Saturday, 22 September 2012


We both experienced the same form of early childhood trauma. When your abuser is mentally ill - you cannot accuse them and you cannot even accuse them in your head - it was not their fault...and in reality they could very easily be you... meaning no harm when in their senses - but horrific and lethal when in a different mental state.

Both my brother and I experienced extreme physical and emotional abuse when very very young, in my case it started at five months as a result of our mother's mental illness.
Alan and I reacted in equally extreme ways - but in mirror image - in such an opposite way that no one could ever have guessed we had the same root of extreme trauma within our earliest years.

Alan Froze. Physically untouchable until he developed physical relationships with women - then emotionally froze at the point where each relationship invited permanancy. He broke hearts and finally his heart was broken-  physically. There is no heart disease in our family but Alan died of a heart atack at 61, three and a half years ago - at the age I am today.

Alan shone in society and gave up a brilliant career in his late forties.
Many came up to me at his wake and told me how he had helped them.. He expressed himself through acts of practical help. Alan was exceptionally brilliant with money and has in death provided invaluable endowments


Trapped you were in your sinecure
Mounted like a specimen in dutiful assumption
Almost bear-like in stature and defiance
Blank until you owned incredulous night

We believed in one another, but hiddenly
Between each other, our secret from ourselves
There was a specified iota of respect
Birthed in our heritage of neglect

Both of us became blank slates
Beneath the burden of ruptured love
Both knew the dark withdrawals of affection
And those hollow stares of disjunction

We both played; I was the Midshipman
You were the Lieutenant
Our play was the play of the sea
Our ships were cardboard boxes and a fallen tree

We shared a room of bunks and green linoleum
You named all your pets the same
And later you would not name your cat
For you the honesty of abstraction reigned

And as we grew, we adapted and shone
You shone with the coldness of intellect
And yes, you lit many minds with your wit
It was abstruse and strangely lifting

I have found the memory of your humour
And shared its special nomenclature
I have discovered you once more within its resonances
And re-established our connectedness again

You led and I followed a set direction
Which you plainly enunciated for me
The early books were tough, the later tender
As my mind expanded and flowered

But finally before the flowers could fade
I rose out of my own imagination
And decided to fly and pollinate
I became free of you as I came of age

From that point our connection was kept secret
And our respect for each other lay deep within
It lay in the lustrous knowledge of early conflict
It lay in our unshared experiences of harm

But now I grieve for you my brother
Grieve for the conversations never held
Grieve for the warmth we never entered
Grieve for the lack of any farewell

I grieve that you fell among strangers
With people that knew you so little
I grieve that your friends were left without you
With their knowing of you so unsettled

But I am heartened by the legacy of meaning
That you have enabled us to find
To grant so many people gladness
In transforming knowledge in their lives

I am heartened that your name in blazoned
To the foreign land you served so ably
I am joyful that your name is laden
In a sea of meaning and enjoyment

Your legacy will paint a thousand pictures
In the minds of men and women far and wide
And our connectedness will light the night-time
For a hundred, hundred, thousand years

Goodbye now my brother and goodnight
These are surely not phrases you would have liked
But you still might have found amusement in a certain line
And utilised your wit to play with it

Goodbye my brother who could not share feelings
Farewell and make your journey through the night
I know your spirit is still playing
And in the heavens you will find the light!
Where Alan froze - I melted... where he suceeded -  I failed where he failed I suceeded. Until finally we reached unity only following his death. I have realized that we are the two parts of the whole. So precious. So poignant. so vulnerable and so, so hurt - my heart constantly freezes over to avoid feeling the intensity of the closeness, grief and requirement within my genes and my blodstream to resist facing up to all this. Hence I now undertand why Alan said when I asked what he thought of the idea of psychotherapy .."I dont dare go there.. because I am terrified of what I would find..."

John is a poet, photographer and song-writer and is developing several works for publication. He is employed by MECOPP, the leading Scottish minority ethnic carers organisation and also works with others on an independent basis to create and develop enterprises centered on the development of social wellbeing. His commitment lies with political, community and spiritual regeneration and he is activly involved in initiating and supporting social enterprises.

As voluntary co-ordinator of the Yes-U-Are Partnership, he is working with a team to develop the Erskine Church to become a local hub in the heart of Dunfermline . As an active member of the Labour Party he is a passionate advocate of the shift towards a genuine community-oriented Vision.

My story can be found at

Follow John on Twitter @johndwm


Patricia Singleton said...

John and Jan, thank you both for sharing John's post. I have never talked about my story of incest with my brother. He knows about it because of a letter that I sent to him, my sister and mother before I sent it to all of my dad's brothers and sisters years ago.

My sister and I talk about the incest which was different for each of us. With siblings, the memories can feel like you lived in 2 very different families sometimes.

Johndwmacdonald said...

Thank you Patricia! so much hurt .. continuing relentlessly - unless and until we resolve and thereby STOP it! Blessings John


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