My wife told me to edit this (too graphic). I didn’t – read at your own discretion.

Via Ben Ralston
on Aug 16, 2011
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I had a pretty miserable childhood.

Don’t get me wrong: I was blessed with great parents who gave me very strong  foundations. But beyond that, I got a fairly tough deal.

Each and every school I went to Sucked. Yes – with a capital S.

Strange really because they were all private schools; or as we say in England (in a  typically counter-intuitive, oxymoronic kind of a way), Public Schools. The schools that  parents have to pay a lot of money to send their kids to.

So I supposedly had one of the best educations that money can buy! Sure didn’t feel like it though… and I suspect that education is not something that can, or should be, bought…


When I was six, we lived in Israel for a year. I didn’t speak a word of Hebrew when we first got there, and I didn’t know a soul, but the ‘teacher’ made me stand facing into the corner at the front of the classroom, all the Israeli kids behind me sniggering at the pale, dumb kid who even the teacher didn’t like.

My mother had to pick me up from hospital one day – I’d had my head cracked open by a rock-wielding Israelite. I must admit, I may have cast the first stone. But his was a lot bigger…

At the end of that year we moved back to England, and my ‘education’ began in earnest…


My first school back home: the ‘headmistress’ force-fed me (fairly violently) a particularly disgusting school dinner. I was about 8 years old I guess. To this day I would rather chew my own legs off than eat rice pudding.

Her husband, the ‘headmaster’, on a separate occasion punished me by taking me into his office – he closed the door, made me take my pants down, and bent me over his desk. He then beat me with a stick across my buttocks, gently. I suspect that he was playing with himself at the same time.

At that school, I had not a single nice teacher. Not one. There were only grey, lifeless, totally uninspired, empty-shell ghost-shadow excuses for human beings pretending to teach us. They didn’t teach. They stood at the front of the room and pointed their fingers, looking bored. The only thing to learn from them was that life is mindless, repetitive, and without joy.

When we, the children, mirrored their boredom, we were punished, usually by being given pages of ‘lines’ to write out as extra homework. Usually from the bible.

I would do my lines in bed with a flashlight so that I didn’t have to tell my parents that I’d been ‘bad’. One time my Father came in and caught me with a bible in bed (I’d managed to hide the paper and pen when I heard him coming). The memory of his face now makes me laugh. He obviously thought that his 9-year-old son was doing late night bible studies, and probably had visions of me becoming a priest!

He said something like:

Ah, you’re reading the bible, eh? Yes, it’s an, er… interesting book isn’t it?

Let me tell you – to a 9-year-old boy, the bible is anything but interesting. But I nodded and waited for him to leave so that I could finish my lines.


One day, when I was about 11, my mother told me she was taking me out of the school a year early. She’d enrolled me in a new school. I remember her saying to me somewhat apologetically:

You haven’t been happy here have you?

So I went to a new school for a year. It was much better. We had to travel a bit further each day to get there, but there were some nice teachers. Also, again, some very lifeless ones, but it was better. One of the nice teachers turned out to be a bit too nice though. He was the drama teacher, and he gave me the lead role in the school play: Hiawatha. He also invited me to his on-campus apartment where he played hardcore porn on his VHS and encouraged me to masturbate. He then sat in a chair slightly behind me, and masturbated himself…

I was afraid of him; fascinated by the beautiful naked women and the sex that he introduced me to; and deeply uncomfortable with the various situations that I kept finding myself in with him. But I didn’t tell anyone. Abused children rarely do.

He ingratiated himself with my parents by nursing my budding acting abilities (for which my Ma was grateful), and before I knew it he’d become a ‘family friend’. He’d come for barbecues and evening meals and I’d sit there inwardly squirming.


When I was 13 I went to high school, and for some strange reason I asked my parents if I could board there. I remember having fantasies of pillow fights and midnight snacks. I had two brothers 10 years younger than me, and perhaps I just craved the company of my peers. I don’t know. But the fun I had hoped to find wasn’t there. Instead there was an accepted culture of bullying and abuse that dated back to the dark ages – literally. Public schools in England are renowned for it.

