So who the hell am I?

So who the hell am I, and why do I think what I have got to say has any merit, let alone be worth reading?

My name is Ben Andrews, I was born in Adelaide, South Australia in 1980, making me 32 when I started to write this book. During the first 7 or 8 years of my life, my family and I moved from Adelaide, to a number of country towns, eventually we settled in a small country town near the South Australian and Victorian border.

My schooling years were not ones I remember with a great deal of fondness. Whilst I enjoyed school work, and did reasonably well at it, those who I attended school with I didnt feel the same way towards them. Its not that they were all pricks, or they all picked on me, some where nice enough, but I really didnt want to spend any time with them regardless. In most, if not all report cards my parents received the teacher made comments to the affect “Ben does well in his school work, however his social skills need development.”

There were a number, and from what I remember a significant proportion of students at school who were pricks. Most children didnt really like me, which was fine, while they left me alone, but they didnt always leave me alone. They teased me, picked on me, harassed me etc. As years progressed the children I went to school with didnt improve their attitudes towards me, and over time they started to also beat the shit out of me. I dont remember a huge amount of my years during primary school, though I do know that the level that I was picked on and beaten up jumped significantly when I started in secondary school.

The school I went to was a Reception to Year 12 school, however in neighbouring towns there were other Reception to Year 7 schools, so for those children in those towns they would attend that school. Once they passed on into Year 8, they would either come to the School I did, or for some them their parents would send them to a boarding school.

So when I went to Year 8, I was joined by a lot of my year 7 peers, but also a bunch of people who lived in towns nearby. They were far more overt in their dislike for me and the regularity of which I was beaten up increased, along with name calling, picking on me and other general abuse. So as I said earlier, school itself was fine, it was the bastards that went too.

At home, I preferred to spend time alone in my room, or out in the back yard. However, we were often out. My parents were heavily involved in church life, which meant of course my sister and I both went along when they did. We were often out many nights of the week, or had people around for meetings. Whilst I did enjoy aspects of these things, there were many aspects I really didn’t enjoy. I enjoyed listening to the preaching (often being my dad), and learning about God, and what the Biblical account of creation, life etc. However, once this was done, or while waiting for this component of a meeting I did not enjoy. Whilst, I eventually started playing guitar during worship, worship time was less enjoyable than the preaching. By playing guitar during worship I did find this made worship time less boring.

After meetings was a time I least enjoyed, however I did enjoy conversations where views, thoughts etc regarding religious topics, were discussed or debated. I found the intellectual component of these discussions rather stimulating, and to a degree still do, though I no longer attend church. The normal, ‘small talk,’ the “hi, how are you?” “What about this sports team, or that”, the general crap people feel they need to ask, or talk about, I really didn’t, and still don’t enjoy. The other aspect, which has always stuck in my head of why the before and after part of meetings sucked donkey balls, was that I was always (at least in my mind), told to make coffee’s for everyone, from the time I could physically do it. So a meeting would end, I wanted to either go be by myself, or engage in some form of intellectual discussion, but I was going back and forward, serving people drinks, how fucking thrilling.

Other than Church Meetings, and School I spent my school holidays out on a farm that were owned by family friends. As I got older, I would help out around the farm, or work out on the harvester, sorting rocks, weeds etc from Potatoes, or onions. It was pretty mundane, as most things in life are, but I made some extra money, and I got to think, imagine, what have you. It was noisy, and dusty so there wasn’t a lot of talking, so made a good place to think.

When I wasn’t on the farm, at school, or at work I was either playing on a computer, cleaning my gem and mineral collection, doing chores, or wondering around doing nothing much. Killing bull ants, or walking. I don’t remember why I killed ants, but there was something that was, im not sure if pleasurable is the word, but I will go with that, about destroying their homes, and poking them with sticks. I used to spend a bit of time doing this, by myself. It got me away from everyone, and gave me time to think, and imagine, with little or no interruptions.

There were times when people came up from Adelaide, my parents friends, with their families. I didn’t mind this, I enjoyed time with their kids, but there was a limit to it. While I did have fun, I can never remember enjoying, or liking to have to share my room. It wasn’t too bad, they were never there for long, or often. I do remember a time when 2 families came up at once, there was 12 people in our house (inc me). It didn’t take long for this to be too overwhelming for me, so I packed some plastic shopping bags with some clothes etc and ran away. There was a kid, who I got on ok with, William I think his name was. I decided, there was only him and his mum at his place, by memory his dad wasn’t in the picture much, that I would go to his place. I didn’t intend to run away for good, I just wanted to leave until everyone else fucked off. I was walking to my friends place, when a ute stopped and asked if I wanted a lift. So I chucked my bags into the tray, and jumped in. I was pretty young at the time, maybe 10 or 11. Now, it was a pretty unsafe move, but I grew up in a small town, we hardly locked our doors to the house or the car. I didn’t think much of jumping into a ute with people I didn’t know. Nothing happened, they drove me to my friends house and dropped me off. It didn’t take long for the great escape to end, my parents found out where I was, and after a while came and collected me and brought me back home. Honestly, I don’t remember getting in trouble over all this, Im sure I did. But, everyone did see the funny side of it all, well what they saw as funny.

