My life

Introduction

I was first introduced to this world at the turn of the decade, 1989, when being different was the thing. Born to a young single mum, some of my first memories where at my grandparents' house in Oxford, England. The air, filled with a strong smell of antiques and moth balls and far from the connotations of the world renowned university and cathedral. The Oxford I knew was notorious for gang culture and drugs in an almost generational cycle of lost people numbing their pain with drugs and escaping their troubles through crime. Once and for all, I decided to fight against the status quo and break the cycle. As you read on, you will see how I did so.


Born in 1970, Maggie was the second oldest of four siblings. They were raised in a Catholic household with Irish roots where she felt like an outcast. She never felt like she was a part of the family which got worse as she grew older and had an effect on her school life. Feeling unwanted and lagging behind school, by the age of fifteen she had dropped out of school, working to save up for a place of her own. In the mean time she met a guy at work whom she fell in love with. She was later to fall pregnant which for most teens would have been a catastrophe, for my mother it was a new start. This was a way for her to start her own new family, one that would love her as she always longed.
A month before she was due to give birth, her dream came true, she finally got her own home. A bedsit, it was far from a home but it was a place of her own at last and her pregnancy had stayed a secret from her family until she could no longer hide it. Given hr parents’ old fashioned values, she knew they wouldn’t appreciate her interracial relationship. True to form, the abuse ensured when they found out.

Early Life
That baby was me; Warren Wesley Ryan. My earliest memories were from the age of 4 just as my mother was giving birth to her second child, Matthew. His father was a strict man, never on e to talk but let his fists do the talking thus reminding me of Mike Tyson,
I was very scared of him and his unconventional rules which included forcing me to swallow my food a certain way so that he wouldn’t hear me eating. The belt was never far which I was constantly reminded by him. I could see that my mother was in love with him so at that young age; I never told her what was going on.
Theirs wasn’t an ordinary love, it was fuelled with violence and arguments and they certainly were no Romeo and Juliet. Myself and my brother were exposed to all of this dysfunction, we often heard our mum’s screams and young as we were, I would lock myself and my brother in my room but the walls weren’t thick enough. We could still hear him hitting my mother and I would cry as loud as I could for him to stop.
 I will never forget the time I saw him smash my mother’s head into the front door and to this day, the image of blood and tears trickling down my mother’s face still haunts me to this day. After a while, there was so much she could take and she had the police put a restraining order on Matthew’s dad.
A year later my sister Chloe was born, a beautiful baby and light in complexion, my mother had doubts as to who the father was. It was just the four of us though with that being said, we were often left in the care of our grandparents. I ended up getting very close to my uncle and we would everything from going fishing to building tree houses. My mum would come back every now and again to visit and though we didn’t see her often, that didn’t affect the love I had for her.

Violence Part 2
By the time I turned 7 my mother had a new boyfriend named X. He was nice at first as most people are. He was also violent, almost as if my mother was solely attracted to violent men who were abusive to her.  He used to beat her in front of use and lock her outside the house and I remember her begging me to let her back in the house through the letter box. I was however too scared to do so in lieu of being next in line for a beating. Despite all of this, in a vicious cycle, my mother would forgive him.
Still etched on my mind is the night he picked me up, out of bed by my neck and pinned me up against the wall choking me. To this day I’m still confused as to why he did this as the real issue was that he’d had an argument with my mum earlier that day. At school I would dread the end of the day when the bell rang and I would have to go home where I was terrified to go,
Just before my birthday X and my mother welcomed baby Lucy, with the mounting responsibility X left and that was the last I ever saw of him.

Man Of The House
As the eldest of my siblings, when X left I assumed the role of the man of the house enforcing the rules and ensuring that my siblings obeyed my mother. These were the happiest days in my eyes as we didn’t have men in the house abusing us and we had our mother all to ourselves. However for some reason my mother didn’t seem happy, in hindsight I realise that she must have felt lonely and unloved not having a partner. We didn’t make it any easier for her either we were little terrors even having run-ins with the police. It was not long till my mum sunk into a depression and stopped caring about the house and started neglecting us.


Drugs
Comfort came in the form of the wrong crowd for my mother, before long she was using recreational drugs
such as cannabis and ecstasy which in our neighbourhood was the norm. This made for us not having boundaries. I was stealing from shops, beating other children up and being escorted home by the police was almost a daily occurrence. There were never any consequences for my bad behaviour unless i stole from the mother then I would get the belt. Otherwise the rest of my bad behaviour went unpunished. 

