Monday, 31 August 2009
Sunday, 30 August 2009
I've thought this morning how little my GP has done to help, despite my having a diagnosis of Severe Depression since last Christmas, on which diagnostic questionnaire I said I had thought of killing myself, and despite my having said I had considered suicide to her in person only two or three months ago.
I haven't even had a cursory offer of anti-depressants. I had hoped my new GP would be better than my old one who retired, who was lackadaisical. But he at least would set up treatment when problems were forced into his attention.
I don't know what else to say to her.But I can't go on like this, because I'm getting to the stage where I just want to die and end this dreadful hopelessness for good and I'm frightened I will give in and kill myself.
Thursday, 27 August 2009
Towards the end of her life this was my mam's favourite song, from one of her favourite films, "Heartburn".
It's brought all my grief rushing back up to the surface.
As Heather said about Geoff while we were walking along Liverpool Street last week, one isn't overcome by old grief when one is expecting it, but when one isn't.
A startling realisation came to me as I woke up around dawn, and has kept me awake even though I feel tired having gone to bed late.
For no good reason I've made very few new friends in the last 28 years while other people - even in comparable circumstances - have made a good number. What they have done is normal, what I have done is not.
I was thinking over the various names and communications I've seen on Heather, Ian, Natalie, and John's Facebook pages, and it hit me that in all cases there had been enough knowing messages left by friends in all four cases to suggest they had made many close-ish friends over the years. I'm not counting the inflated numbers in the hundreds that facebook automatically counts as friends, but people who are in active contact with them with obvious personal knowledge.
In the 28 years since I left Art School, how many new friends have I made? Four, one of whom approached me and was a relative anyway.
There were perhaps four more whom I rebuffed, who would probably have become friends had I let them.
I thought about what I had written here yesterday, about joining clubs, about only children, and I also thought about the fact that I had been unemployed and skint for many years.
Then it occurred to me that Ian left everything he knew and went to America and made new friends, and that John S had been in a worse situation than me and John G after he left art school, in that he was unemployed and living with his parents for about three years, and what's more, his parents had moved from Birmingham to Norwich, cutting him off from the friends and acquaintances of his youth, and yet he and his sister made new friends and acquaintances, even if they were at first shallow friends. And he did the same when he went to live in London, and later to Tokyo.
Heather was in a different situation, and she says she has to make an effort to connect with people, but she has clearly made new friends over the years. Apart from friends from her marriage she has joined clubs and societies.
Nothing really stopped me from doing the same as any of these, except me.
As Ian said recently, I fail to get involved. This lack of social connection has played a big part in my failure to thrive.
I did nothing to find friends, year after year. I sat inert and ashamed of my circumstances. John G, who counts himself far more socially skilled than me has made no new friends so far in 28 years. He doesn't even socialise with his workmates outside the job.
So here I am with this insight - but how does one now connect and make new friends, especially at 50?
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
A couple of months ago I was sitting talking with Heather in Deansgate Waterstones, the magic and conjuring books section right behind her, when she asked me was I serious about using Neuro-Linguistic Programming techniques to help myself. I said to her it offered useful techniques I thought might be helpful and was going to try them, but I didn't see it as the quasi-religious cure-all its founder and proponents promote it as.
I said there was a good brief and accurate description of NLP and its flaws in the mentalist Derren Brown's "Tricks of the Mind" which should be on the shelves behind her. I got up and looked for it but it wasn't there.
A couple of weeks later I saw a second hand copy cheap in a local charity shop and bought it for her, but I haven't yet had the opportunity to give it to her.
This morning I was thumbing through the section on NLP when I came to these brief remarks of Brown's:
There is an NLP technique know as the "swish" pattern... ...it works not because it's a special technique, but rather because it apes very closely what would happen if you naturally felt self-confident in that situation, or if you just started to feel good there instead of bad. Plenty of people are fully able to make these shifts without recourse to a prescribed technique.Reading this really drove it home to me how very little I have actually done, actually initiated in my adult life - and by adult I mean post-pubertal.
Self-help techniques can be enormously rewarding for some people, and self-evident for others. Gurus such as Tony Robbins make fortunes from motivational courses that are both amazing and sinister, but which boil down to an age-old and obvious adage: just get on with it. It's about do or don't do. In social life we are defined by our actions, not by our motives: our thoughts or intentions mean very little unless they lead to action. It's how we behave, or even sometimes how much we make the effort to be nice, that makes the difference. An obvious but much-missed point.
