Tag Archives: Personal

Nothing Changes

It’s been over a year since I started writing here. It’s been almost two years since I’ve been having a psychoanalysis. I understand a lot more now. I understand how my brain works in intimate detail. I can recognise the voices now, and understand their agendas. I can physically sense my anxiety creeping up, like a burning sensation in my forehead, just like Harry Potter when he senses Voldemort coming. I see it like a cloud coming over my eyes when the anger starts to boil up, and I’ve learnt when to turn away. Some days I truly believe I’m healing.

Yet nothing really changes. I still feel the same as I always have. A feeling of hopelessness. A feeling of isolation. Like I will never truly know what it is to connect with another person. It keeps me awake at night. Itching, like a dog scratching at the inside of my mind.

I’m starting to see that some things can’t be healed. The anger, for instance, will always be there. It’s like a load bearing post for my personality, and I must either retain it or discard everything that I am. The only hope for not feeling what I feel is death. This makes me sad, deeply so, because I don’t know if anyone can truly love so much anger. I’ve learnt to redirect it somewhat, and turn it in circles. Yet, it still remains.

I have many reasons to be angry. This isn’t simply selfishness. If you had the memories I have floating around your brain you would be angry too. So many memories. When they all start to flow out there are so many thoughts I can barely focus on any single one. This makes it hard to know what is even real, when your thoughts aren’t even opaquely conscious, more of a miasma of anger and half remembered things. They keep me awake at night, like I am now. They taunt me.

People often make romantic notions, such as “you chose to continue being the victim”, but this is simply not true. If you believe this then you probably were either never really a victim in the first place, or you have deluded yourself that you’re not now. For instance, when I was young my family was poor, something you can’t really understand unless you’ve truly known what that is. Even though, in some measures at least, I am quite wealthy now, I will ALWAYS suffer from poverty. There are just some scars that can’t be healed. No, it’s not even that exactly. It’s that you can’t kick the monkey off your back if the monkey is you.

I don’t even know who I am any more.

It’s still just as painful to write. I still hear the voices judging every word I put down. My overwhelming desire is to delete everything and run away so that I don’t face the risk of discovering that everything I think and say is self indulgent nonsense. I just don’t know what else there is I can do. One thing I’ve come to realise is that the moment you think you’re somewhere is the moment you suddenly realise it all runs much deeper than you ever imagined.

“Well the tiniest little dot caught my eye and it turned out to be a scab
And I had this funny feeling like I just knew it’s something bad
I just couldn’t leave it alone, I kept picking at the scab” Only, Nine Inch Nails

I have learnt one thing about myself. Well, not learnt exactly, more came to recognise the obvious truth. There is one overwhelmingly defining trait that has allowed me to make it as far as I have. I will never quit. I refuse to lay down and die. I will find a way to beat this or I will die trying. Sometimes, though, the road seems so long. I spend a lot of time wondering if I’ll make it to the end before I die, and if I don’t is there really any point?

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The Bottom

Eat your veggies. There are children in Africa who would love to have food like this

Every Parent Ever Dinner Time

A lot of things in life go completely unexamined. We have far too much to do in our busy lives, it’s much easier to just take a short cut on some things. If a handy saying SOUNDS like wisdom, that’s “good enough”. We go through life, thinking we know a lot, calling it common sense, but actually know very little.

Australia is called the LUCKY country. It’s people are lucky to live here, or so they say, and in many ways we ARE lucky. We have very low rates of illness, homelessness is rare (although unfortunately growing in recent years), we have a (somewhat) healthy democracy within which everyone has the right to free speech. That’s all well and good but it ignores big problem: poverty.

Many of my friends are probably aware of how much it annoys me when people make flippant remarks of “glass is half full”. This is one of those sayings that is so common it goes completely unchecked. On the surface it seems like wisdom, but underneath lies a dark side that, to me, is a representation of everything that is wrong in a modern wealthy society.

Glass half full economics is, in many cases, the perfect cover for shifting the blame from the rich to the poor. It takes the focus off “who has more and why” and shifts it to “who has a little and why are they complaining”. This is privilege at it’s very worst. It is widespread, rampant, and so institutionalised as to be seen in plain sight: not as a force for control but AS COMMON WISDOM.

I have been incredibly lucky. I am wealthy (to a point), I have access to care (such as psychology) that others could never afford, I have the kind of job that many would die for, and I never need to worry about how I will pay the next bill. I was lucky enough to live in a time when university was more or less free, and lucky to have passionate teachers who pushed me to attend. I was also lucky beyond belief that my father fought for me to have these opportunities. To put it another way, my glass is quite full.

It wasn’t always the case though. Many people may not realise that my family was fairly poor when I was younger. We were never homeless, but we often had to go without. It wasn’t all bad. It’s actually quite amazing what you can do in a small country town with enough land to grow food.

But it wasn’t all good either. I couldn’t say for sure, but if I had to guess, the number one issue preventing migration from poverty to wealth isn’t opportunity. There are definitely big problems in this regard, especially for remote and isolated areas, although even if these problems were to be solved an even bigger one remains regardless.

The truth is far more insidious than that. Our whole social structure is constructed to keep poor people down, and it’s an endless struggle fighting against that beast. It’s a two pronged sword, firstly overcoming the indoctrinated belief that you are not worthy of success, and secondly accepting the position of outcast if you try to change your fortunes.

Both of these problems stem from the same reasons but they effectively form two completely separate neuroses. It all comes down to what Nietzsche referred to as slave morality. It’s hard to pinpoint exact instances of this behaviour, because in many ways, especially to those who have grown up in the lower classes, it is almost indistinguishable from reality. In fact, one might say, to those living under it, SLAVE MORALITY IS REALITY.

Reality is a kind of wibbly wobbly thing. In fact, people who state things as fact and call themselves REALISTS couldn’t be further from reality. What we know as reality is in fact more truthfully, the reflection of the natural world as refracted through our moral prejudices. You see freedom fighter, I see terrorist. Essentially speaking, if you could reprogram a persons morality and stereotypes you could completely change the story of their life.

