Friends will be Friends

We present as part of Time To Talk’s national day of discussion about mental health (Feb 7th) a week’s worth of posts about how this 52 year old finally made a difference and started listening to herself and others, before determining to improve life for the better…

These views are mine alone, and absolutely 100% do not mesh with anybody else’s opinion on anything. WELCOME TO HOW BLOGS WORK.


Day 6:
Learning to listen is important.

Advice

If you are lucky enough in life to achieve your dreams, however small or large they may be, a moment will undoubtedly occur where someone will present you with the means to help you enjoy that experience more. Normally, these people are the individuals who have already experiences a portion of those dreams, and are now off pursuing other aspirations a little way up the corporate ladder of achievement. I was given a massive piece of advice at my reading last night: it’s the outward breath that matters. Just like exercise, learning to control that  is a big deal. This nugget will go with me for the rest of my life.

My best mate told me how to not freak over people in the room with me. My husband just reminded to be myself, and was incredibly supportive of the journey. All of this advice is offered without prejudice, and is so immensely useful for someone who is only now learning how to interact correctly with the world. That’s why, over the next few weeks, I’ll be stripping out people who don’t seem to care about the stuff I do, and in some cases, are only interested in the sound of their own voice.

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Friendship needs to be a reciprocal process for it to work properly. That means, when  this is done, I gotta write some thank you letters to those who have been hugely helpful in getting me to this point. Their support and understanding is as much the reason that this all works, to be honest. Remembering that is a really significant part of a process that is increasingly lost via the Internet. Real friends do exist out here, of course, and anybody who tells you otherwise is an all out liar.

Also, I can see you people pretending you’re doing that, when you’re so totally not.

Living on an Island

We present as part of Time To Talk’s national day of discussion about mental health (Feb 7th) a week’s worth of posts about how this 52 year old finally made a difference and started listening to herself and others, before determining to improve life for the better…

These views are mine alone, and absolutely 100% do not mesh with anybody else’s opinion on anything. WELCOME TO HOW BLOGS WORK.


Day 5:
In which there is more than one revelation.

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Today’s hugely important for me, as has been stated, but not for the reasons some of you might think. Sure, we all love validation, but in the end it isn’t that I’m off to London for. Tonight is a step into light from darkness. I’ll be handing out business cards (note to self, need to get some new ones made) and hoping that maybe someone will be impressed with my performance. The only way, after all, that you ever get noticed is by being around to begin with. Social interaction’s never been a strong point.

That really has to change.

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That also means, that once my daughter’s room is decorated and I’ve managed to edit a few things for re-submission, there ought to be video blogging. Operating parameters need to be reassessed, so that there’s more outward and less inward facing stuff. This desk isn’t practical for purpose, having used it since late August, so it will be time to see what can be re-purposed to make that happen. I’d like to recycle wherever possible. The future, at least for me, is reusing old shit for good.

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It works with the .GIF content, after all. Today’s post is shorter than the rest of the week’s output because this point doesn’t need much explanation. It just needs me to believe it.

You are Part of the Problem.

Start listening to other people. Take advice. Actually DO THAT. Then LEARN and LISTEN some more. Try not to be so hard on yourself either. Stuff goes wrong, of course it does. The fact remains, that if any of this shit is ever gonna change for the better, that’s your job.

You are not Alone.

This might finally be starting to stick, you know…

You Wear It Well

We present as part of Time To Talk’s national day of discussion about mental health (Feb 7th) a week’s worth of posts about how this 52 year old finally made a difference and started listening to herself and others, before determining to improve life for the better…

These views are mine alone, and absolutely 100% do not mesh with anybody else’s opinion on anything. WELCOME TO HOW BLOGS WORK.


It’s been a tough 24 hours. I’ve been forced to think about a lot of things that really weren’t wanted, but that’s often how this journey goes. There’s not a choice as to what you can ignore or run away from. It becomes a testament to internal strength built and your own ability to cope. It is a salutatory reminder of today’s pretty accompanying graphic.

DAY 3:
You remain the arbiter of destiny’s final course.

mistakes

On my Social media friends list are those who happily follow others who have verbally abused me. These people have accused me of being disruptive and argumentative, that my views are contrary to what is required not only in their spaces, but in life generally. The way I think and present myself is part of the Internet’s overall problem, which is a point that probably bears reinforcing at this juncture. Being the contrary opinion to anyone with prominence is your #1 best way to start a fight anywhere.

Except, that doesn’t happen any more.