I'd managed to convince myself for a couple of decades that I'd not had the ambitions and drives of other people, for instance that I hadn't travelled because I didn't have the desire in me, that I was somehow lacking, but in the last few days I've remembered that in my late teens and early 20s I wanted to go to India, to Norway, to Germany, I specifically wanted to go to Russia, to Moscow and what was then Leningrad.
I didn't know how to arrange it, I didn't know anyone who did travel, outside of school trips, which I never went on because I assumed my parents were too poor to afford them. I had no idea how to travel, and later I was too skint, or so I thought - it never occurred to me that I could go abroad and work, which I now know I could have. I even decided that if I was going to go to Russia eventually I had better learn Russian. I remember writing a letter to Heather just after she got married with a line or two in Russian, although the only words I can remember from it are "moya padruga" which is "my [female] friend".
I also remembered my plans to leave home, my various plans, of what I must do should I get a place at Maidstone College of Art, my second choice, or Hull Poly, my absolute fall-back. I remembered my thoughts throughout my twenties of moving to London and house-sharing.
As Derren Brown noted above, intentions mean very little unless they lead to action. And in my case, out of timidity, out of fear, they didn't lead to action. But until this week I had forgotten that I had even entertained intentions. I had thought, what was lacking in me was that I didn't even have these longings.
Now I remember that I once did.
Two more painful realisations: last week, on being cornered into meeting Heather's boyfriend I found myself paradoxically encouraged and saddened. If she reads the following she will probably end up even more pissed off with me than I think she already is, but that's not to be helped if I'm to continue to be honest here.
I was encouraged because until I saw a photo of him a couple of weeks before, I had imagined - by default - a tall good-looking man with thick hair. On seeing him in the flesh I was shocked to see a very bald ectomorph who shared most of my facial faults, except more so. I saw someone who, were it not for my fatness, would be slightly my physical inferior. He was narrow and tall, but he was too tall. I know I'm very bright, so this meant that my deficits in regard to his success were deficits of of motivation, of social status, of experience, and I realised that I could still address and improve some of these deficits.
And I was saddened because this meant that these deficits - which account for the gulf between everything this man has and what little I have - need not have come to be.
I realised that my whole adult life had been miserable for no good reason, that apart from being fat - which I could have changed had I had the willpower - what I looked like would not have mattered. If he has had a family and a successful career, I could also have had them, had I not had my confidence stripped out of me and replaced by fear and corrosive self-doubt by my father's many years of emotional Assault and Battery.
From what Heather has said and from my little personal experience of him, he has that only child quality of assuming that what he wishes is congruent with his entitlement and does not impact the situation and feelings of others. It's a big generalisation, but it's common to many only children and it fits.
That sense was taken from me as a child. The gifts of the only child, the gift of self-centred confidence, was taken from me by my mother, who was determined not to let me become a spoiled singleton. So I got the the social deficits of the only child, but not the self-confidence, self-reliance and cockiness.
Today I had a second realisation in regard to personal deficits and only-child status: I was loading a couple of photos of Berni from Tuesday into a facebook gallery, and having done so I decided to look at my cousin NataIie's many photo albums on Facebook: I saw hundreds of literal snapshots of her life, with her daughter, with her new man, with her dad my uncle, and with the many friends she has that I haven't met.
NataIie isn't thick, but she isn't outstandingly bright either. All my friends are bright and I struggle to talk to ordinary people because I find it hard to conceive how they can be interested in the nonsense they're interested in.
NataIie has her demons, some of which she's had since she was a little girl. But she functions well in the world, she springs back up from problems and tragedies, she has relationship and loves, she has a lovely daughter, she's had a series of good responsible jobs, she travels, she has fun.
Both Heather's boyfriend and NataIie are only children. But as far as I know they are social, functionally confident, and they are both in their own ways successful.
I am neither confident nor much good in social situations, and I am pessimistic to the point of paralysis and it has made a wasteland and a desolation of the last 30 years of my life, the best years, the years that should have been filled with children, wife, career, experience. Years that should have be filled with love, not an aching hole of need and despair.