When I was 9 a new guy came into our lives and his name was David. Unlike the rest he showed me love and treated me like his own and showed me love. Although he wasn’t violent, he had his own demons. Unbeknownst to us he was a crack cocaine user and worse of all he had influenced our mother to take up crack cocaine use. I started finding bottles with tin foil wrapped at the top of them with pin holes. I had no idea what they were until a friend of mine came over and I learned that they were crack pipes. He told me of the dangers of this drug and how his uncle died from a crack overdose. Hearing this was very unsettling for me young mind and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing my mother in the same manner.
I literally took matters into my own hands and started destroying every single pipe I could get by pushing my thumb through them, deeming them unusable. It was a never ending battle, the more I destroyed, the more I found the next day.

Saying Goodbye
The crack was starting to take a toll on our mother. Her priorities changed and feeding us became secondary if not a non factor to feeding her habit. She started leaving us alone at home, sometimes for hours at a time so sometimes I was so desperate for food I would do anything from begging neighbours to shoplifting.
We were strictly instructed not to answer the door so much that sometimes when someone was at the door I would have to hold my hands over my siblings’ mouths to keep them quiet. Out of concern someone reported our mum to Social Services which made for more frequent knocks on the door. I couldn't let them know we were in the house out of the fear of getting our family split up.

I vividly remember the day Social Services finally caught us at a time when my mother wasn't in the house which ended up being the straw that broke the camel’s back, something had to give. Our mother had to go to court to fight for our custody and after some time of thinking my mum surrendered her rights and let us get put in the care system.



Foster Care
couldn't bear the thought of being put in foster care, it meant I had to leave my mum and she was my first love. I loved her with all my heart. The dreaded day came when we had to say our bitter goodbyes and my sisters were first to go. Unlike most siblings, I’d had the burden of ensuring their well-being in dire times and looked at my sisters as my children more so than my sisters and it stung to see them go. It also had an effect on my mother, it broke her heart and filled with more denial than sense she blamed me for not taking care of them well enough. A hauntingly memorable night followed as we spent the night sitting in a dark house because we didn't have electricity. We sat in a chilling silence, in the dark, no one talked all night as we got ready for our impending departure.
It was two weeks later when myself and my brother finally got taken away and reality set in when we got to the foster home that we had indefinitely moved away from our mother. I tried my best to hold back my tears in order not to upset my brother as we said our goodbyes. Then there was the image of my mother which I still remember to this day. I caught a glimpse of her in the back window of the car crying as the car drove off and that nigh I cried myself to sleep.
As troubled children me and my brother were a handful and this meant that we kept on being moved around from home to home. No one wanted the pair of us troublemakers on their hands so for a while were going to have to be separated. In a last minute twist of fate we found a foster parent who decided to foster us on a long term basis.

Finding God
We were fostered by a white British woman who had converted to Islam. I had initially thought she was a nun since she always had her hair covered and in my young mind, Muslims were Asian not White.
The new house felt perfect, I had a hot dinner daily which I didn’t take for granted given the struggles I had face feeding myself and my siblings whilst my mother was strung out on drugs. Our new foster mum Louise had two of her own children and she was very strict. We weren’t allowed go out on the streets and the big one...no TV. This one took some getting used to!
Louise never forced Islam on me but one thing that got my attention was her constant happiness and contentment. I wanted some of that happiness and contentment; I was worried sick thinking about my birth mum. I had no one to talk to about this or an outlet, I was so lonely and played up to my new environment by keeping a fake smile on my face when deep down inside I was deeply scarred and sad.
One day my foster mum invited me to go the mosque. As I went inside I saw a group of men sitting on the floor eating from the same plate which was insane to me!! They were so kind and treated me like one of their own, almost like a son. I was very touched by this and on the spot I decided I wanted to be a Muslim so I converted to Islam. I had a new found sense of safety, I had a God to pray to. I found some similarities to Christianity i.e. they believed in the same God the only difference being that they believed that Jesus was a prophet not the son of God.
One day after school our foster mum sat me and my brother down and broke the news that our sisters were getting adopted. As she uttered the words, “boys your sisters are getting adopted,” my heart was torn into shreds, Matthew and I sat there numb and speechless with tears running down our faces.
I locked myself in my room and put my new found faith to use. With the thought of never seeing my sisters plaguing my mind and the pain of my perfect world crashing down to a harsh reality I desperately cried out to God and let us live all together again. I never lost my faith in God.

