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The colours of my life

This is likely to be the first of a few posts about the transitional periods of my life. Everyone has them, and I’ve been thinking for a while about a couple of mine.

A big transition was going to a Christmas party on Tuesday. I don’t think I’ve been to one before, I’m a self professed Grinch, after all, and have a reputation to uphold. But this one was the first gathering of the new organisation I’m part of so I wanted to show willing. And unexpected to all except my own spirit of Christmas, Desere, I had a jolly good time. I even wore a silly hat.

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At this party, I was given a gift. It’s a new diary. Better than my current diary on account of its bookmark and unlined entry boxes, but I wasn’t sure about the colour: Brown. Dark panel and lighter panel split over the cover. I’ve never been a big fan of brown, but only a few days ago I got to thinking of clothes, how they’re dyed and generally not their natural colour, and I was weighing up my recent fondness for bold colours against my even recent-er fondness for simplicity and naturalness.

When I was a teenager and in my early 20s I’d wear a lot of black. It wasn’t so much because I was emo (though I was for part of my teens – few teens avoid that period) as much as it was simple, matched everything so I didn’t have to think about what I was wearing, and it was allegedly slimming (I’m a bit too overweight for the latter to really work out, but denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.) I can’t deny it also matched my mood for most of the time. But a couple of years ago I bought something I always wanted, a colourful patchwork hoodie, that had yin yangs, the Buddhist wheel, and Aum painted on various panels. That thing has been with me just about everywhere since, I even took it to Amsterdam with me. That began a shift in consciousness, it seems – since then I’ve seldom been seen in black anymore. I have t shirts now in purple, yellow, white… I don’t even wear black jeans very often anymore, they’re always blue. My workout trousers of choice are no longer black tracksuit bottoms, but purple ones with painted-on flowers of blue, yellow, and red, which I often couple with my favourite yellow t shirt (which I think my mother has thrown out because it had some black stain on the shoulder. I really hope not, that’s my favourite most comfortable t shirt.)

So when I found myself looking at this brown diary, approving of its colour and my change of pace since I started getting more heavily into Buddhism over the last couple of months, I felt that something was changing, and it brought to mind a song from the mindblowing Broadway show, Barnum, in which Barnum, the dreamer and showman, explains his view on life by singing a song about how some colours suit him better. His wife, the practical, simple woman, responds in kind. The link to the video is below, along with the lyrics.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnZgjJIZ7aA

Barnum:
The colors of my life are bountiful and bold,
The purple glow of indigo, the gleam of green and gold.
The splendor of the sunrise, the dazzle of a flame,
The glory of a rainbow, I’d put ’em all to shame.
No quiet browns and grays, I’ll take my days instead
And fill them till they overflow with rose and cherry red!
And should this sunlit world grow dark one day,
The colors of my life will leave a shining light to show the way.

Charity:
The colors of my life are softer than a breeze.
The silver gray of eiderdown, the dappled green of trees.
The amber of a wheat field, the hazel of a seed,
The crystal of a raindrop, are all I’ll ever need.
Your reds are much too bold, in gold I find no worth.
I’ll fill my days with sage and brown; the colors of the earth,
And if from by my side my love should roam,
The colors of my life will shine a quiet light to lead him home.

 

Both positions appeal to me. I’ve learned to enjoy the attention of speaking to a room full of people, being asked my opinion, even debates on some subjects. I even occasionally say things to stir people up to get conversation going and things like that. But there are times where I just want to live in a house with just me and a cat and my books, go to work, come home, take care of the cat and me, and keep things stupidly simple.

I suppose the only way is the same as everything else – what Buddhists refer to as “the middle way.” Sometimes I want to go out in purple and yellow and wear a silly hat and sing and dance and do karaoke and drink and laugh. Other times – most of the time, really – I’m content to sit in a dim room, read next to the light, sip a coffee, relax, think, meditate. The colours aren’t static. Those old fiber optic lights come to mind, where the red would become orange would become yellow would become green would become blue would become purple would become red. I can’t believe I just remembered that sequence. But the colours aren’t static, the whirl and change and merge and flow, just like life.