There are, I’ll grant you, moments when the validity of calling out those people who others believe to be decent and honest seems like a great idea… then comes the reminder that everybody does stupid shit. Lots of us fail to learn from our mistakes. It is, amazingly, a big enough world  to be able to just put distance between me and the abusers and move on. There are those who’d argue this isn’t the answer, but on reflection there’s a bigger issue to address, that is often overlooked.

You won’t be friends with everybody, however much you try.

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Bad stuff happens to everybody. How much bad stuff ultimately depends on not only an individual’s perception, but the amount of time you’re prepared to remain in a toxic relationship. There are, of course, many ways you can be held against your will and if that is the case, it’s already time to get out. The trickiest issue with online relationships are the boundaries: what might seem an incredibly simple solution (just stop messaging them) to one person becomes an impossible task for somebody else, and here is the lesson to learn.

I watched a lot of people in the last 24 hours lament other people’s reactions: calling them exaggerations, not understanding why some people will become as angry as they do. Then there is the counter: why haven’t you spoken up previously? If it matters that much, why aren’t you doing more about it? All of these words show that those involved don’t truly grasp the issues at play. They need to stop making the same mistakes. As my abuser above points out: silence is not agreement.

Silence is the mistake we must all stop making.

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I was targeted by a number of anonymous Twitter accounts in 2016 and, on reflection, there’s a good chance it was the same person behind them all. The email a popular blogger wrote me as a response for a request about his actions is printed out and kept as a permanent reminder: stop making the same mistakes these people do. I can’t reasonably expect to expose and champion every time someone fucked up on line, because everybody is human. What is more realistic is to focus on the stuff I’m capable of changing.

The key to growth and development isn’t being stuck with the same mindset from birth to grave. It is, and always will be, a process of evolution and adaptation. Other people may not change, but without this process of reinvention there would be no point in my mind to existing at all. So, it is time to learn from this week’s events, to suggest others could learn a lot by doing the same, and to carry on forward.

That way, not stuck here.

Only Myself to Blame

We present as part of Time To Talk’s national day of discussion about mental health (Feb 7th) a week’s worth of posts about how this 52 year old finally made a difference and started listening to herself and others, before determining to improve life for the better…

These views are mine alone, and absolutely 100% do not mesh with anybody else’s opinion on anything. WELCOME TO HOW BLOGS WORK.


DAY 2:
Now the hard work begins.

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So, how do I become a better person?

It’s a fucking minefield out here in the Internets right now: abuse, random attacks, duplicity… how does one even begin to live in such a world of wickedness and deception? Well, the simplest answer (at least for me) is to adopt the Fox Mulder School of Thought:

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Now, there are those who will counter that, at some point, you have to have some kind of mutual trust with people to develop meaningful relationships. This is undoubtedly true: assuming all men are predators or all women are victims is just asking for trouble, quite apart from being patently untrue. Handing over a part of yourself only to (potentially) be hurt as a result is the lesson we all get given as kids, after all. You fall down, in order to learn to get up and carry on.

Except, there’s a subtle difference between doing that on a playground surrounded by a couple of hundred kids you don’t know (with maybe your class of 30 tops that you do have some contact with) and doing that on the Internet, where (potentially) ALL THE WORLD SEES YOU. Except, of course, that’s not true either, unless you’re Piers Morgan (shudder) or someone with the rarefied position of being PROPER famous.

Everything else is in your imagination.

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The person I wish to be is fact checking the shit out of EVERYTHING anybody says right now. She’s challenging those people who post stuff without thinking so that it’s clear we’re all on the same page. She is rejecting those people she considers cruel (however well-meaning) and ultimately, SHE IS LISTENING. The person who starts their own drama because they feel aggrieved, left out or simply crave everybody’s attention will be trouble, undoubtedly, at some point.

How can you tell if this happens? PAY ATTENTION. Don’t just trust what you’re presented with as truth. Don’t get caught in the Cult of Celebrity. I’ve refused for a long time to be seduced by the idea of being anybody’s muse, however attractive that might end up feeling. It means that when you follow someone and their first response in return is automated that honestly, this is not about making friends or improving your existence. The Internet, like it or not, is as full of bad people as it is good, and I have to be able to work out the difference.

To become a better person, I am responsible, and continue fact checking all of you, all the time: it’s probably the best idea now you know this. Nobody else gets followed until there’s certainty mind is capable of doing that job better than is currently the case. I really don’t give a fuck if that means there’s never an increase in my online footprint. To learn you don’t just keep doing the same thing, over and again.

Progress means pain, and acceptance of shortcomings.

