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As I’m writing this opening, I’m sitting in a soft play venue–the kids are running around and having fun, expending whatever energy they have. I dug out my laptop and My-Fi device as I couldn’t find the Wi-fi password and my social anxiety prevents me from mustering the courage to get up and ask. I feel pin prickles all over my upper arms and shoulders at what people may be thinking–a grown man on his laptop in a child-centric place. But I must write and write I shall.
I’ve frequently averted my gaze to the slides and climbing meshes etc. scanning the room to figure out where my kids are and make sure they’re OK. There are so many kids it’s hard to make out but I never seem to fail to locate Talia (my middle child). She’s here with her two sisters and two cousins (I’m here with my wife, brother and sister-in-law. The lonely figure wanders from slide to slide, step to step…and I can’t help but feel pure recognition. Recognition that not only is “That’s my daughter”, but that was and still is me.
As a child, if I had no friends to play with or they had gone in but I was still allowed out, I would run around and keep myself entertained. From wandering around a dark and ancient graveyard to tearing around the woods on my bike or on foot (often pretending the Predator was up on high…watching me…hunting me). I look at Talia and I see me.
I have always been the odd one out, to a degree. I’d fit in where I could/wanted to/be let to. If I had no one to play with I would amuse myself, letting my imagination run wild. A luxury that kids today don’t seem to have. Or at least a much dampened sense of that liberty I once took for granted. Perhaps that’s why she infuriates me so much; I can see a younger, much more female me and don’t want her travelling the same path. Perhaps I’m romanticising such a nonsensical notion.
I feel sadness wash over me as she dawdles from one spot to another with no one in tow. But why? She’s enjoying herself and doesn’t seem to have a care in the world as she breezes through the various activities and amenities. She occasionally pops back to ask if she can have a ‘slushy’ or some other confection. I ask her if she is having fun and she tells me “No”. I ask if she has made any friends and she tells me “Nobody wants to play with me”. I tell her that she looks like she’s having fun, especially coming down the slides and then her face lights up. She grins as she points to the biggest slide right at the back and tells me she wants me to watch her come down it. As she leaves, my eyes feel like they’re about to leak. She has her big sister and her cousin all playing on the same things but they seem to go off on their own, leaving Talia behind.
Perhaps the sadness is the fact that my feeling of being completely alone despite being surrounded by people is perfectly captured visually by seeing her. As I write this, the feeling of isolation intensifies as if I hit the nail on the head. The neurological equivalent of hitting one’s ‘funny bone’, I guess.
Since childhood, I have randomly looked at people and felt a pang of sadness. My earliest memory of this happening was when I was on holiday with my Mum and her partner. We were staying in my Uncle’s caravan and we had gone to the hydroelectric dam in Pitlochry. There was a small cafe with seating outside and, as we walked past, I remember seeing an old man eating a sandwich with (who I presume was) his wife. They seemed like a normal, elderly married couple but I can still picture him with mayo or salad cream on his cheek. It sounds stupid to say aloud or write it down but it has stuck with me to this day. For reasons unknown, even when the people have no visible problems etc. I feel sad for them. Perhaps it’s some weird ability to tune into their auras or perhaps my empathy chip is faulty.
Watching Talia wander round on her own brings all those memories and feelings back and I can’t shake them. As much as I say she does my head in and how naughty she is compared to her elder sister, there is a part of me that feels extremely saddened and there’s no amount of thinking that will get rid of it. Even as I type this now, back at the bungalow at 23:20, the sadness feels like it’s going to consume me as she lies next to me on the sofa with her feet tucked under kine to keep them warm and we watch Family Guy together.
Perhaps the lonely road I continue to walk has room for two.
My venture into reading is not going so well, I’m sad to say. My interest is all but lost. But, and this is a good but, I have signed up to Audible. Today, I claimed Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods‘(the tenth anniversary edition) and Stephen King & Peter Straub‘s ‘The Talisman’. I have never read ‘American Gods‘ and I am fairly uneducated in Gaiman’s work but ‘The Talisman’ is a book I fell in love with when I was about twelve. It truly captured my imagination and I remember looking on the back cover where it proclaimed, “Soon to be a major motion picture.” I’m 32…and still waiting. That book and ‘The Eyes Of The Dragon’ left such an impression – perhaps it’s because of the fact I was a young boy just like the protagonists and the typical, boyish desire to live out adventures.