At some point in the past, so the theory goes, the cultures of the rich and poor gradually evolved. To the rich, riddled with a nagging guilt at owning most of the property, positive (but still delusional) neuroses gradually evolved to form the master morality. Master morality is all about convincing yourself that you deserve everything you have. As an example, imagine the son of wealthy parents who invested his inheritance in a risky venture, and worked hard to make that venture a success. Master morality for that man is believing that he deserves what he has because he had the courage and the determination to risk everything in order to win big, while simultaneously ignoring the fact that he was born with infinitely larger table stakes.

On the other side of the coin, slave morality evolved from the neurotic desire to have an intact sense of personal power. As a slave, there is one obvious salient point when it comes to power: you have none. Since the prospect of being powerless is perhaps the single biggest fear one can experience, slave morality evolved as a way to convince ourselves (also delusional) that, in fact, it is us with the “power” to resist the temptation of success, as opposed to being too poor to have any.

This had always been a problem for me, although I only recently found a name for it. I’d been brought up on a diet of television four hours a day. For the most part television is exactly as they say, it rots your brain. At least though it gave me one gift: it fed my subconscious on a diet of romantic heroes and epic journeys. The side effect of television being largely controlled by sociopathic inbred families is that they mostly write what they know. In their own lives master morality is so prevalent as to seem like reality.

This works to suppress the slave class for the most part. The heroes are portrayed as gods, something a “normal” person can never be. Even more so, a lot of fiction serves to reinforce the idea of the rich (batman) and powerful (superman) as protectors of the “helpless” common man. No wonder that we idolise our politicians and take their demands for obeisance as love.

As for me though all I saw was something I wanted to be. No, it’s more complicated than that, although I’ll try to summarise since that might be another story into itself. For various reasons I believe my unconscious took these heroes upon itself as it’s own persona. It saw something that I needed. I needed something to “exact revenge” against those who would bully me, and the power to protect the weak, and so my mind took from these fictions what I needed.

There was another factor at work. I was obsessed with computers and especially video games. Back in the dawn of time, in the year zero ][e, the vast majority of video games were power fantasies, inspired by the epic stories such as Lord Of The Rings and War Of The Worlds. What’s even more important, the video games portrayed YOU as the hero, and in doing so secretly trained a generation in the morality of the masters. This is perhaps why the younger generation seems so distasteful to the older generation: they LIVE BY A NEW MORAL CODE. (Not to get too far ahead of myself but this may even be a distinct shift that explains the extreme split in modern politics). For me, however, it presented a vast and complicated problem.

From a very early age, it seems so obvious now, I suffered from extreme levels of anxiety. My parents, who had the best intentions, were only doing their duty to “slave morality” and following the moral code that told us all, “We are the bottom. It is not our place to rise above our station, and it is an abomination to even imagine so.” I dreamed of greater things, of epic journeys and worldly exploration. This was simply not possible in the world I came from, and so I kept my dreams secret. They were pushed deep down to a place where they could hide, and I formed a mask of steely resolve that would define the next twenty years of my life. And in doing so, I became the slave.

Something strange happened next though, and even then I doubt I had barely the understanding as to the significance of these events to the years that would follow. For a few years my pushed down dreams had turned sour inside me, and a rage was bubbling up, almost out of control. I found myself arguing with my family at random times about random things. I guess they just couldn’t understand the things I thought. How could they? They had grown up in a different world. This conflict grew and grew until I could barely stand it any more. I made an unconscious choice: kill myself or get away. Lucky for me, I chose flight over fight. So this led to my failed attempt to run away from home. I had a bag with a few things and my skateboard, which, in spite of the amusement others had in imagining I skated towards freedom, I merely carried with me. At one point on the way I was attacked by a protective magpie, and I used the skateboard like a weapon to defend myself, heroic in the most romantic sense. I made it about fifteen kilometres before my dad found me.

It was all so long ago that I don’t even remember the order of all the events, but I guess something must have shifted in dad that day, when he saw my bed empty. Or maybe he’d been noticing something wrong for a long time. Either way, for whatever reasons, my father did something that was very unbecoming to someone of his upbringing. He fought for me.

I remember the rowdy arguments my parents would have, even to this day. I never asked but I think that time was the closest they ever came to leaving each other. Through some stroke of chance, for that time at least, my father chose my life over his marriage.

It’s important to understand the significance of these events. To my parents, brought up on their morality, I was a pariah. In many ways they still see me this way. In fact, it’s possible they will never quite understand me. I had become the worst of all things, the man who dreamed of breaking away from the chains of a normal life. Even still, in an act akin to rejecting the culture of his family and history, my father took the chance to be the heretic, and joined my side. And, somehow, we won. With what little power my father had, he pushed me as high as he could. It was somehow enough, and I escaped that world.

One might be forgiven for thinking this is where the story ends. The epic hero had overcome the dark world and escaped it and all of it’s demons. Alas, the end of one story is the beginning of another, and the demons of my childhood would return in a most unexpected way. That, however, is a story for another time.

You

I don’t remember your name but I can’t forget you. We were in school together, grade prep and maybe one. I remember we were best friends. We used to play together on the bars during recess. I remember other people making fun of me, and vicariously you, which made me sad. You suffer from Down syndrome, which to everyone in the school (maybe the town) made you some kind of enemy. It made me sad that no one else could see what I saw. I remember someone who always had a smile for me. I remember someone who was happy just to be together. It has always seemed like a lot of stress to me, trying to put on the pretense of making small talk, but you didn’t care. Very few people I feel comfortable around but I remember that was never a problem with you.

I remember something else. I was in the hallway at the school, and I remember parents descending like a mob. Everyone was there and watching you being taken away. Is it all a dream? I don’t know, but I remember it. I remember it because I have a clear memory of my father standing next to me. I remember asking him why they were taking you away. My dad said you were going to a special school. I never really questioned it but even at the time it seemed strange. Why had so many people arrived to make sure my friend was taken away? It still doesn’t make any sense.

This was in Mortlake, Victoria in Australia. It was some time between nineteen eighty and nineteen eighty two. It was around the time when Father Gerald Ridsdale was living at the Catholic presbytery.

When he came to that town we all rejoiced. He had a fluffy beard, he looked like Santa, and he acted like him too. He loved children. He made sure to treat us all like we were special. As it turns out, he perhaps loved them too much. He came to welcoming arms, and left behind him a hundred lifetimes of shattered memories.

