Hi, I’m Cristoph, I’m 38 years old and I come from Macerata a town in the Italian region of Le Marche. My family is composed of: my mother Michela, my father Roberto, my brother Stefano and my two sisters Sabrina and Cristina. As a child I was excited to have siblings with whom to play with, but over the years that enthusiasm ended. Every sibling that was born made me feel as if they had diverted my moms attentions from me. I felt terrible. When I was born my parents were very young and my grandparents had always been against their wedding. In those years there wasn’t much work, economically we had troubles, so all I owed, I had to share and pass on to my brothers, toys and clothes. I didn’t like this at all, because it made me seem different from my friends at school, who could always have what they wanted.
With my father I never had a good relationship. We never talked, we never played together and we never shared anything. Since when I was born I had only heard from him contemptuous words against me, he kept repeating that he thought I wasn’t his son, and to me those words really did hurt. He was also quite strange; I never really did understand why did he behave that way with us. I never really did understand what I could have possibly done wrong, for him to be so angry with me. I was always good at home. Yet it always seemed that my presence bothered him and I could not do anything about it.
With my mom, however, when I was little it went well. I could feel her protection, her love. But as I grew older I started to see it a lot less.
At 4/5 years old my mother, who couldn’t handle always being with us, had to drop us to the nuns’ boarding school, after school till the evening. Sometimes they didn’t even come to pick us up and we slept there in the boarding school. I eventually got used to this, but needless to say, it made me suffer a lot, I realized there was something wrong.
In my house there were constant quarrels. My father was always mad with my mother and I, although I could not understand why. When I was home I continuously had anxiety, paradoxically, I almost felt better when I was in the nuns’ boarding school. I was very young but I already wanted to run away from home.
At school, even though I had always passed to the next year, I didn’t enjoy studying. With the professors I was a troublemaker, I was constantly teasing people and never letting them do the lessons. For me, going to school was a way to let off steam, to relax and to play. With my classmates there was a strange situation, it seemed as if they knew the reasons of my uneasiness, to them I was different. This sort of discrimination made me feel bad, I wanted to be like them, but I could not. I realized that there was something special in my family situation, I knew that I was a bit different from my companions, but for me what was going on in my house was now normal, and it had always been that way.
At that time I really did feel the situation at home was getting heavy, I felt oppressed and I realized that my father’s problem was me. So I wrote him a letter to tell him I believed that the blame for the whole situation was me, so I would rather leave, and so I did. I left home for an entire day, I was just 9 years old. I was tired of all that mess, it would have been better off to be alone. I felt unwanted, and this time not only by my father, but also by my mother. In fact, the more I grew up the more she distanced herself and for me it really did hurt. I only needed her protection, to have her by my side, but nothing, I was all alone. That day I have only been out for a night, with time I learned to cope to stay out for several days. I preferred staying out of home rather than being victim of the wrath of my father.
My mother was a cleaner in a middle school, and when it was time to enroll for middle school, my brothers went there where she worked, while I was enrolled to another place. I asked her why and she said that given my restless nature, she had chosen a different school, more suitable for me. That really hurt me. My mom had preferred my brothers to me; I was the one not to be presented to others, the bad son, that they could not be proud of. It seemed to me that she, the only person I really trusted and loved, my reference point, had abandoned me.
My school was located five kilometers from my house and it was a positive thing, because unlike the schools in my neighborhood, there, no one knew me and hence I could start all over again. No one would know my family’s situation, no one would have known who I was and, therefore, know me for who I really was, without being bias. I felt positive, but after a while, things worsened. If in the elementary school they looked at me like the “poor” boy, by then they mocked me, they said that my mother was no good, and my father a convict. They were nasty and they gave me problems. I was back to square one.
There, however, I made acquaintance with Federico, the son of a very famous doctor in Macerata. We first met in a fight, happened because of a misunderstanding and, from that time onwards we became real good friends. His house was a different reality, his parents didn’t let him miss a thing, in every sense, and soon his house became my second home. There I was free to do what I wanted, and his parents gave me the affection I was missing. Federico was cool, he had many girls that were always around him, he also was a football player; I had found in him, a person who really cared for me. So, for the first time, I began to tell him everything that was going on in my house, my father’s behavior, how he treated me, what I felt. Being worried for me, he told everything to his father and he had called my father, but nothing changed. Federico, knowing the situation, told me that if I ever had enough of it, I could run off and stay at his house. So I started to leave home even for one or two weeks, up to a whole month sometimes without hearing from my parents. In short, I lived in Federico’s house with his family, which in turn became mine too.
