Holiday

I didn’t post at all for two whole days. Here’s why.

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#365daychallenge Sunday, Tate Modern

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There’s been some quite robust discussion in the house over what should happen at weekends. As a result, on Saturday and Sunday nothing was written as part of a plan. I’ve stated in other places that now writing is my job, there is requirement for alternate means to relax when that doesn’t happen. Saturday was gaming, Sunday was the Tate Modern. Both had their surprises.

I’ll write at length about Olafur Eliasson in the week, as his exhibition caused an unexpected anxiety attack. It’s a measure of my progress that didn’t utterly ruin the day. It also provided a surprising amount of material that I now wish to write about, so in that regard I’m very happy with the entire weekend’s exercise. If there was worry previously over being unable to be creative, this has greatly assuaged it.

I’ll be in a forest in a week, which is the holiday I’ve been looking forward to for a lot longer than was previously believed. There’ll be a lot of writing there, but all the real work will happen when I come back. Many things will be pulled from their spaces on hard drives to be re-written. I’m ready to do that now, and instead of using new stuff as contest entries, it’s going to be old things, re-imagined.

I’m surprisingly determined at what will be achieved.

Aquarius (Let the Sun Shine)

Yesterday was important for a couple of reasons. Let me talk to you about the one you didn’t see talked about at the time or retweeted.

Last year, someone told me that I was exhibiting a great many symptoms of autism, but was not in a position to confirm formal diagnosis. If I wanted that to happen, it would require a period of counselling, and then some effort on my part to get access to the specific testing mechanics that allow that to be considered. Having finished the counselling portion of proceedings last month, something significant has altered.

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It has, inevitably, required time for what was pulled up from counselling to settle and be digested. Part of that happened yesterday. As of right now, I am finally confident pushing for an autism diagnosis would be a waste of everybody’s time and resources, that others deserve those valuable things more than I do. There’s an incredibly complex set of reasons behind this decision, which I’m not as yet prepared to discuss in public.

Having a reason for why I was what I am became an obsession, for a while, until the truth emerged. This is the first time in my entire existence that everything feels at peace. It makes sense to me why I am what this is, right here, writing these words. Of course, there will be contentious issues, and returns to the heat of my fears but my ability to deal and process, to manage what I am, has improved vastly.

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After a night when dreams were full of things that had been forgotten, the future more optimistic than I ever remember it being, I’ve changed a line in my Twitter bio. Right now, I am dealing with multiple incidents of Trauma. Once that’s been managed and measured satisfactorily, we’ll look again at where I stand. For now, this is a journey that, on reflection, was never going to be easily labelled and then dispensed with.

At least that lesson is now learnt and taken to heart.

Fear

This month, so far, has been a bit of an eye-opener and we’re only three days in. Personally, I’m gaining great satisfaction as my personal confidence grows with reacting in the exact opposite way to that which is clearly expected of me when emotional manipulation takes place. Once you can see it, this shit becomes remarkably easy to deal with. After that, it’s whether you want to or not.

As long as I have time for a cuppa and werds each day, right now I’m pretty sanguine over everything else.

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Once upon a time, it was my dream to have a massive follower count, until I grasped that that very much depends on who starts following your account in the first place. Starting again from scratch, the writing Twitter account currently shows the kind of growth I dreamed about, back in the day, because I’m doing that in the right place. My ‘personal’ account’s stuck in a demographic where if I’m not gaming, nobody notices.

What this means effectively is zero growth unless I drive it. It also means that, like it or not, when I check for unfollowers at the start of the month, this (more and more) is the message I see:

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In the last three months, I’ve been the one solely responsible for decreasing my own follower count, and I couldn’t be happier. Mass unfollows have been wildly successful, mutes allowing me to concentrate on what really matters and not get distracted by stupidity. I’ve realised crucially too that those people I thought shared the same interests as I do really don’t. If they did, I’d be kopping a lot more flack for my actions.

In many cases these individuals have become redundant: not doing anything except keeping themselves happy. Understandably, the dopamine hit from doing this is pretty potent, but as I am no longer work in the industry you followed me for… there’s no loss in quietly removing those who don’t care, or think that just because I responded to them a few times makes us best mates.

