An interesting thing happens to you when your earliest memory is of violence. It sticks with you. Your world view, from that moment on, is filtered through the lens of fear. And that fear blossoms into depression and anxiety later in life.
I was so young my recollections are fuzzy pictures distorted by time. My three older siblings, 7, 9, and 11 years older, sat before me. My younger sister by 17 months cried in the eldest sister’s lap. I cried too and crawled into the lap of the next oldest sister. I was afraid. We were all afraid. I was not yet able to spell my own name, but I could detect fear. It radiated from my three sisters and brother like a noxious fog that filled my lungs and stung my eyes to tears. It wasn’t until years later that I learned what why we were so afraid.
My parents were fighting. Not arguing. Fighting. Their screams of rage and pain echo from my past. And to this day sounds of people yelling angrily at each other sends me into a near panic.
That is one fucked up first memory. I mean, why couldn’t it have been Disneyland. I’ve seen pictures of me as a toddler there? Or maybe a puppy licking my face. That would have been nice. Hell, even being locked in a freezer would have been a better memory. You know what, now that I think about it, that happened to me too. Bloody hell, how did I survive? One of the only good thing to come from my abused early years is my wicked dark sense of humor. So don’t worry. Poetic as it is, my story isn’t all emo whining. Some of it is more like goth whining.
Through it all there is one thing that has always seen me through. Something that has given my life purpose when all else seemed futile. It kept me afloat when I felt like the undertow was pulling me down. (Note the Tool reference. Pay attention, there will be a lot of those.)
Writing. Putting my thoughts down on paper focuses my troubled mind. Telling my story, or creating a work of fiction, is both draining and fulfilling. Like after a good cry, or bowel movement, I feel lighter and more prepared to face the world after I finish a new short story, or blog.
That is why I was so adamant to get my novel “Soil-Man” exactly right. It was like the biggest cry, or bowel movement (depending on your opinion) of my life. It took me fifteen years from inception to completion. Through it all I fought against the increasing social anxiety and reoccurring depression that was the holdover from my childhood.
But fight through it, I did. Now, not only do I have a multi-award winning novel, I have something I will be proud of for the rest of my life. I poured everything I had into that fucking thing, and it gave back tenfold.
My name is Oscar Barnes, and this next blog series is how I became Oz Monroe. Stay tuned, cause shit is about to get weird.