No More Heroes

We present as part of Time To Talk’s national day of discussion about mental health (Feb 7th) a week’s worth of posts about how this 52 year old finally made a difference and started listening to herself and others, before determining to improve life for the better…

These views are mine alone, and absolutely 100% do not mesh with anybody else’s opinion on anything. WELCOME TO HOW BLOGS WORK.


Day 1: That moment when it becomes apparent that if you want any job done properly, you have to do it yourself:

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Occasionally, we all need a little help. Even the smartest person in the World can’t solve all the issues they face, at least without the occasional supportive ‘you got this!’ or a motivational picture of a cat in their timeline. However, there is a point where all the support and understanding in existence is pointless if you decide you won’t. It might not be a won’t, as it happens. You could say you can’t, or mustn’t, or maybe even that’s just impossible. How does anything change in your life as a result, if it is easier to provide excuses than solutions.

Excuses are easy. Solutions are hard, and that’s where I keep finding myself.

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I realise just how lucky my life is, at this point, that opportunity even exists for improvement. It is incredibly easy to say ‘sort yourself out’ and there will be those who (quite rightly) in many cases might consider this as victim blaming or shaming. So, to be clear: I’m not a victim. My life, which is the only thing I can reasonably talk about with confidence, is not underpinned by any kind of issue where being told to get better is somehow making matters worse.

What my life has been ruled by is fear. This is something that’s only recently become apparent, as it happens: a complex combination of factors, which (with other mental shortcomings that will hopefully be better defined after I’ve spoken to some professionals about them) made for a potent cocktail of restriction. I can’t do that because used to precede far too many conversations. Lungs won’t work, can’t interface with people, unable to combine the mental processes required. All my shortcomings.

Nobody to blame but me.

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I had to hit rock bottom for my reset. Considering suicide, wondering what the point really was if nothing ever seemed to work in my favour, came the realisation that actually, I was the problem. This is still something to remind myself of in moments where life throws me a curve, that often brain is working against body in order to hamstring progress for no other reason than it’s easier than making the effort. Undoubtedly, that adage that you get what you give / you give what you get is spot on.

Everybody’s answer is different, too, and that’s the problem with finding a mentor of becoming enamoured with a guru/influencer/snake oil salesperson who’ll offer an easy answer in exchange for your cash/follow/first born. I’ve followed so many people via Social media who think that selling their salvation is the solution: it’s never true, and so I unfollow and move on. This is the woman who read a ton of self-help books and nothing ever stuck, until the day I was willing to forgive myself and move forward.

Excuses are Easy, Solutions are Hard. Never forget this.

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The trick, it appears, is to pick the right metaphors for your journey. I am never going to win a beauty pageant, nor would I ever enter one… however, I can be strong. Telling me I’m beautiful will be met with short shrift, but praise my ability to think through problems or write a decent blog post and you’re on the right track. Seriously, that whole ‘you’re so beautiful’ stuff is creepy, however well intentioned or based on actual perception it might be. Tell someone they’re inspiring, or dedicated. Intelligent or capable is great. Leave the surface stuff for people who won’t look past appearances.

You can be the most beautiful person in the world on the outside, and a mess inside. Given the choice, I’d rather look a mess but have my internal shit under control, but to do that you gotta work out what needs fixing.

That’s Day 2’s conundrum.

I’m Your Man

After due consideration, Chocolate-Free January is cancelled. This is due to an unexpected change in mental fortunes, an obdurate receptionist and Elon Musk [*]. What it does mean is that the second cuppa has a far more enjoyable accompaniment, and it is high time to break down what’s changed inside me over the last three months.

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Once I was told Autism was part of my problem, I’ve regretted not pushing for a more specific diagnosis: the spectrum is wide, plus it is entirely possible that some of my mental issues are not tied to the disorder. Having encouraged a number of other people to go seek diagnosis in the last year, it was time to do the same for myself. My initial attempts to find any help through the NHS were woeful: bypassing that system has already provided a measure of relief. But where does that leave me in relation to everything else?

Yesterday’s issue, trying to deal with my daughter’s ongoing allergy problems, came as a real surprise. This will be (probably) the first time in about a decade that kind of panic has resulted from a random confrontation with people. With care and thought, all the issues are easily rationalised and avoided, but undoubtedly come moments where you can’t plan everything. Was that what played out yesterday morning? I don’t think so. It is actually becoming easier to deal with conflict at home, in places where previously that ability did not exist.

