Attention Different

Making the most of a monkey mind

First blog post – Much uncertainty

This is my very first blog that I have ever written.  Really it is.  So I am not entirely sure where I want to start.  I guess I should explain my motivation for writing this.  Like many of the good ideas I have, it was not mine.  It was my partner’s idea and the minute she suggested it, it just instantly appealed to me.

I used to write a diary and when things became more hectic and muddled, I would at least write messy scribbles on random bits of paper or at the bottom of my academic diary.  However as the last year has passed by, I noticed that I have stopped doing this altogether.  I did not consciously decide to do this but just found my mind becoming ever more busy and any time I did have became dedicated to other things.  These included trying to study Italian in a haphazard way as my partner comes from Italy and her family speak very little English.  It also included reading magazines and messing around with my phone.  Yes, this year I got my first ever smart phone and that was pretty much the end of my reflective thinking on public transport.  It certainly marked the end of the diary entries.

So the idea of this blog is simply that it be a kind of public diary that I won’t lose, cover in jam or accidently throw away. It may also help both myself and other people understand what is going on inside of me.  Thanks for taking the time to read this.


Featured post

Cutting through the clinging

Tonight I had what you might call a mini break through at my counselling session. It suddenly dawned on me that at 37 I was only now beginning to work out who I am. Only now am I starting to work out what I actually value in my life. How is this possible?  What has taken me so long?

A big part of it is of course ego.  It was my ego that never wanted to hurt anyone or lose a friend/partner by being honest about my feelings. Another part of it has been my lack of self confidence which often made me morph into whatever it was that I thought was being asked of me in order to oil the social wheels. However a much more significant part may well have come from my failure to separate fantasy from reality. This was my mini break through.

Unfortunately it is not an easy thing to explain but I will try. Through my sessions with my counsellor I have started to see numerous patterns in my behaviour.  Patterns that were not obvious before. Patterns that have been brought up tentatively by my counsellor as she has gotten to know me better. Words that she has noticed me use over and over. For example from a very young age I have thought of myself as special and I use the word special a lot on our sessions. Not special as in talented or clever but special in that I was never going to have a ‘typical’ life like other people in my area.  I always imagined that I would have a fabulous, unusual and wild life as soon as I got out of my small town and into a big city.

In reality this did not pan out at all. I moved to Glasgow and spent the first year petrified of the place and would run home almost every weekend and hideaway from the hedonism and edge I found down there. However over time I did discover a wild woman and street drugs and this combo gave me a distinct sense that my life was moving in the ‘right’ direction. I saw both drugs and this woman as means in which to make my life special and out of the ordinary. I experimented with different substances always with a focus on the ritualistic. I worshipped my first love like a goddess and I put my happiness almost totally into the hands of her and drugs.

Even once I had lost this first love and stopped heavy drugs, I still needed to feel my life was extraordinary in some way. I started to take things from people and places and then hide them. Over time this became almost a ritual and by making it a ritual it helped build anticipation and added significance to my actions. It was also these secret rituals that in my fantasy world gave me depth of character and a sense of mystery. No one would expect it of me and this made me at least a little special.  This may sound mad and of course it was. I was mentally unwell but I couldn’t see it. I was also deeply unhappy and yet unwilling or unable to see that to be happy I had to accept my reality or change it. Instead I did neither. I created a fantasy life that justified and explained all my unhealthy and obsessional compulsions as proof that I was special.  In fact it was just proof that I was messed up and lost without a clue who I really was.

So here I am at 37 and through heavy medication and lots of self work I finally have a little clarity. A little perspective. All those years I spent feeling sorry for my ‘normal’ friends who bought nice houses in the suburbs and started raising children there. All those years I spent convinced that drugs would take me to new levels of consciousness. My mind would be expanded and I would be able to see further than any of my peers. This would be like a super power. People would find me deep and wise beyond my years the fantasy went. Having secrets would make me mysterious and intriguing and people would be drawn to this without even knowing why or so the fantasy went. All this seems so laughable and ridiculous now but for years it was honestly how I saw things. In many ways we are all deluded especially in youth but I was more deluded than most I think.