Anyway, I digress yet again. About twenty minutes in to ‘American Gods’ and a number of completely unrelated ideas hit me in terms of writing. Some ideas are more grounded in the non-fiction section and others in the more…let your mind run away with you category. Some ideas tie in with personal experience and issues and others of the more fantastical, boyish imagination.
I figured I’d do some…research, if you can call it that. I have no agenda as such apart from gain ideas and inspiration – whether it be for the fiction or non, it may prove useful in just getting ideas down and get the flow going. So I come to you, dear readers…
I want to know what makes you anxious, how your ‘Black Dog’ presents itself, what happens when your mind should be switching off, what happens when you succumb to the temptations of the triple-z variety. I want to be able to see from others’ perspectives – to take the dark and turn it into something else…but remaining relatable all the while. I wrote before about feeling like my writing is stifled by the lack of adventure – I would like your thoughts to take me there. If you would like to help, you can drop a comment below or (and I think this may be preferential for most) you can use the contact form below. No information will be shared and any specifics won’t be used – I just want to get a feel for how anxiety and her ugly sisters manifest and what bile spews from the mouth of the Dog.
Any assistance is much appreciated.
Thanks for reading.
The struggle to try and figure out who I am continues. I don’t even know where to start nor how. There are certain elements that I am sure are me; the geekiness, the gaming ‘addiction’ and the foul mouth. The rest? I’m not so sure. I’ve played the sick and twisted humoured Scotsman for at least a decade – I don’t recall being quite so bad prior to this. This leaves me wondering if that is part of me or if it is part of the character I inadvertently created.
I know what I like. I know what I don’t like. But I am no further forward in my existential crisis. My identity crisis. I find it very difficult to figure out what persona is the real me. I act in accordance with my surroundings and by being reactive, I have created a number or personas. I may not have meant to, but I think it’s part of the fight or flight response.
The one question that remains like a thorn in my mind is whether there is even a way to answer this conundrum or if it’s a case of tricking myself to believe something to be true. I feel like this is where the ‘path of least resistance’ if hidden from view. There is no easy route here. Upon that realisation, I retreat. The flight response is strong when there is no easy option. But, truth be told, I’m not sure what options there are.
Do I define myself based upon the views of others or do I find my own way? I guess the natural answer to that is to find my own way but I am fucking lost. Throughout my life, I have found myself dependant on others. There have been a few occasions where I have stepped out of my comfort zone and demonstrated independence or spontaneity but I really don’t think those traits are me. No one holds the answers here but I can’t help but find myself in a position where I feel lost and alone and need the direction of others knowing full well that my problem can only be identified and overcome by myself.
I’ve heard the term ‘inner strength’ banded around a lot but I have no idea if I have that and, if so, how I tap into that resource. Maybe the revelation will just hit me one day. Maybe it will pass me by. The not knowing is an endless torment that can only be described as Hell. I don’t think there are divides like Heaven and Hell in the celestial sense but I do think these ‘places’ exist within us. We all have our own Hell just as well as we all have our own Purgatory. But…I can’t help but think that Heaven doesn’t exist within us at all. Maybe I’m wrong.
Maybe, when I eventually find the right meds (if they even exist) and the right dosage (see the aforementioned point in parentheses) the answers will come. Or at least a more grounded revelation that provides some sort of answer.
I’ve often thought, and I know there have been studies into this and findings in relation to people who suffer with mental health issues, that I just don’t fit in. I don’t belong. It could be that I was born too late. Or perhaps early? Or that I just shouldn’t have been. A study that really caught my attention and captured my imagination was the theory that humans are aliens. We don’t belong on this planet. Our bodies are not native to this part of the solar system. It raised points such as our intolerance to sunlight, gravity and how our bodies aren’t designed to consume the food and various other products we consume.
Maybe my way of thinking is something akin to Morpheus and his crew – only a select few can see through the fabric. We can peel back the mask and realise the truth. Maybe that’s just some trippy kinda way to project responsibility.
Either way, these thoughts and notions don’t amount to shit and I’m still here. Pondering the point of existence and who I am or who I am supposed to be.
If anyone should find me, let me know. If I should find me, no doubt I will take to the blog and write another post.
In the meantime, thanks again for reading.
I’ve been fairly quiet on the blogging front. In terms of publishing, anyway. I’ve got a few drafts on the go (my working title for this post was going to be ‘It’s Awful Drafty’ but I’m not feeling even mildly humorous and it’s a shit title to be fair).