At school we became bullies and by doing so, I took my revenge on their continuous discrimination. I always had a constant need to be exuberant in front of others; hence I could attract their attention, given that I never received any before, when acting like that, in some way, I could be accepted. But inside, I wasn’t okay, maybe I did all that to release something in myself, I wanted to free myself from that bulky weight so I constantly caused trouble.
After school, Federico and I started to commit robberies and pick pocketing. Then eventually we were together all the time, we shared everything, we did everything together.
During the first year of middle school, however, I had to retake the year whereas Federico went to a private school in another town, at Fabriano. There, he had made friends with a group of strange guys, having also made his first experiences with light drugs, which he then shared with me when he came home. Those are my first experiences with substances. Federico was Federico, he had my back covered, how could I tell him no? We always did everything together!
Despite this, however, Matteo slowly became an ever increasingly distant company and I stay without support and shelter. I felt abandoned; I was alone and without anyone again.
Eventually I met guys much older than me, and I started to drink my first beers and getting my first hangovers with them. I felt great… being accepted by the elder ones, you know…
With one of these guys, one evening I went to a tennis club. I knew a place where I could spy on girls that were showering. I was a kid and that was really cool for me. But spending an evening like that wasn’t enough for him. He was used to so much more, so he stole a scooter, he sneaked into a club and stole money from the till. I didn’t know anything at all, but the police caught us immediately.
So, at the age of 13, I was taken to boarding school waiting for my sentence, which eventually assigned me to a policeman, the colleague of the one who arrested me. My new entrusted family was united and happy. He was called Alessandro, his wife Cinzia, then there were their childern, Sofia who was 4 years older than me, and Luca who was two years older than me.
They re-enrolled me to school, covering 3 years in one with the help of a tutor. I was older than the others so I just couldn’t make any friends at all. However, at home I was doing well with my new family and Cinzia was very affectionate to me, maybe too much for my liking. I had never been accustomed to that kind of affection, to that openness of feelings and to that expansiveness. Everything went well, although, I could not help feeling bad about having been taken away from my real family. I felt that this situation was like a divine intervention for my biological parents; it was as if they were happy of having got rid of me, this really did hurt. Once again I was the unwanted son, the one that it was best if left alone, the useless one, the one who didn’t deserve any love.
I almost stayed for 3 years in the house of my adoptive family, without having ever been allowed to go out alone, because during that time, I had been waiting for my trial. Every now and then I went out with my foster siblings, and with their friends too, I didn’t get along with them, they were too dull and very peaceful.
Meanwhile, during these years, I increasingly isolated myself, I hardly spoke to anyone, keeping all my uneasiness inside, and I also never released myself accumulating more and more.
The situation with my new entrusted family was also troubling me; because I thought of them in a particular way. They gave me love, attention, sincere affection, but to me that entire situation scared me. In my life, all of those that I was fond of and cared about had abandoned me. Why should I still trust anyone again? Why risk it? Was it still worthwhile to get involved? At that moment the immediate answer to me was “no”.
Their house was a normal place, with a normal family; I never had rules, traditions and family rites (preparing Sunday lunch together, a clean home, swimming on a certain day of the week, Keeping one’s hair always short, to do homework every day, dine at a specific time). But they and I had to respect them. However, it was not my world, and for me, those were just constraints.
After finishing middle school, I enrolled in high school, but I did not want to study, so I left straight away. The premise was good, now I had a normal family, normal parents, no one knew me, this time I could really start over again, but approaching me were “normal” guys and for me was difficult, confronting them frightened me, I preferred the strange and lousy ones like me, so that I could face a familiar ground, it wouldn’t have been hard.
After I’ve dropped out of school I went to work and my foster parents started to give me a bit more freedom. I bought a scooter; I had my own money, during the day I could leave when I wanted, but I was only granted on Saturday night, to go out in the evening. In those evenings I started to go to a disco and I became a P.R. for a while I had a normal life. Then in that disco I met my real brother, it had passed so long since we last had seen each other, so I started to see him often, and eventually I found out that he was constantly drunk. The people around me began to understand my situation asking questions like “then you are not the brother of that one, but of this one… why?” I felt judged, different and faced all this with anger and aggression. Seeing my brother, though, it really did hurt me. Somehow I wanted to be close to him and to say the truth I wanted to look like him a bit, I saw that he was freer than me, he did what he wanted, he was the rebel, and he was cool.