I now see how empty my life was all those years and how very empty it is now. I ignored real life opportunities to bask in self generated fantasies.  Dreams of a life lived in hyper colour. No grey moments were allowed. It was all to be highs and lows. Everyday was to be a high octane ride. I detested ‘vanilla’ people. Nice people who seemed contented with their measly lot. I would be anything else rather than that. A drug addict, a thief and an emotional abuser all seemed preferable to being nice and comfortable. How wrong I was and how much it stings to admit that now.

The amazing part of this is that I managed to get to 37 before these fantasies came properly crashing down on me. Now it feels kind of like I am starting again from scratch.  I am having to learn how to be a proper grown up and to not only face my reality but learn to accept it. I loathe it and I want to run away back into my old comfortable patterns. Yet at the same time I know I was a slave to my own fantasies and now I see that my freedom lies in finding ways to feel content with what I actually have in my life. Thanks for reading.



Can’t cry anymore

This medication is numbing me to so much that surrounds me. I am so scared as I have the sense that my heart is breaking inside but I can’t actually connect to this hurt.  It is there buried somewhere yet I can’t access it. So I feel like I am made of Teflon with a heart of tin and yet I know somehow that if I came off the meds right now a whole tidal wave of intense hurt and pain would smash into me.

The only time tears ever come is after I have meditated for a long time in a dark space or occasionally when I am running against the wind.  Now perhaps it is just the wind in my eyes that causes them to tear up but it feels  like a lot more than that. Almost like by running against the wind I am able to let everything out including sometimes loud primal screams and the odd tear as well.

Now you may ask what is so bad about this insulation from hurt? Well all I can tell you is that it is actually very unnerving as it makes me feel like nothing matters to me. A kind of indifference covers me like a sheen over everything and it disturbs me. I break up with women and watch them cry in front of me and yet feel nothing in my own head and heart. I feel numb and watch them like I am watching a movie. I do finally find some words but they are words that ring hollow but sound good. Then I feel like I am an actor trying to connect with the script but failing to on an emotional level.

Old friends tell me I have grown cynical and cold but I don’t think this is true. I feel that all the medication I have been taking for the past few years has prevented me from feeling the full range of emotions. It is upsetting and the only thing I can accurately compare it to is when I used to take ecstasy every week and often multiple times a week. There were many times when I was so high that even when someone was telling me a sad or even tragic story I couldn’t feel any sadness or empathy for them.  I knew how to make the right facial expressions and say certain comforting phrases but they were delivered on auto-pilot. I could not connect as the drugs were making me so chemically ‘happy’ and just up. It was again a very surreal and uncomfortable feeling that luckily only happened a few times during all my years of popping pills for fun.

The issue is that I need this medication right now to help me through a very hard time in my life. To keep my compulsions at bay a little and give me a fighting chance of conquering those nasty demons inside my mind. It is a trade off as taking any drug always is. I gain a little quiet in my head and a little peace at night but I loose some of my compassion and sensitivity.  For now at least, it is just a bout worth it but it is not easy. I feel like I am forgetting who I really am.  I feel like I am even further away from understanding who I am now that the medication has taken a hold of me. I just hope there can come a time down the line when I can be medication free and I can feel what life has to offer with a clear head. Thanks for reading.


Down the rabbit hole

This latest post is really an attempt to process and make sense some of the things I have been watching, reading and listening to lately. Over the past couple of weeks I have been absorbing information from many different sources and from quite varied points of views. However in amongst them I have found some key themes which are also themes that resonate with me strongly on a personal level.

The major commonality has been the importance of community and how modernity has on many ways increased feelings of alienation and isolation in our daily lives. It was the Ken Loach documentary ‘The Spirit of 45’ that got the ball rolling. This was one of the few Ken Loach films I had not seen and boy am I glad I have now. It was a fascinating insight into how hard life was for many people after the Second World War ended.  The film focusses on Britain at this time and what comes across so strongly is how people really pulled together as a community after the war had ended. There was a great deal of poverty and a huge amount of rebuilding had to be done.  Food options were very limited and many people had suffered great loss.