School Life
School made for some tough times for kid in foster care. Some kids had caught wind of my mother’s drug use and the name “Skaggy Maggie” was coined and then went around the school taunting me with it. I felt so left out and only one close friend at school who at times had to deny that we were friends lest he got bullied too!! I was a boy in care, didn’t wear the trendiest clothes which didn’t help.

The miracle
One fateful and memorable day I received a letter from my mum, she was in rehab and doing well. The streak of good news didn’t stop either as shortly after that we received news that in a twist of fate, our sister’s adoption had fallen through. It was said that their would be adopted mother fell seriously ill just before she could finalise the adoption. It right at the last minute when all the procedures were done and it was just left for her to sign the papers but fate had other plans.
This good news was the cherry on top to this new phase of our lives which allowed my mother to have an opportunity to get us all back together. It was a miracle, perhaps the biggest miracle of my life thus far. Two years on, our 2 years sober mum was ready to take on the courts in order to regain our custody. My prayer and my dream was finally coming to pass and we were on the road to being all together again as a happy family with a sober and happy mother.
The last day of school came and we said our bittersweet goodbye to Louise. It was hard leaving her I’d grown so fond of her but I was so overjoyed to be getting my birth mother back. The five of us were back together again after a difficult 5 year hiatus.

Getting too comfortable
By then I was 14 but felt like I was eight again and it felt strange. Rehab had completely transformed my mother; she was a new woman and one on a mission. She was studying to be Sport Therapist and learning to drive at the same time and had moved us to Bristol for a new start. I loved living in Bristol because no one knew me or my story; I wasn’t judged or bullied which made for an amazing school life. Finally I was accepted at school.
As a family it was a different story. We started taking each other for granted, the novelty had worn off and we lost sight of how lucky we were to get a second chance to be together again. Matthew started using the past as an excuse to start hanging out with the wrong people, he started smoking weed and started committing crimes and before he knew it he was in prison. History had started repeating itself and in a domino effect my sisters started getting affected too. Not wanting to conform and be a statistic I knew in my heart I deserved better. I wanted to prove people wrong and give my family a life I never had and I saw an opportunity through football to do so.

My dream
At the age of sixteen my breakthrough came. I did a trial for the Bristol Rovers U18s team and successful got through, I finally felt like this is the place I would get my praise. Just as I was getting close to signing my professional contract, tragedy hit. I tore my ACL with an estimated recovery time of two years. It was a big blow for my new found passion but over the two years I came to terms with the fact that I wouldn’t be able to be footballer. I started looking at different career options and became a gym instructor with the newfound dream of working in America.

The unknown
On what seemed like a normal night in Bristol, whilst out with a friend I got into a drunken altercation which resulted in me being beaten out severely outside a club. I had consumed large amounts of alcohol and I don’t remember much besides waking up next to a railway line. I was bruised and battered especially my face and that wasn’t the end of the matter, threats started coming my way from the culprits. This resulted in me being so paranoid to the point of sleeping with a knife next to me. For my own safety and sanity I had to move back to Oxford so I did.

Moving away
Oxford was home, my birthplace and it was here where I would make a fresh start for myself. I wasn’t going to let a group of people derail my progress and stop me from achieving my dream and giving my family the life I had wished for.
It wasn’t long until I found a job at a gym which smoothly segued into a modelling career. Before I knew it I was going on a TV dating show with a desire to explore the film industry. The TV show was a perfect networking opportunity and the experience itself was an adrenalin rush.  I was so insecure and always craved approval and this presented itself as an opportunity to conquer that. I was very shy and struggled believing that I was good enough.
When the show aired my phone, Twitter and Facebook went abuzz; I was getting so much attention. I had initially thought this would be the key to my happiness but it had the opposite effect. I became very anxious and started to have panic attacks and fell into a deep depression. At that point I had no close friends or family close by so I went into a place of emptiness. I felt like I didn’t want to live anymore. I had lost the will to live and didn’t want to leave my house. I wasn’t taking care of my body and felt myself sinking into a deep depression. I didn’t understand it as it seemed as if everything I wanted was becoming a reality. I’d had enough so I dragged myself to the doctor and explained my situation. The doctor was quite happy to write a prescription for anti-depressants, much to my dismay. I broke down crying; I just couldn’t stop crying or fathom the concept of living my life on these pills.
Shortly after this I got a call out of the blue with an offer to sign a nine month contract and go to America to be a soccer coach for children. I was as if God prescribed this opportunity as opposed to those toxic tablets so I packed my stuff an headed off over the pond for yet another new beginning.