When I was almost 18 years old, I made the decision of leaving the house of my foster parents, I didn’t know what was I thinking back then, it had probably been the last thing I should have done, I just knew at that time I only wanted to have the same lifestyle that of my brother Stefano. So I came back to my old house and signed up to get a waitering and cooking diploma with my brother. I thought that given my age, no one would had busted my balls at home, I would have lived my own life for my own sake, but my parents hadn’t changed at all, every time I stayed at home more than I needed, I had an inner malaise that brought me back to my childhood. I was feeling miserable again, so many years later, all the frustration of those horrible years, had returned.
After two years of schooling, where I managed to maintain getting a diploma, also doing quite well and because I committed myself, I became representative of the institute as well, I had become popular and cool, and finally I had what I wanted.
After school I immediately worked as a waiter in Germany. But there I just felt alone, I didn’t know anyone and I had troubles getting close to people, I did not trust them even though many showed me esteem and affection. It seemed as if I had a handbrake always pulled up. Most of those I knew were quiet people, totally normal, and I was frightened of having to expose myself to them, letting them know who I was … because I was different from them. At that time I still smoked weed only, but then at some point I happened to know Nicole, a Dutch girl I fell in love with, leaving my job and moving to the Netherlands with her. But she took cocaine and with time I started to use too. Until then I had always been away from that world, I never had that kind of experience, I was not interested, but she was there and asked me to try it together, how could I refuse? I didn’t even think about it for a second.
We went out together, but as soon as I had finished all my money, she dumped me. I was in a really bad place… everything we had spent together was a lie, she had fooled me, but I really had believed in us being together. I felt once again abandoned, alone. The truth was that it was a relationship based on drugs, only sharing that and nothing more.
At 21 years old, I went to London to work in a restaurant. I was not doing well, I had no friends and I did not talk to anyone about my problems. In the meantime, my brother Stefano joined me in London to work together, we hung out together and had the same friends, we went to raves, by then I quit with cocaine but started taking ecstasy.
At 22 years old, I returned to Italy to do military service, but I kept up the same lifestyle, not trusting anybody, not having anyone. I was well known, well liked, but I did not want to open up and I could not. The fear of getting to know someone and then undergoing another abandonment stopped me from doing anything. I had always thought of relationships this way, I thought they wanted to trap me, pretending to be affectionate to me, when I thought that in truth they wanted to humiliate me and ridicule me in order to avoid falling into this, I kept myself distant. I had no real relationship, friends and confidants.
By then I met Alice, she was nice and pretty so we dated. We got together but I could not be happy with what I had and so I started taking heroine, also dragging Alice into it. She had started abusing it badly. She was an insecure girl, she was ashamed, she was locked into herself and drugs helped her unlock, she was delusional, like me, she thought that drugs were the antidote to her shyness and her problems. Within a year our life was only about drugs. We had been together for 7 years, I cared about her, but basically it was just another relationship that was based on drugs, taking drugs together was what we shared.
In those years I wasn’t doing well at all, I was taking drugs and getting drunk often. Alice, and I, both had several overdoses, but once I really got scared, she couldn’t recover I tried helping her but I didn’t manage, so I had to call the ambulance. I thought that maybe it was time for me to change; we had to go to a community. But I gave up immediately, the courage to face my family and my fears weren’t there. I spend another three and a half years with another girl, Chiara. We did the unthinkable. I also ended up in jail, when I was released I felt slightly more sober than usual, so I realized how I had reduced myself. So I finally made the decision to quit, I was tired of that junk, it had taken everything away from me, and I was no one. I was almost in my worst-case scenario; nothing I did represented me anymore. I had turned into another person, I was not myself, and I did not recognize myself anymore. I needed to find myself.
I was so out of it that I couldn’t completely realize certain things anymore. I was anesthetized, the emotions slid slowly. My only chance was to get into a community. So I asked if I could get into the program at San Patrignano. In the years that I spent here, I committed myself to become a better man. Now I look in the mirror and I hope that one-day or so, I can really forgive myself. It’s hard. Given that when I was outside, I had lost the most beautiful years of my life, drugs had literarily taken them away from me. Drugs had canceled me, annihilated me, I had become no one. But in the end I had lost a lot more than this. I had lost trust in myself, I had lost an important piece of me that has been extremely complicated to regain.