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You can’t keep him….

I want to tell you about a man I grew up with…

My heart is suddenly racing in my chest. I have had many anxiety attacks in my life, but this is different. I feel like I can’t breathe, and I swear to god I am going to be sick right here right now. I am suddenly aware that I am gripping the chair I am sitting on for dear life. I am squeezing the sides of the chair so hard that it actually hurts. I feel dizzy and I get up to leave. I can’t do this. But I am also stuck in my chair because my legs feel so shaky if I get up, I could fall. And then what. There is so much going on around me I don’t know where to look or what to do. I feel like people can see the sweat on my brow and can see my heart thumping under my white shirt. I need to get up and go now.

I have been living this moment in my mind a lifetime. How I would feel…what I would say…

But its all gone. Now that I am going to see him for the first time…well…the first time like this….. I have fallen apart in a way I did not know existed.

I remember the first time we meet. I was just a kid. We all have connections to people, of course, and then sometimes you meet people and you know that you have been together in another lifetime. And will do a million more. You meet someone and you just…know…them. Who ever come to mind when you read that line…text them now……if you can …and just say hi, or I love you. Maybe they are no longer here …just give them a little thought. Because you are blessed to have such people in your life.

Love Is a powerful thing. And something I have not had much of in my life as in quantity. I have not had many people that loved me. However, the people that do love me…love me a lot. As I do them. I have never felt unloved and that’s because of key people in my life.

Including the man I grew up with.

We have learnt a lot of things from each other over the years, me and him. Him and I. Sometimes I am the teacher…sometimes he is. Sometimes we both didn’t know what was going on so just learnt how to do things together. Sometimes that’s the best way.

I have hurt him. Never intentionally. But I have. I wonder if he has ever hurt me. I don’t think so. Too much of an old school gentleman to be fair.

There have been times that I have stood in awe of him and he doesn’t even realise. He doesn’t know how ……unique he is. Not even a bit.

The wanted to separate us right from the start. From the second we found each other. And it’s been like pretty much ever since. Many people have tried to divide us. I don’t know why. I can only guess that when you see unconditional love you either think its amazing or you want to destroy it because you have not felt such a thing. But I am getting to deep now.

The man I grew up with, I wouldn’t say we are friends. We are…. but that’s not the label I would put on it. I think no label is fair.

He knows more about me than any single human on the planet now my mum has passed. Imagine that…if you knew someone so well that they knew EVERYTHING. The good the bad and the ugly…and they didn’t flinch. Not even a bit.

The man I grew up with is not perfect. Not by any means. But he is kind and he is loyal. He knows when I need to be put in check (Gently). He is a good man. With a good heart. He does not surround himself with drama or anger. He only lets certain people in his circle. He has been taught well.

The day I meet him…wow…. what a day. Filled with so many emotions…fear…. happiness…sadness… It was such an overload it felt like I would never think straight again.

And that how I feel now…all these years later sitting on this chair.

I didn’t want to see him before it happened. I can’t explain why. I just knew it would be too much. Watching someone you have grown up with achieve something…it can be overwhelming, I guess. That’s why I had planned if…. In my head…. he walks out…I gasp…have a little cry and done

But its all gone wrong in the past 2 minutes. I am a kid again…I am so scared that I am going to mess up that I can’t take it in. I feel the sick again rise and I am so angry with myself for getting like this

“He is there” I hear her say…” look” she says…I shake my head and grip the seat harder.

The first time I saw him…. the man I grew up with

Like I said…. I was just a child. It’s clear in my mind like it just happened. I know people always say that but its so real. I didn’t know what to think…feel…do.

So, I just held him. Tight. Because I knew they were coming, and they wanted to take him. But not the first night…surely

3am in the morning they arrived. A man and a woman. They sat on my bed (Knowing my mum would not be there) and told me all the reasons why…all the reason they knew they were right.

I tried not to cry. I tried. But the tears would not stop. I looked like a kid…I was a kid…and now I was acting like one.

“You can’t keep him…. if you do…he will never achieve anything” the social worker said.

This was their way of telling me that my son would be better off going into care from birth. She went on to say, “look at you and what you are involved with…you don’t want that for him do you”. I slowly shook my head.

I didn’t give him to them. I agreed to a plan. A strict plan. To keep my son.

I also agreed to a plan with my son. That her words would not be true.

So here I am….23 years later…having a full-on panic attack because I can’t even look at him. I don’t dare…because if I do…I can finally let go….and I don’t know if I can.

I’m sitting here ….in Canterbury cathedral (Having a panic attack) …front row seats…my daughter next to me…my sons girlfriend telling me to look at him and I can’t. I have waited this for so long…I don’t deserve to be here…. he deserves better than…..

“Charlie Houseman”

I look up..and there he is. I am physical knocked breathless….I mean I physically can’t catch my breath….and then…like a mad women….in the front row of Canterbury cathedral…with a lot of posh people and important  people I scream out “Go on my boy” …people laugh… I could not hold it in. I feel embarrassed.

And there he is….in his graduation gown and hat. He looks so grown. He is so grown.

He walks past and sees me and then he is gone. I don’t cry…I just sit there…in shock. I start to shake, and I suddenly feel like I want to go home…go to bed…and cry in my bed alone. To cry for all the times, I worried…all the times I thought he would not make it. For all the times I thought I messed up so bad.

To cry because my mum is not here to see this king achieve all she said he could. …we did it mum x

When I see him after I am physically exhausted. I still am. Because its hard work raising a man……

Just for the record…You was wrong Mrs Howey…social worker for Lambeth 1996. You were very very wrong

And so was every single person who judged me as an ex-gang member…as a single mum…who judged him because of the background he was born into. You don’t know us. You don’t know me, and you don’t know him. Because if you did…. you would never have doubted what we are capable of achieving.

So……may I introduce you to the man I grew up with…my Son Charlie……. we have a message for each and every doubter….


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