My clumsy childhood essence

I wanna be an amateur
Back like I used to be
I wanna go down to the essence, down to the essence
Down to my clumsy childhood essence
I wanna be
Essentially unfiltered, free”

Ezra Furman, Amateur

This week I have been deeply moved by the question "Who was I as a child?" Or, in the words of Ezra Furman, "What is my clumsy childhood essence?" On Tuesday on the beach in Matalascañas, listening to Ezra Furman's song Amateur, a song I've probably heard a hundred times, I suddenly started to cry listening to the lyrics "I wanna go down to the essence, down to the essence, down to my clumsy childhood essence", and I asked myself the question "What is this essence, who am I?".

Tuesday night into Wednesday, a typical sleepless night, waking up already at four o'clock in the morning, I returned to this question. I started to think about this essence of my childhood of maybe nine, ten years old, and the first thing that came to my mind was sexual abuse, followed by emotional neglect, and again I started to cry. Could this be the essence of my childhood, the abuse, the neglect? Was there nothing else in this child's life? Then came the issue of gender identity, the fear, the loneliness, the feeling of not fitting in... But was there nothing positive in this child's life? Was there nothing that they liked, that they enjoyed?

I thought of their model railway in the basement, which was certainly something they loved, which they used to create their own world that they could escape to in their imagination. But, again, the memory of the model railway mingled with the images of sexual abuse, some next to this model railway. There was absolutely no safe space in this house of my childhood and adolescence. Neither the basement with the model railway, nor the room I shared with my older brother.

Later I remembered my bicycle. I don't know if it was already with nine or ten years old, maybe later, when this child was going to high school, the bicycle became a symbol of freedom, a tool to escape from this insecure house. I have some very fuzzy memories of cycling with a friend to a village nearby where a man lived who had a bigger model railway and also sold second-hand parts. We would go sometimes just to look, sometimes, when we had saved some money, to buy another locomotive, another carriage, another house.

I have almost no memories. Did I used to go to the swimming pool on my bike, or in summer to a nearby lake? I don't know, but the bike was my tool to visit one of my few friends, or simply to escape. It symbolised my freedom, and it still does so to this day.

But, going back to the question of my clumsy childhood essence, the question of who I am now, I am left without an answer. I am not an essentialist, but what I was as a child is a part of who I am now, it is part of my roots, and it pains me to think that these roots are mainly sexual abuse and emotional neglect. I wish I could identify other aspects of this "clumsy essence", of these roots of who I am now. Resilience? Maybe yes, as this child has survived a very hard childhood, and this requires a great deal of resilience. Dreams, the ability to imagine another, better world? Maybe so, it was something necessary to sustain me as a child, to imagine another world and to escape to this world.

I don't know. It was very difficult for me to write this text. The question of my clumsy childhood essence, this question that remains without a positive answer, causes me a lot of pain, a lot of sadness. It connects me with abuse, with abandonment. I know that this is my past, that I am someone else now, that I have a network of friends who love me, who support me. And I support myself in my present. I am aware that both the abuse and the emotional abandonment are part of who I am now, but I would also like to find more pleasant, more positive roots.