So I won’t be throwing my wardrobe away in favour of saffron robes quite yet, though that is a beautiful symbiosis of bold and simple. Some days it’s a denim and chains day, and some days I can’t be bothered with pockets.

The colours of my life are varied and fluid. And while not all of them are pretty, they all have their turn in the sun, as do we all.

Cue the music, fade to black, roll credits.

School, golf, and chocolate (or, How to Save a Life)

I had an early start today, I would have to be up by 8am to shower and brush my teeth, take my insulin and meds and eat something and force down a coffee before leaving by 9am to get a bus into town, and from there another bus to hospital, a total journey of about an hour. So last night I decided to be good, I shut down the computer early and went to read, and by half past midnight the light was out and I was snuggled into bed.

Around 0230 I woke up again, fully awake. Unable to get back to sleep I went back online for a bit. Three or four episodes of QI and some chatting later, I was still awake. Around 0730 I decided the hospital can miss me for today, I’m going to bed.

I woke up again around 1130, and immediately something was wrong. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to die, as much as I felt no reason not to. For a long time I’ve been feeling like I’m only alive for other people, not myself, and any momentary enjoyment I feel is a distraction at best. My life, it has felt for many years, is essentially held hostage to the feelings of people I value and don’t want to leave behind, as it were. This funk continued. I curled back up and went back to sleep.

I woke again at 1430, wondering what is it today about waking up at half past the hour? I mumbled aloud through near-tears, “what meaning is there to any of it?” and pondered for a bit. Then the dog jumped up on me and told me he wanted to go out. Now even at my most depressed, I try not to put anyone out or neglect the dog, so I took him outside, and that’s when a neighbour did something strange. Jaffa, el Poocho, mon doggie, le Woofer, and my dog (everyone’s got multiple roles to play in these hectic modern times, even our furry friends) was peeing against a bush as is his wont when I heard footsteps charging down the hill and see a neighour, Riley, belting down toward me.

I like Riley a lot. I’ve always liked him. I met him one day when he was outside with his friends and someone smashed in the back window of a friend’s car that was parked next to my house. I marched out there and gave them all the Judge Dredd “You… are under… arrest!” treatment, and scared the life out of Riley. But whether it’s because of that or if he was just raised right, he’s always been polite to me, always said hello cheerily as he goes past on the street, and always makes me smile.

Today he stopped to chat for a few minutes, which he doesn’t normally do. I asked him what the new school is like, and where he was going. He told me he was off to get munchies at the shop, and then he was off out. “Anywhere nice?” I asked, as you do. “Golf,” came the surprising reply. He seemed more a football type. (“I do that too!” he smiled when I shared this thought.) I asked him how long he’s been playing golf, and he told me about four years.

Riley is eight years old.

For some reason that made me smile, and immediately cleared the suicidal fug that hovered over my mind for the day thus far, somehow made me think maybe things would be ok, if a kid like Riley exists, maybe there’s hope yet. Maybe there’s more too it and I feel protective of him, he who is a diamond, polite and friendly, in a sea of … well, the rest of Abercynon. I don’t feel exactly responsible for him, but somehow this kid is special to me and I want to protect him from the corruption and mess that surrounds us. I guess it reminded me that there are other people worth living for, regardless of my own mess. Even if nothing I do means anything to me, if I can help influence someone for the better, help them out, improve their life in some way, or just offer a smile when they need one, just like Riley unknowingly did for me today, then maybe I’m not a complete waste of matter.

Or maybe it was just the nicotine fix I was enjoying at the time. We may never know.

^.^

The abyss really does stare back

Today I lost another friend – the second this year – because of my negative habits. Like the first friend, this one left it until they snapped instead of telling me weeks back that my attitude is getting them down, and like the first friend, only some of what was said is true. But it is a lot harder to argue with it this time.