What is striking though is the stories of people sharing resources and helping each other out.  This was not that long ago and yet many people had so little in terms of luxuries. Yet many of the people speaking years later said that this was the best time of their lives.  Now maybe this is just a case of wearing the old rose tinted spectacles but I honestly believe it is more than that. I say this as this documentary echoes what George Monbiot says in his latest book Out of the Wreckage. He talks about how much more communal life was in the post war years.

He goes on to argue that we now have less and less attachments to the tangible world and so we are more cut off from reality and from nature. This makes us easier to deceive and also makes us feel more separated from other people living close to us. He uses statistics to indicate that the more connected we are to social networking, the less connected we are to family life. On top of this, the immersion in the virtual world is often combined with a loss of contact with the physical world and so makes us feel even more disconnected to other people. Things like online shopping erode our sense of common purpose.

This idea also had echoes in the book Political Tribes by Amy Chua.  She looks at the increasing levels of stress in the modern world and how this stress actually suppresses empathy, understanding, curiosity and cooperation. She also argues that this break down of our communities has at least partly contributed to this polarisation of political view points in places like America and Britain.  She makes the point that in the gap between what consumerism promises and the reality comes a sense of humiliation, impotence, envy and rage.  Those at the top feel they have got where they are totally down to their own actions whilst those at the bottom blame themselves for not achieving.  The blame is less and less likely to be attributed to society and it’s breakdown.

Now all of these ideas resonate with me in a big way. I have been more and more fascinated by the idea of community and what it offers us as human beings. I personally feel a need and great desire to have more interdependence with my local community.  I do realise the irony of my position.  I have spent days alone in my small flat reading about community whilst alone in my bedroom.  I have never even tried to get to know my neighbours and have not attended one of the Neighbourhood Watch meetings yet. Yet I have been meeting up with old friends and discussing these ideas with them. I have asked them their feelings and many of them also feel very lonely even whilst living in huge cities like London, Sheffield and Vienna. These inactions have helped me enormously to get some new perspectives.  It was also interesting that the people who felt the most isolated were all male.

These men all spent a lot of time playing computer games and watching a lot of entertainment online as well. This feeds back into George Monbiot again who believes that the likes of tv shows on Netflix tell us that life is somewhere else other than where we are. We watch programmes of people cooking, dancing, eating and dating rather than do it ourselves. These shows also construct desires for us in terms of the lifestyles they portray.  He also talks about the dangers of Instagram in terms of constructing desires that intensify social comparison. This can then lead to a sense of competition and flies directly in the face of working together for the common good.

Now this might all seem rather depressing but I think it is just important to be aware of how the way we spend our time and money relates to our perception of the world. It seems so simple but the more I spend time with people and work as part of a group the less lonely and isolated I feel.  Yet when I don’t do this I get very down very quickly and tend to isolate myself even more. It is about sometimes forcing yourself out of your comfort zone and in actual fact this zone is not comfortable at all. It may be making you miserable and alienated. Thanks for reading.


The ideal of liberty

‘I was hurt and felt rejected even minutes after the feast.’ Alan Warner 2010.

Are trials and painful revelations really what life is all about?  Is it really only through suffering that we develop wisdom and compassion? Is passion really so dangerous and negative as an emotion? I am full of questions with so few answers. All around me I see small acts of kindness and generosity towards me. People have been so sweet and kind to me in these past few weeks and yet I have not been able to appreciate any of these acts or words. I am not in touch with myself just now and so cannot connect these acts and words with me as the person that they see and care for.

Lately I have been surrounded by vital people whose vitality has energised me so much while in their company. Yet just minutes after they have left me I feel empty once more. For unless I am around others I feel invisible and half alive. I base my entire worth on other people. On their validation to lift me up above the ceaseless waves of depression and anxiety. Now this makes me very vulnerable but sadly also makes me very typical of my generation. I need constant approval from other people in whatever form I can get it. Whether it be a Facebook like or a dating app match, it is all hitting that same sweet spot. It gives a tiny dopamine hit and makes me feel a tiny jolt of well being before I start to quickly feel tetchy again and continue the cycle of looking for yet more validation from external sources. I have always needed other people as my mirror and look what I have ended up with. Precious little.

