. He had met Hannah within the first couple of weeks and by the time he left the centre, the two were in a relationship, although they kept it a secret until he was out of the programme.
Entering the world after living in darkness for so long was like seeing for the first time if you have not been able to. Or so he had imagined. He hadn’t experienced life without alcohol and drugs for such a long time it was something new for him. He had cleaned himself up and now it was time for him to start living his life. He registered with a local support group and was currently volunteering in a charity shop in order to get some experience in the workplace as he had not previously worked; due to the addictions and the lack of education.
He was now twenty-two and his life seemed to be nothing but a blur to him. He had met Hannah a month before his twenty-first birthday in the support group. He had been off the drugs for eleven months and although he was struggling not to fall back into bad habits, Adam was grateful that he had gone through the programme, it was definitely something he needed. Hannah worked there as a volunteer and would help them during the support sessions and would escort them when they had group events. Hannah and Adam had hit it off and although he was scared to be with someone after everything he had gone through, he allowed himself to get close to her. He found it difficult to believe that she would want to be with him, considering his life was a mess but she promised to stick by him and she had. Every step of the way. Even when he was feeling at his lowest, she was there to hold his hand and comfort him when he cried. She was never scared off by his weakness.
He wanted to share things with her but he didn’t know where to start. Didn’t think that she would stick around when he heard what he had endured at the hands of his father. That he sat by and allowed himself to be beaten, to be abused. Lying down he pulled her close and held her tightly. He really did love her and he hoped that he would be able to tell her what she deserved to know one day. But for now, that was a conversation he didn’t feel ready to have and he would have to keep his dirty secret to himself, and Hannah would be shut off from knowing the truth.