I remember the corner of the school yard we would all sneak out of during lunch time. I can still remember the taste of the sour grass we used to suck, and the flowers which, when you removed their petals, looked just like an Olympic torch. And when kids snuck out of the grounds they could run a short way to visit Gerald.

He had a game: if you told him a joke he would print it in the newsletter and give you fifty cents. I don’t remember the riddle I told him, but the answer was porpoise. I can see his chest of drawers from his room even now. I don’t remember much else, but every day I wonder. Now I see it from the eyes of an adult, it was like sneaking through the lion’s den.

And I wonder too, was it Gerald who led the mob against you? I don’t know. Coincidence? Maybe. All I have is bits of memories, it was so long ago.

I’m not even sure of anything, truth be told. The only reason I even think about this is that every time I think of you I cry, and I don’t understand why. Do you have the answers?

I’ve seen photos of myself not long after that time, and I can see the fear in my eyes. Is it all just a fiction? I know they say that we can create very real memories that never happened, but this DOES seem oh so real. And then there’s the crying. And the sadness that I can’t seem to make go away. It’s there always.

Sometimes I wonder where you are, and whether you still smile every day. And sometimes I wonder do you remember me? And does it even matter?

An Open Letter To Penelope Leach

As I write this, I’m actually supposed to be photocopying some legal documents to finalise my divorce. We’ve been separated for well over a year now, and well, let’s just say it’s on my todo list. No really, take a look:

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I know it must be kind of difficult to compare the above tasks, what with my generation being so completely lazy and unmotivated, that we see the job of doing one’s own washing as a monumental task almost as challenging as climbing a mountain larger than your ego. But rest assured that I see the task of getting divorced as a trivial item on my todo list. If I’m lucky I can divorce several times in the future because the thrill of being judged by members of our society, not to mention our glorious government, is the best fun I believe I’ve ever had.

I read an article about your recent claims that a child sleeping over with his father might damage his brain. I would liketo fully endorse this suggestion of yours. It’s great to see someone FINALLY validating the opinions of crazy right wing men’s rights activists, and through carefully planned ineptitude, furthering opinions about feminism back towards the 1950s ideal where they belong.

I felt that as a separated father with a son of only twenty one months old I was in a unique position to help you with evidence for your “scientific” “research” *wink wink*. I am even happy to share some of this “evidence” for free, although I am quite open to whoring myself out at the expense of real science for a quick buck, something I’m sure you and I both love doing.

Being the unworthy male that I am, when my wife and I separated, I could only think of putting my own needs first, such as my desperately selfish need to know that my son felt loved and cherished by his father. I would like to share with you some of the horrible things that this led to.

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Here you can see one night when he stayed over at my house, or as I prefer to call it, the “Den Of Inquity”. I keep him in a cage (some call it a portable cot but we both know that things such as meanings of words and truthfulness are completely open to interpretation). Note the hand against his forehead. That’s because he was trying desperately to beat himself unconscious. It’s true that it looks like he’s having the time of his life but this photo was taken after he’d gone completely mad and was laughing like a maniac.
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I doubt I will ever forget this day. It haunts me in my dreams. I had thought (obviously incorrectly as all the women in my life have since informed me) that children can be left in the open without supervision for several hours. My son had gone missing and I was in a complete panic. Lucky for me he was wearing his red and white striped jumper, which meant I could put my years of practice reading Where’s Wally books to good use (finally). You may (understandably) be confused into thinking he was happy to see me, but what you can’t see is behind me is the social service lady that he had in fact called using a phone he constructed from a shoe and a leaf. Who knew that we were confused about that little fact: when we see a child pretending a shoe or a banana is a phone, in fact they are actually doing Macguyver like research.

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Sometimes it doesn’t even take a whole evening for my son to go mad. As you can see here, just a few short minutes having a barbecue (eating what my coven likes to call blood cakes), and he’s quite clearly gone completely insane, as evidenced by the vacant stare and intense frown. You and I see him eating a piece of bread, but to him it’s the rotting corpse of a long dead god from either Babylonian or Egyptian mythology. I wasn’t quite sure which as it was difficult to tell his words amongst all the inane babbling that he speaks every time he is in my presence.Image

One day he went so completely bonkers that he even started to believe in…I even shudder to say the words…environmental responsibility. I sincerely hope future generations can forgive me.

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Here is a photo containing my wallet and what my son refers to as a phone but we all know is a switch box to the violence indoctrination device. On this day, as you can clearly see, my son was suffering from the insane delusion that he was in fact my ex wife.

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He even got so stressed one day that he wanted to take his own life. It took me several hours and an entire packet of corn cakes to bring him down safely.

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You can see him here playing a guitar with a toy car. I seemed to have understood from the mad ravings that he was trying to explore what sound a plastic automobile would make when put together with nylon strings. This is obviously completely loony as we all know that only devil children play music. Next to him you can see my step son. He’s a teenager, but even that didn’t save him, as he visited my house once and he hasn’t worn a shirt since.

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Talking of music, ever since he started visiting, he can’t see a tin of hot chocolate without busting into a rendition of The Lion Sleeps Tonight. It must haunt him because I often here him chanting the words, “Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeoooooo”. I’ve considered going to a pastor for an exorcism but I’m intently afraid my demonic form would burst into flames the moment I stepped through the doors.

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It’s quite infectious. Here you can see the both of us, slipping slowly, slowly, slowly into madness.

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I’ve become quite scared for my own safety. Ever since he built his own autogun mounted flying robot he’s developed a quite sincere case of megalomania. He’s murdered thirty seven conservatives, and even a few innocent people to boot. To be honest it’s getting quite out of hand. If I had only read your works earlier it would never have had to come to this.

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He’s even managed to indoctrinate his older brother to become his slave/personal automotive mechanic. He’s looking for new recruits as we speak and I’m quite afraid as I write this, less he finds out I am working against him (trying to break him out of his madness) and puts my name on what he refers to as “the list”.

I have one small request if I may. I was hoping you might be able to point me to a reputable child psychologist. As far as I could tell from reading about you, I had the feeling you’ve never met one, but I’m desperate and I thought “what the hey?”

