XX Alone

I am sitting here in my dusty, claustrophobic study with web design books, magazines and course material strewn chaotically all around me imitating the disorganised mess that is my current existence. The dreamy, haunting sounds of English indie rock band XX are floating out of my tinny monitor speakers via the add filled yet free and therefore viable music service Spotify. I say viable as I am currently broke, in the financial as well as psychological state.

One could look back at my life and report that I am usually broke. It depends on how you define broke. However you choose to define it (in terms of more debt than savings or higher expenses than income or high income and high expenditure, take your pick) no one can deny the financial challenge that should be staring me in the face from a multi coloured array of spreadsheet cells in my Family budget file. As it is I am taking a leaf out of my wife’s book and resorting to denial. I should be downloading our bank account and credit card balances to these complex self made spreadsheets but as I know they will only paint an even scarier picture than the one they painted last Saturday, I choose to ignore our impending financial doom and instead surf the net joining various social networking sites such as Plurk and Moolta with my Second life avatar as I am feeling particularly lonely tonight.

The psychological breaking down and current loneliness has much to do with coming back from an insightful yet intensive therapy session to an empty, eerily silent house. The children’s toys are there, littered across the well worn lounge floor, but there are no children playing with them. The wok and saucepans are piled up on top of our ancient electric hobs and various utensils and ingredients are lying about but no one is cooking. The only sound in the whole 3 bed suburban semi is of my stress out pent up mind, swelling with conflicts, anxiety and confusion, overheating and getting ready to blow a gasket. I feel like a faulty Toyota in desperate need of repair just waiting to be recalled before my broken accelerator pedal drives me into a self destructive brick wall.

The loneliness can be attributed to my wife and daughter staying with my mother-in-law to comfort and support her, in deepest rural Woking. My father-in-law is still in hospital and still in a bad state following his major stroke last October. The air of empty silence and haunting alienation of this house is much better than the thick fog of depression permanently hanging over my in laws home as life gets harder and more emotionally and psychically challenging day by day. The financial costs of supporting a stroke victim are not low.

The financial burdens of a South west London suburban family with a mortgage, growing child, constant 70 mile round trips to Milford Hospital in an age of ever rising petrol prices are also becoming less and less compatible with my continuing unemployment. I got a job that would have plugged the outflow of cash for a little while, giving us breathing space, only to have the job offer callously ripped from me due to miscommunication between HR departments and the business managers who desperately needed me.

The spiral of increasing problems and stress has resulted in a sudden relapse of my Irritable Bowel Syndrome and I need to get some acid to pump through our lime scale ridden blocked up toilet discharge pipes before they overflow again (don’t try and visualise it, not a pretty sight, i can promise you.) My bouts of sudden inexplicable fatigue are also increasing. I am back to job hunting, but in this market it is even more depressing than it usually would be. I can’t tell my wife how broke we are. She doesn’t have the time, energy or motivation to read this blog so she will never know, unless the bailiffs arrive early. She will probably be in the hospital anyway so I will find a way to blag it.

It would be nice to hug her after a long, dreary day of depressing chores and job hunting and to snuggle up to a movie or Episode 1, Series 4 of Northern Exposure. As it is I am left to find some friendly conversation online with random geeks who like to create digital art and funny freakish animals in Photoshop and play Star Trek online. That would be one way of escaping my enforced isolation but unfortunately it seems that tonight even the geeks aren’t talking to me. So I have resorted to talking to myself by throwing a few thoughts onto electronic ink and composing this blog.

4 Diet Pepsi’s and many happy pills on from my fatigue relapse this afternoon and I feel myself drifting off into a surreal computer generated world where no one has cancer or strokes and being unemployed and geeky is a virtue not a mark of failure and anxiety.

On a lighter note, at least all my web surfing in the name of my web design course has lead me to discover this great website dedicated to the early 1990’s TV Comedy Drama Northern Exposure:

http://www.moosechick.com/

Second Life Home

Even Virtual Worlds have loneliness

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Back to Blogging

As you may have noticed I have not been blogging for a while. This is not due to a lack of experiences or subjects that I am formulating comments on but because I have actually become overwhelmed by the magnitude of events entering my once simple, ordinary life on a daily basis.