My mood of late has been dire. I’ve withdrawn as far as I can go without getting flush with the corner. I’ve barely set foot out of the house this week – did the school run on Monday(I think) and that’s about it. Other than that, I’ve just been out on the doorstep or in the back garden to smoke. I don’t really want, nor do I feel like, to talk to anyone. Some may perceive this as wallowing or some shit but it seems like the right thing to do. I’m less of a problem if I’m not heard and barely seen.
Some may construe this as selfish and what-not, and yeah, maybe it is – maybe it saves me the hassle – but I feel like anything I can and do say will be vile and cause arguments and other social discomforts.
My inspiration for the book? Gone. My promise to blog once a day? Broken. My desire to get better? A.W.O.L. I’ve been thinking about getting better and I’m really not sure if I want to get better or if I’m saying that because that’s what seems normal and that will save me additional hassle. It’s kinda hard to admit that you don’t want to get better. Truth is, I just don’t see the point in ‘recovering’ when it will just continue to happen over and over, and each time is more difficult than the last.
I’m at the stage where I have no fight again; I have a few things going on that I could really do without. I’m finding it harder to maintain the façade I once was a master of. You see, and I’m not saying “my life is worse than anybody else’s” or “please pity me cuz my life is hard”, to get through a single day I generally have to wear multiple faces or masks (some often call it wearing different hats too). These masks require varying levels of energy and I really am struggling. This ties in with the notion of “why do we hurt the ones we are closest to?”
Here’s an example: It’s time for the school run. I drive the kids to school (getting pissed off at other drivers and pedestrians) and they’re stropping and bickering with each other. I put my Google Music playlist on, hoping to drown their incessant noise out, but then they’re nagging for me to put their favourite songs on. We get to the carpark, and this feeling of relief is biding its time…they’re not there yet. We walk a couple hundred yards or so; the playground is a warzone of noise. I can feel my pulse in my neck as if someone is continually prodding me to get my attention. I then see other parents I know. The anxiety of knowing I have to interact kicks in – what do I say? What if they don’t acknowledge me? I have to smile and become a different person for what, in reality is a matter of minutes, seems like an eternity. I just want to go home; I need to be away from everyone.
Sometimes I have to engage in conversation with the caretaker at the school. He’s a really nice guy and the kids like him too. Most days, our interaction is merely a few words such as “good morning” or “awright?” But sometimes there’s more. Like the other day; leaving the school raring to get home and be away from everything, he stops to ask me about the wedding. I’m caught off guard and find myself in an awkward position – my responses are slow, somewhat laboured, and I feel out of my depth. My delayed responses then have me on edge about my body language and whether I should stop and talk or walk slowly as I respond. I ended up stopping, a few feet away from him and feeling like I’m being watched by everyone. This type of situation is one I always struggle with. It takes a great deal of mental preparation to go out and face the day. But then, if something I hadn’t forecasted or considered happens (such as an impromptu conversation), I find myself floundering. It’s these curveballs that set me on edge and make me not want to leave the house.
That level of mental activity is exhausting. The hyper-reality is something I wish I could be free off. To describe the processes my mind goes through over, what most would regard as simplistic, interactions and stimuli is pretty tough but, as I write this, I’m reminded of being in school and having to describe a task such as opening a door or tying show laces to someone who has never done it before (the scenarios in school involved aliens). What we see as a few basic steps and we can just do it is, in actual fact, a very long winded process. It’s a lot of data to put down but the brain can process millions of bits of data in a matter of seconds. So, to try and accurately describe my mental activity, it’s a case of multiple tasks running simultaneously and having to work through each one as efficiently as possible – it’s like so many things are happening at once and rapidly but, at the same time, everything is slowed down to detail each intricate step required for the end result. And that’s where the struggle is: so many process running super fast but my mind then slows them down to a crawl and the multitasking aspect suffers so that, if I need to respond verbally, the answer can come out as nonsense or too quiet, nervous, too fast, too loud…all different things that are a product of failing to read the social situation because my mind is too busy with the cold hard logic of it all.
Yet another example of the graceful duck, gliding across a pond yet, all the while, it’s legs are going mental beneath the surface. Even typing this has been pretty tiring because my head is just not in it and I’m just blogging for the sake of it.
Anyhoo, thanks for reading.