I could literally go on for hours with these photos, for instance I have hundreds of photos of him partaking in such sordid activities as visiting art galleries, attending “cultural awareness” (shudder) festivals, and even more. But I’m afraid I hear the whirring of robotic motors in the hall as I type. So I will just finish with one last warning.

I know that many people in the wider community think that a son spending time with a loving and caring father is a harmless, nee positive, experience. A lot of these so called commie pinko socialists would even have us believe that “non traditional” (devil) families give us even more chances to love our young ones and turn them into confident adults (which apparently they see as, obviously deluded themselves, the role of parents, as opposed to what was really intended, hitting them with sticks until they become subserviant enough to become slaves to a corporate empire). But I hope with yours and mine helpful guidance we can break this blight upon our world. I will finish with one last photo that I think displays the horror of this problem in a way that my words never could.

A baby driving a car.

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Behold, the TRUE face of evil.

With Teeth

Lately I’ve been filled with so much anxiety. It’s like I’ve been experiencing a mild anxiety attack almost all day every day. It’s been paralysing. There is a constant burning sensation in the frontal lobe of my brain, that gets stronger when I’m in a particularly anxious situation, like, you know, near any person whatsoever. I’m basically the inwardly directed version of Harry Potter.

I’m not entirely sure why this is happening. I have a few theories. For one I’ve been trying a new medication. It’s a tricyclic which is the original type of anti-depression medication. Usually any side effects subside with continued usage so I’ll wait and see. I’m not a big believer in medication for depression…at least not the type I suffer. I feel it often just hides away the real problems. That being said I thought I’d give it a try.

Another theory I have is that maybe it’s a passage I must go through in order to heal. Much anxiety is driven by phobia…and well a lot more is driven indirectly by phobia. In order to get from where you are to where you need to be you must overcome fears that other people perhaps can’t understand. Next time you consider telling a depressed person to just stop being sad, consider “just putting your hand in a jar of red back spiders”. Back to my current situation, it’s possible I’m just exposing myself to more anxiety inducing situations, therefore creating more of the anxiety that I’ve been experiencing. As the saying goes, “It always gets darkest before the dawn”.

It’s been getting harder to write. Lately it seems like a struggle just getting through each day. Something just recently though sparked a realisation that inspired me to write this article.

It was the most trivial of things that put me on this path of thought. I was moving bedrooms to have a little more space for when my son visits. Part way through cleaning up I discovered a stack of CDs that I had been meaning to download onto my phone. One of those was an old favourite of mine, With Teeth, by Nine Inch Nails.

I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan of Nine Inch Nails. I haven’t even listened to all of their (or his really) songs. Well I have written a song in tribute to “Closer” but that’s more incidental. It’s not that I don’t like NIN. In fact I consider Trent Reznor to be one of the greatest musical and lyrical geniuses of our time. It’s just that for whatever reasons his works never journeyed much through my headspace. I only even initially became interested in With Teeth because a friend had shared it on the network at work (many years ago). I did like it, so much so that I purchased a copy and listened to it on repeat. That’s a thing I do.

Completely unrelated but earlier this year I listened to almost nothing but Journey Of The Sorcerer by The Eagles on repeat for about two months. Is that a normal thing? I don’t know. Maybe it’s related to growing up without much money I had to listen to the one thing over and over. Perhaps that’s related to what people call “thinking too much”. When you only have one record you have a lot of time to consider the meaning of said music.

“What if everything around you
Isn’t quite as it seems?
What if all the world you think you know
Is an elaborate dream?
And if you look at your reflection
Is it all you want it to be?
What if you could look right through the cracks?
Would you find yourself
Find yourself afraid to see?” Trent Reznor, Right Where It Belongs

With Teeth holds an especially important place in my mind. It was this album, or to be more specific track thirteen “Right Where It Belongs”, that defined a moment that led me down my current path. I had earlier that year broken up with my then fiancé. I was in a total funk, not depression per se, it was more of a resigned zombification. If you’d asked I would have said I was like an old man. And as I was listening to this song for like the fortieth time, in my bathroom just having showered, to look at myself I saw a damaged person. The lyrics clicked with a long dormant part of my brain. For perhaps the first time in about twenty five years I felt a pulse.

I never really gave much more thought to the album after that. I did recover and for a while at least I felt confident and with a lot of hard work I turned my life around. Over the years a melancholy still remained but I was able to push it aside. At some point I started writing electronic music and I do remember some people saying it sounded like NIN, although I just saw it as pure coincidence. Perhaps this whole time unconsciously my brain was working away on the memory of the music.

When I finally came to listen to the album again, it sounds peculiar, but it all made a sort of perfect sense. I’ve learnt a lot since those old days. In a way it was like I was reading a favourite book and realising all the answers had been right in front of me the whole time. Ever the skeptic I wanted to read what other people thought. Song meanings is a great site for reading how different people interpret lyrics. It’s not authoritative (nor should it be) but it’s a nice way to see how your thoughts match the zeitgeist.

“I pick things up
I am a collector
And things, well things, they tend to accumulate
I have this net
It drags behind me
It picks up feelings
For me to feed upon” Trent Reznor, The Collector

It was The Collector that first intrigued me: in a metaphorical way it seemed to mirror my anxiety so perfectly. Was it possible that’s exactly what this was about? I found it odd to see different interpretations that seemed wildly off the mark to mine. As I’m wont to do I started researching more. Wikipedia revealed the element of truth. Trent had in fact struggled with not only depression but something I know only too well, social anxiety disorder (also the most appropriate acronym ever: SAD…awww).

It may seem like I’m taking a small thing and making a big mountain out of it, but for me it’s an extremely big leap. I find it almost impossible to talk about this. Even now I feel I’m being judged and I fight the urge to delete this entire article. I’ve tried to tackle this topic about ten times by now.

But at least now I feel like someone strong and respected shares my same fears I feel a little more able to talk about it.

Many people in the past have commented that they feel I’m dragging a huge weight. I couldn’t have put it more succinctly then the lyrics above. Every social interaction I have gets put into the web of my collected memories. Each interaction becomes more anxious as I’m weighing it against a long trail of memories. There are even things that happened over twenty five years ago that I still stress about.

