Saturday, 22 February 2014

Life: Damn those emotions

On a downer again:

How do we learn to put ourselves before others? Is it something we learn or is it an innate ability?

I've been asking myself this a lot these past few days.

If I suffer from a character flaw, it's that i'm too generous with my time, my support and my life. I have spent the past 16 years helping to bring up a child that I am not biologically related to. I have done this to the best of my ability to give that child the best start in life. I did this to help my best friend and flatmate and I have no regrets at all. I have been the only permant 'father figure' in the childs life and i'm proud of that.

On Friday, my flatmate asked me to do it all over again. She wants a sibling for her daughter. Another child that wont be mine, but which I will bring up as if it was.

At 41, do I really want to bring up another mans child for the next 18 years? Not really is the answer. But if a friend asks for my help do I really have the right to deny her happiness? Withdrawing my support will mean she cannot achieve something she wants to do for her and her daughter.

I will happily make that sacrifice for someone else to achieve their dreams but am left wondering about my own dreams and desires.

I would so love to have a relationship of my own but how much time would I have to dedicate to a partner whilst helping my flatmate bring up another child? Getting involved with someone would be unfair to my partner if I couldn't dedicate my life to her as a good partner should.

But as i'm so damaged, am I being unfair to even consider a relationship anyway? If I am, and a relationship is out of my reach I might as well help my flatmate so something positive may come out of my life. At my age, i'll never have a family of my own anyway. Many years ago, I knew that wasn't going to happen. Then my flatmate had her kid and it sort of did happen.

Just yesterday (I think) a very, very close g+ friend said, when talking about happiness, something along the lines of "don't forget yourself". I know that is very good advice. I just haven't thought of myself for so long I don't know what my own happiness would be like and I gave up on dreaming after being scared shi*less by a news program at aged 8 or so.

I have sooo many emotions raging around at the moment that i've spent a lot of today trying not to cry. I dont know what to do for the best.

Why does it seem I have to make a choice between the happiness of my closest friend and that of my own? No matter how infinitesimal the chance of my own happiness may be.

Sometimes you just need a hug from someone physical but even that is denied me. I don't know what I did in a previous life to deserve this much pain and confusion but it must have been a fething doozy!

I hope this is just a lot of tiredness talking today. I hope I can sleep tonight and things are clearer, better and happier tomorrow.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Life: Coming back to life

Those that have followed my g+ antics will know that I vowed to make 2014 my year of change. It's now been over a month since I made this vow to myself, so I thought i'd try to take stock and see where I am.

The new year started with me trying to do more exercise. I had a good run of about 3 weeks in which I speed walked over 60 miles in total. Unfortunately, the weathers been pretty grim recently so i've got a bit out of the habit. Having said that, I weighed myself earlier this week and through the exercise and trying to watch what I eat, i've lost 1/2 stone (3 kgs) in about 6 weeks! That puts me about half way to the upper limit of where I want to be. Result!

My second vow was to learn guitar with the intention of joining some sort of club to meet people. This challenge has had mixed results. I started off all good but learning guitar is quite a chore when you've not got any inspiration or peers you can show your newfound talent. Plus the local council seems to have stopped the music club thing I was looking at. Then I got Rocksmith and the lessons are progressing. It's slow going, but i'll keep at it.

That still doesn't get me away from my hermit-like existence though. But, there have been moves on that front too. Rather than music, I may do an evening course thing in some kind of cooking class starting in April.

All that positive progress would not have been possible without another change I seem to have made. In my g+ profile I state that I don't know my own sexuality. This statement came from the way I was feeling at the time. I was depressed and feeling lonely with zero self esteem. Since joining g+, and actively participating I have met some amazing individuals that have accepted me for being me. The shackles of societies expectations have been thrown off (if only on g+ at the moment) and my true self is coming through.

This new found self-esteem has made me realise that my dressing is a symptom of my feelings towards myself. With an increase in confidence has come a reduction in my desire to dress. I'd like to stress though that I am in no way judging those that do, or those that have been born into the wrong bodies. This is just me working out what's good for me. The trans* people I have met on g+ are amazing. They have gone through similar struggles to me in some ways and have freely given their love and support in some of my darkest hours. I will continue to support them all in their struggles as a whole to be accepted by society and through their individual journeys to find happiness.

I have also met other amazing people and it would be remiss of me not to mention those in the House, especially our own bright Star. Your friendship and love has transformed my life. Thank you all.

One of the most difficult aspects of my journey so far has been my flatmate. She has known me as the down person for 18 years and this desire to improve myself has unsettled her. She knew me as one person and fears the consequences if I become someone else. Her greatest fear being me finding someone and starting a new life that excludes her. We've shared for so long we are really like a partnership and she fears being alone. But she is coming around, and has even spoken to a friend of hers about whether she'd be interested in a date with me. I kind of feel like a 10yr old in school: "go on, you ask her". I guess I am though. I never had an opportunity when I was 10. I'm just 30 years late to that party!