I think this is me, putting down markers for other people’s behaviour.

catfight

My PT suggested yesterday that perhaps her absence was part of the problem, but that’s certainly not the case. Yes, I’ll admit there is often annoyance and frustration when other people change plans last minute or (as was the case on Friday with the Doctors) one receptionist’s suggestion was fairly robustly contradicted by another. Right now, sitting here, none of my normal rules or reactions appear to adequately cover the hole in my head that absolutely exists. I have no idea what it is, only that it needs to be uncovered.

Is it my inner child frustrated with her lot? Nope, that’s reconciled. Is it an impending Empty Nest where there’s no kids to lavish unconditional love on me? Nope. Is it personal relationships generally? Despite knowing I need more real people in my life, this isn’t causing as much issue as it did before the fact registered. In fact, looking at all of the potential stones in my road, nothing is a genuine surprise. I got emotional at the Doctors because someone who should have been understanding, wasn’t.

Yesterday I got upset at someone being mean.

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The automatic assumption when you are the unreliable narrator in every story is simple: that has to be your fault, not someone else’s. When it turns out that actually, that’s not the case, it can be quite a shock to the system. I’m not to blame for everything: some stuff sure, absolutely my problem, 100% me. Not this time, and that is why I lost the plot. That’s the first genuinely emotional reaction I’ve had to anything negative in quite some time. I still feel, am able to enjoy so much: the other side has been so well bottled up over the years…

The consequences of this are still percolating through my brain today. Maybe it is time to stop taking the blame for everything that appears to go wrong, and instead work out what is truth within the emotion. By doing so, I’ve been granted a clarity of vision that simply did not exist before.

This is something that needs far more thought.


[*] I crushed a dream this morning, expressed my opinion, and was met with stony silence in the car. Yeah, he makes great memes, but I don’t think he’s a particularly nice person.

The Lunatics have taken over the Asylum

Again, wouldn’t normally be writing here on a Saturday but I’m off to town shortly, scoping out the place I’ll be performing at in few weeks time. It’s likely to be a fairly sympathetic audience, under the circumstances: safe space is a given, but I’d like the opportunity to give it a once over. I believe the technical term is a recce, and as there is a cafe there it will be a place to lunch at the same time. If there is a spot to leave a poster or maybe a flyer, that will also be investigated, in time for early February…

This thought however deserves being extracted from my brain, before potency is lost.

different

I’ve always been different. That’s small letter for d and not big: difference existed in my consciousness from quite early on. What this meant however has altered over the years, and only now occurs reality of everything slotting into place. Because it has taken so long, certain games of catch-up with what that means require more work than others.

I have a lot to thank Penny for, and this is a case in point. I’d never heard of this organisation: a cursory glance at their public face shows nothing as to why this OP Tweet would be correct. Digging, however, turns up uncomfortable truths that make me feel physically ill. There is a dystopian future, not far from here, that could easily see autism first identified as a genetic shortcoming shortly before it is eliminated like Downs Syndrome, or anything else other people don’t consider as ‘perfect’ in human terms.

That is a world that frightens me, especially when other people react to the idea of difference with negativity right now. I’ve interfaced with two women this week, both in front-facing positions where they are paid to interact with members of the public. One was too embarrassed to publicly ask me a number of awkward questions despite it being her job to do so, the other so dismissive and frankly rude about the notion of difference that my previous respect for her effectively evaporated.

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We all deal with change in different ways. Many choose to ignore its progress completely: those keeping shows like The Grand Tour alive and well with their patronage, who’ll get annoyed at the idea of having to reduce their meat consumption to save the Planet… and the list goes on. Accepting the inevitable is not something many people can do well, whilst those are those who go too far the other way, instantly bouncing from one new fad to another without the first thought for consequences. Looking at you, Goop fans.

Ideal reality ought to exist somewhere in between the extremes, or that’s the theory. It never really does, because most of the ‘moderation in all things’ brigade never need to have their voices heard to begin with because living life is far more interesting and fulfilling than telling other people you’re doing just that. Oversharing, especially in public, becomes a hindrance, but without it the realities of abuse and violence true harmony will never be fully realised. If you open Pandora’s Box and give one person the right on Social media to be themselves, everybody has to be afforded the same privilege.

For every action, consequences are both blessing and curse.

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More and more, such moments become fuel for poetry or prose. Telling stories and educating via poetry, short stories and long form works has merit, and it can alter consciousness. The trick is not to allow other people’s casual prejudice to deter you. Everybody has the opportunity to learn and be a better person, it is up to them whether those changes happen, and how fast.

The last thing that needs to happen is to erase difference from any conversation.