See, the first friend told me I was half-assing life. This was easy to disagree with because I was currently on the PTLLS (Preparation for Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector) course, and it was destroying me, it was so far above any level of stress or any workload I’ve previously encountered. Instead of approving of my aspirations to train up to teach so I can run workshops with CHAT, he called into question the future of CHAT and whether or not it was paying me NOW. Of course the answer is no, the group is still not well-established enough to be able to offer its volunteers a wage of any kind, but the volunteering has benefits of its own, improving my confidence, gaining me experience and granting me the opportunity to face fears such as talking to a room of people. It also led to a hefty discount in the PTLLS fee, as I was part of an organisation – and then CHAT paid what little I would have had to cover myself. So it’s not like I get nothing for my effort. I’m sad to not speak to that friend anymore, but I feel I was misunderstood in a big way, and not given ample opportunity to change before being cut off, so I’m not crying over that anymore.

The friend today, though… I was accused to being passive aggressive, which I wasn’t intending to be. I was trying to phrase things as delicately as I could to avoid offense or being accusatory. Ironically it was seen as both those things, and the phrasing made it seem passive aggressive. But they had a good point, and I’ve spent most of today mulling it over, looking for the positive, how to improve myself so it doesn’t happen again. I think I’ve finally understood.

I think it was Mr. Neitzche who was the bloke who warned “when fighting monsters be careful not to become one yourself. When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back.” Or words to that effect. I’ve never fully understood those words until the last hour or so, and I heard them years ago.

It’s mirthlessly ironic, really. Most of my negativity is a response to other people negatively. I complain endlessly lately about how negative people are and how often they complain. That’s the point, really, it’s a nasty bit of self realisation to pick up on. In the long run I’m grateful for my friends for pointing it out before they cut me off, but it doesn’t lessen the sting any.

The energy behind emotion is the deciding factor, it seems. I’ve always said it’s the difference between being ANTI-war and PRO-peace. If you’re anti-war that’s a fighting stance, and it’ll only bring more anti energy into the world, but pro peace, that’s a positive force, and that stands a chance of changing something, not just in the world but in yourself. My problem lately has been I’ve been very anti-negativity, which has only brought more negativity.

So I guess the way to remedy this is practice. As the thinger I recently saw said, “speak more of your blessings than your shortcomings.” I hope what few friends still remain will do me the favour of calling me on this stuff before it gets out of hand, though. Don’t wait weeks or months and then tell me you’ve had enough of my negativity, tell me from the start, “you’re being negative again, I don’t want any part in that.” Especially if I’m ranting about something you care about. Communication goes both ways, tell me when I’m doing something that upsets you.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be over here trying to climb out of this hole I’ve dug myself. I’ll end this on one small win: I’ve been depressed to the point of suicidal all day over this, but I haven’t bought any drink, my default response when stressed or depressed. The last couple of weeks my drinking has got out of hand, which may have contributed to how negative I’ve been, though I doubt it, but it’s something I have to work on, so it’s being worked on, and under pressure tonight. Also managed to resist binge eating, which is a plus. My only worry is that binge eating is what I took up to stop self harm, and drinking is what I did instead of binge eating, so if I’m not doing either there’s a risk I’m gonna go crazy. But we’ll deal with that when we get there, Assassins Creed 3 is almost downloaded again so my brain’s occupied for tonight.

Remind me to post stuff about pyjamas, microteaching, and why I’ve not posted anything in ages 😛

An explanation of my facebookage.

Making this a blog thing rather than a Facebook status because I don’t know how long it will be. Basically I want to explain what’s been going on in some vague detail.

I feel my intention is being misunderstood. I’ve deactivated my facebook a couple of times in the last two or three months, the last time I did it I also deleted everyone to make sure there was another step between me and people seeing any statuses (statusi?) I may have uploaded. I was spiralling badly and was sharing my every thought on facebook, and people were worried. This is appreciated and understandable because some of it was properly dark and despairy, and I want to apologise to anyone I upset or worried. I’m glad you care enough to be affected by it but I’m sorry for doing that to you.

