Becoming More Like Alfie

Yesterday was a triumph of form over function. Who thought that a prose piece would cause so much damage, and that defending other people would be used as a means to attack my position. It is indeed all fun and games until someone’s ego is damaged and then all you have is memories and a far larger block list. Welcome to October, where everything is in free-fall.

Except, as it transpires, this is perfectly fine. No .GIFs of cartoon dogs have been burnt in the making of this blog. I have a minute of video this morning utilising two webcams and Discord, which is fucking light years ahead of where I was two months ago. Knowing how to use it, of course, is a different matter entirely, and now the tech needs to percolate in my brain.

I might be able to manage a poem a week on YouTube, though…

These are all small steps. Seeing my own work up is a step in a decent direction. It all works well in my own mind’s eye. That’s what this is all about, when everything is said and done. It is a slow, measured progression of ideas that started on paper. Now I can plan, and consider new ways to evolve myself, in new forms and possibilities.

All of it, in the end, is only working towards a single goal: expression.

Believe

Today is already quite important.

Loneliness is a big deal for me right now, which may seem incredible under current circumstances. After all, Lockdown is making people variously crave or be genuinely afraid of human contact. For me, however, the mental processes are different, and two incidents over the last 24 hours have finally allowed me to quantify why, right now, it really does feel like all I’m doing is yelling into a void.

It takes me a PHENOMENALLY long time to properly make friends with people. Sure, I can slip into conversations all day and night, hide in plain sight and never, ever feel as if those moments are anything other than totally natural. I’ve also become excellent at reading and taking stuff from other people in without ever needing to interact with them. That comes from decades as text as, in many cases my only contact with other people.

The problem, ultimately, is finding other people like me.

I attended a Time to Change Virtual Networking event yesterday, which was incredibly life affirming and made me realise, yet again, that I’m not alone when it comes to struggling with mental health issues. However, I’m not going to lie, there were moments where I felt unbelievably anxious and very alone indeed and, it’s apparent from distance, that’s because there is no individual interaction in a group of 80 people.

When I ended up in a Breakout room, or in a smaller group for feedback, the whole thing changed. When I’m talking to my local Hub or on a one-to-one with a fellow champion, none of the anxiety or disconnection exists. It is the need to talk to someone but, crucially, for them to share some kind of common bond. It isn’t just the conversation that matters. It is the possibility that someone might care enough to become a friend.

The significance of that realization is still resonating within me.

I have words that explain why I feel this way, that are accompanied by concepts that were introduced during counselling last year. I know full well why the emotions within me exist, and how in the past they pushed me to do things that were harmful and ended up hurting the people I cared about. So many of my issues drift back to never having the information required to be whole growing up. A lot of that was wrapped around my sexuality.

Understanding that I was attracted to both boys and girls several decades after those feelings first became apparent was part of my process of redemption. It has allowed everything to find its correct and proper level. It won’t deal with the consequences however, or make certain anxieties and phobias vanish. That is my job to address and deal with, and it is happening.

It may be self-indulgent, but honestly it should not be a surprise.

Knowing how my physical state affects mental well-being has been a revelation in recent months. Sleep plays a massive factor in understanding. However, more than anything else right now I crave empathic, intellectual connections. It’s why Patreon is so important as a creative tool, to allow me to explore the parts of my brain that so need to become as strong as my legs or arms.

It is why, on Bi Visibility Day, it matters to remind people that I am. It’s why those who malign social media need constant prompting that it isn’t the delivery system that needs work, but how people choose to use it. All of these things make life worth living. They give me purpose, paths and goals to achieve, and without them the Void is very big and it can become increasingly depressing shouting into it.

The problems are mine to fix. I cannot, however, do it alone.

Lies

I wrote in my diary this week that a longlist acknowledgement would be due for an award I’d entered for. Last night, there was a large Chinese take out as commiseration that, yet again, I’ve not made the cut. This served two purposes: it’s my last ‘big’ meal for two months as of this morning, I have some eating changes that need to be instigated, so plans for exercise will fall in the right place.

