Euphoric Recall, by Aidan Martin: Part 1 - Groomed
In this first extract from Aidan Martin’s dark no-holds-barred memoir of a life of addiction and abuse in West Lothian, the author, who now acts as an mental health advocate, finds himself in the company of his abuser for the first time.
Chapter One: GroomedI stood outside of that McDonalds with my heart racing. It was a dark winter evening and I could feel the cold air sharply stinging my cheeks. Lying to my Mum about who I was meeting didn’t feel great. What was I supposed to do though? I could hardly tell her I was actually here to meet a man I had been talking to on the Internet instead of the ‘friends’ I was allegedly meeting. I was only 15. Still in school.
As she drove off, I felt a horrible sense of having betrayed her. Writing this now I feel it was an even greater betrayal to my younger self. I was already on the way to ending my childhood innocence and yet I had no idea of the impact those moments would have on my entire life.Ruminating now as an addict in recovery from substance abuse and sexual addiction, I have the gift of hindsight. Through recovery, education, therapy and life experience I can better analyse exactly how I became a schoolboy waiting for this older man to drive all the way up to Livingston, Scotland, from England to meet me. At the time, however, I had no clue. I still thought shouting out the words ‘cheese and ham’ asthe teachers read out pupils’ names from the class register was utterly hilarious, as did my group of friends.I was also suicidal and vulnerable, often thinking of ways to end my life or fantasising about being somewhere else, anywhere else, completely out of my own head.Checking my pay-as-you-go mobile phone, which I had funded through my paper round, I knew he was on his way, almost near. My imagination ran wild wondering what he looked like and exactly what was going to happen once we met. We had never seen each other, never sent pictures or spoken on webcam. We had only chatted online or on the phone. Our conversations took place in chat rooms mostly.
At that time all I knew was that he was supportive, and he understood me. He always sounded cheery on the phone and his Northern English accent made me trust him all the more. My mother, aunties and uncles all had Manchester or ‘Manc’ accents from growing up in Salford. So when Derek spoke in that Northern twang, I believed that he was warm and humorous too.More than anything else, I was just happy to be in the world of fantasy, out of my reality as a struggling-to-cope, suicidal teenage boy. Already, at such a young age, my ever-growing addictions were taking hold of me and my mental health, but much like this rapidly approaching encounter with him, I had no grasp of the enormity of it. Nowhere near.Pacing back and forward, teeth chattering, I kept my eyes peeled for a white van. That was all I had to go on. He told me he owned a textile company and that his work took him to West Lothian, where I lived. Livingston, West Lothian. Oddly enough, I recall this being one of the first conversations we ever had. Where we both lived. As an immature young boy, I had no reason to think any more of it or to question it.
With every passing van my heart smashed against my chest a little harder. Thoughts invaded my consciousness in frenetic fashion. Nerves truly had me now. What would he look like? I knew what I looked like. Skinny, blonde hair, blue eyes, freckles and tall with slightly protruding teeth that I hadn’t quite grown into. I wore black nylon tracksuit bottoms, trainers and a sports hoody, much like many other gangly teenage boys of my generation in the early ‘noughties’.I wouldn’t have to wonder what he looked like for much longer. An ordinary looking white work van pulled slowly into the McDonalds’ car park. Headlights blinded my eyes as the warmth of my accelerated breathing mixed with the ice-cold air. Once the lights dimmed, I got a glimpse of the man at the steering wheel peering back at me, and it took me by surprise.Derek waved me over to the van, and now that this was a reality my adolescent mind raced and my body began to pulsate with a blend of adrenaline, fear and nerves. He looked old and chubby, like someone’s grandad.
Those were the thoughts in my mind. I began to question everything. “What am I doing here? Should I run away? Can I run away? I’m not gay so why am I here meeting this older man?”
I kept thinking, “He’s driven all this way so surely I have to meet him?” No longer was I in the safety of fantasy, sitting behind a computer screen in my dad’s study with a keyboard or in my bedroom on my brick-like mobile phone, where at any moment I could press the red ‘end call’ button and escape.Here I was, very much in a real situation, frozen on the spot and faced with danger. Then without thought, like an out-of-body experience as if watching myself from afar, I walked towards his van.
Tomorrow: Don’t miss The Meeting – the second of four extracts from Euphoric Recall
Euphoric Recall, By Aidan Martin, is now available from Amazon, priced £9.95