Oh life, you mysterious asshole.
I am Nicholas Ridiculous. I am a not-so young Canadian male, born and raised in the province of Ontario. I hate being asked the question “Where are you from?” because, for my life it is such an exhausting question to try and answer. That is why I said Ontario, I have bounced around this beautifully confused province, but have not ventured too much beyond its borders. On April 22nd 1991, I was born in Belleville at the general hospital, to a young thug of a mother. I have 4 brothers, and two half sisters I have only just recently found through the magic of modern social media. My family never had much for wealth, or anything really. I remember back in those days a large sprawling clan, that weaved throughout our little community. Somewhere in my early years though, my Mum made a decision to move to Hamilton, Ontario. Spread her wings, or what have you. It was cool, taking on the world with my Mum, being raised and looked after by people who were younger than I am now. Although it hurt to leave my older brother behind with my grandparents. Sadly the large boarding house where our family had lived, was engulfed by a devastating fire. That was but the first bit of proof of what I call, our family curse.
As time went on, I gained a lot of childhood independence. Maybe that is why the Children’s Aid Society got involved. Time, and time, and time again. That is the real reason, the reason why it is so hard to remember my own goddamned life. Because it is just this mess of mismatched pieces that are so hard to make out, it is not even worth trying most of the time. It was a long life of pain, confusion, and mistreatment bordering on neglect. Once an agency gets it’s claws into you, or even your family, that is it. The institutionalization begins. Forced from all you knew, into some strange carbon copy life that will never be truly yours, at all. Forced to deal with the inner turmoil of holding on to what you love and cherish, or submitting to forces who have power and control over you that no one ever should. It was not an easy time, nor is it still. I am still trying to pick-up the pieces they left me with. To rebuild a family that was left so damn broken, and to repair an inner child left with such worthlessness and self-doubt. I am working on changing and breaking the cycle of child welfare agencies getting involved in my life and that of my family. Nobody should have such fears, no parent, or child. Ten months ago, I applied to receive my entire life file from the Ontario Children’s Aid Foundation, and almost a year later they are mailing me 3 binders full of documentation and reports. I will have their side of the story in great detail, and will be able to better piece together my past from that.
The family curse just seemed to persist, slowly breaking apart what I once thought of as a strong clan of gypsy-esque roughnecks. People being locked away, passing far before their time, nobody ever really being able to pull themselves out from the underbelly of society. The more and more foster homes I was put into, the further and further away I felt I was getting from my family. Suddenly a massive divide and disconnection became very apparent. When you don’t have your family around, you begin to forget what it is to even be a part of a family. The simulations of the foster homes could never really amount to what they were trying to replace. Even now, I find it hard to just be with my family. I have lost grip on my value of relationships, it just seemed to deteriorate before my eyes.
When I had finally escaped all the foster homes, repression, and neglect, I moved to Kingston, Ontario. Where I flunked out of college at 18, went into a hard downward spiral, and pulled myself out of it. Having so many mental problems and issues that were so unaware to me at the time, the best these child welfare agencies could offer me was pills, and prescriptions, and false answers, and band-aid solutions. Until, they left me completely on my own, in a strange city. I felt like a lost kid and it sucked, a lot. After finally pulling myself out a very deep and dark hole, I got my first job at Tim Horton’s. Making money felt pretty damn good. And luckily I have always existed on the poor and poverty side of the world, so the pennies I made felt like nickle and dimes. But growing up poor, it really gives you bad sense of what money is worth, because we never have it. Like many, many things in life, I am still trying to figure that out.
After working at Tim Horton’s, I began my first job as an embroidery assistant. I had always had a natural interest in fashion. I had learned to recognize the social standings in regards to fashion at a young age on the schoolyard. It was the best way to hide your status, or where you are coming from. That paired with my love of visual arts, it all just made sense to pursue it if I could, I really had nothing else going on. I didn’t think I had ever really been good at anything other than some writing I did in high school that I got recognized for a couple of times. But that I felt would be worth pursuing so, I ended up getting a job as an embroidery assistant, and that got me the experience to just kind of keep landing jobs in that field; embroidery, heat-pressing and a little bit of screen-printing. Working in all those kinds of places had my gears just-a-spinning. That is when I began my first “brand”, more like me hand-cutting logos out and putting them on t-shirts, sweaters, or anything really. I had called it DimeBagCrew, and it really saw me through some hard and rough times.
I have always had an overactive imagination, and a knack for creativity. When I didn’t have toys to play with, I would play pretend, fighting an army pf invisible assailants, or turning a small ball of clay into a man and running him through adventure after adventure. When I was a very young boy, all I wanted to be was the red Power Ranger, then after that the movie came out with the ninjas. Every dandelion I wished upon from then on, was for me to be the red ninja. Somewhere along my path of growing-up, my imagination was dulled. Dulled through fear, insecurity, and the negativity of others. When I started school, and was moving around a lot, I went to like 13 different public schools, always the new kid, always having to find a friend or pal. But often times, finding the bullies. Who want to pick-on the sad-eyed, quiet new kid. If I had been given the right supports and opportunities in those wee-early years, I probably would not be the same person I am today. I never really got to reach my full potential, and after moving around so much you just learn to coast by without standing out. Being nothing is easy, when you’re conditioned to accept it.
Conditioning, that is something I am working on overcoming now. All of the influences that have stunted and repressed my inner growth through fear and shame, inflicted upon me by people who were supposed to protect me and help me prosper in life. It sucks to feel so betrayed, by nobody in particular. I am working diligently to conquer the learned helplessness that was instilled in me through my upbringing of institutionalization within the child welfare system. What is the point of a child welfare system, if the children do not fare well. Broken children, growing up to be worse off adults. I am doing my best to overcome this, while also supporting myself and trying to find my place in the world. I love to create, and want to help people. I feel like those two desires could go hand-in-hand.
More recently, I moved to the big city of Toronto. I have graduated from Seneca College with a certificate in fashion studies, and I am about to graduate the fashion arts program at Seneca as well. I am working on completing a lot of projects I have, and bringing buried ideas to life. I find it very easy to feel so lost and invisible in this city, but I am working on finding my tribe. The like-minded individuals out there who share the same vision of the world, to come together to tell our stories. I’m just being candid with you. Like everyone else, I’m just trying to hold it all together and make it out alive.