White Knight

I should have been referred today for an Adult ASD diagnosis. The doctor has all the paperwork, I’ve provided a personal referral statement. As he refused to see me in person, I have no idea of his veracity at this point. We’ll see how it goes, but I have done all that could be done, and as a result am mentally exhausted.

Everything else has gone extraordinarily well this week, including having massive progress on the house.

Normal posting, such as it remains, will return again on Monday.

And So It Goes

I’m going on holiday tomorrow: not anywhere away from here, but pretending not to work for two weeks. It will be a break, however, which is the more important point. Today, something happened that is worth remembering from a personal PoV. There’s a surprising amount of context that goes with it.

In my life, I’ve been the person a couple of people have turned to when they have lost a parent. It’s odd, because that depth of connection is something I have never experienced. The truth of this realization came up again this week in a different context: I love lots of people now, and that love is given freely, without fear of consequence. Only now does it properly register what it must mean when someone doesn’t love you back.

Helping people is really important to me, and it’s not often I’ll open myself up to that because there’s proper comprehension of what matters when you lose someone you really care about. I understand this not because of my own life, but thanks to the generosity of others. I can grieve too, could never before.

This was a learned skill, not one that is ingrained. I didn’t bond immediately with my son, but when it happened with my daughter, PND was the result, because finally I was genuinely afraid of not being capable of the love required to support both of them, and then my husband. So many things revolved around the transactional nature of those relationships.

Someone today told me that friendship for them is not transactional. I wasn’t built that way, need to see the ebb and flow of the emotional exchanges to understand what is going on, to comprehend their significance. For me, it is all about the obvious, because for so long there was never real importance placed on that tacit understanding so many people just experience as normal life. I don’t have this, and this is where a lot of personal interaction falls down.

I was also told I blame myself for a lot, which is the peculiar nature of my trauma experience, but crucially this is not the reason why I know some relationships I have been involved with would only ever end up as temporary and not permanent. What I want from relationships is often what other people are uncomfortable giving, because it really is all or nothing. I don’t have enough time left to do anything else.

Someone also told me this week that my biggest strength is my authenticity, and for the first time in a very long time I actually believe that. If this were 100 years ago, I’d be sitting here trying hard not to be overwhelmed by the portents. Fate has sent me some fucking huge signals in the last seven days. Things are changing for the better. Life is rearranging itself around me, and as that happens, there will be consequence to consider.

Sometimes, it isn’t just you that’s altering either, though if you’re a good person you’ll always check you didn’t fuck something up when you see something out of the ordinary. The people who know I’ll worry when stuff changes have learnt to let me know, to help me cope. They’ll help me understand them, especially when the signals are hard to decrypt.

In the end however, however hard you try, sometimes people grow apart.

Regeneration

For the longest time, all I’ve ever really wanted to do is throw everything away and start again.

The practicalities of this have always eluded me, but now it’s become an actual reality, and as existence begins to warp its way around me and the new world forms, this is a better place for so many reasons. Of course, it’s still filled with terrible, hateful people who only care about themselves, but that has ALWAYS been the case and will continue to be so for the rest of my time alive. The difference now is they can no longer alter my trajectory.

I finally gained enough momentum to escape the gravity of my own darkness.

Slowly, things are improving. Every share, every interaction, each new conversation. They all add to the pile. I get to be better. The muscles get stronger, the fat diminishes. I’m more awake, even when mentally there’s nothing left in the tank. If you asked me a year ago if I could fast until midday every day, I’d have laughed at you and then thrown an empty teacup at the wall. Now, I drink a lot of water, and other people buy me emergency chocolate.

This is a good place to be right now, even with the terror of real life as accompaniment.

It’s been a touch week, but the escape cannot be stopped.

On my way now, everybody.

Respect

Truth, let’s be honest, is often very hard to come by in the modern world. If I believe the Government over half the things they tell me, I’d be doubting myself on an almost daily basis. Being told that we have to live with Covid is, however, probably a realistic take on the next ten years of life, until at least the point when there’s a new SuperBug to contend with… by which time, one can only hope, we’ll have got our fucking act together.

Justifiably, however, a lot of people don’t want to hear this, especially those who don’t have a double vaccination. We don’t need people being gaslit either, and yet it is happening with increasing frequency. I’m really not sure how it got to the point where safety was superseded by commercialism either, but it shouldn’t surprise anybody that is where we now exist. In the months that follow, a lot of stuff is going to disintegrate for good. We don’t have a ‘Normal’ to go back to any more. That’s the problem.

