It had all started with my mother’s breakdown and her cruel taunts to me – I was ugly, I was stupid, I was an idiot, I was worthless, just like my worthless father! She didn’t really mean it, I know she didn’t. But like foul smelling filthy mud, those words stuck to me, entered my brain, and worked their way through every vein until I started to believe them. If my own mother felt I was worthless and stupid, what hope did I have of convincing my teachers that I could handle the pressure of the HSC. So I became the ugly, stupid, idiot, worthless dropout, just like my worthless father.
The pain reflected in that mirror now, reminds me of the pain on her face as she tried to cope with the angry confrontations, the beatings, the separation, and finally the humiliation of living in run down housing commission flat with barely enough money for one decent meal a week. But it hadn’t always been like that. The three of us used to laugh and have fun together, share great meals and happy times until Mum and Dad became mortal enemies in a fight to the death – the death of our peaceful family life. I guess my resemblance to Dad was the ultimate reminder of what he had done to her, and I became the punching bag she used to get back at him – physically and emotionally. So as she drowned her sorrows in the bottles piled high in our front garden, I walked the streets looking for a way to replace my future career as a teacher – because no child should have a teacher who is ugly, stupid and worthless. I found my salvation – the dishevelled guy standing in the