Checkpoints – A story of drugs, alcohol, violence, love and responsibility

Mark Twist: Checkpoints – A story of drugs, alcohol, violence, love and responsibility

Checkpoints – A story of drugs, alcohol, violence, love and responsibility

For many of us, life is not always presented to us as we would like. We have broken childhoods.

Some of us witness violence beyond compare, and as Mark Twist writes from his own experience, that leaves many men growing up hardened and caught in cycles of alcohol abuse, more violence and sometimes worse. So yes, we can look at the pain of our childhood and blame it for the way we have turned out. And sure, we have got to look at it... but at some point, we need to ask ourselves – what is my responsibility for the way my life is turning out? For without that call to self-responsibility, there is always reason not to change. As Mark Twist discovered, that means we often miss out on getting intimate with the person most worth getting to know – ourselves – and that is the deeper tragedy not often mentioned…

CHECKPOINTS – A story of drugs, alcohol, violence, love and responsibility

I grew up thinking that life’s tough and that I had to be tough to get through life. I had a number of checkpoints in life to refer back to just to keep me tough enough.

When I was two weeks old I was given to family members – my parents couldn’t look after me. For the next five years I was given back and forth until it was decided that it was best for all if I stayed with my parents. My parents weren’t great at their relationship so it was always on and off – dad walking out, with mum screaming after him, my sister and I crying and not understanding at all what was going on. This would be followed by waking up and my parents would be back together – quite confusing for a young child.

At eight my parents separated for good. I went to live with my father. I remember at the time feeling happy and quite safe for once. I was looking forward to life until he told me one day that I couldn’t stay with him. There was no reason except that he couldn’t look after me anymore. I felt that I got in his way. I would have to go live with my mother and her new partner.

My mother’s new partner was a very violent man who drank. He was also very jealous, which is a dangerous combination in a man. For the next seven years I was to witness some of the most violent beatings I have ever seen from anyone. Almost nightly we would cower in our bedrooms listening to the pain being inflicted on our mother by this man and if we were lucky enough to escape would run to the police station only to be told to go home – it’ll be over soon.

When I was ten my father was bashed to death by a group of younger men and boys. It happened just after Christmas and my mother decided that we were not allowed to see him nor attend his funeral. In fact, what I remember was there was no grieving at all. It was like you’d lost a toy – it was no big deal, just move on. Sometime after this I was watching a western on TV and a dog had to be shot. I just broke down and cried, not knowing why. No one spoke about my father after this.

These were all checkpoints for me to refer back to; places that I could keep hidden away from all, only to let out when the need arose. I could then use my past as the excuse for my behaviour, to justify what I did and continue to do more of it.

Throughout most of my life I would have to say that my behaviour reflected the past. It could be said that I didn’t want to let go of the past as this kept me in the hurt and gave me excuses as to why I was where I was at. I didn’t have to take responsibility for my actions, and nor did I want to.

Living like this places enormous pressure on your mental and physical wellbeing. I was what they called a ticking time bomb. I would explode with anger at the drop of a hat and become quite violent, and I would let whatever was getting to me stew. I knew this way was harmful, hurtful and destructive for me and others but I had the pain of the past to fall back on as a sort of green light for me and this behaviour.

It was a chance meeting with Serge Benhayon in 2000 that really got me thinking about my life. It wasn’t so much what he said or did but the way he was with me. Here was a man who stopped to listen, didn’t try and give me the answer or solve the problems, but just stayed with me and allowed me to talk and feel what I was saying. At the time I was running a crew of bricklayers in Sydney. Life seemed good – money, work and mates. But I was always angry, frustrated and drunk.

From that conversation with Serge Benhayon I knew that it didn’t have to be that way anymore – that in fact I had choices, that I had always had these choices. I knew this because it’s what I had always known, but my checkpoints throughout life that I had relied upon as justification for my actions had hidden true choice away.

By no stretch of the imagination did it magically just get better. I would say things stayed the same for a very long time. What I did keep going back to was that the checkpoints that I used in the past couldn’t or wouldn’t support me anymore. I knew that how I felt was different and that to dull this long term probably would end up killing me one way or another.

I stopped drinking and gambling and got quite anxious... anxious enough to start to see a therapist. I remember thinking for that first two-year period, “bloody hell, I’d be better off drinking!” But as I’ve come to understand, if you hide yourself away long and deep enough mentally and physically it costs you in other ways.

The question I kept asking myself over and over was, am I going to get better? Are things going to work out? For most men, it’s quite possible that when confronted with these questions life can become scary. We want to be well and life to have a direction. But what about when it doesn’t? What do we default to?

For me I ran with my checkpoints and did not seek to challenge them. I just thought that was how you get through life. Its tough, but hey, that’s life. I’ve come to understand that in fact it doesn’t have to be like that at all.

With the support of Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine I have come to understand that my checkpoints were just that – check-points. A place and time in my life that, if understood, allowed me to see and feel what was going on and gave me the option to truly change – to make a deeper choice to take responsibility, and one in which I get to explore who I truly am.

Filed under

AlcoholAddictionLoveHurtAnxietyPainBehaviourAbuseHardnessDrugsDomestic violence

  • By Mark Twist, Bricklayer

    A man who sees life very simple, a lover of the world and all who live within it. I love life, getting to meet people through my work is the best thing about my job.

  • Photography: James Tolich