Last year, in a series of conversations that finally led to her falling out with me, my friend Rh said that I had a very over-sensitive nature and that I should have been forced to socialise more as a young teenager so my edges would have got knocked off, and if my parents hadn't pushed me into it I should have sought itself out myself, gone to Youth Clubs and the like.
I felt ashamed and abashed hearing this, and it's only lately that I've thought not only did my parents not push me to socialise, to go to a Youth Club, but when I tried to initiate things myself, such as trying to join the Drama Club at Grammar School, I was inevitably rebuffed. As for Youth Clubs, I didn't even realise they existed outside old Cliff Richard films, until Natalie joined one when I was already past the age for them.
Natalie was encouraged by her parents to join clubs, societies, the Brownies, the Guides.
As another instance I asked repeatedly as a child for my parents to let me join the Cubs, but they wouldn't let me, or just couldn't be arsed. They just idled away their lives watching TV, or should I say my dad did, while my mam sank into what I now recognise as depression, sleeping her evenings away on the Sofa, decade after decade. My dad didn't even go to the pub to drink with his mates. His mates, it turned out at the end of his life, were the other waster punters at the Bookies.
I was going to say my dad was a cunt, but a cunt brings life into the world, a cunt gives pleasure, a cunt is fecund, a cunt is warm and soft and strong. To call my idle, antisocial, weak, negative father a cunt is to insult women and the female genitals.
I found my way alone through education, secondary and higher, with no help or guidance from my parents. I went to clubs and discos and saw bands more or less as soon as I was old enough to, on my own mostly, without a gang to hang out with, again without much concern from my parents.
I was like the girl in the Beatles song "she's leaving home after living alone for so many years". I've only recently realised I've been on my own all my fucking life.
I did these things despite the idleness of my parents.
But it was always a struggle. And the struggle was against two inner feelings - that whatever I did, it would come to nothing, it would not work, and that whatever I did, it had to be done thoroughly and perfectly or it wasn't good enough, feelings my father had oppressed into me since I was a small child. I've written about this elsewhere so I'll say no more about it here.
So, I have remembered that I once did have the same desire to leave home, to go places, to have fun, that most people have, but it was squashed by a long indoctrination into negativity and unrealistic perfectionism.
I was shocked to read that line of Derren Brown's about naturally feeling good, feeling confident in a situation. It struck me powerfully that some people must be confident as a default, that they can have what they want, and if they're rebuffed or set back, it's temporary and they'll get it next go.
And most other people must feel like that sometimes.
I've been cornered into a narrow dark place where I feel that confidence never. I'm going to have to fabricate using whatever I can, otherwise I'm stuck here.
So back to Derren Brown's "Do or don't do".
I'm starting very late in life, from a position of disadvantage and poor health, and I'm still so afraid, but this is the only place I can start from. I now know what I should have done when I was 18 or even 30 again, but I'm not 18, I'm 51 in a couple of months.
Given that I must start to do, what are the things I do? What do I want to do?
She suddenly upped in her straps and pointed to each numbered door in the waiting room, saying and matching the numbers "One... Two... Three... Four... Five... Six... Seven.... " and then looking round with puzzlement and saying "Where's Eight? Oh there it is" (behind her). She then proceeded to count up to thirty with a big smile on her little face.
I asked her mum "how old is she?"
"Just turned three"
"She's very bright isn't she?"
At which the toddler said "me?"
"Yes" I said "you're a very clever girl".
"I am clever" she agreed with a tone of satisfaction.
She then went quiet for about a minute, then announced to the amusement of everyone in the waiting room:
"Oops. I farted"
"Now don't be cheeky" said her mum"
"Oops! Oh Pardon Me".
She kept this funny chatter going until they were called through to the surgery.
It was well worth having a sore hand just to experience this bright and comical little child.
Sunday, 23 August 2009
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
Edward FitzGerald's Translation.
Friday, 21 August 2009
The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Agaean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Leave that sort of thing to Fluck and Law, they make better quality caricatures.
Saturday, 15 August 2009
And I know how upset I will feel when we part that afternoon.
Oh lucky Patrick.