There is less time to blog at present, mostly because my free time has become so precious. However, starting today there will be a proper effort to do Mondays and Fridays, if only to be able to remind myself how badly the World is on fire at any given moment. It’s also a great way to distract myself as a bunch of people destroy my home in the name of progress.

Start

It’s a new week! I’ve been out AGAIN! I went actual shopping and everyfink and there’s clothing for the first time in eighteen months. If it is useful for anything, it’s finding bra tops that aren’t actual bras with clasps that a) fit my peculiar body shape and b) are actually comfortable. This bra, I’m wearing now, is both. Welcome to the Future, boobies.

Yes, I KNOW I should have done this yesterday, but other stuff ended up mattering more.

It’s all a delicate balancing act…

Sabotage

This is the only blog I’ll write today: I should have done something on Wednesday but, to be honest, this week has gotten away from me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been immense, but simultaneously anger-inducing. All this will pass, as is always the case, and we’ll be back on the shit from Monday…

I am still recovering from Wednesday: the blister on my foot is now down to an acceptable level of pain, I have received a largely predictable response from the Doctors with reference to my pursuit of a particular diagnosis, and will be gearing up to attack the problem again, with the correct tools at my disposal. Major life changes begin on Monday. It’s all go here, and the goal remains to thrive, which I am.

Other people will not derail my progress.

Really, we are getting there.

Atomic

My brain’s reconstituting itself, right now. Inside this head, behind sore hay fevered eyes, neural pathways appear to be healing. That might not be the right word, on reflection: it isn’t like memories are reappearing that are a surprise. All of this was there before. The problem here is that they’d been very much forgotten.

I have no idea about the science, but can tell you with absolute confidence that after I’d written those last nine poems yesterday something shut at least half my basic mental processes right down. Concentration was impossible: it still is now, to an extent. Focusing on making sentences forming some kind of coherent sense is wearing me out.

Typing really has gone to Hell as well.

Is this really the result of accessing memories I have not previously been comfortable reliving, or indeed discussing? Is there some other mental issue at play? Am I working myself too hard physically and is that causing a knock-on effect? I wish there were answers but really right now it’s a lot of questions, none of which I feel comfortable Googling answers for.

Things however are better than they were yesterday: lots of nosh last night, some displacement activities on my Animal Crossing island… and last night’s sleep record on the Garmin has definitely detected a change in something: normal sleep for me is nothing other than fitful at best after about four hours. Last night therefore is a bit of a revelation.

That massive block of awareness at 5.30am was really bizarre: I was awake, but not in a way that would have been functional. It was almost like being asleep, and my recall of dreams came close to being what I suspect some people would consider as lucid. There is undoubtedly something different and unusual at play.

More news as I work out what the fuck is going on.

New Life

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I’m sitting here having breakfast, after seeing Mr Alt off on the inaugural Velo Birmingham. This is just another race to my husband, but for me it has become a powerful metaphor, and only this morning have I fully grasped the significance.

When Dave was diagnosed with Type Two Diabetes, it was a wake up call for him, instant incentive to get fitter and work harder to deal with a problem that was, to an extent, of his own creation. His father was diabetic, so historically the deck was already stacked, but I think we both know had he had made an effort to be healthier before, this diagnosis may not have happened at all. Now it has, it isn’t somebody else’s problem to deal with, it is ours. That doesn’t just mean him either: I have a duty of care as his wife. That’s why I’m here today, as support, and why I’m doing more to help as time goes on.

When that diagnosis was made, we could both have done nothing. He might have ignored the advice, still be overweight and not tried to be fitter. We could have blanked the problem and carried on as if nothing had changed, which would have been both ignorant and potentially dangerous. Instead, we are proactive and positive, sometimes when that’s hard to do. The key is acceptance: what is both possible and doable, what is worth focusing on. Wasting time on the pointless when it is out of our hands is counter productive, so we learn to both focus on the achievable and let go of shit beyond the remit.

Except sometimes, things are not as out of your hands as first appears.

Someone tweeted this into my timeline this morning, and it struck a chord, because as a piece of writing it can both be read and interpreted in so many different ways, and there is no real method in 140 characters to accurately interpret them all. This tweet was, I suppose, the final straw: after a weekend of self-reflection, and realising that I never want to try and discuss anything complicated on Twitter ever again, this message distilled what is the real problem: US. No, not the United States (though some may consider they started all this) but me, and Mr Alt, and everybody else who thinks that improving the World isn’t their task.

The World is our problem to solve and not to complain about because we can no longer have ‘fun’ any more.