If I actually described how I felt right now or everything that has happened to me since the beginning of 2008 then this blog would never end and would become longer than War and Peace combined with Ulysses and Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past (all books which I am dying to read but need to create a clone of myself to be able to ever achieve this goal).

So I will try to be succinct. I have a lot to say as I have experience a lot in a small amount of time. However, we live in a quick fix instant gratification age where people have short attention spans (myself more than others) and so no one, not even I would bother reading through all my diverse and over complicated thoughts in just one blog  post. So I propose to commit some of my current thought to digital cyber code in a series of blog posts on specific subjects.

Compartmentalising the different aspects of our lives, thoughts, characters and experiences may be anathema to me, as I feel one loses a great deal of meaning by disconnecting various interwoven threads, but at least it will be easier to read and compose. Hopefully you will find something in there that you relate to, a conflict I am facing that you may have faced before, or are currently facing and maybe we can conjure up some useful insights by the process of transferring my thoughts and your feedback using the power of modern technology (i.e. this blog.)

To Keep this blog post short I will just list some of the various topics that I will write about as they have been a big part of my life since January 2008. That may seem an arbitrary year to begin my cyber “memoirs” but it has some significance. 2008 was the year in which my first child was born and was the year in which I was made redundant from a job I would have never left and then went to work in a modern day professional office “sweat shop” and fell ill having contracted a serious of viruses and developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, to add to my already debilitating Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diarrhoea.

2008 Was also the year I started CBT – Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, sessions, in order to combat my worsening IBS-D, and that forced me to start dissecting my thought processes and lifestyle to uncover the root causes of my various physical and pyscholigical illnesses.

In 2009 I continued with the CBT, took up Yoga, joined Weight Watchers, lost 2 stone in weight in 5 months, put back on most of that 2 stone since November 2009, honed my skills as a multi-tasking househusband, babysitter cum live at home father, dogsbody son and son-in-law (carrying out various time consuming duties for my family), was put on various trials of medication to try and combat my CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), such as Vitamin B12 injections on a weekly basis and a variety of polypharmacy solutions.

I also developed asthma and Hay fever just to add to the myriad of medical conditions attack me. I quit smoking (not because of a less stressful life – life was ever more stressful, but due to the asthma), supported my beloved wife as she completed her Doctoral thesis, whilst working and being a mother and stressed out wife and daughter all at the same time.

My father-in-law had a sudden major stroke in late October 2009, 2 days after I had booked non refundable tickets to a wedding in Houston that I couldn’t afford to go to but was a reward for my wife’s year of constant stress, struggling and no sleep. We didn’t go to Houston over Christmas but instead shuttled between hospitals and funerals through the sudden snow storms of 2009/2010 as I began to start job hunting seriously, having realised we were on a financial precipice.

I got a job interview and job offer after 30 job applications, for one of my favourite Consumer electronics companies, only to be told that they had messed up and in fact the company had a recruitment freeze so the job I had been given was taken away from me bringing back into the same frustrating, anxious, stressful place of being broke, jobless, overweight, confused, conflicted and struggling to re-train as a web designer whilst finding a temporary finance job and supporting my wife as she cares for her bed-ridden father and physically drained mother (whilst she herself is still working and raising our daughter with me).

On the plus side I got to spend a lot of time with my daughter, which taught me a lot about myself, about fatherhood, the trials and joys of parenthood and has made me re-learn many subjects and pieces of knowledge that I have forgotten over the years (such as astronomy and geography, not to mention grammar and basic maths).

I have also been forced to grow and challenge myself and my preconceptions due to marriage and my never ending crisis situations, and I have discovered that adaptability is a very under rated skill that is vital to success in life.

I have also had the good fortune to discover the artistic genius of TV shows such as The Wire, The Sopranos and Battlestar Galactica (re-imagined) whilst getting more involved in social media experiences like Twitter and blogging.

I also managed to buy a Nintendo Wii, using vouchers from my credit card provider, so if things get too much and I am in need of some techno salvation i can always fire off some stress with my Wii Zapper gun (so long as the wife is away, she is not a toy gun fane).

I also completed a Career Change programme with a Career coach that was a real eye opener into the way I live my life and how I can take back control and start living more of my “truth”, rather than the crowd pleasing facade I have become so accustomed to wearing almost permanently.

