I feel like I’ve had a quiet week in my own mind. I am quite aware that Ric has not been present in my thoughts much, and when he has, he’s slid off my mind and away. Curious. I wonder if it’s partly to do with getting through all of the diary entries and letters I have. There’s nothing left to surprise me – it’s all there. With the exception of photographs – which I still need to seek out and deal with. So I have control of all that information; master of my own data. There are no other sources of information about what happened to me. Some will be held by a few other adults, but it won’t be about me. That’s also something I’ve come to realise and believe – this shit is about me. There’s lots of possible information about other people, but I can’t take that into me and take responsibility for it -it would be endless and I can’t do anything with it. Of course, the other person who knows something about what happened is Ric. I don’t want his mind in mine – I don’t think I’d understand it and that’s all about him, not me. We’re no responsible for the actions of others, or for their feelings. So fuck that. The only way I want contact with his mind is when stepping over the puddle. So anger is appropriately placed again: good. I’m not going to say anything daft like I feel that I’m fixed, but I’m a pragmatic sort of person (not practical, never practical…) and I do believe that personality and mind is transient; we are who we are now and we leave behind us a series of shadows and half-forgotten reflections. I’m not the person I was. In a very real way those things didn’t happen to me, but I do remember them. I’ve come to realise that it’s remembering the things and how that made me feel (the feeling of memory) that has obsessed me for so long, at least as much as the events themselves. I’m changing – into the person who remembers feeling hurt by memories, not the person in pain or the person who remembered and felt pain because of it. I’m now aware of phrases that I’ve only said out loud before, and repeated to myself, somethimes incredulously, sometimes convincingly. It wasn’t my fault. I know I say this a lot, but it takes repetition and understanding to insert a belief and idea so contrary to what I have lived with inside for so long. Paradigmatic shifts ain’t easy. It feels more, I don’t know, structural now. Like something I know, something I can accept. It shatters the world. I also know that the choices that I thought I made weren’t choices; at best I made the least worst choices that would enable me to survive. They were’t free decisions. These are good things to know. It feels… fragile though. While this crap has been mostly out of my head this week I’ve been feeling that awful grinding tension in my stomach instead. So it’s possible that I’ve had a mental breakthrough and bumped it down to the emotional level. I’ve had it for a few weeks and I don’t really know why. I associate it with being nervous about the future. Not future with a capital F, just the awareness that something has been planned and I need to attend to it. Going somewhere for work, or for fun – a decision that needs to be made, knowing that I need to leave work at x time to be somewhere. All of these cause me some measure of physical pain. I’m not a good planner. I was flicking back through my blog posts in advance of counselling tonight (it’s a good habit, allows me some view of progress and reminds me of what I’ve forgotten. Since the issue of what we forget is so fucking central to my experience it’s important to review, to remember – to know that the record is here and that it’s safe, and useful to go into.) and noted an entry from a few months ago where I was totally wracked with guilt and numb horror at the prospect of even planning what to do for my birthday. Sometimes it’s like that – I just find myself unable to visualise the future, to juggle the concept of choice. That sounds really fucked up. On reflection, it’s probably why we haven’t been on holiday for years and our house still needs to be plastered. Sad chuckle. At best I’m maybe a month ahead. The offer of a night at Dad’s over Christmas actually wracked me for days before I could bring myself to consider it seriously. I’ve developed an awful habit of deferring decisions so late that the decision is taken out of my hands and an event is now in the past, so of course we can’t go. It’s an enormous relief when it reaches the point of being determined. Do I fear choice? Do I fear the future – or a future that I influence? I feel that much of my life has been inevitable. I’ve never subscribed to a genuine philosophy of free will. We’re so obviously the products of decisions made years ago that it strikes me as naive to imagine that we have control. Even wanting to make x decision is the product of a complex chain of causes and effects; it’s the choice we want to make because of who we are. That doesn’t mean we don’t have the illusion of control and choice however. This will all be very counter-intuitive and self-deprecating and logically inconsistent. I realise that; I’m thrashing it out for myself. The last time I recall feeling genuinely positive about the future was at the start of my A-Levels (it is probably no shocking note to say that this was just after Ric had moved to Amsterdam and I was free, albeit temporarily) but after that it was all… easy? University was both obvious and inevitable for someone who could do exams. It was