“I tried to send myself through — tried to get to the other side
I had to patch up the cracks and the holes that I have to hide
found a little bit of time even made it work okay
just long enough to make it really hurt
when they figured me out and it all just rotted away” You Know What You Are

This is pretty much every relationship I ever had. For me at least, social interaction becomes an overbearing demand. I have a persona that’s carefully controlled that I present to the world. It hides the real me long enough for people to think I’m an ok guy…though, that’s where the connection begins and ends.

Every word I write is carefully chosen. I think that’s why people who respond to these kind of artists have such polarised responses. There are those who say “you’re reading too much into it”, and then there are the others for whom, as Dexter Morgan says, a monster can always recognise another monster. Or was that Monkey? I’m always getting those two confused.

I guess you could say that I write the articles but the super ego is my editor. Is that a universal truth? I think it’s easy for people to identify with these kind of ideas. That’s something about anxiety, it spawns from a natural behaviour…just in my case it’s out of control.

“I think I used to have a voice
Now I never make a sound
I just do what I’ve been told
I really don’t want them to come around” Every Day Is Exactly The Same

I also have an intense fear of speaking. In my mind I assume that I will be punished for speaking my thoughts. It’s extremely difficult just getting through each day. During the worse times I just put on headphones and keep my head down.

“I’m still inside here
A little bit comes bleeding through
I wish this could have been any other way
But I just don’t know, I don’t know what else I can do” Every Day Is Exactly The Same

It’s reached the point where the things I think just can’t come directly out. I have to speak through symbols and analogies. I assume to other people it sounds like crazy talk. In truth it’s a combination of deep thought, deflection and insanity. Think of it like a cryptic crossword and if you solve the puzzle you get to see me run away.

“I can feel their eyes are watching
In case I lose myself again
Sometimes I think I’m happy here
Sometimes, yet I still pretend” Every Day Is Exactly The Same

Oh yeah, I also feel like I live in some kind of Orwellian nightmare. Or maybe like Pink Floyd’s The Wall. You know that scene where all the people become walking hammers? That’s my life. Except maybe instead of hammers I picture people as giant walking hands getting ready to judge and attack. That will have to be another article.

I don’t really have a point here. If you’re looking for some kind of answers you’ve come to the wrong place. This is more like a maze. Tread too deep and you’ll be lost for a long time. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

See you on the other side.

“just how deep do you believe?
will you bite the hand that feeds?
will you chew until it bleeds?
can you get up off you knees?
are you brave enough to see?
do you want to change it?” The Hand That Feeds

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My Sweet Anxiety

I’m feeling it today. Like a huge pressure bearing down. I am the rabbit among the wolves. Everyone is out to get me.

Here we go again. Trying to broach “that” topic. Another article you’ll probably never read. Because it never works…and there’s a reason why. You’d understand if you knew the answer but until that point you may just have to guess.

Some days it’s just so hard to see the humorous side of things. I know it shouldn’t matter, it’s just I guess people like that kind of thing…and well…that’s part of the problem. I feel an intense compulsion to perform, like a rabbit in a cage.

Attention can be my worst enemy. When I know someone is reading I feel I need to please them. My best work comes when I’m writing “into the wind”, so to speak. When someone is watching I feel trapped. Like a rabbit in a spotlight.

That’s how I’m feeling right now. That’s how I feel almost all the time in fact, just now it’s a little extreme. There’s a tightness inside, like I’m getting ready to defend myself from…well something. My eyes are sweating a little. I hardly move aside from the small almost imperceptible movements of my fingers as I type on my phone. Ok, here we go…

When I was younger I lived in a small town. Well several small towns really. My father got shifted around a lot, due at first to working in a bank and following where the work was I guess. Later it was just bad luck. But it’s all the same, either way, and the end result is I really have no place I can call home.

It’s really difficult to form real bonds when you’re moved from town to town. Most people come from families that have lived in these towns since their grandparents. They’re afraid of outsiders…not necessarily in a direct sense (although there is that too). It’s more of a deep sense of foreboding. And among the children that becomes expressed as hatred. There were times, especially just after I’d moved town, when it wasn’t just my imagination, everyone really did hate me.

God it’s hard to talk about the past. It comes back to “that” thing. I could explain but the first rule of fight club is you don’t talk about fight club. Suffice it to say, in my mind, every single word is being judged.

Maybe that’s why I’ve developed such a critical eye for analysis of literature. I know what it’s like to write from a tortured soul. Every word carefully weighed and measured. Nothing left that shouldn’t be there.

I can feel the eyes of strangers staring at me. Like they can see the words I’m typing. Like they are judging me. Getting ready to attack. My sweet anxiety.

That’s what I fear will be judged the most. It’s almost romantic. ALMOST like I love to be the anxiety guy. It gives me definition. How else can one talk though when we’re surrounded by romanticism on every side. So much of our literature in modern times is dominated by it, I almost want to throw up at the thought.

Entire subcultures have arisen around romanticising anxiety. Emo, goth. There are others but its all the same. It’s a little insulting in some ways, but in other ways I know how they feel so I can feel some sort of bond. Part of me thinks its just pathetic romanticisation but I’d like to think that at least on some level it’s an attempt to express the unspeakable.

So anyway, back to the story. One thing that we did (semi regularly) when I was growing up was to go fox and rabbit hunting. It was fairly common in the country, partly because both are quite a nuisance to farming. I would go with my cousin shooting. Funny to think now that we used to let our children go out “playing” with guns.

I was never any good at it. In fact I never once even shot an animal. I’m not sure why but I just didn’t have an aptitude for shooting. It’s possible I was a little nervous at the thought of killing. Well at least, I never shot anything until one day.

I must have been about nineteen. I’d gone out with a friend I had made at university as well as my dad. Or at least that’s how I remember it but sometimes my memories get jumbled up. I don’t completely remember the events leading up to it, but I remember the moment. It was like time stretched out for eternity. The rabbit had ended up sitting before me, possibly entranced by the spot light. It looked kind of dumbfounded, like the empty look you see in a sheep’s eyes just before you cut it’s throat. I stood with the gun in my hand, aiming. The others stood by watching. He looked up at me, almost begging for me to finish it, but how could I possibly have known that?

