White noise

With thanks to a friend for the inspiration for this post – someone asked me what I thought of an album recently.

We were both found a lot that resonated in our lives in The National’s Trouble Will Find Me when it came out. The new album Sleep Well Beast was therefore an interesting one to share some thoughts on.

What I discovered about my experience links to my discoveries about emotional repression and expression, so I’d like to share it here. I’ve not shared anything of what the other said as they’re not my words.

Guilty Party

It’s complex: layers of sound and each one is distinct from the others, but they have a kind of chaotic-ness in common. It made me think of white noise – my attention was darting everywhere in the space of my awareness in response to the sounds.

My musings moved on to imagining of a kind of intellectual white noise. Listening was like distracting my conscious / rational watch-guard and letting an emotional response unfold without judging it too closely. Which is a thing I’ve often used music to do: allow my intuitive / emotional self some space without judging myself too harshly for it. I wonder if that is just me, or if that resonates with anyone else?

This evening I’m listening to Kraftwerk’s Europe Endless, which I discovered about 9 years ago now. It was one of the first times I enjoyed something that wasn’t relentlessly upbeat, though it has thatย layered, consciousness-occupying quality to it I was talking about above.

I wonder if I’ll ever enjoy really, really simple music?

 

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Past hurts

Therapy is hard. Reconnecting with past hurts is painful. Some days I find it overwhelming: 3 years (and counting) of picking through the debris of past hurts. In overview, I find it consoling or I’d not still be doing it, but in individual moments it sometimes bloody hurts. Sometimes the hurt feels bigger and stronger than me.

I choose acknowledging how I feel as often as I can bear it. The alternative is ignoring it and so ignoring part of what it is to be alive. Ignoring a chance to be vulnerable with others and share something of what it is to be me. But some days it is harder than others, so I try not to be unkind when my feelings about things seem bigger than I am and I want to cry.

 

A touch of honesty

Hello ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve not written for a while, but I’ve been planning a new twist to the blog. I have settled on another, very specific purpose for it, that I’ll pursue for as long as seems apt.

Most people that know me know me for being open and honest about my life and the things I find difficult. Yet I’ve been on a journey through counselling over the last 18 months and what I’m learning is just how much I edit myself. Just how much I contain and hide (especially from myself) in order to fit in and save face.

Right now I am facing, more painfully than I ever have done, just how much anxiety I suffer. Just how much I canย hate the way I feel. Just how much I sometimes wish, wish, wish I were somebody else. I’ve been hiding it for years from everyone I love and, especially, from myself. The only sure way to stop me from sharing it.

It is okay. I am learning and, once again, it feels like a steep learning curve. It is terrifying to be confronted with the strength of feeling I have. I am learning that I get angry about simple things not going as I need them to. I am scared witless about the things I want from others and life being plain to all.ย After suppressing it for years, the reality of me feels chaotic and overwhelming. I am just learning to stop clinging to plans and spreadsheets (anyone remember the holiday in Cornwall I planned on a spreadsheet and tweeted about?) in order to save myself from my feelings. I have barely allowed myself to feel angry about interactions with another person since I was first married. That was about 15 years ago now.

Having feelings about stuff is currently terrifying. I am desperately afraid that no one I care about will accept me if I share how I feel. How I really feel about things. I can only bear to test it slowly and only with a very few people. However, I know that studying an MA (the origination of this blog back in 2008) was utterly terrifying. And I completed that fucker, with flair and panache ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m bricking it, but I’m determined to explore who I really am and do it in my own, inimitable style. I want to use this blog to share some of my findings from my counselling and self exploration journey, hence from now on this blog will be titled …

The Glass on the Table.

 

 

Raise a glass with me?

Dear lovely people who know me in person, who know me online and anyone else who, for whatever reason, finds themselves reading my blog:

I would like to invite you to celebrate something quietly with me ๐Ÿ™‚ After a couple of years of largely self imposed hell and a frustratingly slow journey back, I finally feel more confident about life and my ability to live it again. It has been a long time coming and my relief at finding myself a calm, reasonably sane person again is measurable.

Anyone who reads my blog or knows me well will know that I, like many people, suffer my bouts of anxiety and depression. They are usually caused by trying to be someone I am not and live up to expectations that I perceive the world to have of me. As I’ve been busy playing this game over the last 2 years my physical health has also suffered, and I’ve found myself consistently lacking in energy and always (I mean ALWAYS) ill with a snuffle.

Today, I have decided, is the day that I celebrate clawing my way back to a position of equilibrium and confidently looking ahead to the future. My future is less plotted and certain than it ever has been. And don’t get me wrong, this scares the shit out of me. It is, however, how I want it to be and I know I’ll be ok.

I’ve stopped waking up with a dread of how the day will be every day. I’ve started running again. I actually can’t remember the last day I woke up and I had to take myself back to bed with a cold and overwhelming tiredness. Some time in early Feb maybe? I know I am good at my job, at the work I do and I KNOW I am valuable to the people in my life (colleagues and friends). I can generate this internally and am not completely reliant on feedback from other people to evaluate my strengths.

As I sit, quietly, in the home I bought through my hard won professional success, I really don’t know what the future holds. And I can’t promise I won’t try and break myself again ๐Ÿ˜‰

But for all the people who listen when I am despondent or stuck in self criticism – thank you. For all of you who are pleased to see me when I turn up at the pub, or on your doorstep, or in your Twitter feed – thank you. Life is unpredictable, it’s scary and sometimes painful. I also wouldn’t stop living it for the world. I renew my promise to throw myself at life with everything I have and share whatever of it I can, with the new caveat that this may include time for reflection and quiet enjoyment of the things around me.

