I haven’t posted anything here of a personal nature for a-a-a-a-ges, I know, but I have been doing (sporadically, and really there is no other way I’m going to do anything, ever, period) what some people in the community I belong to–writers, students of writing, poets… those kind of people–‘freewriting’. Which means that you sit down and write whatever the hell first comes into your mind. It also means (in my case) that a lot of it is ranting of a very precious order and blethering on about all kinds of things that have no meaning to anyone other than myself, and yet, for all its inanity, it does have the effect of releasing rubbish from my head and out onto the page/screen and leaves a nicely cleaned-out place in my skull for other-less crazy notions to take form and breathe.
I’ve also discovered a particularly brilliant (and expensive, but hey… can’t take it with you, can’t kill yourself without at least trying not to, right?) Clinical Psychologist who I am seeing on a semi-regular basis (see previous ‘expensive’ ref) and who is quite unlike any counsellor I have ever seen. Mainly, I guess, because she’s a proper, qualified, Dr of Clinical Psychology and challenges me in more productive ways other than “… so how does that make you feel?” I leave her sessions feeling a good deal chirpier and lighter and if only for these reasons, I will continue to see her because slight changes even in the chirpy department, are change enough for me to recognise as Good Things. I think I like that she’s super qualified in her field and hasn’t once induced within me feelings of inferiority and wasting-her-timeness. Yes, even if I’m paying people to counsel me, I have still, historically, sat across from them and thought “god, they could be treating a properly sick person right now and not miserable malingering me who should have found a way of shaking herself out of it by now. I’m getting in the way of a genuine sufferer; who knows, they might already be leaping off of the town bridge as we sit here.” I know. And that’s my brain in a supposed state of calm and safety.
I have learnt things that I kind of already thought I knew, but now that I’ve heard it from her – a proper qualified Dr … did I say she’s a Clinical Psychologist?… – I feel more able to accept them as being true. Normal even. Things like:
a. I never properly appreciated that alcohol is a crutch to a lot (most, the majority, maybe all) people. I know how I treat it, and it’s never been in the connoisseur Oh-A-Nice-Merlot-Would-Complement-This-Dish kind of a way, either. But rather The-More-I-Kneck-The-Sooner-I-Can-Blame-Whatever-Foolishness-I-May-Speak/Act-On-Its-Effects kind of a way, and those who’ve known me for a v-e-r-y long time (Mr Shorley, I’m looking at you) will know this as simple fact of truth. I just never thought I needed to recognise it as such. I do. I have.
b. I’m a great performer. I like to make people laugh. I always thought it was because I grew up with a father who loved Monty Python, Spike Milligan, The Ronnies, the Morecambe and Wise, The Ab Fabs, but in reality (and my dad is still a close connection here) it’s because in my head I imagine that if I make somebody laugh/smile, then there’s more chance they’ll like me. And more chance they’ll like me, equals more chance they might want to be my friend, more chance of that and there’s a greater chance of me having somebody I can relate to and talk to and turn to, ergo, I might finally find somebody (other than my amazing daughter probably because we share genes) who ‘gets me’ and who finds me a good person to know and be with. Someone who will trust me the way only I have ever known I can be trusted and rely on me to be there even before they know assistance may be required. Because in my heart I know I’m the best friend any person could have, it’s just I’ve never had cause to tear the buttons off my blouse to reveal the ‘BFF’ logo on my tee-shirt beneath. I’ve never felt able, confident or trusted somebody else enough to be able to do it. So I make a joke of things instead. I’ve always imagined that my ‘friends’ already have (real) best friends in their lives; I’m merely one in their ‘circle’. Yep, of course I’m fine *insert quip*…Ta-dah.
c. If the first teachers in my life (parents) never gave me reason to feel justified in doing or saying anything unless it was in total agreement with their own thoughts or actions, then there is every chance I will carry an ingrained sense of self-worthlessness through my life. I have. I do. I’m beginning to recognise it now, though, and feel like staring it down until it slinks off like the useless piece of slimy negativity that it ultimately is and always has been. Ridiculously, cleverly, this came about after I dismissed the fact I’ve written 9 books, that I’m doing a degree in Creative Writing, that I abandoned a beautiful house and miserable marriage to move hundreds of miles away and live in a bedroom in my daughter and her boyfriend’s house. As if all these things are Nothing (because to me, everything I do IS nothing; everyone else does it better, larger, louder, brighter; why should I feel as though these things are worth anything? What gives ME the right?). And the clever Dr of Clinical Psychology that she is, turned the tables and said “so what would you think of ME if I said I’d written nine books, that I was doing a degree, that I left a miserable marriage, a beautiful house and moved hundreds of miles away to live in a bedroom in my daughter’s house?” and even while she was saying these words I was thinking to myself “crikey, what a brave, clever, strong woman she is for doing all these amazing things” so WHY CAN’T I THINK THAT OF MYSELF? (answer: not sure, but I’m sure as heck working on it).
d. I’m a future-thinker. Something I never even considered myself to be. Effectively it means I pre-empt, look ahead, not in a positive way, but in a kind of protective way: in the same way I avoid the feeling of panic which I know will overcome me if I used the last tin of whatever I’ve just taken from the pantry by ensuring there’s always a back-up. If you ask my daughter what’s the house motto? You’d get the answer “WE NEVER RUN OUT” (which is kind of funny, if you’re looking for a joke, bearing in mind my running-away-from-it-allness. See c. above). And I think my future-thinking got an extra kick into next century following the two car crashes I had in quick succession (as an aside, but also very importantly Dr C.Psych doesn’t think I got the right PTSD therapy I needed at the time and it’s something which needs addressing. She’s right, obvs.) so I not only metaphorically need to check what’s round the next corner, I need a scale drawing map, complete with annotated risk assessment possibilites. In triplicate. Oh go on then, make that quadrupled. And then I still need to know there’s back-up. This is why I don’t sleep well. It takes a l-o-n-g time for my head to finally give the go-ahead and sign off the little thought that began ‘what shall I make for dinner tomorrow night?’ – because a whole day of possible ramifications have to have been thoroughly investigated before I’ve even checked the damned pantry situation. Seriously. This is why I smile so much at work. It’s easier that trying to work out if there are two tins of beans or one waiting to trip me up when I get home.
e. We haven’t even touched on that. The ‘out-to-get-me’ thing. I’m always waiting to be found out; uncovered, revealed to be the imposterI believe myself to be. Of what, or of whom I have not the first clue. Or even why.
It’s been a long time coming and I have a feeling it’s going to get very interesting.
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
David Bowie – ‘Hunky Dory’ album 1971