If you are here it is because you would like to know more about me. This is my space and I would like to share it with you: my memories, my life and those significant moments that have shaped me – sometimes good, sometimes not so good.
My Personal Life
I was born and brought up in North West London. My parent’s first born and they remember my birth as being the happiest moment of their lives. When they first laid eyes on me I was everything their hearts had desired.
It was my father’s decision to call me Shaheen. The name Shaheen is of Persian origin, referring to the Shaheen Falcon. The name is constructed from Shah meaning King and the suffix meaning Royal in Persian. Falconry was widely practiced by royalty in ancient Mesopotamia from the time of Assyrians hence the possible transfer of the name to the falcons themselves.
I have two younger sisters. They are both very different from each other and I am close to both. My parents who still live in the same house we all grew up in have always been an active presence in our lives, and they have loved us all unconditionally. All three of us have been bought up well. Respect, love, faith and family are what has kept our family together and close.
I share my life with my partner who I met in London during the summer of 1998 and where we still live, having spent several years living in both Philadelphia and New York. He is my strength, my joy, my best friend. We have experienced great adventures together and comforted each other during the bad times in the knowledge that the good times will return.
He is an accomplished and successful marketing executive with over 25 years of publishing experience and an excellent Spinning Instructor.
“While you were just a small boy
We held your little hand
We answered all those many questions
Of sky and sea and land
We kissed away your hurts
As only parents can
We gladly accepted each cherished hug, with small arms holding tight
For we knew the time drew nearer
With every passing night
You are no longer our little boy
Instead you are a grown man
But we will always hold you in our heart
Though we can no longer hold your hands”
Mum & Dad
Breaking the Silence
In life when we experience happy moments we capture them in a photograph. In the old days people would capture these moment in a diary, some still do. Today it’s all captured on social media for all to see and celebrate. We create and share these happy moments in the hope that we can look back upon them at a future date.
When we experience grief, and sorrow we deal with it differently. We shut down, we hide ourselves away, we hesitate to share or speak of our sorrow out of fear of being judged.
In recent talks with my therapist, I discovered that I had been dealing with my own fears and grief by hiding them in a box which I had sealed up and put away somewhere far at the back of a wardrobe. Slowly, I have started to open these boxes and have discovered some distressing events in my life that I have decided to face up to: bullying at school and my experience of coming to terms with my sexuality as a young adult.
Unlike now when schools are more aware and equipped to deal with cases of bullying, in the 1980s it was not so.
I remember feeling lonely growing up. I used to dread waking up and would make every excuse possible not to go to school. Feeling sick was my usual excuse.
The walk to school used to fill me with dread and fear. What would the day have in store for me today? I would imagine a conveyor belt of possible scenarios. Would my head be flushed down the toilet? Would I be called names? would people poke me? would I be hit on the head? would I be shouted and screamed at? would I be pushed about? would I be the last one selected in sports with no one wanting me on their team? would I be laughed at?
I had no one to turn to. Sometimes I would skip class and walk and walk ending up in a park somewhere and sit in the bushes all on my own and cry. I still remember those days well and the cruelty of it all.
This was not normal but it was my normality: I was so used to it. I had become numb. I felt everything and nothing. Even the punches to my face and head did not hurt much but the inner scars would last a lifetime. Today when I look back and, even as I tell this story for the first time, I hold back my tears. Why did this happen to me, why did no one help me, why did no one notice?
As a result of my bullying at school, I left school not doing as well as I should have academically. I was very disengaged and just wanted to escape from the dread that was school life. It’s puzzling to me how well I did later in my further education and professional career. The very place that should have been in-part responsible for my academic development and preparation for life after school had failed me, due to lack of support. Instead it was my life experiences that taught me how to live pragmatically and would ultimately result in professional success.
Had I a more positive experience at school perhaps I would have had a different life? After taking several years off after school I went to University and my life took off in a more positive direction.
If you have been affected by bullying. I would like to signpost you to kidscape.org.uk they are charity that provide children, families and professionals with advice and information to keep children safe. There are other charities too but this is my chosen charity.
1992, was a year of great change for me.
Again, I was confronted with choices and decisions. Once again, I felt that this was a journey I had to take on my own. Yet again I was drawn into a dark world of loneliness and uncertainty. My early years of sexual discovery and identity were defining years for me. They helped to shape me to become the person I am today. They made me stronger. It was not easy for me during the early years of self-discovery and I was taken advantage of due to my naivety. I was mistreated twice and the effects left an emotional scare. At the time I dealt with it by boxing them up and putting them away. Out of sight, out of mind. I am dealing with the effects now with my therapist and trying to gain more understanding and insight.
In 1990’s London – so much was taboo and while change was happening and you could see those changes, they were small changes (or so it seemed to me at the time) but those small changes would have a huge impact in years to come. This was especially true concerning equal rights. I will be honest I never really understood what all the fuss was all about. I understand that now that the freedom that I enjoy today is as a result of the handwork, determination, sacrifice and persistence from groups like Outrage and other community groups in the 1990’s in pushing forward an agenda that would grant everyone equal rights.