Life, like it or not, has always been difficult and hard and ultimately painful. Thinking that somehow if you just ignore everything else that is going on and hoping/expecting/dictating that someone else will fix it is the Elephant in the room no-one can now afford to ignore. Sure we can all still have fun and enjoy life but not at the expense of other issues. More importantly, believing that your own opinion has merit and has to be justified, internally and externally, with every breath is simply not the case. Yes, it is tough and hard, but if you’re using Social media to pretend you’re part of the conversation, you cannot dictate what is said or expect to be allowed to pronounce without consequence.

Conversation is fluid and malleable: arguments should be passionate but never at the expense of learning a contrary point of view. If your standpoint is so inflexible as to exclude everybody else, expect to meet resistance. If you will not look outwards and grasp the possibility you are wrong, you will make things worse. In many cases, what one person thinks is kindness ultimately ends up as the most vicious of cruelties, and spite is all that results. Then is the moment when you’re convinced you know someone else’s motivations, and ultimately end up with the entirely wrong end of the stick… the problem isn’t the people, however.

Twitter has never been the medium in which to fight these battles.

Part of me hopes that 2017 will be the year that blogging undergoes a renaissance, that the long form of debate will replace petty name calling and mudslinging now favoured by the President of the United States. Needless to say, his ‘actions’ in the week have simply heaped more shame on an office that used to stand for all that was good about America, and has now come to symbolize the worst of individual xenophobia and arrogance. Ultimately, those of us who regularly use Twitter are now going to be tarred by the same brush, like it or not. That means it is time to start a reassessment of what the platform is good for, and what is ultimately detrimental.

After a really bad week of social media drama, I’d already taken the decision to not go to bed with an electronic device any more (starting on Monday) and if I want to read, to start buying books again for that purpose. The idea of taking written social media (Facebook, Twitter) off my phone is certainly attractive, and instead to only use Instagram for ‘reporting’ as that will automatically post to both platforms without the need for me to read. That’s the key here: getting sucked into other people’s arguments, when I should be out either a) enjoying myself right b) doing something constructive. That means social media is only for my ‘job’ or when I am working at my desk.

The other major change to my lifestyle, starting this morning, is what I pick to react to. If I’m going to choose a hill to die on then from now on Twitter is not the place to do it. If that means I lose people’s interest by refusing to take part in debates, then so be it, but if I have learnt anything from the last week it is that people will only hear what they want if they consider you’re attacking them. There is neither space, convenience or ability to have a clear discussion on Twitter. It is a place to profess clear, well thought out opinions or engage in quick, visually-enhanced point scoring. For everything else it is a fucking disaster, and yet people like me forget this, time and again. Well, not any more.

It is time to rediscover the value of silence. If you’d like to have a discussion with me, that’s what the comments section of this blog is for, and I’m looking forward to your responses. As of right now it is time to practice what I preach, and be the change other people keep hoping is going to happen. If you don’t like my idea of change, you have every right to step up and disagree.

Welcome to the next generation of Social media.

Saturday

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I know, instinctively, that the days of not pushing myself are over. The moments when I’d rather just curl up with a duvet and a good book, especially after a poor night’s sleep, are over (at least for now.) Lying awake at 3am this morning, in the midst of a hot flush that was so fierce my skin felt as if it were melting, I remembered the mindfulness practices I am learning and reduced panic to an inhale, exhale, focus on the breath. Amazingly, it worked. There is always this rueful disbelief when something I’ve been taught turns out to not only be helpful, but a revelation.

This week has been a lot of that.

Journeys are not simply getting to your destination: more often than not is the stops along the way that define the final trip. Today, that means sitting in a clubhouse built as Legacy content for the 2012 Olympic Games: a place that is buzzing with life and enthusiasm, where a continuing commitment to sport has become the true significance of events from five years ago. Watching women warm up outside the window, a really decent men’s hockey game on Pitch One below, is the reminder that life happens in ways I forget.

The TV above me is the reminder of a constant backdrop of concerning and often disturbing World news: Brexit, Iran’s missile testing, an escalation of world tensions that then put my existence against an even larger backdrop. Once upon a time all I would have cared about was the stuff that directly affected me. Now I realise that, with 50 years on the clock, the time for such selfishness must be over. The moment has come to try and find ways to give back beyond my personal bubble. How I do that is still very much in flux.

There are starting points, however: the Patreon this week, when I focused on personal development, got more interest than at any point in three months, and I’ve learnt an important lesson in combining academic and individual experience. I’m writing something this weekend to help a friend hopefully resolve a personal issue successfully, grateful I can utilize a skill for good. Then, I am giving back to my husband, which to my shame I should have done a long time ago. He is the kindest and most forgiving of men in that regard, and I am very grateful that there is still the opportunity to do so.