crucially, easier than not going to university – it involved less choice and struggle than doing anything else. The rest of my life has followed suit. Apart from that one first, fuck-awful job after university, I fell into temping and was offered an opportunity to go permanent. With a bit of pressure from (some incredibly supportive) line managers I accepted the various enhancements and changes to my role that were offered to me. We got our house through risk of losing our tenancy and doing the easiest thing – buying from our landlady. Since then, I don’t know – maybe I’m being too harsh on myself, but we’ve only done things to the house when the opportunity arose rather than planning to do it. I feel as if I haven’t sought anything out – just accepted what was offered. I don’t think it’s always felt like that though. I do recall the terrifying yawning sensation of grasping possibility though – once when I was maybe 14 I imagined becoming a boxer (I don’t really know why; if you know me you’ll recognise that it’s implausible at best) and being strong and successful as such. I felt hollow and tingled with the notion. I think I’ve felt it since, though I may be imagining it. It feels a lot like that internal tension or at least I think of them the same way – something to be avoided. Now that I’m thinking about it properly, it’s the same sensation I’ve felt when I’ve found something that I could be good at – really good at. And the yawning sensation has sent me running the other way. That’s probably a good chunk of confirmation bias; since I associate the sensation with feeling stressed. So I say yes to things that are offered, because it’s easier that way (and often beneficial), but demur and decline only when I actually don’t like the thing offered (roller-coasters for example, which I hate) or when I’m putting someone else’s preferences ahead of my own. But I don’t reach for things. That’s not always bad, but it’s not really making choices is it? In counselling today we wondered if that’s an aspect of taking the easy choice, the safe(r) choice. It worked once, got me home safely, and in fairness rarely leads to anything awful… but it has perhaps become ingrained. It’s like improv: I accept the scenario, I go along with it. I don’t want to get hurt… if I say yes I won’t get hurt, or not hurt too badly. If I say no, there might be consequences. If I decide I want something, not just that I’m content to accept what is offered. What then? Do I do what I want or just what I like, or what won’t hurt me? Can I tell the difference? I am good at accepting opportunities, because it’s easier, and I end up with things that I like. But they’re not necessarily the same as the things that I want. Have I ever thought about what I want? What I really really want? (Oh for a zig-a-zig-ah.) Have I ever seized something that wasn’t offered? That’s not really making a choice. I can’t tell if it’s because the possible consequences concern me – or that I can’t visualise a different world. I am allowed to choose, to have preferences – aren’t I? I’m so used to being defined by hiding from my thoughts and memories, a life so structured to keep them out, that change seems inconceivable. Structure though, has its place. I devolve into chaotic identikit time with nothing in it, no action, no joy except for that which arises on its own. I’ve created structure and schedule that makes me happy – Tuesdays climbing, Thursdays improv. Without planning them in I just won’t do them, and then I won’t be happy. It seems silly, to say that I’m happy because I’ve scheduled it in, but I recognise that when I have no form to my life it just passes and I recollect nothing from it and achieve little. The bedtime and basic timetable that I got from the sleep therapy CBT earlier this year has been incredibly useful, even if it’s slipped a little. It works for me. Otherwise I end up with the totally shapeless life at university where nothing mattered and I had no motivation to get anything done. I’ve implemented things that make me happy, and give me space to be happy in the unstructured time. Maybe I could extend that into the future. While I’ve never been good at the future I’ve always been pragmatic about my actions – I’ve accepted offers that brought me security and stability. I shouldn’t reject those out of hand. Having a home and reliable income (an absolute miracle I realise) has been a consistently good thing, if largely accidental. Even with self-harming I reasoned my way out of it – I didn’t want to kill myself because there is always difference out there, what future fell upon me was at least interesting and different. Self harm was a cry for help, but I realised that I wasn’t ready to accept that help, and that the harm I’d need to wreak upon myself to defeat my fears and actually be noticed would be so great that I’d never be free of it I think I knew that my emotional scars might one day be passed, but if I had the scars then I’d always have to see them, and explain them. So the cuts are off the wrist, nowhere they’d be seen by accident and gratefully minimal (the blessings of youthful recovery). Being aware of the present in fear of the past has kept me safe, but it allowed me no space to look to the future. If I’m not afraid any more maybe I can look to the future. I’d like to choose my future. I just don’t know, or didn’t know, that I can know what I want.
All content copyright Captain Pigheart 2021