I managed to read some Chekhov Short Stories and finish reading Dune by Frank Hebert, which was an immensely enjoyable read, and A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway, the first Hemingway book I have ever read, which was also a revelation.

And finally, most important of all, I managed to get in game of Scrabble, which I haven’t played in years, although the joy was short lived as I was beaten by my wife. So much for my aspirations to become a short story writer and novelist!

P.S. See the next post for the promised list of topics I will blog about and put links for.

Escape into Reality

Chewing on my weight watchers friendly homemade smoked ham sandwich and listening to Radio 1 I have decided to update my blog.

The theme of my blog and indeed its very purpose has never been made clear to the cyber sphere or even me. The main aim was to provide me with an outlet to express my pent up thoughts and feelings. This would help clear my head and aid the process of clarifying my increasingly hazy, frazzled thoughts, tangled up in the complex web of lies, facades, masks and inner conflicts swirling within my unstable psyche. That is not a clear aim. It does, however, make for interesting reading, if the author is entirely honest and open with his audience about the experiences he has undergone. Having been transported to the edge of my own precarious sanity and staring down into the deep, spiralling vortex of self destruction, I find it hard to be honest and open without fear of sending myself and my readers into a fit of horror.

I want to be honest. I need to be honest. However, it is not that easy. My current myriad of problems, both physical and psychological, can all be attributed to years of hiding my inner truth behind thickets of masks and facades, acts that i put on to tell people what they want to hear and what I think the world wants me to be like. I only ever wanted to fit in. The irony is that the more I lied to those around me, the deeper the masks penetrated into my soul, the more I alienated myself form, well, myself. Cutting through the jungle of half truths and cloaks with the scythe of self awareness and new found insight has been a painful process, and I am not ready to tell the tales that have scared me to the point I find myself in today.

I need to get a job. Yes, you heard it here first. Although I am struggling to battle ill health, debilitating Irritable Bowel syndrome diarrhoea, chronic fatigue syndrome, yo-yo weight loss and gain, and depression, making it hard to have the energy and motivation for even the most basic tasks, I am so close to the edge, and so lonely, that even me, the king of isolated contemplation, wants to get back into the real world and connect with other people and feel that I have some useful purpose in life, other than watching documentaries about World War 2 or Hunter S. Thompson.

I have read one too many psychologically complex short story and need to escape into conversation with characters less troubled and scarred than the cast of a Dostoevsky novel. Yes, the real world can be dull, it can be mind numbing and soul destroying, but at least it is real. Too much time spent in virtual online worlds like Second Life, or in the lives of emotionally inept protagonists form a William Boyd short story, is not good for the soul either.

I love to write, and I will still write, but I need to go out there and earn some real money. I need to reconnect with the everyday rat race of suburban London life. It will not be fun and I won’t like it, but i am starting to feel that I need it. If I sit in this claustrophobic, dusty study surrounded by the mess of a failed business enterprise and unfiled receipts, trying to spend 8 hours a day working on my novel, all I will end up doing is going even more insane and producing nothing but an incoherent diatribe of angst ridden prose. Reality stimulates me, even dull reality, on the subconscious level, and I need that stimulation. I also need to talk to someone, anyone. Even if it is about a Dan Brown novel. (OK maybe I don’t need to go that far).

I like my alone time, and I thrive on it, but not this much alone time. Everyone else is out there doing things. I am stuck here in a self absorbed daze relating to Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson and analysing why they pulled the trigger and killed themselves. That fascinates me. It is a dangerous fascination.

So what’s the plan? How can I pull myself out of this self absorbed physical and psychological mire? I plan to try and find a local part time job in finance, to give some structure and routine to my life. Then I plan to teach myself wed design and go on web development courses. I may even resurrect my once famed website form the early noughties, Razweb.com, which has disappeared so far into the cyber ether that even Google cannot find it anymore. If i can re-train as a web designer then at least I can have a career that is creative, interesting and stimulating, I can then be energised enough by my work to come home and sit at my desk in a disciplined fashion and devote at least 2 hours a day to writing. I have already typed up the synopsis of the 2 novels that make up my first work of fiction. All the characters are there, living, breathing, talking, going through life changing conflicts and resolutions. I just need to bring all the pieces together. To do that I need a clear mind and a stable heart. No more panic attacks and rapid heartbeats and insomnia ridden nights of breathlessness and wheezing.