What makes me particularly sad contemplating not only this situation, which I so wish I could have avoided, but also generally contemplating my life, is that I should have been what is commonly called an alpha male - I had so many of the characteristics to be so, build, height, intelligence, and once, confidence, forwardness and independence of mind, but my psychology was so thoroughly and effectively undermined that I ended up this negligible timid weakling, and what is worse, I conspired in it instead of fighting it as most people would, and I have only realised now.
In a way I'm going through a very belated adolescence, realising the faults of my parents, falling into unrequited love, thinking what decisions I should have made, thinking how I should have looked out for the society of people my own age, realising and aching to go back and leave a family I can never now leave, feeling the feelings I should have felt when I was 16. But instead of them propelling me into the independence of early adulthood, they have come near the end of middle age where they make me ready to be a young man just in time to be an sickly old one.
Dad, why did you do this to me? I hate you almost as much as I hate myself.
Friday, 14 August 2009
I curse men
I curse myself
I curse my father
I curse my birth
Nun der Tag mich mued gemacht,
Soll mein sehnliches Verlangen
Freundlich die gestirnte Nacht
Wie ein muedes Kind empfangen.
Haende lasst von allem Tun,
Stirn vergisst du alles Denken,
Alle meine Sinne nun
Wollen sich in Schlummer senken.
Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Sickening paralysing horror.
I misunderstood what was wrong all my life.
I realised what was wrong too late.
We get one life and mine is wasted and never to come again.
In all this world of experience and delight, nothing.
Monday, 10 August 2009
Sunday, 9 August 2009
Every now and then he would fall to sleep until a bumping of the bus would wake him, and he would gurgle and cry a little again, and then reach out his little hand towards mine. I wanted very much to let him hold my finger, as I've not had a baby hold my finger since I was a child myself, but I remember what a lovely feeling it is.
At the end of the journey I did a little shopping in Eccles town centre, just before closing time, but was increasingly overcome by thoughts of the children I never had, the children I longed for so much. It was all I could do to contain my distress, with my face changing from frozen to a contortion of grief that I could see other shoppers were noticing.
I couldn't fight down the feeling of loss and despair, and I had to go home where I sobbed uncontrollably for about twenty minutes, starting as soon as I locked my front door.
So, to the children I never had, I am sorry I could not call you into the World. I lacked the words, I lacked the understanding, I lacked the wherewithal, most of all I lacked the strength.
I miss you.
Saturday, 8 August 2009
but then you open your eyes
and you see someone
that you physically despise
but my heart is open
but my heart is open
"Let Me Kiss You"
Thank you Helen and Claire, not that you will ever read this. It was almost half a human lifetime ago, but thank you for those moments of pleasure, thank you for seeing me as a man, and so letting me be a man for a little while.
I discovered last night that I could take screencaptures of DVDs with one of the programs pre-installed on my poor people's computer.
I extracted frames from "Secretary" from the scenes of Maggie Gyllenhaal having her bottom smacked, as I've found Maggie Gyllenhaal very attractive since I saw her in Donnie Darko along with her brother Jake. It's a physical thing, what she looks like and her acting ability, because, her various political pronouncements suggests she's a bit of a Hollywood flake, and probably a member of F.A.G.
After I'd pulled about 30 frames I burst into tears at the thought of how truly pitiful what I was doing was; I sobbed so hard and hyperventilated so much that I had to fight for breath.
This sadness isn't sadness, it's grief. Grief for myself, for the life I lost by waiting too long, by not understanding the language of attraction, by coping with my frustration in bad and damaging ways. For the thought that nothing of life is now left to me that I would want.
For some years now I've thought I might have some problem related to autism, some kind of social blindness, and I become ever more sure as I look at myself and others.
As I sobbed, the children's hymn "there is a happy land" came into my mind, and indeed there is, and not far away but close at hand, yet all the evidence says it is out of my reach, trapped as I am in this bell jar of damaged health, impotence, and inability to connect.
Over the years my sexual obsessions became more and more tied up with the humiliation of women, but I don't really want to pummel Maggie Gyllenhaal's bum until it's black and blue, nor any woman, all I really want is someone I can spend time with, talk comfortably with, and cuddle now and then.
I met an acquaintance the other day, who explained to me how all he needed to get back to his work as a self-employed gardener after an injury was a second-hand van, but he couldn't afford one. "You know, I'm 55 and I never asked for a lot out of life and I didn't even get that".