I’ll talk about this part of my mindset change in more detail next week, but the TL;DR version of it all is that I am not enough any more. Mentally an awful lot of stuff is working well, but it not in the right places, and therefore starting today there will be rearrangement (yet again) of my spaces. You won’t notice a lot of it, but to me it is pretty much everything.

There’s been a lot of singing in the car this week. This is good.

No really, there’s been practice of circular breathing, which I’ve not done since I was regularly playing a musical instrument (I was a bit of a prodigy, as it happens, but we don’t talk about that part of my life any more) It’s use now will be for stamina training during exercise: I’m gearing up for my cycle FTP test tomorrow and once that is done, many things are going to get reorganised.

We’ll talk about it all tomorrow.

Goodbye

Yesterday, I got quite upset. It was a combination of things, culminating in someone who is really respected getting grumpy over my enthusiasm, for something which is really being looked forward to. Then I remembered the ‘opinions’ are not facts’ rule, and the ‘enjoyment is subjective’ sub-clause and it’s okay for people not to like the same things you do.

The bigger issue occurs when someone subsequently bimbles along and then tries to convince that actually, you are the problem. That opinion is unacceptable. The difference is in the wording. This is the correct mindset, notwithstanding it being held not to be the correct mindset. It doesn’t matter that it is logical, sensible and applicable. You’re wrong, because you don’t agree with the person who objects to you not agreeing with them.

Welcome to the Pedantry Circle of Hell, population those people.

I spend a lot of my life arguing with people like this. By all accounts, at my age, I should be a person like this, but that is absolutely never going to happen. There are plenty of other people making the dick moves in the World, they don’t need anyone else. So, this space is now one where lots of things will be considered, nothing ignored if it is done with civility and well-exampled.

However, yesterday I saw comments by people ignored or removed from my feed some time ago that just reinforce this attitude hasn’t altered for, in at least one case, a decade. This is not about being right for myself either: pointing a finger at someone else for their inability to alter themselves is no better than the reversal of the action. To be better, all of those things need to be put aside.

That’s where I’ve been falling down for quite some time.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night

Once upon a time, I was thinking about a phone upgrade. The Huawei phone I had remained great: solid performance, but there’d been issues with the battery, then I’d dropped it and needed to replace everything on insurance. Looking at my contract, with three months left, I’d have to pay a couple of hundred quid to do so, which didn’t exist anyway.

I cast around for a bit, looking for a cheaper alternative. Apple was a non-starter. I didn’t want another Huawei because their own software was becoming intrusive. Someone (I do not remember who) on my Twitter timeline suggested I take a look at the Pixel 4a when the time came. There was an article about it in the Guardian that day. I linked it to Future Self as a reminder in December.

Then, this happened:

I thought maybe this was a scam, but no, that’s legitimately Google’s UK account. So, I did as I was told. I said hi, and via DM was asked to provide a name and address, which is when alarm bells started to ring. All my online smarts told me that stuff like this is normally a precursor to bad things happening. Fraud, crappy mail for the rest of time, that kind of stuff.

Some internal rationalization then followed: maybe they wanna send me stuff about the phone? Maybe it might be some kind of promotion? Hey, if it’s a money off voucher, this would be useful regardless. So, I committed. I wrote, in the instructions box they provided, ‘make sure you ring the bell’ because, knowing how Google Forms work, they’s just print out the address and the instructions to stick on the parcel, and then I’d know it was from them.

Fast-forward to last Thursday. Daughter’s first day back at school. Quite stressful all round. Getting ready to go on the School Run, a man appears with a parcel at the front door, on which my instructions are indeed printed. It is FAR TOO LARGE to be a phone and suddenly, I am more than confused… until I open it.

I am now the proud owner of a Pixel 4a. I traded in the old phone last night and so, as it happens, also in profit as a result of this deal. It’s a beautifully compact, very lovely thing and will be used to take photos with this week to see just how capable it is in the field. Thus far I am more than happy but remain a little confused.