The teachers weren’t so bad, although I can’t say that any of them were great teachers. They still seemed pretty bored.

Except one. Mr Green, an English teacher. I will never, ever forget that man. He was only there for a year, but he changed my life. In many ways, he probably saved it.

At that school every teacher had a nickname. All the nicknames were things like ‘Witch’ (the very creepy chemistry teacher) and ‘Buttocks’ (the geography teacher whose arse was so large that she had to go sideways through doors. No kidding. I went through a phase of having a crush on her so bad that I would sit with an erection through entire geography classes. If ever she asked me to stand up and come to the front of the class I had to will my penis to behave: not easy when you’re 13-years-old).

Mr Green had long sideburns, and his nickname was… ‘Sideburns’. I wondered at the time how he got away with such an innocuous nickname. Now I realize that it was a sign of our affection for him.

How else do teenagers say “I love you”?

To me he was like a pool of glistening water, an oasis in a burning sandy-hot desert. Going to his classes I was excited, inspired, engaged. He gave us books to read that I could understand and believe in, and he read them out loud with us, sharing his passion with us. Every word of his was measured, had meaning, and was offered elegantly, with a smile.

His eyes shone, and he would encourage us when we did well, and berate us when we were fools, but everything was done with love.

One day I found out that he was leaving to go to a better school. I remember vividly how I felt. Betrayed, distraught, abandoned. He was too good for me.

He left, and I was alone with the shadows for the rest of my time there.

One sentence of his haunts me (in a ‘friendly ghost’ way) to this day. I must have not done something that I should have done (apologized to someone for something?), and he asked me why not – why hadn’t I done it? I couldn’t answer him. And he said:

Ahh. You’re a moral coward

I think that I’ve been trying to prove him wrong ever since.

Isn’t that what a great teacher does? Every word and action transmits wisdom, and the world around them becomes a wiser, better place.

Every word of his was a stone dropped carefully into the pond of my young mind, and those concentric circles of compassion continue to ripple out through my life, even to this day.

If only there were more teachers like that, eh?


Please leave a comment, (even anonymously). And please share this – use the buttons below to ‘like’ it, Tweet it, Stumble it, email it… spread the love.


Abuse causes trauma. The trauma of abuse, until healed, causes countless problems later in life. Abuse is subjective, and therefore not always ‘obvious’ (i.e: sexual abuse). It can also be subtle, (i.e: lack of attention / affection from parents). Most people who suffer abuse tend to find themselves in a cycle of abuse. The good news is that it is very, very easy now to heal trauma, and break the cycle. And it is no longer necessary to talk about what happened (to relive the experience) in order to heal it. If you, or anyone you know, lives with the consequences of abuse or trauma, please contact me, because I can help (or tell them about Reference Point Therapy).


About Ben Ralston

Ben Ralston has been practising personal development—necessity being the Mother of invention—since he was about six years old. He’s been teaching and sharing what he’s learnt along the way for a couple of decades. His main thing is Heart of Tribe retreats—whose very purpose is to help you fall back in love with life, no less. Leading these retreats alongside his woman Kara-Leah Grant—also an elephant journal writer (that’s how they met!)—they combine a deep well of lineage-based yoga teaching experience, with expertise in healing trauma and various other methods of personal development. Ben also works with clients one-on-one via Skype, writes, makes videos from time to time, and is passionate about parenting. He lives in an intentional, tribal community in the hills of Croatia, where you might find him gardening barefoot and talking to the rocks. Connect with Ben on Facebook or YouTube or check out his website for more info.


67 Responses to “My wife told me to edit this (too graphic). I didn’t – read at your own discretion.”

  1. Ben_Ralston says:

    " I really don't have a lot of time or income to become anyone's client right now. Budgets are tight. 🙂 You know how it is, running your own business! 🙂 "

    Yeah, I know how it is! For 11 years I've refused to do anything that I didn't love doing. Most of that time I was a yoga teacher full time. Now I'm focusing full time on the healing and therapy. Not a 'get rich quick' scheme is it?!
    But, I do ok…

    Listen, I know time and money are limited resources these days, but make sure that you don't have priorities mixed up. There is no greater investment that you can make in yours, your husbands, your son's, your families future than healing this stuff. Think about it.

