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.

Express Yourself – Behind the Masks

So why am I composing a blog post when I have no time or energy and so many more important things to do?

The answer is I need to express myself. It is no longer a case of wanting to express myself. I have suppressed most of my inner feelings and thoughts for too many years.  I need a platform and audience to vent my increasing confusion, thoughts, bewilderment and increasing disillusionment with life.

Not to depress you too much or put you off.

My problem is that although I am surrounded by lots of people, and always have been in my life, I have come to the realisation that none of them actually listen to me. The ones who should and do care the most, my parents and family, are there when I speak to them, and ask me to fill the void of silence between us with words when they question me about my state of mind and feelings, but when I fill that void with my true thoughts and feelings it is as if the wind blows away the words in a sudden gust over their heads and not one if the words enters the heads of those who love me. This happens on occasion with my wife, but she is perhaps the only person who actually listens to what I have to say and hear what I am saying, by absorbing my speech into their mind. My parents and everybody else just talk at me. They regurgitate their own fixed, narrow views and are convinced that they have the solutions to all my problems, even though they never come to understand what my true problems are because they do not listen to me. It is like talking to a brick wall, except that brick walls can be broken and can provide solace by at least appearing to listen to you, because they don’t talk back and provide proof of their deafness.

It is not only my parents who exhibit and posses these qualities of inertness when it comes to my myriad tangled web of issues. It is also my in laws, extended family, friends and society in general. Every new psychical ailment or psychological problem I develop leaves me full of anxiety and frustration as half the people do not believe me and the other half are so confused they stop caring. People don’t want to hear what I have to say, even though I listen to them, and I need someone, in fact more than just one poor soul (the role currently filled by my poor wife) to provide a sensitive, thoughtful ear. This was always the case, and I found ways of getting through life and rising up the social ladder, even though I was pulled down by inner turmoil, ill health, my inability to be good at any sports or display any artistic talents, and my lack of co-ordination. How did I get by? In a nutshell, I lied. I created a set of masks for different people and ended up becoming a walking masquerade artist. I lost my true self in the process and now that my career coach and CBT therapist are trying to unearth that poor unloved soul deep below the piles of masks I am suffering in the upheaval within.

I can feel the swirling vortex of bitter, twisted demonic thoughts brewing and boiling in the vat within me. I have a lot of issues. 30 years of suppressing my true self and thoughts has taken its toll on me. I was always encouraged to live out the dreams and lives that other people felt I should be living. I always told people what I thought they wanted to hear, not what I really felt inside. This is how you live in life, I was told. It is partly a cultural thing, where true self expression is frowned upon, as a selfish trait of individualistic corrupt societies, in favour of “group social cohesion” which is the best demonstration of a communal society.

I never got over my lonely, volatile, turbulent, “permanent battle ground” childhood, which altered my adrenaline production so badly that I have been suffering from stress related illnesses ever since. I am also still exposed to that fiery, tense, confrontational atmosphere, though less often than before.

The more people that came into my life, the more I hoped that I would find someone I could connect to, engage with, and open up to, finding an outlet in a group of likeminded people with whom I could connect with and share my insightful thoughts and unique experiences with. With the one sole exception of my wife, and teetering hope son the horizon, this has never happened. Instead, the reverse happened. I did become absorbed into a world of ever greater numbers, with more “friends”, “family” and people than I ever knew, but they were all as bad, if not worse, than what I had before. I could not relate to, or engage with any of them. There were, and still are, some who touched a hopeful nerve or 2 along the way, but they are not in my immediate sphere of influence. They live abroad or are perpetually busy. The actual real people always in my life are just more people who do not listen, have fixed, narrow ideas they seem unable to break free from.

All this means is that my Oscar winning performance of the happy, stable, professional, obedient, conformist half-wit man with the smile, the artificial facade I walk around with and project when faced with other people, has to be worn even more often.

When there were less people in my life, and less responsibilities, I at least had lots of alone time, where I could escape into the world of Fiction, History and Sci-Fi books, music, films, writing, strategy computer games and art.

Instead, I now have to face legions of dull, shallow people who make me feel like a desperately small man, a failure in life, and to whom I have to lie, put on the mask and pretend I am a happy, stable, equally shallow, emotionally inert, narrow minded undeserved success. They lack the depth, sensitivity, breadth, empathy or sympathy to function as a positive source of hope and light in my life. They keep the plug hole rattling over my mouth firmly closed, as all the steam within my bubbling soul increases the pressure to burst the hole open.

I want to let it all out. Vent my feelings, tell all the shallow, hypocritical, narrow minded people around me what I truly think of them and the way they live their lives. I want to stop having to live the lie that I am a contented professional with the temperament suited to being the accountant he never really wanted to become. I want people to accept that I have a creative imagination, a whole load of internal emotional problems and am constantly on an emotional rollercoaster that even I have no control over.

There are times when I feel like the king of the world, able to achieve anything, then suddenly the rollercoaster carriage falls down the abyss and i sink so deep and into dark places I dare not even speak of here. I have been having the most frightening flash image sin my head of doing things to myself I thought only really crazy people thought. Something very troubled and angry within me, a parasite that is feeding on my suppressed rage and bitterness, is taking over my subconscious and it scares me to think what he will do to my rational, conscious, ever determined self.

This blog is my only outlet. All the friends I like and trust, and who may have a modicum of sensitivity are abroad. I am surrounded by people here, but have never felt more alone. All the people around me are a source of stress and lack the open minds, trustworthiness and sensitivity, as well as time and energy, needed to be true good listeners. They would only kick me if they knew I was down.

All I want to do is knuckle down and finish the 11 short stories I have been working on, but until I clear my head and start to unearth the truth within me I will keep having anxiety induced panic attacks and psychical/ emotional problems. I need to let of the steam in reality and re-connect with positive influences and people in reality before escaping into fiction writing, where I may just lose myself forever.

I created an alter-ego, an avatar in Second Life, so that at least a part of me could engage and connect with other people and express himself, and when that was working it was great, but these days, as I have had less time to log into Second Life, and as my sanity has waned, even he is feeling lonely and frustrated. He also has a Twitter account, but is even less socially connected than the real me! Salvation will not come, it seems, from cyber space.

My CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) practitioner told me to sign up for more long term psychological therapy. I agree with her but it is a crying shame. It is not even on my “To Do” list and that is now so long it has found its way onto page 2. All I probably need is some drinks down the pub with good friends, a long walk in the park, hand in hand with a wife who does not have a never ending doctoral thesis hanging over her liek a death sentence, or some fast food gratification.

mardi_gras_mask-12020

Instead I have found solace in a very strange place indeed. It is in my iPhone. The iPod bit of my iPhone to be precise. I walk around from one chore to another listening the a deep voiced man describe the horrors of world war 2 as I find distraction from my own problems and get perspective whilst learning from an audio book version of Niall Ferguson’s  War of the World: History’s Age of Hatred, that I downloaded onto my iPhone months ago. It is fascinating stuff and like all those World War 2 documentaries that seem to be the only thing capable of calming my near panic attacks down I must thank it for being there for me when very little else is. Thank you History. And thank you dear iPhone, you are always here for me. Except when your battery runs out.

I would summarise my current situation as:

Cash poor, time poor, energy poor, health poor, and sanity poor. Frustration, anxiety, and insanity rich.