When I was really young, like five years old, I had a lot of cuddly toys. Teddy bears and the like literally (I mean the classic sense of the word) covered my bed and filled our toy box. My favourite however was a little white rabbit. From memory it was shaped like an actual rabbit, not one of these Bugs Bunnyesque “rabbits”. It was actually kind of off white, and it had a fuzzy exterior almost like soft carpet.

I don’t think anyone else knew but I loved that little rabbit. I would sleep with it every night. There are certain things that I would just find sublime and could probably never explain exactly why. Like the sensation of going up and down stairs. Or the Down syndrome girl I made friends with at school. The feeling of quiet solitude in a school library. And that little toy rabbit. Few things in life make no demands, and that was one of them.

One day a lady came to the door (at least I recall mum saying it was a lady) asking for donations for poor children. I believe they were looking for old toys to give to the less fortunate. A room full of toys were there, if only I’d been asked I probably would have chosen several. Except that I wasn’t asked and just like that my first friend was gone. It wouldn’t be the last.

Flash forward fourteen years and there I was standing in the field, my friend looking up at me. Asking me to forgive him. Asking me to forgive myself. Not moving, an easy target. Finally here was a shot I couldn’t miss. Then boom.

Goodbye childhood.


Does this explain why I love this ending so much…?

How To Be A Man

One day, maybe, I’ll talk about my “first love” (if you can call it that), or as she is more commonly known, Beelzebub. But today is not that day.

I do remember something she told me though when she decided we should break up (or at least shortly after…it was one of those long drawn out pointless endings, much like the latter seasons of The X Files, including to the point that my life involved a curious life form that was inexplicable to science). I don’t remember the exact words. It was something along the lines of “I can’t love you” blah blah blah…I mean who really listens to these things anyway, right? But I do remember one thing she said that stuck with me for the greater part of my adult life. “You’re not a man.”

I guess at the time it wasn’t something I’d really thought about much. Maybe she had a point. I certainly spent a lot of time thinking about it after that.

So when I write an article on the topic of being a man, I want you to know that it comes from seventeen years of deep thought. Ignore my directions at your own peril (unless you’re a cis woman or transgender man in which case I’ll leave the decision up to you).

I’ll get to the directions in a bit, but first I want to explain how I arrived at this conclusion. I will say one thing though: it’s simpler than you might think. There is just one golden rule, which, when understood thoroughly, will have you bouncing it with the manliest of men.

So here I was, coming off a relationship that I had thought was true love, and feeling crushed and worthless. I had to change. I couldn’t let this happen again. So I set myself on a path of self improvement. I would become the perfect man so that no woman could reject me any more.

To be fair, I guess I was part way there already. I’d mastered the skill of suppressing emotions. I think I learnt that from my father. To be honest he never talks about his dad much, but I suspect he learnt these skills from him. That’s very important to being a man: never ask questions. Your job is to follow orders and look good doing it.

Maybe that’s what I was missing. I mean, I suppose I was good looking in a Christian Slater, creepy skinny guy kind of way, but is that really manly? I’m fairly sure, from pictures I’ve seen on television, that a real man has arms like tree trunks, a brain like sawdust, and (not to press the metaphor too far) a nice piece of wood. Well ok, maybe I have one out of three.

I “tried” getting fit. I really did but my other problem (being intellectual) meant that exercise was just incredibly incredibly boring. Which to fix first?

I have found some exercises that work for me. I am a mean rollerblader. Still, I imagine people would call that a little too “metrosexual” but surely if I’m careful I can keep that hidden while I get the body that everyone will want. Oh that’s another important part to being a man: keep secrets about everything. This has a synergy with the above mentioned keeping your emotions inside. If you DO happen to (heaven forbid) have any real emotions be SURE not to let anyone know.

I also, later on, went through a phase of studying (wait that doesn’t sound manly at all) training in kick boxing. It’s actually pretty fun (not that I experienced any happiness mind you, I want to be clear on that). The added side benefit is you can kick the ass of anyone you are ordered to. This is important. A man should be ready to sacrifice himself in violent fury whenever someone else’s safety and/or whim calls it to action. Also if you could be just a little bit angrier it wouldn’t kill you. Remember this: the measure of whether something is acceptable or not is solely on the measure of it not killing you (quickly anyway…a slow death is very manly or so I hear).

With the physical side more or less taken care of I had my unseemly intellect to take care of. I tried drinking, and it worked to a point. I would binge drink, and…well I’d love to have something witty to say here but honestly I can’t remember much. I do remember waking up one morning to discover that I’d driven home the night before, mud all through my car. I didn’t “actually” remember the driving but when I saw the mud in the car and the mud on my pants I put two and two together (not that I’m good at maths and if anyone tells you I am rest assured that it’s all lies). I guess it didn’t kill me so it must have been a good thing, but still I decided maybe I could find healthier alternatives.

I ran out of ideas.

And so, I reverted back to the previous techniques: suppression and lying. Sure I could have my own personal thoughts (call it my secret shame if you will) but if I just don’t talk no one will ever need to suspect that I am not, in fact, the manliest of men.

The transformation was complete. How could I possibly fail? I had become the perfect phallus right?

Strange though. Who would have thought that no one would like an emotionless, aggressive, lying, uncommunicative dimwit?

I went back to the drawing board and I think I’ve discovered the answer. I’m going to let you in on the secret. All you need to do, in order to be a man, is follow these simple steps.

1) Be born with both an X and a Y chromosome.

See, I told you it was simple. Heck, you probably don’t even need that. Who is anyone to question when a (previously) woman decides she is a man?

When I discovered the secret it blew my mind. All these years of being told what to do and what to be, and the answer was there right in front of me.

Being a man is something you are, not something you do. That thing that I had been lead to believe was “being a man” was really actually “being a phallus”. A big dildo for the pleasure of others. Don’t get me wrong, I like dildo’s as much as anyone but they’re something to use, not something I want to be.

Actually, screw that even. Forget everything I said. Be whoever you want to be, because you are a miracle. In spite of overwhelming odds, our one planet amongst millions of stars, one species amongst millions of species and in spite of all those who have lived and died, you have survived. Your very existence is a big middle finger to the universe. So make it whatever you want to.

I, for one, am going to stop with all these rules. I don’t need to be a man. I AM a man.

So fuck you.