I know, mate, I know.
Friday, 7 August 2009
Not nostalgia for an actual time, but for a state of expectation. I remembered there was once a time, which probably ended when I was around 30, when I thought I would be spending my life in some semi-bohemian life in London. It may have started to die when I failed to get a place at the Royal College of Art when I was 22, or it might have started to die when John Shelley went to Japan leaving me no cheap way to visit or live in London.
I remembered that I never wanted an ordinary job, but wanted a life where I made things. The fear of having to work in an office was one of the things that motivated me to produce artwork when nothing else would. A negative motivation, but a motivation none the less.
More and more I'm remembering the person I used to be, before I was flattened by having to conform to the limiting expectations imposed on poor people by what I must call - for want of a better word - the system.
Tuesday, 4 August 2009
If I knew that at the end of my wait, at the end of all this sadness, all these tears, all this loneliness, there was something, then I could bear the sadness and the dread a lot more easily.
More than anything it's the waiting without a reason to hope that I'm finding unbearable.
I know a formerly homeless man, an ex-heroin addict who used to self-harm and bears the scars on his forearms, who has a girlfriend and a 13 year old daughter to another woman.
I was thinking how could they find love and I couldn't. Then it struck me that they were probably outwardly normal looking men. Women just like men are shallow in their initial attraction to potential partners and lovers.
Given that except for five years between the ages of 18 and 23 I have been morbidly obese since middle childhood, what did - what do - I expect but that women did not - do not - find me attractive and I found it hard to find work?
It's not as if I didn't realise what I was doing as I overate and overate compulsively for decades until my health and prospects were gone.
I have not lived my life, I have been very very slowly committing suicide.
Monday, 3 August 2009
So-called Mr Rock And RollSadly for me, I've only ever known half even of that sorrowful equation.
Is dancing on his own again
Talking on his phone again
To someone who tells him that his balance is low
He's got no where to go
He's on his own again
Rock chick of the century
Is acting like she used to be
Dancing like there's no one there
Before she never seemed to care
Now she wouldn't dare
Its so rock and roll to alone
And they'll meet one day
And say "I wish I was something more"
And they'll meet one day
And say "I wish I knew you, I wish I knew you before"
He'll say "I wish I knew you, I wish I met you
When time was still on my side"
She'll say " I wish I knew you, I wish I loved you
Before I was his bride".
Sunday, 2 August 2009
Most communication technology from the invention of writing through to books and newspapers and now to radio, TV, email, facebook, and twitter give us the illusion of company, of social interplay, of friendship, while we remain alone, and with many personalities, such as my own, we retreat into the illusion of contact with others rather than than actual contact.
We come to think that the writers we read, the broadcasters we listen to, the soap characters we follow are somehow our friends or part of our social group, and that emailing or tweeting or facebooking is an equivalent to talking to a friend or loved one.
I've wasted 30 years in this virtual world, from reading newspapers and magazines regularly, to visiting and writing blogs, to having a sex life based almost entirely on the use of pornography and doing most of my communication by letters and emails.
As I type this very line, the following item is being broadcast on the BBC Radio News - I agree with him utterly:
Saturday, 1 August 2009
It brought back the anxiety I felt after college, when for two years I pissed around trying to improve my folio on a false promise of work from one of the partners at the Artist Partners Agency, and discovered afterwards that I had crippled myself in the normal job markets.
Even worse, I'm remembering that I've wasted nearly 20 years between my realisation that even though I did have talent I wasn't psychologically suited to be any kind of artist. In those years Heather's daughter has gone from birth to young womanhood, that's how many years have gone.
I've thought how I didn't absolutely waste the years - I took night classes to improve my prospects, I enrolled on a part time business computing HND/BSc course which I had to abandon when I got a job, a menial job but a job.
But I didn't make much use of my admittedly limited opportunities, largely out of the feeling I have now, the feeling I've had all my adult life, that nothing will work out for me, immobilised into a sickened passivity by fear for and of my future
The difference I feel between the anxiety I used to feel, in my early twenties to late 30s, is - I imagine - the difference between being in a plane ready to jump and fearing my parachute won't open, and being in freefall and finding my chutes have not opened and the ground is rushing up towards me.
Both Ian and Heather have observed that knowing what is wrong I now need to act, but what to do?