We would often also go to Adelaide and stay with the same friends. Oddly I only remember that we would do this, I don’t really remember any experiences from this. I vaguely remember that I liked getting out of Lameroo, but didn’t really like not sleeping in my bed. The car trip was boring, nothing to do. But not a huge amount else. Other than the trips to Adelaide to see friends, about once a month we would go to Murray Bridge mainly to do a big grocery shop, we would only by perishables, and occasional bits from the local shops because they were quite expensive, so we would save some money buying as much as needed for the month at Murray Bridge. Generally a day was made of it. I didn’t mind these trips, we got out of Lameroo, and in comparison Murray Bridge had heaps of people, but no one knew me, I was kind of invisible. I could walk through the shops with my family, and they were the only people who really knew I existed, the rest might have seen me, but there was no “Hello Ben, what are you up to today” unlike Lameroo, where if I farted in my sleep, before I woke up the whole town knew all about it, I liked the anonymity of being in Murray Bridge.

When I left school, I went and did a range of jobs. I moved a couple of times, eventually I moved to Murray Bridge. Before I moved to Murray bridge I had started to drink, most nights, not heavily, but enough to make it easier to sleep. When I moved to Murray Bridge, in the early days I didnt drink as often, however after a few issues which arose, I became friends with a group of people, a great bunch of people, but they too enjoyed to drink, smoke pot, and drop the occasional pill or 2. To be clear, I am in no way blaming them for my decisions, but their activities were very appealing, and I no longer had a drink or 2, I started to smoke pot, and enjoyed a few pills.

My parents found out about my predilection towards some of these activities, they confronted me about them, and encouraged me, with a certain amount of vigour to come back and live with them, which is what happened. The period of time spanning about 6 months or so after returning home, was less than pleasant for myself, or my family. I started to get life back on track, I had been working whilst in Murray Bridge, and it didnt take me long to get work when I moved back with my parents. Despite being a small town, there was always work to be had on farms, etc.

I was about 24 and working in a small factory as a forklift driver slash pallet packer. Not a glamorous job, but it paid my bills. It was while working there, that my life first changed in a significant, life altering way. I was working one day packing animal feeds on to pallets, when I went to pick up a bag I felt a sharp pain in the base of my back. Working manual labour, you get used to back pain, but this was different. I kept working for a couple of hours but eventually the pain was unbearable and I went home. The next day I was still in agony, and eventually went and saw a doctor who misdiagnosed me with having pulled muscles. This diagnosis was to stick for a number of months, however eventually I saw a specialist who correctly diagnosed me with multiple compression fractures through out my spine, and 2 degenerated discs in my lower spine. Basically, the discs in my spine had blown out and were pushing into the facet joints of my spine where they were rubbing on live nerve endings. Initially the outcome was bleak, but I went through treatment, physio etc. I didn’t have surgery, which I am still very happy that I chose not to do, and after about a year of treatments etc, I was referred to a Pain Clinic. I was sent down to Adelaide, about 2 and a bit hours drive from where I lived, and housed in a hotel for a month and under went treatment daily at the Pain Clinic. The aim of which was to work with me to learn to live with the pain, manage the pain and get me into a position where I could return to some form of work.

Around the time I was injured I was in a relationship with a young woman who was friends with the current Pastor and his wife. She was living with them, and as such I would often go to their place, and sometimes stay there (I would sleep in the lounge). She ended up moving to Mt Barker (not far from Adelaide), with a friend of the pastors, who also took me in as well. We were going to church together still, however it wasn’t long after this, we had met some people, who we got on well with. Eventually she ended up sleeping with one of these people, and we not long after this broke up, and she continued to see this man, whom she eventually married.

I continued to attend church, over time I became a leader, within the youth group, I preached a couple of times, and eventually I became an Elder. Eventually I stepped down from all positions at church, and left. It was around this time that I also started working where I currently do, with one of Australia’s big four banks. I started there in the customer contact centre, as a collector (Debt Collection over the phone). Since starting with this company I have held a number of positions, and am now a member of the Collections Systems Management team. My role is primarily to ensure that certain computer systems used by the banks recoveries and collections systems do what they should do, and if they dont, assist in working out why and resolving the issue. Along side of this, I also work in testing system upgrades and enhancements, and also make different systems for use by my team or other teams in the business. I have so far worked for the bank for a bit over 4 years.

So that is the story of my life…. well no, not really, there’s probably a bit more to it I suppose, or I wouldn’t be writing this book.


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