I am also aware that the freedom enjoyed by us all here in the West, is not the same for everyone. The fight is an ongoing one; it continues in pockets of society with examples of horrible human rights’ abuses as a result of peoples’ life choices. Cultural and/or religious intolerance has made the fight even harder.
I, like many, yearn for a world where everyone is accepted regardless of colour, creed, sexual choices, disability or religious beliefs – I believe this because it’s personal to me but also as a Human Resource practitioner I have a professional responsibility to educate and help organisations and individuals understand the benefits of diversity and accept the challenges in a constantly changing global world.
As I start to learn more about myself, I am beginning to understand and accept that what happened to me during my early days and some of the challenges I faced while processing and exploring my self-identity was not my fault and I do not have to take the full burden of responsibility. I was but a young man and was seeking answers from those I trusted.
If you have been impacted in anyway take a few minutes to look at the following sites – you may find them helpful. Terrence Higgins Trust http://www.tht.org.uk
The Fall Into Darkness
On July 2016 a jury found me guilty of theft and I was given a prison sentence. The judgement had a profound impact on me and left me horrified. Your biggest fears are nothing compared to this but I accepted the decision as the law had judged me. Again, my inexperience let me down from those I trusted: I should have asked more questions.
Some people knowingly commit a crime knowing that their actions may result in an outcome that could change their lives. I believe this sub-consciously allows them to prepare for any outcome.
I never really prepared myself for this outcome and that verdict irreparably altered my life and yanked me into an unknown world behind bars and into darkness. I spent 11 months in custody.
While prison is not an experience that I would like to repeat. I used my time wisely by participating in the Toe-by-Toe mentoring scheme that gave me the opportunity to teach English to the other inmates. I also ran the business hub BUT I was not precious. I was also the dish washer and laundry orderly – the best laundry orderly they ever had, I was told. I also did many short courses including, creative writing, a dragon’s den style business course and I participated in the debating team.
Throughout that time, I remained true to myself and allowed my personality and compassion for people to engage with the prison staff and inmates alike– It was about winning hearts and minds while remaining humble.
I still remember what my sister told me the morning before sentencing. She said “You are not alone, we are all with you on this difficult journey. You have your faith and if you end up in custody you will be protected at all time by two angels who will stand-by you and protect you”. Whenever I felt scared I always remembered what she told me. It took me to a place of safety, it took me to my faith. That and the love and messages of support from family and friends reached me beyond the bars at a time when I needed it most.
My partner would send me poems every day which would make me laugh or he would send me a memory to take me to a more colourful place – a reminder that the good days we had shared would return.
They say when sorrow comes it comes to your home and to the lives of all. That is so true. The consequence of what happened left my family, friends and partner grief stricken and I was left helpless and unable to restore life and laughter back into their lives. I now spend every day and cherish the moments I have. I value my time. I have been given a second chance and I intend on making every day count.
Rising from the ashes
A new beginning
Rising from the Ashes is an expression that is associated with the legendary phoenix. A mythical bird that supposedly rose from the ashes. It is a symbol of rebirth and victory.
My parents were right to name me after the Shaheen Falcon after all.
I have been through some difficult times in my life and I am not unique in that. Like many, I kept the memory of those hard times to myself because I was always led to believe that you don’t dry out your dirty laundry for all to see. Sometimes you hold back a little. Let bygones be bygones. Let the dust settle and you will forget – why I now ask myself?
We all have problems in life, a problem shared is a problem halved. My life is not defined by one moment but by many. They have shaped me and will help to shape me in the future. I will struggle and I will get up and I will struggle more but I will keep going. That is life. You cannot give up just because times are tough.
I have learnt to remind myself of all the wonderful people I have met, whose lives that I have touched in a positive way. The laughter and fun I have had. I have seen kindness and I have embraced love. I have helped, coached and mentored all that have needed me. I have shouldered the burden of others’ pains. I have done so because that is who I am and although more recently I lost my smile I have found a new meaning in life and have finally seen that my smile has started to reach my eyes again. If I am all the things that I am, I am more of that now: kind, humble, a friend, a brother, a son, a colleague, a committed partner. I still love and am starting to trust again – a little.
Those who know me and stood by me during my spell in custody know that I am the same Shaheen, but a slightly different Shaheen. Adversity has not changed me, it has enhanced me. Those who gave up on me are forgiven but not forgotten, as a dear friend recently reminded me. I have accepted they are no longer in my life and that is fine. But it is a hard and valuable lesson to learn.
Mind, body and soul
Taking care of my overall health and wellbeing has always been an important part of who I am.
It’s a regime, and it requires a level of mental, emotional and physical commitment. For me my 40’s are all about maintenance and delaying the ageing process as much as you can by just eating well, regular exercise, drinking less, not smoking (recently quit) and taking care of my skin and being kind to my body both inside and out.
Look out for my blog for regular tips.