Whoever it was who decided I was worthy of one of these things, THANK YOU. The drink and the snacks were lovely, and quite unnecessary. I’ll use it for as long as is possible and it will be very well taken care of, but for the record if you wanted an influencer, there are probably better tech people that could have been chosen. However, this solves the issue of replacing stuff. For that alone, I am happy.

It’s the little things that really make a big difference to people like me.

What Have I Done to Deserve This?

I’m beginning to lose patience with Social media again. It will, undoubtedly, be the reason I never truly make it ‘big’ because I refuse, point-blank, to be the person who does it the way is either a) right or b) the way everybody else does. I am c) fuck you on every single answer when it comes to this game at present, especially to those people who turn up, realise I’m not here to help them, and fuck off again.

There’s a lot of that going on at the moment.

I’m seeing people belittle others with increasing frequency too, as if life has somehow become an exercise in making it your job to be righteous. Nobody is suggesting you can’t live your life in the way it matters to you, but if that means denying other people of help and support that might help them live better lives… that’s where you need to check your privilege.

This is faith. I know a lot of individuals would (and have) bristle at that use of the word. However, like it or not, if there’s something you believe and you cannot adequately either explain it to anyone else or it is an experience that you alone have gone through and it has fundamentally altered your outlook on life… well…

I have a number of friends who walk with a god. There’s not just one, as has been established in history, but quite a few flavours of religion. Their preferred faith is no different to those who look to the ancient teachings of Shamen or Druids for guidance. Everybody has a means to connect themselves to the here and now, the key to progress is accepting that they are ALL valid, in one way or another. You respect them all.

This also means the fascists, like it or not, have a facet of validity within them. Yes I really did type that because in a world where increasing numbers of people seem to care about nothing except themselves, hating people who are not in the image you ascribe as perfect is no different in a certain light to pronouncing other people’s lifestyle choices are unsound, based on your own prescribed beliefs.

The Universe however is far larger than you will ever be.

Once upon a time, validation was very important to me from other people. I know the exact moment when that changed, and in a certain light I could see how other people might consider that as a religious experience. Of course, because I have no idea of what that really is for anyone else, there is no benchmark to measure on… and yet, here I am, trying to do just that.

This is not about being right. This should never be about waving words around like vindication, except now everyone has a cause that they need to champion, a fight that needs to be undertaken. Not everything is a Holy War, except on Social media, where everything nearly always is. It’s exhausting, and at some point people are going to get hurt.

It will be mental health that ends up as the biggest casualty, without doubt.

Life is Life

Nobody else is gonna sell me. I know I’m getting somewhere when somebody draws one of my OC’s or does a tribute .GIF. These are the markers which indicate you are being listened to and that people are paying attention. Maybe this is the month, but I’m not waiting around for someone else to do the legwork.

If it’s gonna happen, I have to instigate it.

Therefore, starting today, it’s about doing the miles, not the journey. YES I KNOW about all that motivational shit involving process but unless that actually happens, nothing changes. That means WERK, and GUBBINS with the minimal amount of FAFFING along the way. It also requires an absolute kick ass soundtrack. This is all covered.

Time to proceed.

Most importantly this month, I have real, tangible exercise goals to aim for. I’ll be avoiding the Gym at weekends, but there are spaces I can use alone away from the main body of people to lift and train. Those are going to be utilised a lot going forward Monday to Friday. I’m into week six of my 12-Week Bike Plan too, and it’s not letting up. I am working HARD, not just typing a good game.

Now I know weight gain isn’t nearly as dire as was thought, I’m pretty sanguine about the loss process. It will happen, but not at the loss of treats and giving myself the opportunity to enjoy food and not just fuel with it. I’m back to daily protein shakes. There’s been some quite important changes in my body since March too, some which appear to have manifested through my hair ^^

The back shave is back, but returning me to blonde/white is going to take a bit more work than first anticipated. The red, although fantastic for my confidence, decided after about three weeks it had no intention of staying put, except (rather oddly) in that particular band of hair. I know that your hair strands can be tested for drug use and mirror issues with your general health.