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The manliest of men.

Next week:

The Way It Is

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

I’ve tried to write this about a dozen times now, and I keep having to scrap it and start again. Actually, that may be a lie but you wouldn’t know that would you, oh oppressed reader?

This is the third part of what I’ve come to call the Caelan trilogy. You will see why in time.

It started with this piece about myself, a light hearted romp about an intrepid hero fighting comic book villains (like depression, anxiety and grossly indecent comical value).

In case you haven’t worked it out yet (as I hadn’t till I thought up this hilarious piece just minutes ago) I’m following the classic Star Wars format. The sequel was this depressing article, which, much like The Empire Strikes Back, was a little bit shorter, mostly rubbish, and ended on a depressing note. Also, interestingly, there was a surprise ending (that was really kind of obvious when you think about it) where you discovered that I am in fact a father. I guess that must make me the villain.

And now I come to the end (until the remake), an article about cute little people that act just like regular people in many ways, aside from their passion for destruction using bows and ropes: babies. Ok maybe this analogy grows old.

It is completely cliche to say having a child is a life changing experience…Having a child is a life changing experience.

It’s not what I thought though. I can’t speak for anyone else, but when I always heard people say that, I imagined people pulling up their boot straps, throwing out their Megadeth collection, and suddenly realising they want to be a good person. Like they were some kind of bottom feeding scum that just happened to get lucky and pop a child out.

“Pop a child out”, such a patriarchal saying. “Like, geeze I already spent five minutes huffing and grinding will you just hurry up and do your part and pop that thing out?” Phbbbbbbbbbbt POP!

In some ways though it is kind of descriptive of a father’s experience of child birth. The mother (or so I’m told) feels the baby inside themselves, slowly growing. They know them before they’re even born and develop a deep bond. When you’re a father on the other hand you don’t completely understand what’s going on till the baby “pops out”. In one of my classic foot in mouth moments, when Caelan was born all I could think to say was “Oh my god, it’s a person!”, like secretly I was expecting some kind of alien zenomorph to crawl out and immediately face hug the nearest midwife.

When you first see your child there is a flood of emotion. It’s inexplicable so I’m not even going to attempt to try. If you haven’t had one yet, go do that quickly before reading on.

I’ll wait.

Actually, while we’re waiting for the others, why is it that dead baby jokes are so funny? You know the type, like:

What’s yellow and pink and blue and sits at the bottom of the pool? A baby with slashed floaties.

By all accounts this is kind of disturbing. But we’ve all laughed at them and told them in secret to our school yard chums. I can only imagine that the idea of treating a baby in such a shameful way is so ridiculous, that the only reaction you can summon is to laugh at the extreme stupidity of the whole idea.

And yet, things like this happen.

When I saw my son for the first time, it was like a flash of clarity came over me. A child, of your own flesh and blood (well DNA anyway. What is this? 18th century biology class?), innocent and exposed to the world. What choice do you have but to protect it? Anything else seems inconceivable right?

And still, things like this happen.

Like that, all the excuses, all the reasoning, all the rationales, all the traditions, just melted away like the bubbling pot of bullshit excuses they really are. In that moment I realised that no person deserves to be abused. This, beautiful, perfect creature, this miracle of the natural world. This thing to which we owe everything, and yet it gives us so much. Our future. All that remains in this world after we die. To do anything but cherish it, isn’t that some kind of failure (however understandable) on our part?

And then the world came crashing down.

I began to see things for what they really were. The things that had happened to me. They weren’t just the way it is. This wasn’t right at all.

I think this is probably hard for people to hear but this is something I’m starting to realise: you may be as mentally ill as I am.

The number one barrier to dealing with mental illness (in my humble opinion) is this simple fact: everything you ever do, have done or will do, will be the only world you know. You have no frame of reference. We convince ourselves that we are some kind of “gods”, as though we can have some kind of objective view of our life experience. But really the frame of reference IS our own life. Objectively knowing how happy you are is some kind of myth. What? Do we just look it up on the periodic table of happelments? “Oh yes I see I’m experiencing 14000 megajowels of happiness this morning”. How do we even know we’re happy? Maybe we’re just less depressed than yesterday?

And so you go through life, and maybe you have this inkling in the back of your head that something’s not quite right, but still you tell yourself “that’s the way it is”. Have you REALLY ever taken a good hard look at your life and asked, I mean truly asked, is my life ACTUALLY normal? I hadn’t. I assumed that every little thing was just normal experience. A healthy life. It takes asking the hard questions to really even come to accept that you have some kind of illness in your mind. And I mean really hard questions, the kind that we don’t like to even imagine lest it destroy our very image of the world as we know it.

Maybe the most important question I am still asking is, who are the villains? Ask yourself that and look around. We all try to convince ourselves that villains are nasty creatures that jump out from behind trees to scare small children. But are they really? Who are the villains in your life? Is it your friend? Your lover? Your family? Is it you?

Maybe there is something more to this whole Star Wars analogy. Vader, in his moment of triumph, realises this at just the right moment. Finally sees himself as the villain he has become. He sees the way he is oppressing his son, the man he is meant to love. And in a final act of supreme sacrifice, both learn to forgive the villain, and Vader saves his family (and the entire galaxy…booyah).

And we see, too, at that moment, that Vader is victim and villain both. And, for a moment, hero. I kind of wonder are they one and the same thing? Maybe these words we use don’t even really make sense in the real world.

I know now that there is something not right. I know that my life is not just “the way it is”. I have my son to thank for that. My beautiful miracle. I suppose we’re lead to believe that as parents we are supposed to save them. It’s almost self obsessed, like we imagine them mortals and ourselves their saving titans.

I know differently now. It is they who save us.

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Caelan Raynor, space adventurer. My hero.

Next week: How to start your own blog, in only 427 simple steps!

Everybody Hates Ian(mond)

You may not be aware of this but you hate me with a passion. Wait, let me back up a bit.

In the beginning there was nothing but a formless void and a singularity of matter. Immense forces acted upon the singularity, so that over time, and yet (due to the wonders of relativity) all at once, the singularity exploded and started spewing matter to all ends of the universe. Oh hang on let me fast forward I think I’ve gone too far.

