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.

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I promise there will not be too much going on about The New Project this week, but as it all kicks off tomorrow, this seems like the correct moment to explain just how fucking important Arguto is. This is the means by which anything is possible and acceptable as a writer. Sure, there could be an extension of self in any one of the three existing places that are provisioned for writing, but all of them come with a measure of immovable baggage. This place is new, fresh: the most pristine of clean slates. Here can be written the part of me that’s been hidden for decades.

This is where I will finally be free.

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I expect the first steps to be tentative and cautious, but already ideas are germinating that will, in time, become brilliant blooms. Laying down a month of ambient vibes across the other platforms is a means by which brain relaxes into the grooves, and begins to run a better course. The plan, long-term, is to use a number of pre-planned projects as a basis for experience-based writing. This will begin with the ten days in August put aside for the road trip to Rome, ambition finally realised after several decades.

After that, there are plans to use London as a springboard but to also explore the place that is called home. Potentially there’s an infinite supply of source material at my disposal, what is required is the planning and organisation to pull everything together. Crucially, there will be physical evidence of all of this as a paper-based version of the online narrative is produced initially for free, but in time with the possibility of charging people to cover printing fees.

There, I said it.

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I’m grateful to those already preparing to make this journey because it is reassuring to know you are not alone. Rest assured, its already a roaring success without a word being written.

Freedom gives a sense of confidence I’ve never found anywhere else in my life.

You’re Not Alone

Once upon a time, I would have sat and felt sorry for myself today. There would have been moping about, and sad moments, with wistful stares and quite possibly tears. However, I’m not the person I used to be. Last night there was a forceful moment of revelation: other people do not dictate your happiness anymore. If I am to truly evolve out of my old state and into the person I truly wish to become, there is a part of my life holding things back, which has done for far too long.

This morning, therefore, I took a walk into the unknown.

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The initial signs are encouraging, but I am aware of not getting my hopes up too high. However, the fact remains that I’ll never affect long-term, significant change in any aspect of my life without some pain and effort. Therefore, if it matters enough, it is time to start altering those portions of existence I am not happy with. After a month of my own content being very well received, it is time to put my social needs back into some kind of order.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Moving On Up

Husband is back to work, but kids don’t go back until Thursday. Therefore the next two days are full of panic, disbelief and anger as both remember that they have work to do and it can’t be avoided any longer, despite us both urging them to get it done before the last minute. It cannot be helped, sadly, this is a family that does enjoy a good bit of procrastination with it’s gaming sideline. One day, maybe, I can get everybody else out of the habit. Today I could have taken the car to the Doctors, but instead I walked there and back. 25 minutes both ways does, whatever else happens, provide nearly an hour of effort today that could have been done in the Gym but instead benefited from being outside.

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It is particularly grim out, for the record. Yesterday was at least bright and sunny, but now it’s all grey and full of elderly people clearly utterly fucked off that kids got bikes for Christmas and are riding on the pavements. There was also a level of shonky driving and distinct lack of car indication that made me think some people could still be drunk from Sunday and that walking was a far more sound method of movement. I will do my best to walk to the Gym whenever possible from now on, but in the mornings it will be preferable to pack a bag and have it in the motor at all times… which reminds me, I could do with replacing the old one. Ah, the joys of Amazon.

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I’m back on deadlines starting tonight, and I’ll be honest and say I needed a week off, it’s given me an opportunity to refresh the ideas bank and get myself re-energised for the year ahead. I’m also willingly doing chores ahead of procrastinating in front of the PC to boot.

I wonder how long I can keep it going.

Fear

Nothing is ever really good enough when you write. There is this constant need to tinker, poke and prod, and especially in situations where you know you wrote with an emotional undertone, a desire to temper. Except this morning I created a post from nothing, just left it and walked away. Normally, you’d go back and look at this kind of stuff with a critical eye several hours later but in this case? It just fell from me. After it was done I sat and cried for ten minutes, because the process of admitting things to yourself is sometimes not as an exact a science as you either wish or hope. It wasn’t big or clever either, just an understanding that what I want and what the world presents are two very differing things. There comes a moment where you have to make a choice: accept the reality you are presented with and be grateful, or push for something better.

In this case, I get more pleasure now from pushing than I ever did before from inactivity.

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Sometimes it’s about a theme, or co-ordination. Often it’s reacting to a moment, the latest outrage. Mostly, writing for me has stopped being simply about ‘enough’ and now demands to be more and I’m seeing that bleed over into my fiction work too (but more on that when there’s actual progress to report.) In terms of daily progress it often felt like a very slow drip to fill an enormous bath, but then there are these floods of outpouring that catch me by surprise. Then I need to take time and effort to adjust to what’s happened, and all of that means the process of building skills is this back and forth, water in and then let out until there’s a level I’m comfortable bathing in. Right now, anything above my waist and I begin to panic, and there’s always the fear that I’ll be swamped unexpectedly and simply drown. Control therefore is paramount.

Then I realise that if I learnt to swim and breathe underwater, all my problems would vanish overnight.

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This means a lot of panic when people respond to me, I’ll be honest, especially those I don’t know well. I’m not able to hold onto the thought of good or great either for that long, because there’s this constant background rumble of ‘nope, this isn’t as good as it could be try harder now’ which also requires some work. That’s why walking has become so important, that jamming headphones on and being elsewhere isn’t just a temporary escape, it has become the means by which I can readjust myself to what’s going on. Music is so hugely significant in everything, and has become the rhythm by which my progress is measured. It’s taken a decade, but my tastes are changing too, expanding and growing as my abilities begin to emerge.

Mostly, fear breeds control, which in turn creates balance.