I’d love to know why that patch won’t shift, and I’d also bet good money the reason I’ve become more sensitive to bleaching than normal will be related to stress and anxiety, which there has been a lot of over the last couple of months. No matter, colour right now is irrelevant: it’s neat, I feel human again and it’ll work wonderfully on camera when I start doing my mental health champion business next week.

Talking of which, must get on. Lots to do.

Tower of Strength

A bunch of ridiculously rich people worried about being ‘cancelled’ (with no grasp at all what this really means) co-signed a statement yesterday. The two most notable (at least for me) had already come together in conflict earlier in the day on something far more telling.

This is where we are now. There are no precisely drawn lines… except one. Wealth. All of those people have money, and by definition access to anything they might need to ensure their lives are lived without issue. Except, of course, as writers, they are supposed to be revered and loved for their intellectual stimulation and insight or else their reason for being does not exist.

Think it’s time to bring Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs back to the table.

All those rich people are not at the top of their pyramids right now. They might have made it to Tier Two without breaking sweat but Tier Three is the deal breaker for EVERYBODY in Lockdown: when ‘they’ say that money won’t buy you happiness, this is normally the space where the majority of that assertion lies. The shift from Safety to Belonging is fucking HUGE.

For this writer, I can absolutely attest that once you move into the Esteem stage of proceedings, an awful lot of stuff that was not previously possible becomes just that. The self-imposed obstacles that are set previously simply cease to exist. You can and do attain things that were previously impossible. It is, ultimately, all about your own personal journey into enlightenment.

Wealth then becomes far more than material fortune.

Except, for many of these writers being unchallenged on frankly vile opinions for decades is coming to an end. Having an ‘opinion’ is finally beginning to mean accountability. The more insidious upshot of this, at least for me, will always be the mental health consequences of having opinions and outbursts in a public forum, in front of a massive, often highly susceptible audience.

Never more was that apparent than when this particular piece of video appeared yesterday lunchtime.

I know this might raise some eyebrows here, but this is dangerously close to doublethink tactics. I saw the term ‘psy-ops’ used in a few places by some notable players and had to go look it up. They say every day is a school day in this parish and that it is.

First off: THESE GUYS HAVE GABRIEL AS THEIR PATRON??? Quite apart from the numerous WTAF’s that resulted from this rabbit hole, it is apparent that mental warfare is now a big deal. Undoubtedly, having looked at the tell-all book a member of the Orange Twat’s family has now been allowed to publish, it’s quite clear that childhood trauma’s got a part to play in proceeedings.

Speaking as someone already waist high in the same shit another writer’s sold for a fortune, objectivity becomes the defining feature for absolutely everything. If I was holding the keys to a massive nuclear arsenal, I’d fucking demand other people made me accountable. That’s not happening right now, and needs to change. Toxic behaviour is no longer acceptable, however fucking rich your books have made you.

It is possible to put everything in place and it still to work.

Some rich, white people will be casualties. Whether there are enough of them, and whether the right ones are quietly shifted aside remains to be seen. Psychological warfare is the tool they have used for decades to subjugate others, and if we’re being all biblical here in terms of revenge then one good tooth extraction deserves reciprocation.

Except these aren’t the white people who will turn on us and attack our friends. That’s far more likely to happen in a supermarket or a public space. It won’t just be extremism from one direction any more. It’ll be everywhere… except, of course, that’s been the case in certain places for a long time. Maybe that will be noted and dealt with.

There are more problems here currently than solutions offered.

Life is a Minestrone

Don’t worry, you didn’t wander in to the Gaming Blog by mistake. Quietly, and without fuss a while back, I shut it down. It really should have metaphorically burnt it to the ground too, but that’s a bit too drama queen for current tastes. Needless to say, this is Wordsworth. She has a lovely one bedroomed house with a basement on an island with some other people.