America
As soon as I landed in America I felt as if I had left all my worries in the UK, I flew to Philadelphia and went through Boston and started teaching straight away. I would then travel from state to state coaching kids. I felt a great connection with the children and decided whilst I was there I would put all the time I had on my hands to good use and get physically fit.
I started training but this time around I went the extra mile seeking motivation mental motivation. Whilst on YouTube I stumbled upon a video titled “How Bad Do You Want It?” This video made me realise that though I wanted to be successful, I didn’t want it bad enough.
I started researching the man behind it, Eric Thomas. He grew up in a broken home, his dad addicted to crack cocaine and dropped out of school later becoming homeless.
It wasn’t until a pastor told him that where he was didn’t have to be where he would end up. This gave him enough belief and hunger and belief in himself to make a better life for himself and his family. This hit me in a place I’d never been hit before, I realised that I could use the pain in my life and in my past to not only inspire others but also create a legacy.

The change
It was three months into my stay and I was in Connecticut at this point. I started investing in myself, eating healthy, working out and making the most of every hour I was given. I’d never been much of a reader nor did I enjoy it but knew that I needed to read in order to gain knowledge. I read books like “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki and “Instant Confidence” by Paul McKenna. I started researching how the mind works which gave me more insight into why people acted the way they do. It made sense to me that once you believed you could achieve something it could happen.
There and then my life changed, I started living for myself not other people’s opinions of me. I felt free and started to value myself and with that confidence came the belief that I could inspire people who have also dealt with pain. I know who I was and was determined to speak louder than my words but through my actions, one brick a day, start building my future.
Since moving away from Oxford I’d never told anyone about my childhood with the fear that people would judge me. I decided to go on Facebook and tell my story, the whole story in detail and how it had made me the person I had become. I had so much trepidation about it but knew that I needed to do this for myself. The reaction I got was amazing, people started opening up to me and telling me their life stories too and their problems. The feeling I got was so rewarding, I had finally found my purpose in life.
I started counselling people on social media which resulted in my Twitter taking off. I had over 30,000 followers so you can imagine how many messages I was getting a day. There was an onslaught of thank you messages. People were reaching out and thanking me for telling my story and how it had changed their lives. This just reaffirmed the new belief I had that I could inspire people. I that this would be my career; going around schools, prisons and care homes around England I could give them the belief that they could achieve anything. I wanted to impart my belief that wherever you come doesn’t matter or determine where you’re going to end up.

 I met a filmmaker  in Chicago who liked my idea of making a motivational video consisting of what I did with the 24 hours in my day. I ensured to highlight that I made the most of each hour. It was a new inspirational tool, a chance to train my body and push myself to the limit and to find business opportunities. I spoke about how I used pain as a fuel to energise me when I felt like quitting. Titled “The Need For Success,” it got 5,000 views in a week which allowed me to network on a global scale.

Home Coming
It was coming up to the end of my contract and I was due to return home in December. I’d grown very close and very fond of the people I’d met in America which made for a very sad and tearful farewell. As soon as I flew back the grey clouds returned but this time around I was a man on a mission and full of drive and determination. My focus was to live life on my terms so I started sending out emails to schools, prisons and radio stations. I had my first talk at a leaver’s event at a care home. I spent the night prior to the event rehearsing my speech and in the mirror fine tuning the details and gaining confidence. I was confident that I was going to inspire these young people purely based on the fact that I could relate to them i a way others couldn’t.  My first talk went to plan with many good reviews to follow which opened more doors and opportunities to speak to more people.
As it is I’m in the process of establishing my own company called The Need4Success. Since then I’ve been invited to radio stations and different organisation and I can see my vision flourishing before my eyes.

Conclusion
 Through my life experiences thus far, I have learnt that no one can hit you as hard as life itself. Through all of my pain my faith in God has kept me believing through the good and the bad; I’ve found and stayed on a straight and narrow path. I’ve had to make sacrifices from things I can live without to the people I love that I love and mean everything to me. I was born a leader and to lead by example and to show that no matter how bad you start in life may have been, there’s a way out. Its all about your attitude and some people use their pain mountains and get into a cycle of self pity that many people fall into. To dream small is not to be realistic; conditioning your mindset will allow you to leave a legacy one day. I found the cure to my depression in helping others, making someone else’s life better gave my life meaning. I would never want to change my past because it made me who I am today. I wish and plan to reach out to as many people as possible and impart the belief that THEY can truly change their circumstance.