A lot of people are creeping me out too, and that’s got to change.

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So, what have we learnt this week, kids? Don’t get dependant on any one thing as a means to survive. There always has to be a back up plan. Expecting people to be friends with you (as was discussed yesterday) is no a given, and your own shortcomings may be far more obvious than was at first apparent. Oh yeah, and you have them. That’s the kicker: no, you’re not perfect, and if your internal monologue tells you otherwise, it’s lying.

EVERYBODY gets to do better.

Immigrant Song

Day 1 Proper of the Summer Break [TM] because we’re not counting the two and a bit days last week, for lots of reasons. I have a lot that needs fixing, not simply because it is August on Thursday. Nothing ever gets really better without some pain and real effort. I grasp this, always have, yet never really bring the business to the table: maybe now it is time to once and for all fix my shit.

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In a very particular order, here’s what is going to happen:

No Weigh Ins, Lots of Effort

I won’t weigh myself again until September 2nd. This isn’t so I can eat and not stress, it’s meant as a conscious decoupling from the scales and the way my life seems to constantly end up revolving around them. I am aware of what needs to be eaten more of, and what ought to happen less. There’s not been a real effort in that department since the start of the year. Time to finally make a change.

There’s a lot of body image stigma that needs addressing this Summer.

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A Realistic Workload

Last year, I tried to do everything, and wasn’t successful with most of it. There’s enough intelligence to realise that a lot of that was my fault, and that I really wasn’t mature enough as a writer with technical skill. That’s changed now: there’s a lot of good in my ability, as the last month has adequately proven. That means that picking and choosing what gets done becomes a priority going forward.

Therefore this week, as well as planning for August, I’ll be working out what is realistically possible with the portfolio of work that’s currently on the hard drive. Some only need a polish, others probably a re-write from scratch. It’ll take a while, but the effort will be worth it. Plus, today it’ll be time to get back to novel-ing. There are at least five days this week with potential for work to be done.

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Learning to Relax

As specified at the weekend, there’s a real deficiency here. I’ve got the Pokemons on the phone sorted, some cats on my tablet, and a to watch list longer than the Amazon (river not retail outlet) to watch. It can’t be impossible to do all this and still say sane, right? Course it isn’t, just gotta realise that there’s a balance in everything to be found and then maintained.

If I’m going to learn ANYTHING about myself in the next six weeks, this is the bullet point that matters most, which is why it’s last in the post.

Time to do the work.

The Climb

Yesterday, I was supposed to go to somewhere, but I didn’t.

I let someone down: it was a Christmas present for her, and an experience for me. Except, somewhere between late last year and now, many things shifted. I’m still not over my anxiety issues, that is abundantly apparent, and maybe I was arrogant thinking that was the case. Yes, I really was. I know how disappointed I made my friend yesterday, but the fact remains if I’d have gone through with our trip, it would have set me back months, possibly years. Knowing that, in itself, is a massive step forward.

I can at least understand what it is that needs to be addressed.

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There are some quite serious issues that remain with my body image. Some of them have been overcome, but not all. Confidence is very much dependent on my ability to cope with everything else, and a lack of sleep is pretty much a fast-track to disaster. After the interview on Tuesday, I’ve not really returned to an semblance of either normal sleep or capability. The weather absolutely isn’t helping this. In fact, what I will be doing after this is having a kip.

So bad is my mental incapacity that I’ve cancelled tonight’s Blaze class. No novel will be attempted until tomorrow, because otherwise it’ll end up being trashed regardless. What is needed today involves as little stress as possible, and as much relaxation as can be mustered. Then, as it’s holiday time and there’s no stress to school run? Time to see what can be achieved over the weekend.

Grasping the problem before something really bad happens is distinct progress.

Acceptance

It’s taken thirty two years to reach this next point, where personal narrative finally diverges from a very well-worn path. There’s no fear either, which is a surprise. Maybe that’s because, for the first time in fifty years, understanding isn’t a problem. Running yesterday, it was fun. You know, the stuff the rest of the world experiences on a daily basis but was somehow lost in the last twelve months.