They’re not really her friends, if truth be told. She’s not really sure what they are right now, but they talk and exchange gifts and that’s fine because she can fish as much as she wants here and nobody gets cross at her. There’re gardens to tend and flowers to water and bugs to keep in check, and all of this is a lovely distraction from the real world on fire outside.

However, it’s not a life any more. This is just a game.

I spent time yesterday advocating to someone in a senior position inside a major organization that they are not doing enough for people who play games online. There’s a lot of other stuff we all know is patently wrong with the virtual world, but as this is the bit I personally have the most experience with, I’d like to start here.

There’s no real idea if this will come to anything, but I had to try. That’s the deal now: if there is any conceivable way of affording change, it needs to be pushed for. Interestingly, I now have an academic example of how Twitter operates in relation to mental health on a personal basis. I need to go take screenshots of the incident this morning.

People need to grasp how this medium makes people work.

We all have apocryphal Internet stories: the ones which you can prove as true are the incidents we need to start recording better. I must, for instance, go back and see if it is possible to find the DM logs of the woman I kept talking after she’d had a gun waved at her. There’s confidence I can recall time and date, now all I need is the evidence.

As someone with memory issues related to trauma it is becoming vitally important to record this stuff for posterity and so it can be accessed if required. It goes without saying right now that there are some conversations that ought to be screenshotted regardless. There are those in the world who will be quite keen to make history vanish, not realising that the Internet NEVER forgets.

Not only that, its timing remains impeccable when reminding you.

Just a Little

I thought for a bit about live-tweeting my Trauma episodes: however I respect you guys far too much for that. So, instead, we’re going to blog them, for no other reason than if I can forget things so comprehensively for a lifetime and then have them come back as if I’d lived them 15 minutes ago? Recording those reactions might be useful.

Let’s start with yesterday’s Instagram photo.

That’s not hyperbole either. I didn’t remember taking that photo yesterday. That’s before the kitchen was refitted, because this was the year it happened. Then, this morning, walking round my 6k ‘block’ of space in which I was supposed to be thinking about editing (which in fairness happened quite a bit) it came back to me. You needed to be accountable.

I took that picture because, for the first time, I felt capable. That confidence still comes and goes over time: right now there’s a definite effort being made in my head to separate what I think is attractive from what is real. The former’s still massively influenced by factors that aren’t healthy: weight, ability, other people. A bi-weekly Zoom meeting is beginning to help grant much needed perspective.

For long periods of my life have I refused to look at myself at all.

The last time I wore make-up was my wedding, so that will be over twenty years, and that was because the pictures were going to other people. I didn’t care what I looked like but EVERYBODY else suggested I should make the effort, so did. The idea of make-up was approached again recently. I have foundation, expensive stuff, sitting unused in a bag upstairs.

Why don’t I want to wear it? That’s easy. There is already enough hiding. The stage has been reached where people accept me like this, faults and all : I don’t need to dress up and go out to make me feel better. Fixing the basic stuff that’s broken in my head is a bigger priority. Once that’s dealt with, honestly, I cannot see me using make up ever again.

It might change, but right now that looks doubtful.

I am making myself do stuff that is uncomfortable in the coming weeks, but not that is against what I know is the true essence of myself, and makeup never really worked for me. It always felt like I was pretending to be someone else. When you can’t really and truthfully identify what you are in the first place, that causes a lot of confusion. I tend to do a lot of things because other people tell me that’s a good idea, and that has to change.

I know they want me to be happy when this is suggested, and I get the reasoning behind all the stuff that’s presented. However, what makes me happiest is often when I’m allowed just to be the person who doesn’t like what everybody else is raving about, or who isn’t immersed in the latest thing. Just a book, or a computer to work on, some food and people to talk to. All the other stuff is distraction from reality.

I think what is becoming increasingly apparent is that the world and I work slightly out of alignment. Normal is easy, what I need now is hard and difficult and it is to challenge the substance of my being to move forward in a fashion that truly represents my actuality, for the first time ever. When you’ve never really defined yourself properly, that can seem quite frightening.

The first stage of all of this is to be more confident in myself.