Once upon a time, a Saturday alone would have been my desire, but I’ve spent far too much time alone already. Destiny remains mine to dictate only to a point, and the understanding now that I willfully, for so many years, wouldn’t push myself out of that bubble… it is like looking at someone I no longer know or understand. Most importantly, at 3am this morning, came the final understanding that introspection makes for great poetry, wonderful fuel for fiction, but crap content when I write a blog. The days of blaming myself for things out of my control may finally be coming to an end.

Sometimes I am told I care too much about things that do not matter, in the wider scheme of the planet. When this happened before, my reaction would always be the same: well, it matters to ME and that is all that is really important. Only now do I grasp the truth, that only by stepping back from emotion and truly thinking about WHY things happen can you ever expect to improve as a person. Only after having children has there been the ability to put self aside and truly learn how basic emotional reactions matter, and that you have a direct control over consequence.

Only by being able to accept what is wrong with me have I been able to change.

I’ve officially had enough of introspection. The best work I do however is with that quality at my core and not the periphery. The trick now is to put aside the stuff that doesn’t matter to focus on the people and things who do. Next week is the most important week of my new ‘career,’ where my own actions will effectively make or break a potential stream of revenue. If I’m going to succeed in this venture, I cannot afford to allow myself to lose belief I am able to do so. Sometimes, you instinctively know when you’ve fucked up, and then there are moments when you simply have to trust your gut that this is the right path.

I am on the right path. This is the way forward.

Consider Her Ways

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Normally my blog posts are named after songs. Today, I’m taking a book, one that was particularly significant in my youth. I remember being astounded by the main story in John Wyndham’s anthology and it having a profound effect for weeks after reading: I can’t really tell you anything about it either, because by doing so ruins a narrative that really needs to be read unspoilt. However, what I can tell you is that birth forms a key component of the conceit.

I was reminded of the Wyndham after reading this Guardian article about how premature lambs are now ‘grown’ in artificial wombs and, I must admit there was a stab of horror at the pictures I saw. Initially my thought was more of a ‘Brave New World’ scenario but then the same feeling emerged that I remember after finishing ‘Consider her Ways’ for about the twelfth time: humanity mucking about with nature does not sit well in my head. Of course, without that evolution, I’d be dead by now. I’d have never made it out of hospital as a baby.

Science has always trodden a delicate path between interference and assistance.

I suspect this has a lot to do with current concerns over my own health, but there is discomfort in growing amounts over what counts as ‘good’ science and what feels ‘bad’: I’m not a religious person, but the possibility that people could pick the sex of their child or ensure it has certain characteristics does not sit well in my mind. The Universe works best with the full spectrum of both diversity and chaos: trying to counter that or effectively guide the course of Evolution feels wrong. I’ve read enough speculative fiction to understand that for every wonder discovery or great idea, there’s always a price to pay.

I knew my great grandmother only for a very short time. One of my earliest memories is of her using a cloth hankerchief to make a mouse as amusement, and it always worked. She passed away, I remember, as not as a result of gangrene but the surgery that was supposed to extend her life. She never regained consciousness after the operation to remove her infected lower leg. I’ve always held a fear of being sent into a medically-induced sleep not simply because of this, but an incident when I was 4 or 5 and because of bad dental hygiene I had to have teeth extracted, and was rendered unconscious to do so. I can still remember exactly how this felt, enough to make me shake as I type. It is another fear that needs to be dealt with, as I have with so many others in the last year.

Science has made things immeasurably better in the last 50 years, yet it is still regarded by so many with a sense of trepidation. It is on days like yesterday I can understand that feeling, but the rational part of my brain knows that to move forward, this is yet another fear that needs to be overcome. Without science, there would not be a legitimate cure for asthma on the cards in my lifetime. When people with no other form of potential cure take gene therapy and the result is remission of their cancer? Science is amazing, and without it we’d all be lesser beings. Sometimes, taking the risk with the consequence is the best way forward, especially if it allows you more time to live.

The flip side of Science’s wonder remains the financial cost to the recipient.

When my husband and I spoke about the possibility of surgery, his first response was brutal, yet damning: at least I have the provision to do this without having to make a financial decision first. I am well aware of friends in the US currently in a state of near-permanent dread over what will happen to Obamacare, who have had to set up GoFundMe accounts in order to pay for unexpected medical expenses. I understand only too well that medicine is nowhere close to universally accessible to the people who need it most, and that this is intrinsically unfair. It may seem we live in a world full of wonder and potential, but if this is only available to a select few, is it really so brilliant to begin with?

There’s a lot to think about over my morning porridge today.