  2. Ben_Ralston says:

    Great, sad, typical example of how abuse is endemic in our society and it's institutions. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Patricia says:

    My God Ben, I don't even know what to say. You provoked sadness, anger, frustration in me, but most of all fear for my own children. I had a bit of this in the Israeli type abuse in Germany, because we where from Yugoslavia and the kids hated my sister and I, although we have a German mother and look like two little German girls. But in the old Yugoslavia, I have no such experiences, only a very, very hard and demanding school system, which I now cherish for my girls. Nevertheless, my heart goes out to you, and I wish that everyone that feels the way I do could counter all the bad stuff that happened to you. God bless you.

  4. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thank you Patricia – I'm ok now!
    And I live in Slovenia by the way 🙂

  5. So sorry to hear about your pain, Ben. Seems as though these events led you to the path you are on now–helping many others through their own trauma. Thanks for your honesty. Cheers to you!

  6. Tracy Betts says:

    Dear Ben
    I first read this post when you put it up on the 16th.I wanted to reply straight away, but wasn't quite sure were to begin. First of all, Thank You for posting the unedited version, [with all due respect to your wife!] Your bravery and openness to share your wounds, and declare your healing from these atrocious acts that you experienced, [yes, must confess my first emotion was anger at that monster drama teacher]is to be admired. Your openness is what makes you excel with your work. I have enjoyed most of the comments above, find it exciting that there is so much response to your article, and am horrified yet again at how much pain there is. HURRY UP and get out that book, you are going to be a tremendous help to so many people! Since I have discovered RPT, thanks to you, I feel right down to my bones that this is for me, and would also like to work towards being able to offer the therapy myself. Thank you, you have done this. So I will contact you through your email.The greatest gift of all is to feel that there CAN be an end to this misery, and the sun can shine again. Blessings.

  7. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thank you Tracy – I'm deeply moved by your comment (as I have been, I must say, by many of the responses to this piece – not at all what I expected!) and appreciate your encouragement to write a book. I started it yesterday, and it's going well 🙂
    I look forward to receiving your email.
    Love, Ben

  8. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thanks Lynn 🙂

  9. Yesterday, while I was at work, my cousin stole my iphone and tested to see if it can survive a forty foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now destroyed and she has 83 views. I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  10. Thank you for sharing your words of encouragement to us.

  11. Thank you for sharing this post. Anyway's you have an extraordinary sense of humor. And do fair in your life.

  12. 21Lamrim says:

    I get it….Thank you for the article!
    I had an awful childhood with some similarities.
    It's not what happened to me… because it did and was awful…but how I interpreted it, then wove it into my life to single handedly set out to destroy myself.
    This is where forgiveness, acceptance and compassion comes in my situation, along with action to change everything about my old self. I now strive to be spiritually fit and look forward to become who I was intended. I am grateful for Buddhas teaching as well as the 12 Steps, Both have enabled me to see my delusions and character defects and gave me the tools to build a faith in something greater that me and help others too along the way.
    It's not an easy rode and certainly not as wildly fun but…Its peaceful and right.

  13. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thank you for commenting Lamrim, and I congratulate you on your discipline, courage, and perseverance. I know it's not necessary though, because the peacefulness that you write about is reward enough for undoing the damage caused by recent generations of our ancestors.
    If you have unresolved trauma, I – or any other good RPT practitioner – can help. It's a very fast and easy way of moving past the past, once you're ready. Which you clearly are…
    With love

  14. Linda says:

    This is so true. The baggage of shame, humiliation, etc. It is possible to not only unpack the bags but totally put them away. After countless hours of therapy, soul wrenching story telling, tears, anger, pain, I am free. Free of all that was heaped on me, not of me. Healing IS possible. Thanks for telling your story and being a conduit for healing. The shame is their's NOT ours.

  15. yogimom76 says:

    Ben–Thank you. I don't even know you but I love you. Namaste wise self healer.

  16. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thank you. Loving you right on back.