I have no idea if any of the new treatments I am undergoing to battle my Chronic Fatigue will work but I will try anything. Optimism and hope are the best weapons I can bring to the battle.

I am starting to feel like my life is beginning to find its feet once again. Any new found stability and certainty will greatly lessen the burden on my increasingly nervous and anxious wife, who has her own pressures, and will mean I can spend less time lying to my family and putting on a brave face and assortment of masks to cover up why I am at hope all day too tired to even go for a walk round the block.

On that note all I have left to say is that I am thoroughly enjoying reading “The Woman in the Case” a collection of short stories by Anton Chekhov, the king of short stories. He can transmit an entire philosophy and range of human feelings in just one line, and is a true literary genius. I am also planning to meet up with my wife’s cousin, who is himself a published fiction author, and I have started reading his first novel, “The Bus Stopped” by Tabish Khair. It has already caught me in it’s magical grip and transported me back to the exotic and contradictory land of my forefathers. I can’t wait to delve deeper into it once I push myself and make that walk round the block.

No more running away from life. I need to jump into the sea of reality and swim with the tide, no longer against it. Maybe this way I will finally realise my goals and get to the shore I so desperately seek.

Back to Reality

This is where I need to be:

361

This is where I actually am:

Less escape more reality. That seems to be the order of the day.

I had a major chronic fatigue attack yesterday evening and suddenly lost all the feeling in my mind and body, falling asleep on the sofa even though I did everything to stay awake. The end result was that I did not have time to tell my wife not to cook the Omelette I was supposed to cook and instead for her to heat up her mum’s food and I would eat a ready meal. As fatigue got the better of me, and my wife’s constant rushing around meant we failed to communicate appropriately, she ended up cooking the omelette.

I was knocked out, lying on the sofa asleep in a daze, escaping in the world of dreams, and by the time I woke up she was in a right huff and dinner was ready. I felt nothing but guilt and anger, that I had not been able to tell her not to cook and that I was not healthy or energetic enough to support her. She did not hold back her true feelings and let vent how bitter she felt and how angry she was. She has had enough of the lack of routine in our lives (which is not entirely my fault).

Routine is almost impossible when you suffer from extreme IBS and CFS as you never know when you will need the toilet, have diarrhoea or fall asleep and lose your focus, concentration and alertness. I am trying everything I can to cure my psychical illnesses. All of the time that I am awake, relatively alert and not penned down by my debilitating symptoms, I devote to getting all the household chores done. I have no life of my own, but no matter how hard I work it is never enough for my wife. She badgered me about routine again. Her argument was that if she knew when she had to do chores she would not get so angry. She has a tight schedule after work as once she puts our daughter to bed she needs to focus on her never ending doctoral thesis. She does not have the time or energy to complete household chores on top of that. That is all true and fair. I know all of this and do everything I can to reduce her burdens. It would be great if someone cared about me and my won burdens as much as I do about hers.

I am forever creating new spreadsheets or word documents that try to plan our dinners, activities, lives and bring method to the uncontrolled madness that is our lives. It is not enough. So even after the success and then sudden failure of the food plan I had to waste time creating a weekly summary activity routine which set out on which days I would be expected to complete certain chores. It is irrelevant that I am usually too exhausted and ill to do the chores. If I do not do them no one else will and this will anger my wife.

I am typing these thoughts to clear my head in preparation for my impending career change programme call with my career coach, and I am also trying to gobble down my increasingly mushy and aesthetically displeasing healthy breakfast. Eating, typing, and sorting out my paperwork all at the same time, when I am still hardly awake, make for a bad mix.

Anyway I have to go now as I have just dropped diet cola al over my pants and keyboard. This is the result of the aforementioned bad mix. I should be sleeping but reality has forced me to wake up for my career change programme call. My coach berated me incessantly for not booking call 6 at least 1 month after call 5, when the calls should be weekly. I was overwhelmed by an ever growing mountain of other tasks and responsibilities, but nobody listens to you when you are too tired to shout loud enough and too fatigued to coherently explain your situation.

Times up. Once again.

Back to work.