Life After Drugs And Sexual Abuse With Trevor Kleinhans

2014-05-28 10:25

As I’ve travelled my life path, I’ve often felt alone, like I am the only who has had to deal with consistent tragedies as part of my life. My father not being there for me while I was growing up, being bullied at school, losing my best friend through hate crime and failing my matric are all experiences I’ve been through, yet I wouldn’t wish them on anyone.

I realise that seems selfish now. I know that my sadness over events has clouded my vision before. I think that everyone loses sight of their life picture, and we don’t stop to take a moment and look around us. Almost always, we’d find out – that we are not the ones who walk a life of sadness.

I was one of those people who complained about my life, all the time. I used to believe life was unfair as some people had everything I has wished for, and more. This was before a colleague had suggested that I read a book titled 'Secrets Make You Sick' - she knew what I had gone through in life and knew that, after reading, I would definitely feel motivated.

Secrets make you sick is a book written by 52 year old Trevor Kleinhans, a Durbanite at heart, a proudly gay man who was diagnosed with HIV in the early 2000s. Trevor writes about his life, the battles he had to fight, from being sexually abused at the age of 6 - by his very own brother - to losing a substantial amount of money through drug abuse. As I was reading the book, his story inspired me. Within a period of 3 days indulging in it, I had finished it and started reading it for the second time.

Being given an opportunity to meet Trevor, I had prepared a few questions for him to answer.

Trevor, this is an incredible story you have to tell. It must have taken you some time to write. Actually, I wasn't really planning to write a story. While I was in rehab, one of the therapists would always say 'secrets make you sick'. I loved and believed in his saying that I decided if I were to write a book, I'd give it the title 'secrets make you sick'. I started writing about my life in 2005, when my psychologist had advised me that writing will help me to deal with my past.

So, it took you five years to complete the book? Yes, approximately. As you said, it wasn’t your intention to write a book. What convinced you to get it published? I had told my 3 closest friends that I am writing a story about my life. They all seemed interested and begged me to let them read it. At first I said no, because it would mean revealing all of my deepest secrets. They eventually managed to convince me and I sent them the manuscript. Within a day, they had all finished reading it. I was really shocked. They came to me saying how inspiring my story was but I didn't want to believe them - what if they were just being nice to make me happy? They are my best friends after all. We then decided to find five people who none of us are connected to, we made them read the book and the same thing happened, within a few days - they came to me saying they loved it. I then decided to get it published, which us one of the best choices I've made throughout my entire life. Did you get any publishing sponsors? No, I didn't. My book was completely self-published and it cost me a fortune. When you eventually decided to publish your book, were you not afraid of being judged or receiving negative feedback? I had no idea what to expect. I was literally waiting to find out the feedback. To my surprise, I have not received a single piece of negative feedback, as yet. Has everyone in your family read the book? Some have and some have not.

The book made me realise that if you are genuine in what you are doing, people are going to be accepting.

What did your Mom think of it? She really loved it and she shared it with many of her friends. She's now 82 years old and I am happy that she's still alive to see the success this book is making.

Are you still in contact with your brother,who had abused you sexually when you were only six years old? No.

When last did you see your brother? I last saw him in 2006, at my father’s funeral. I still remember how seeing him made me feel, and feeling all the pain he put me through.

In the book you mentioned that this very same brother saved your life when you were four years old and almost drowned. Why is it so hard for you to forgive him? If he had been remorseful and apologetic about what he did, I wouldn't have shut him out of my life like I did. One day his daughter came to me after reading the book and said "he always hated you and said horrible things about gay men". I don't hate him but I have dealt with his abuse and moved on. Having him out of my life is better for me.

Are any of your family members in contact with your brother? No. And he does not show up at family functions, even when invited.

Whilst reading the book there was one thing that I was curious about – do you use people’s real names or are they pseudonyms? Some of them are real names and those are people who I asked permission from.

Are you still in contact with the guys that you were involved with – the people that you spoiled and spent thousands of Rands on, taking them on international trips? No, I have never heard from them ever since.

And “Jack”? The person you begged your family to take to rehab. I am not in contact with him either. I had known and lived with “Jack” for 6 months while we were both crack cocaine addicts, but I don't even remember his surname.

In the book, you talk about “David”, the love of your life? Are you still together? Sadly not.

In one word, describe what writing this book has taught you: Acceptance.

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AB praises selfless skipper

2010-11-21 18:15

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