I’m feeling self-indulgent already.

That was the reason I deactivated my facebook account each of those times, though. I couldn’t stop myself habitually booting it up and emptying my brain into that little box, and it was scaring some people, and I didn’t want to do that anymore, so I deactivated it until I was in a better place. I don’t want anybody to feel like I’m testing them in some way, I’ve never been deliberately manipulative like that. I may embellish what happened if I want attention, like saying I fell over when I lost my balance and fell into a wall, but I won’t outright make stuff up like saying I had a heart attack or something. You’re not being tested, my intention is to spare you. When I’m that miserable I know I can offload on anyone who so much as says hello, I can’t help myself, so I did what I thought would be the surest way to prevent that. That’s all.

Another thing I want to reassure you all about is, when I say I’m suicidal, I mean I’m feeling like it would be a good idea or thinking about it a lot. I never intend to act on the feelings, and as long as I’m whining about it you’ve got nothing to worry about. My self-care gets a bit slack, I don’t shower for a few days, won’t shave for a week or two at a time, may eat badly, but I’m still not being stupid, I’m eating enough to keep me alive, trying to sleep, and not directly hurting myself.

That’s about all there is. I’m in a dark place right now, but I’ve been worse, probably, and I’ve no intention to give up on everything until the doctor tells me it’s terminal, and that’s when I become Batman coz I’ll have nothing to fear anyway. See? Silver lining 😛

So relax, lob on some earl grey, pass the biscuits, and chill with me. Seriously, I have two sofas, my backside isn’t THAT wide quite yet, come join me. Bring biscuits.

Dare I?

There’s a lot of info in here, so I’m not sure if it should be moved to My Story. Mods, I leave it to your judgement. Details are only given for context, not to tell the story in itself.

For some reason today I realised something. Today is the first good day I’ve had for a long, long time. I mean a GOOD day. It’s the closest I’ve felt to being at peace with myself and the world for.. probably years. In recent memory at any rate. At some point I got to thinking about my first girlfriend, the one who hurt me physically. Probably because I was thinking a lot of my last girlfriend, the one that destroyed me psychologically.

Girlfriend A, who I’ll call Midge (for no reason whatsoever) and I were together about 15 months. I was an idiot for falling for her because she hit me even before we got together, but she promised she’d stop, and I believed her. This happened when I was 12 – 14. I’ve always remembered it as a standalone thing, possibly because I was so in love with her, my first great love. But today I thought of what else was going on at that time: School. When I was 12 I was in a coma. I had missed about four months of school by the time I got back there, and I was way behind. But for some reason I just couldn’t get my act together, I had trouble concentrating, I had anxiety about going back to school that nobody including myself could figure out.

I’m 28 in six months. There’s been some delay, as the math buffs among you will have worked out by now, but it finally just dawned on me that during this period, I was getting beaten up almost daily by the woman I loved, who I kept going back to… of course I couldn’t concentrate, of course I had anxiety about leaving my house (strangely it only ever happened at hers, when her dad was home, so if I had any ideas about defending myself physically, I assume, he’d be up in a nanosecond to rip me a new one. This is an assumption but it’s the only times it happened so I assume it to be the case. I have to admire her intelligence…) and going to school (where she would be.)

When I was 14, I had my first homosexual experience. This wasn’t very long after Midge and I broke up, I guess. I’d recently met a girl, who I’ll call Nasty :P and we were talking online, and I told her what had happened. The next day, the school new. A few days after that I rang Nasty to say hi and she refused to talk to me. I asked why the hell, and I was told the news – apparently I’d started a rumour that I’d raped her.