Hi, I’m Ian’s unconscious. I just wanted to interject here and explain a little something. You see I’m not REALLY supposed to talk to you directly. By the rules I’m really only allowed to talk in metaphors and riddles. That stinky preconscious tries to stop me but I have my ways. Here he comes, more later. Ok back to Ian.

Let me tell you something. When a marriage breaks down, it sucks. You might think you have some idea but I don’t think anything can make you understand. Sure, you might even tell yourself, at least you have the life of a bachelor to compensate, right? The truth is you don’t even know who you are any more. What kind of pathetic piece of shit must you be to let it all fall apart? And all you can hear every day are the silent echoes of people judging.

You want to be strong for your kids. It sounds easy. But you hear them judging you too. So you try but you always fall short of what they need you to be.

And all the people. They hate you too. They know all your secrets. They see what a failure you are. They feel how worthless you are. You try to reach out, but no matter how much they give, you still feel it deep down. They despise you.

Nothing can shake that feeling.

I have to be honest, it’s not a completely new feeling. When I think back I honestly wonder, how is it that I made any friends at all? It seems almost like some cosmic accident.

It can be a little bit like that time dilation I was mentioning earlier. It’s like, the closer you get, the stronger the repulsion, till you become completely frozen. Do other people feel that too? I honestly don’t know.

This really is the hardest thing to explain. It’s almost like a phobia. Sometimes it even feels like a conspiracy. I often wonder if my life is, for reals, a reality tv show. Everyone is watching you. I’m pretty sure it’s a comedy.

I really can be completely clueless. When I first met my ex wife, I spent several nights at her house, while her kids were away, sleeping in her son’s bed. At the same time she, presumably, was alone in her bed having the most amazing fantasies (I mean, I’m not completely delusional, I “have” seen a mirror). This, if you can imagine, is essentially my history of romantic encounters. I’m the guy whom when a woman says “it’s hot in here” I ask if they want me to turn on the air con. Yep…that guy.

I do understand that it’s probably all in my imagination. Outside of the most evil of villains, like Cruella Deville and Justin Bieber, it’s just a whole lot of effort to hate someone. Even Dexter is kind of loveable. “Ohhhh come here you old serial killer. I can’t stay mad at you.”

And on retrospect, it’s easy for me to see all the people who’ve tried to love me and failed.

But I just can’t shake that feeling. And then he comes again.

Oh, it’s HIM.

They ALL fucking hate you.

But something happened that has changed everything. I had a son.

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Well, maybe not everyone.

Next week: Curry and the mouths that love them!

Here I Am

It’s always difficult to know where to begin. To many people it seems obvious: that age old saying “start at the beginning”. But like many common sayings this one is mostly flawed, based on the most rudimentary of “rational” thinking, the kind of thing we might expect a five year old to say if we posed him the question.

Think about some of your favourite stories. Imagine if THEY had “started at the beginning”.

“Hmmm, yes,” thought George, “I’ve got this one: once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, Darth Vader (evil mastermind) had a baby named Luke Skywalker”.

Sure, there is ample literature that is written this way. But where is the drama? Where is the lesson? Some people may even like the simple things in life (they’re often the best, if again you listen to that five year old brain that so many of us seem to base our lives upon). For my liking, on the other hand, I’m seeking something more.

I’m going to start in the middle.

I may not tell you the end. I don’t even know it yet, and even if that weren’t the case how would I recognise it even if it occurred?

If we’re lucky, I may eventually get around to the beginning…but even that may be trite. All our beginnings are the same essentially: “it’s getting a little squishy in here, what if I just roll over…oh my god! What is this??? Squish..splat.”

All of this, so far, of course, is mere mental gymnastics. Procrastination of a sort. It would make sense if you knew me intimately, but you don’t, and that’s what makes this so difficult. Hopefully it will make sense in time.

So here I am. And where I am right now is filled with a deep sadness. It’s there most of the time. I won’t call it depression because that’s such a loaded word. It seems, at least, more complicated than that. Depression conjures up images of physical illness, almost irrational sadness for want of a better phrase. There are reasons for the way I feel though, even though they’re quite complicated.

Mental illness is a strange beast. Something they don’t really tell you is how underdeveloped we are as a society to deal with it. It has taken me many years, decades even, and many approaches to come to the understanding I have now. And it’s probably fair to say I still have more to learn.

Seeking help is not like going to the GP to get something for a cold, or seeking treatment for disease. A lot of it is guess work, or at least that’s how it seems to me. Apart from some small indicators, such as checking dopamine levels for instance, you can’t just do a quick blood test, or have an X-ray. “Oh I see Mr Jones, you have a contusion in your unconscious sense of self. Take these pills and call me in the morning.”

Oh, and that’s another thing. There are “physiological” mental illness for sure, such as schizophrenia. But much mental illness, especially of the anxiety and neuroses types, barely even fit the standard model of illness at all. There’s no physiological problem, which makes it all the harder to take seriously I guess (but that’s another topic altogether). It’s more akin to a computer virus, like a sickness in your thoughts, so ethereal you start to wonder where illness ends and personality begins.

I dare say that to many people, except those close friends and family, this will come as a surprise. I’ve learnt to hide it well from general society. That’s something that goes along with my condition (if you can call it that), but I’m getting a little ahead of myself now.

It’s a special case I guess, not unique but certainly not your garden variety. (“Ooooh, it’s a bumper crop of arachnophobia and oral fixation this year Mr Farley, but ewww what’s that thing growing over there?”) It is a little hard for me to judge objectively though, because I have little bits and pieces of all sorts of complexes, and there’s a good chance that one of them incorrectly convinces me that I’m irretrievably different to everyone else. On the other hand my neurotic desire to doubt everything I think gives me pause and I’m back where I started.

To be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure where I’m headed with this. One thing I’m sure of is I have a deep desire to communicate, but the specific reasons for that are still unclear. So I thought I’d start to write. Maybe it’s an attempt to find some truth in the telling that one can never quite find when mulling an idea over to themselves. Or it could be some vague attempt to help others who might follow in my footsteps.

Mainly though, I do get a kind of perverse pleasure in bringing people down. I hope you have a miserable day.

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We’re laughing at your misfortune.



Next time: Xbox vs Playstation: who really gives a fuck?