Just how off course were you on this particular journey?

The last time a book/s affected me so significantly was The Bridge by Iain Banks back in 1986. Thirty years of literature hasn’t so much passed me by, it’s that I’ve not really ever felt it as much as perhaps was possible. That’s the biggest take-way: not you books, most definitely me. I, the party of the first part, am most definitely the one at fault. It’s not just words either: lots of stuff has been eaten, seen and listened to without the correct level of mindfulness applied. There’s a lot to catch up on.

I tried reading this trilogy last year, but my brain couldn’t cope with it. Having finished the final book, the reasoning for that has become abundantly apparent. The chain of my subconscious, delicate silver, remains knotted and dense. It requires patience plus a needle to unravel. Now we’ve established this is not a five minute task, that there’s a LOT of work to do straightening links, it’s time to get working. It wasn’t just meditation and mindfulness that was required, but my own admission of inability.

Last weekend sorted that out for good.

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Weeeeellll, yes and no. I get what’s gotta be done now, even if that’s just broad strokes in some places and being oddly specific in others. Life is no fun unless you live it, bad and good. That’s happening: as we get a bit of momentum up, there’ll be time to tweak the plan. The biggest step forward however is that going back to the way I was will never, ever be an option, because that person no longer exists.

That’s a positive I’ll never get tired of celebrating.

Wherever You Will Go

Today, we’re going to talk about learning.

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Learning is not just a grasp of information, it is a combination of many, disparate factors. Experience counts for a significant amount of the process too: how things work, so that over time you can better understand the best means to optimise and streamline processes. By far the best way to learn, is to do. This, for me, means a fundamental change in approach to… well, just about everything.

Firstly, it is dealing with issues as they occur. Take this morning: on the way back from the School Run, for the first time ever, my petrol warning light came on. Normally I’ve programmed myself to always ensure there’s no less than a quarter of a tank at all times. This week, I’m fatigued and other issues have deflected this base level preparedness. Looking at the dial on the car, two thoughts presented:

Go home, you’re hungry and thirsty, you can get petrol when you go out again

OR

Go find the nearest petrol station and DO IT NOW.

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This might seem odd, using summat so trivial to explain the basic trouble I have with life, but it’s a metaphor. Doing the right thing was, for so very long, summat that would be ignored over keeping myself safe, and by that I mean happy and unstressed. It’s always easier not to tidy up the big pile of mess and just find summat easier to deal with… which is all well and good until the sum of your mess piles overwhelms you and everything else. It’s the deadline you’ll never make, or the scary thing that never gets finished.

Failure really is no longer an option.

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You see, I’ve only just learnt that failure is less about other people and you, but more about you and other people. It meant I went and got petrol, then came home and did the stuff that I didn’t want to do ahead of the things I do. Learning is prioritising the importance of other people’s desires on a par with yours, and then working out how the whole thing can be harmonised. My daughter can be critical of my housekeeping skills with absolute certainty she’s right, but if she’s not practising self care and eating the lunch I give her, that’s not accepting my efforts at support.

Arguing with a 14 year old is absolutely the best way to learn and grasp your own shortcomings.

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I don’t care who you are and how much experience you claim to possess: EVERYBODY can do better right now. Whether it’s recycling, food choices, personal habits, online etiquette or just living each day in a reasonably worthwhile fashion, somewhere in your personal existence there will be room for improvement. I accept the esoteric need to learn fancy stuff like a second language, but as I’m still unable to adequately communicate in the single language known, sometimes going back to basics has merit.

What ought to happen most, it occurs to me, is the process of gentle exploration of self before anything else of significance takes place. Three people, in separate situations this week, all have suggested that mental health is the key to true learning comprehension. Maybe, if we all possessed some rudimentary mental health support during childhood or even on a regular basis in adulthood, it would become far easier to recognise the warning signs when stuff begins to go wrong.

Maybe that would make it easier for more people to recognise truth when it is presented.