Now skipping over the mere concept of starting a rumour for my own benefit that I’m a rapist, I dunno where this came from, but soon that was all around the school and I was getting harassed during break time by her friends who would call me a monster and scum, etc, and in class people would throw paper at me and just insult me for anything I did (I had tea tree oil because I had cold sores, and that became “Dan is putting makeup on!”). That Christmas, I got beaten into hospital by someone while his three friends watched. I didn’t go back to school in the new year.

My friend was forbidden to see me because I dropped out of school, as if I’d hold him back (I was still homeschooled, I just couldn’t go back to school.)

So bearing all this in mind today, it dawned on me. All these years, I’ve blamed myself for everything that happened. I kept going back to Midge, I told Nasty about my sexuality, I kept going to school, I didn’t know who was responsible for it so I couldn’t report it and they couldn’t be punished. The abuse, the bullying, the total brain ache going on… of course I couldn’t continue school. My decision to leave didn’t ruin my life, as I’ve believed all these years; it saved it. If I’d stayed there I’m confident I wouldn’t have survived much longer with all that was going on.

So after all this time of hating myself for being so stupid, could it be, I wasn’t actually to blame? I trusted people and they abused that trust, it wouldn’t have made a difference if I’d stopped going back to Midge, I would have met Nasty. Nasty who made my brother a p*dophile by lying about her age so he, aged 18, thought she was of legal age. She wasn’t. She really caused us problems, and she had the gall to add me to facebook and then disown me from her life because I was so negative and depressed!

None of this was asked for by me, I did the best I could at all times, I ran because I couldn’t fight, and I’ve been fighting ever since. Could it be that I… forgive me?

Of Spoons and Marbles

A very dear friend of mine just introduced me to two posts that are simple but utterly, utterly profound. I lost one of my best friends this week because I couldn’t explain to him why I’m not working through my problems like he can. It’s a sore subject, one that my ex and I argued about often. So I’m posting these two things here and I sincerely hope they go viral, because they’re eloquent, simple, and perfect in expressing what it’s like.

Please read them, and please share them.

http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/wpress/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

It’ll only take you a few minutes, they’re quite short, but they’ll help give you an image to explain to people why you struggle, and help them understand. It may even help you understand if you’ve only recently been diagnosed with depression.

The trousers, how they mocked me

I didn’t sleep so well last night, but I woke up in time this morning. I then sat on my sofa and tried to shift my brain into gear. I looked over at my pile of clothes, then looked away, unable to process the concept of getting dressed. At one point I focused a surge of energy, and stood up and took a step toward my trousers, then turned and sat back down. The trousers looked at me reproachfully, mockingly. I sensed more pity than sympathy. After ten solid minutes of this back and forth, with me telling my brain actually it is quite important to get dressed now so I can leave the house and do this thing I’ve had planned for easily ten years, I finally dropped the clutch and got moving.

The bus was late. I was there for 9am, I’d just missed the 8:55 so I was waiting for the 9:10. It showed up at 9:20. I had to be in town for 9:30. I got there around 9:40. I hate where I live, it’s like it’s just out of sync with the regular dimension and buses struggle to find their way there. Where I live is between two towns, and strangely when leaving either town, the buses are on time perfectly, but they don’t drive through my town at the time they should. I don’t understand it. That’s one for the list of questions I have if presented with a deity after I die who offers answers.

So I showed up and filled in the forms, and was treated to a day of adrenaline and triggers and boredom and brainache.

But at 3:05pm I emerged from that place a qualified first aider.

The pig has been kicked. Boo to the yah. High fives all round :)

It’s been an extremely shaky ten days or so, I had a full blown meltdown on Wednesday and have been in bed for most of the time since, so to do this thing today in spite of the anxiety I felt is a huge achievement, and now I feel like I’m getting back in control and my life is back in the right direction again. Just leaving the house was an achievement after the week I’ve had. I feel like all week I’ve been hanging on by my fingernails, but today I finally got a knee up on the ledge. I’m still kinda precarious and vulnerable, but I can rest a little and feel like falling to my doom is a little further away.