Recently when I have been presented with gestures of real love and affection, I have pushed that love away. I yearn for a purity of feeling in the insistent now and yet can’t cope with it when it actually shows up. I am so petrified to care just now and I worry that I am throwing away so many small chances at love and contentment.  Instead I am caught up in a loop of compulsive mind states that feed off one another. I tell myself I do all of these things in the name of liberty. To be free of pressure and unwanted responsibilities.  Yet what I have is actually a kind of mental prison I keep reinforcing daily. I have no ties but I am not free from own compulsive thoughts. I am not attached to anyone but neither am I loving myself.  So I feel like I exist in an empty Godless universe where it makes little difference whether I exist or not.

So right now I wish to find the strength within me to open my heart once again. Maybe not today or even next month but soon. I yearn to feel a caring solidarity with someone again. To share a sense of mutual respect and undiluted love.  I want to feel a feel a truth and a freedom between myself and someone else.  This is the kind of liberty I am really seeking. Thanks for reading.

Trials, relapse and revelations

In my last few posts I have written a lot about my spiritual journey with Buddhism and how I have been trying to process the ideas and concepts that have come up along the way.  What I have not written much about is my compulsions and my impulsions and how the role they now play in my life.

While I can almost certainly say that I am now in a much better place mentally than I was at the end of last year, I am still very much fighting against these compulsive thoughts.  For while these thoughts are undoubtedly intrusive and unwanted, they are still part of me and my mind. My compulsions are self destructive and self harming for sure and yet they are also an attempt at trying to control the world around me. This is an illusion of course but one which feels very real after so many years of cementing these thought patterns and behaviours.

Up until last year I genuinely felt that these compulsions were beyond my control which was terrifying but also helped free me of responsibility. It felt like I had this split personality and one of these personalities could take control at any time and leave me to watch myself carry out actions that left me feeling outside of myself. For years it felt like I would watch myself do things that I knew were wrong and harmful but while it was happening I duped myself into thinking it was somehow not me carrying them out. I could detach myself from the moment and become an observer of my own strange doings.

This illusion has thankfully been almost completely shattered through therapy, medication and self work as well from lots of useful input from family and friends. I can now see how disconnected my mind had become and how that helped me to justify my actions when caught out down the line. The problem is that now when I relapse and do something harmful or dangerous I see very clearly that it is me doing it and it is me who suffers most. It is a form of self harm and it makes no sense from a rational view point. I now see how risky and potentially ruinous these thoughts and actions can be and I am petrified of my own mind a lot of the time.

The way I am trying to deal with it is by understanding a number of things. Firstly, this is a process that will take time. I am in recovery right now and relapses are to be expected. Secondly, I need to put in place practical steps to take should I relapse or even feel a relapse is on the cards. So I am now making a list of people I can phone and tools that I can put into action to give me a little breathing space.  Just a little moment to reflect before I let the compulsions take over me.  These steps act like insulation or a another layer between me feeling compulsive and then acting on those compulsions.

The reality is that I will probably never be completely free of my compulsive thoughts.  However over time I can have these thoughts, not attach myself to them but actually let them go. Let them disappear just as I let many other thoughts of anger and envy disappear each day of my life. As always, it is about what you choose to focus your attention on. I actively choose not to give my compulsive thoughts my attention anymore. If you take them away, I am a decent human being. Nothing special but my intentions are on the whole caring and nurturing and I do like to be of benefit to others if I can. My compulsions have already come very close to ruining my life and they still could at any moment until I stop acting on them. While I cannot control my thoughts, I can control my actions and therein lies the key to me getting my life back.

Over recent days I have talked to a number of close friends who have known many for many years.  What was interesting is that all spoke of me having multiple personalities.  They said that they would often put bets on with one another as to what Jared would come to the party.  Two or three used the phrase ‘consummate actor’ which I found odd as I always saw myself as a terrible actor based on my few attempts at acting in plays and shows during university.  However when I think about it now I see that I must have been a good actor. For I managed to keep up appearances at work for years while I was sinking into a world of addiction and theft behind closed doors. I kept up a relationship with someone through these years as well and she was genuinely shocked to know of my compulsive behaviours once I told her years after we had split up. Of course she knew I was acting a little strangely at times and did see a few signs that worried her but on the whole she said that I hid these things from her very well. Now that scares me a lot.  That I was able to hide these things from the world for so long.  That I chose to suffer in silence for so long.  Why?  Because I felt so ashamed.