For anyone who feels that life is all a bit much sometimes and can’t the rest of the world just f-off for a bit: I know how you feel. I’ve been there and I’ll admit it openly. I’ll go there again, but all in all I judge it to be worth sticking out the difficult bits.

Here’s to the beautiful stuff. The moments of connection with others, the joy of discovering new things about yourself, the calm of staring out over the sky and being right here, right now.

Onwards …

Raised on a diet of broken biscuits …

Morning all! There are so many things I’ve been meaning to blog about, but I’ve been prioritising other things lately. However, I have this week off work and I’ll be resurrecting my one blog post a day discipline from last year’s Cornwall holiday with the same theme: blog about a little thing that made a big difference ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve had a big and deeply thought provoking adventure this weekend, only appropriate as a way to round off a truly provocative week at work I guess ๐Ÿ˜‰ Apparently I don’t do things the easy way. As a result I am physically and emotionally drained and only part way through recouping a sizeable sleep debt.

My little thing that made a big difference yesterday (Sunday) was receiving a call from the lost property office at London Victoria at 9 pm.

My weekend adventure played itself out in London and I stupidly dropped my mp3 player when getting off the train as I arrived. I realised my mistake within 5 minutes and went back to look for it, to no avail. Unusually for me I decided not to completely cut my losses and I went on a hunt for the lost property office and filed my loss. I had to ask several strangers for help in the course of this, something I usually avoid like the plague. Silly as this may sound, I was proud of myself for doing something positive rather than my usual plan of forgetting and moving on. The chaps behind the counter were friendly: I really appreciated that and told them so.

I had given it up for lost and was resigned to buying a replacement, but I got a call late last night from a chap who said he’d had something handed in. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I had the impression he had gone out of his way to contact me and let me know about it. He said it had been handed in at 9:30 on Saturday evening and apologised for not calling sooner. He urged me to call the lost property office when it was open (between 9-5) to sort out collecting it. I expressed my thanks and we agreed I was lucky it had been handed in.

What a nice thing and I am very grateful to that man for calling me and establishing that it was indeed my property. It made me smile.

Tying this into a wider theme, and to echo something a dear friend recently said to me, I am blessed to have and encounter the people I do in my life. So many people help me and contribute to my life in so many wonderful ways. I am blessed indeed ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh and on the cryptic title – lyrics from a song that has been on my mind lately. Not only am I a huge fan of Pulp and not only has Britpop been on my mind lately, but various events have unwittingly reminded me of my teenage angst about not fitting in. Consider it a hint at the backdrop, the bigger picture of where I am right now, that situates the fragment of a story In this blog post.

Happy: a tale of 2 videos :-)

I am awake in the middle of the night. I’m not hugely enthused about this state of affairs and in fact I’m awake because I was upset about something that I refused to give myself space to acknowledge earlier in the week and my brain has chosen now to make me aware of the consequences of that decision. Ah well, it happens …

However, thank goodness for the internet. I found this video in my timeline earlier: a take on the idea of using Pharrell Williams Happy made in my adopted home town of Brighton. Watching it made me smile.

I love the strong University of Sussex flavour in it – I’ve been a part of the university for 10 years as both staff and student and I will forever consider myself a part of the University of Sussex family. I recognise many of the locations in the film specifically from the Uni and I particularly love the scenes in the library. I have spent MANY an hour there, ah fond memories! (It may be worth noting that I never danced in the library …)

I was reminded I meant to watch this after seeing it pop up in my Facebook timeline last week: the Happy (we are from Luton) video. Luton is my actual home town and (sorry all Luton residents, including my Mum) is a place I left at 18 and have never wanted to go back to.

I’ll be honest – I struggle to associate Luton with happiness, but the energy and mood of the video is so infectious that I do now have a connection between Luton and happiness in my mind that extends beyond the joy of seeing my Mum when I visit. A big thank you to all of those people, both the stars and the creators of the videos for sharing their energy and enthusiasm with me. Thanks for making me smile and feel happy.

I think I can go back to sleep now, hurrah! ๐Ÿ™‚

Not 100%

I HATE being unwell. Really pisses me off.

I was describing this to my Mum yesterday and I told her that I experience being unwell as a kind of moral affront to my person. “How can I possibly be unwell, this isn’t fair! I’ll just pretend I’m not.”

The other thing I do is take being unwell as a sign of personal failure and therefore a cue for intense introspection. I failed to manage my health well enough, I failed to look after myself properly. Jesus, if only my self righteous arrogance would give me a break!

A dear friend hit upon something useful last year when I was feeling very under the weather. She challenged me with

you don’t love yourself when you’re not performing at 100%

She has a point. All the time I feel unwell I constantly question myself and my experience. Am I really unwell? Am I unwell enough to justify taking it easy and spending the day at home? (Be it a work day or my own time.) Am I unnecessarily giving in to feeling a bit off colour? I endlessly over analyse in order to try and find some certainty. Either YES I’m objectively unwell or NO I’m fine really.

The above is exhausting. And never ending. All of it a way to avoid taking responsibility for making a decision about what I need and what is best for me. All the time being unwell makes me a victim of fate (“it’s not fair!”) or of my own incompetence (“I managed this poorly”) the focus is off my view of me right now and how I refuse to accept that sometimes I don’t match up to who I think I should be. That I’m not perfect.

I HATE that. Really pisses me off ๐Ÿ˜‰

Guess I’ve some work still to do on the self acceptance* front …

*As an aside, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the things I value most and want to stand for in my life, more on that soon in another blog post. Acceptance may feature heavily – not because I’m good at it, precisely the opposite.