I think that sums up the last 6 weeks. Who knows where the next will take me...

Friday, 3 January 2014

Life: 2014 and a change I didn't think of 4 days ago.

In the general scheme of things, I'm a laid back guy, I'll give everyone the benefit of the doubt and I don't generally say boo to a goose. Occasionally though, something will wind me up. Maybe it'll be repeated bad service from a company that can't seem to manage the simple things like turning up on time. It will take a good while for my anger to rise, but when it does, I have the ability to write letters containing such venom it's scary. These letters are polite and I don't resort to swearing but the target is in no doubt about what I think and how angry they have made me.

It's been suggested that this anger comes from the way I feel about my Dad and the scars that my upbringing have given me. It's also been said that I'll never be able to move on with my life and have a successful relationship until I've put it that pain behind me. For 18 years, I tried to bury that pain. That didn't make me happy. For the previous 2 years, it has been coming out in other ways and adversely affecting those around me.

In the spirit of 2014 and the changes I hope to make this year, it's time to take a new approach. I have all but ignored my family for about 15 years, but I've still been tied to them and it's time to break those ties. I spent most of yesterday writing a letter to my father explaining how much pain he has caused me and that I want nothing to do with my family again. I doubt he'll see it from my perspective, but that's not really my problem.

I have decided to wash my hands of them and start afresh without all the pain they've caused. I don't want any form of contact: no Christmas cards, no phone calls, nothing.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about the pros and cons of this decision:
- Hopefully I can put the pain behind me and move on without the negativity I feel for them holding me back
- No more cards or letters that just make me angry

- I'll probably get written out of any inheritance (if there is any)

This is probably something I should have done years ago. After taking this decision and writing the letter I guess I should feel sad or go into mourning for a family I no longer have, but I don't.  I don't feel anything about them at all except anger. I have few happy memories of my upbringing and the way I was treated would probably be classes as abuse nowadays (without wanting to take anything away from those that suffer and have suffered terribly at the hands of their family).

Unfortunately, I was hoping I'd now feel free or as if I'd been released from something. I'm not sure I feel that either. Maybe that will come with time as I make other positive changes.

Today is the first day without a biological family and it's going to be a good one.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Life: Social Phobia (not a moan, but a description for anyone interested)

I recently had a response from one of my blogs in which the reader said they didn't know too much about Social Phobia. So I thought it was about time I tried to explain how it holds me back. This isn't one of my 'woe is me' posts (at least I hope it doesn't come across like that). I'm in an OK mood and don't want to be miserable.

Like most things psychological, there are varying degrees of Social Phobia and it affects each suffer is different ways. It's difficult to describe any illness like this to a non-sufferer as, with all the best intentions, it's difficult for them to get their head round it.

The best description I can give is through an analogy that hopefully everyone can relate to:

It's a cold, wet, raining night, perhaps just a couple of degrees off freezing and you're waiting at a bus stop. After a while you start to shiver. Then your teeth start chattering. The wind is blowing straight through your coat and the rain is soaking you, despite the meagre protection of the bus shelter. The bus still hasn't arrived and the cold really starts to get to you. You really start to shiver. They seem to start deep inside your chest and then it feels like the shake is spreading out, rippling through your body from the inside out, causing you to visibly shake. Sort of like a personal earthquake with it's epicentre in your core. You can even feel your shakes rocking the bus shelter as they're so extreme. The chattering becomes so severe, it starts to sound like you've got a stammer.

If I'm put in a social situation or meet someone new, my body seems to go from normal, to that extreme mode of visibly shaking and stammering in seconds. If I have time to prepare for meeting someone new, then I can put the situation in the 'work box' in my head. By removing any social aspects from the encounter in my head, I can keep the symptoms at bay. 

If the encounter comes as a surprise, or it's truly a social thing, or if I'm talking to someone I'm attracted to, then I'm screwed, even at work! I've had complete meltdowns at work if something has caught me without any prep time. The worst was a meeting with the bosses boss and an auditor that I knew nothing about till I was called in to describe my job. I had to move away from the table as I was making it shake so hard the auditor, on the other side of the desk, couldn't write any notes! And the the auditor in that case was a 50 yr old bloke to whom I had no attraction at all. Put me in front of a beautiful woman and I'm a quivering wreck in seconds.

Unfortunately, there is no cure. A course of therapy taught me that the only way to beat it is to be social. 

Hopefully in 2014 I'll manage to do that. I'm certainly feeling like I can enact change. Better late than never I guess.