It all started with my elder brother. He was the one I looked up to, the one I admired because he was ‘hard as nuts’. Naturally, as a younger sibling I copied everything he did, I wanted to be like him. This included his aggressive and violent ways.
When it came to the beginning of my secondary school days, I remember that he had almost trained me to look at school as a place where you ‘prove yourself’ and ‘you’re not to be messed with’. I was ready to fight from my first day in secondary school. The idea that school was a place of learning and growing was far from my mind. I just wanted to be known as ‘hard’. And sure enough, as I progressed through school, I developed a reputation as a hothead. I was out of control.
Outside of school, I had gotten into trouble with the police a number of times. Mainly because of my violent behaviour.
But as I grew older, my brother and I drifted apart. Me discovering religion and becoming an Islamic fundamentalist, and him adopting a non-believer, atheist position. We were worlds apart.
I stumbled on my religion and was influenced by people close to me. Suffice it to say I spent a long and hard fifteen years trying to be the perfect Muslim, but the only thing I became was a tired old bigot.
I am glad to say that my days of imitating my violent brother, and following religion to its extremes are over. But it took me much of my life of internal struggle to reach where I am now. Now, life is much better, much more calm, planned and directed. Imbued with the richness and happiness, I never thought I would achieve.
Although my marriages did not work out, I have three lovely children whom I adore and cherish, and I have my nieces and nephew to call family. My family is the focus of my attention and love. I will always be there for them. And adoration of my family is one of the branches of the change I experienced from my mid-life crisis. I have discovered who I am as a person: what I value and what I can let go of. I have learned a lot.