Why It Took Me 15,875 Days To Find My Calling is an auto-biographical post in two parts.
The aim of this story is to give the reader an insight into how this blog came about and why I chose this niche.
Part one covers my background and the victim mentality I held which kept me stuck for years. And the number one reason I kept making the same mistakes over and over – fear.
“It isn’t fair. Why do they always have something to eat and I don’t?
We live in the same street and go to the same school.”
I am Michael Riley, the youngest of five children. My father left when I was 8. My mother never remarried.
I grew up ‘in the projects’ in the Western suburbs of Sydney.
I grew up tough.
I grew up having nothing more than milk and barley sugar for breakfast, lunch and dinner some days.
And that’s only because the milk man felt sorry for us and gave us free milk, and because my oldest sister is diabetic, so there was always barley sugar in the house.
When my mother got her fortnightly government-funded pension we would make out like bandits – McDonald’s, ice-cream, breakfast cereal…chocolate. I remember once eating 2 litres of ice-cream in one sitting.
I was hungry…very hungry.
Things improved somewhat when the family moved from the ‘murky, asbestos ridden, not knowing if you’re going to get stabbed or shot (our house was the target of gun shots when one gang thought it belonged to another) ghettos’ to Townsville, the cyclone prone, dengue fever ridden, endless sunny days capital of north Queensland.
When I was 13 I left school and became independent.
By independent I mean I stole money to support myself – I would typically buy junk food, clothes and play arcade games with my delinquent mates with the loot.
Of course, I got busted by the cops almost all of the time.
I had a rap sheet longer than Jack the Ripper’s.
I spent a month in ‘Juvie’ when I was 14. Ironically, not for stealing, but for assaulting one of my sister’s with a butter knife.
That time inside was like a holiday, I’m not kidding, and did bugger all in ‘rehabilitating’ me.
I did come within a bee’s dick of going to ‘the big house’ for stealing, though, when I was 17.
That scared me straight, as the saying goes.
I worked on getting my life in order after that.
I started playing sport, found a part-time job, completed my secondary school at T.A.F.E (Technical and Further Education) and got a girlfriend.
I then passed the university entrance exam and graduated three years later with an Arts degree in English and Literature.
I worked in various jobs after graduating, but nothing meaningful…certainly not my calling.
Eight years after meeting my girlfriend, who became my de-facto, we had a child.
…then she cheated on me and we separated.
A New Beginning
My ex moved to Melbourne and I moved soon after so I could be close to my daughter.
I spent the next three years out of work and living in share accommodation, some good, some bordering on ‘not-suitable for human consumption.’
I returned to TAFE and studied Professional Writing and Editing, but didn’t graduate because I clashed with two of the senior staff throughout the year.
As a result they failed me on two subjects which I believed I had done well enough to pass.
I didn’t bother appealing or re-submitting because they’d killed my enthusiasm for the course, so I convinced myself – the truth is I was playing the role of the victim and blaming others for my short comings.
I became addicted to writing poetry from 2003-2004 and wrote non-stop; I had many poems published in leading publications both in Australia and throughout the world.
Yes, I thought, I had finally found my calling.
But there’s no money in poetry, so I stopped writing it.
Last year I put together a collection of my finest work as a celebration and recognition of my achievements.
You can download it free here.
I eventually found a job as a sales agent for Hertz in 2005 and a few months later moved into my rental unit.
For the first time since relocating to Melbourne I had achieved something substantial.
I could now buy my daughter, who was six at the time, bigger, better and brighter toys, fancier clothes and take her places I couldn’t before.
This lasted until 2007 when I quit my job and moved in with my daughter’s mother and her new partner (she was still my ex by the way – I hadn’t met anyone since we broke up in 2001).
I moved in because my daughter’s grandmother, Joy had passed away – Juliet and Joy had a strong granddaughter/mother bond, so when Joy died this naturally left Juliet traumatized…still has, but she’s coping better each year.
I celebrated my 38th birthday unemployed, engaged in an ‘I love you one minute and hate you the next’ relationship with my daughter, still single and deep in the throes of a ‘drought’ still living with my ex.
My life from that point consisted of several unfulfilled and menial jobs and just existing.
I wasn’t doing anything overly exciting, making any contribution or stepping out of my comfort zone.
I celebrated my 38th birthday unemployed, engaged in an ‘I love you one minute and hate you the next’ relationship with my daughter, still single and deep in the throes of a ‘drought’…still living with my ex.
I didn’t like how things were, but in saying that, I wasn’t moved enough to change it, either. Looking back, I was happy to settle for a mediocre life and to jerk off over porn.
One good thing that was happening was I had started a blog about writing and giving advice to people looking to improve their craft.
I built up a strong following and things were starting to take shape.
Yes, I thought, I had found my calling.
I was starting to make an impact when the following took place and I quit:
On the day before my daughter’s 11th birthday my ex’s best friend at the time came to visit for a few days.
She showed a sexual interest in me straight away.
She was 25 (tick) but a whole lotta of woman, if you know what I mean. I might have been way overdue for sex but I still had standards…nah, not really.
I rejected her ‘come-ons’ for a day or two and then we did it…and did it and did it some more.
We didn’t stop for a month. We were both horny and desperate.
‘K’ as I will call her became my girlfriend (the first in 9 years) and after living with my ex for a month or two we moved in with K’s psychotic, drug and alcohol dependent mother and stupid wank of a younger brother.
I hated every minute of it and became mildly depressed.
I fought day and night with ‘K’ and her family and even got into fisticuffs with her brother’s drop-kick friends.
I lost interest in myself and couldn’t be stuffed doing anything.
My daughter and I had reconnected during this time, so that was a positive, and I can safely say, that was what kept me from going off the rails.
We lasted a year living with ‘K’s’ family, which I remained out of work the whole time, before she and I moved back in with my ex for 18 months.
Things, oddly enough, went really well for the first half of our ‘tenancy’ and we all got along well. I think by this time we had accepted that this was the way things were.
But it didn’t last.
The remaining 9 months was nothing more than fighting, back-stabbing, bitching, and misery.
My daughter and I went back to the ‘I love you one minute and hate you the next’ relationship and then eventually to an ‘I hate you and don’t talk to me ever again’ relationship.
She didn’t like ‘K’ and didn’t want me with her.
Perhaps she knew how rotten to the core she really was, as you will soon find out. ‘K’ and I continued to fight, though we did have some good moments, like a spontaneous road trip to Sydney with my daughter, and weekends away in the country.
On a personal note, I found a high paying sales job that included a company car that I could use for personal use as well.
Yes, I thought, I had found my calling.
I couldn’t believe it. ‘K’ hadn’t asked her for any money…she wasn’t game to. When we were living with her mother ‘K’ had asked her if grandmother if she could borrow some pots and pans and she told to ‘fuck off,’ and ‘never speak to me again.’
I put money aside each week so ‘K’ and I could find our own place but it was going to take a while to get what we needed because we had nothing, other than the bed we were sleeping on.
The fighting and bitching had reached boiling point and my ex gave us a week to move out, even though she knew we weren’t ready financially. ‘K’s’ wealthy grandmother threw us a life line in the shape of 20 thousand dollars.
I couldn’t believe it. ‘K’ hadn’t asked her for any money…she wasn’t game to. Awhile ago ‘K’ had asked her grandmother if she could borrow some pots and pans and she was told to ‘fuck off,’ and ‘never speak to me again.’
Ah, dementia is a wonderful thing!
We were jumping up and down with the good news and sharing tears of joy. We found a house within a week and furnished it with all the ‘bells and whistles.’
We even had money left to take a well-deserved holiday to Hobart. Life was good…for now.