From 12 years old to 30, I had very little.
I did what little I needed to at school just to get through - passed all of 7:9 exams without doing any work for them. Left at 16 & took on dead end jobs that paid good money, but allowed me to hide my intelligence.
Joined a Rock Band and played in various line-ups for a number of years (I was the only constant from start to end). Played the drums because they let me burn off so much frustration (actually managed to sweat off 7 lbs in one weekend of gigging - that's what playing fast rock music does for you).
Didn't think that I was up to much until, at one gig (local town hall), when we finished playing a whole load of fans cames round the back of the stage asking for signed drumsticks. They didn't want autographs off the guitarist, which was a real problem for his overgrown ego. Planted a seed in my mind then - maybe I wasn't that bad?
When the band folded not long after, I got a job supporting adults with learning difficulties (special needs). This was a workshop that repaired text books for local schools. My manager there recognised something in me (but didn't tell me at the time) - he saw that I had an affinity with those people & got me onto a course that would make me a Certificated Instructor. This eventually led onto several other courses and got my intellect to kick back in.
After 5.5 years, funding for the workshop was about to run out. A new high tech factory was about to open near by. I applied to go there as a Production Operative & got the job.
My immediate Supervisor again recognised abilities that I thought I didn't possess - my idea was to keep my head down, get on with the work and be left alone. That's exactly what they were looking for - people they could trust.
I was made acting Team Leader in 6 months (you needed 18 months in the role to have the job officially) & I was shell shocked as there were so many people that I thought deserved it over me.
When I had been there 18 months I was told to apply for a Supervisor vacancy & was profoundly shocked to once again obtain the position. I didn't understand how this was working - so many people were actively seeking promotion, whilst I was just getting on with the job & not really expecting to go any further.
In 1995, I was asked to go on a training course (Cert in Management Studies) - this led to both the College providing the course and my Employer asking me to enter a competition for a National Supervisory Award. I entered just to get some peace, thinking that nothing more would come of it.
What did I know - I was one of 5 National Candidates that were selected for a Final Interview & Discussion Session (from thousands of entrants). Result - I received a Telephone Call from The Training Manager at work, asking me how I felt being The NISM Supervisor of the Year.
I was totally shocked - I just wanted to keep my head down remember.
I think that My Manager in the Special Needs environment pored a bit of petrol into me to get my engine running. My next employer obviously added the turbo.
We've got to believe that when some people tell us positive things about ourselves, they actually do mean it. I still do not understand why I was so Special to my employers, but I suppose at the end of the day I believe in doing things right. I wasn't actually seeking higher level employment, just getting on with it. Others wanted everything, but gave little.
Employment wise, I have never really looked back since.
I think that this was also the start of the process in reversing the damage that my abuser had done. I don't know why I was so special to him either - I know I wasn't really. I was just a boy in the age group that he liked - 'luckily' it was me and not some other poor bastard.
I think I'm droning on a bit now, but what I am trying to say is...I thought that I was just run of the mill because I didn't feel as though I was worth much.
With hindsight, I have much to thank my employers for. The fact that they recognised something that I thought I had lost forever.
I always try to encourage others at work now and have had some very positive results from 'lost causes'.
If people tell you that you are good at something - believe them. They are not our abusers.
Best wishes ....Rik
*Never look down on anybody unless you're helping them up.
*I was seeking a way of expressing my anger - I found hope!
*There are many battles before the war is won! It can be won!