Now I still feel shame at the things I have done and still do at present. However I am no longer so afraid to tell people about these things. In fact, by telling people I make it real.  It helps me see how damaging it is to me and my already brittle self esteem.  The only way I can start to love myself again is by proving to myself that I am not my compulsions. It is my compulsive thoughts that I hate, not the person that I am without them. I want to now take control back over what person is coming to the party.  When I was younger I didn’t know which Jared would come to the party. Now I see that this is a choice that I do have. I can’t control which thoughts come into my mind but I sure as hell can control which ones I listen to. Thanks for reading.

A spiritual step too far?

” Above my head and above the heads of all beings throughout space is a white lotus bearing a moon disc.  Upon it is the syllable HRIH, which becomes the most sublime chenrezi.  He is white, bright and radiating five-coloured lights and gazes, smiling, with such great compassion.  He has one face, four arms, the upper two held together and the lower two holding a crystal rosary and a white lotus. Adorned with fine silken clothes and precious gems, wearing a gazelle skill as a mantle. He is seated in the vijra position with an immaculate moon for a backrest. This is the essence of all the refuges fused into one.”

Translated from the Core of                                                                                                Chenrezig Sadhana


This past Monday was the eighth session of my Buddhist course and it was the first session that really made me uncomfortable and question how far I can go down this path myself. For the first time it felt like I was in a state of worship rather than in a state of reflection or peacefulness. We meditated as normal but this time we had to keep our eyes open and look at a picture of chenrezig.  We did a long set of mantras in Tibetan and I had no idea how to pronounce the words or what the tune was and so felt self conscious.  What I have written above this is a translation of one of the mantras and I found it hard to visualise. I am not sure if I found it hard to visualise this dramatic and colourful image of chenrezig because I was concentrating so hard on saying the mantras or because I did not feel comfortable worshiping anything, no matter how awesome that thing or person is.

I have been on a Buddhist path now for a couple of years but the focus has never been so much on the actual Buddha’s themselves but has been much more on the values and philosophy that underpins what it means to be a Buddhist.  I was aware of the incense, candles and rosary beads but did not fully appreciate the significance of each thing to a true Buddhist. When I am moving my rosary beads around in my hand I am actually pulling beings out of the lower realms for example. The four arms of the chenrezig are there to represent the four Immeasurables.  Now this is actually really interesting and I have no problem with these concepts. It is just that it is clearly similar to all the other religions I have studied in these respects. It is organised and there are clear rules as to what you can and cannot do.  For example as I have not yet taken refuge, I was not allowed to visualise chenrezig in front of me or as a part of me.  Instead I had to keep his image above my head or else bad karma would come my way.

It was just this idea of punishment and the clear hierarchy between so called enlightened beings and others like those of us in the group that sat uneasily with me. It seems that this is my problem with all organised religion. It ultimately feels like in all of them you are being judged at the end of your life and your next life will at least partly decided by how you lived in this one.  Now in Buddhist philosophy it based on many past lives, so much so that every person on earth has been your mother at some point.  This is why we need to show compassion and understanding to everyone no matter how cruel their actions or evil their behaviour.  Now this is one hard pill to swallow.  Actually it is impossible for me to swallow but that is because I am so far from being enlightenment. I am just going around realm of samsara right now feel so much pleasure but also so much pain.  Now this I can accept somehow but the whole mother concept is just a step too far for me right now.

Having said all that we did discuss some really interesting ideas and I still feel that I want to go down a spiritual path even if I can only go so far down this path. This course has made me see very clearly how fear and vulnerability come from my fragile ego.  I see how much I try to ignore and supress things which only makes me suffer more. It also prevents me from appreciating and savouring the wonderful things I do have in my life.

In the past few weeks I have also learned a new appreciation for courage and clarity.  For years and years I have been doing things that were compulsive and often reckless.  I kept doing them without ever trying to understand why I was doing them. By seeking the truth as to what is actually going on, I am slowly finding little ways out of my suffering. I have a slightly bigger picture on the world just now and that is proving so helpful. In particular this bigger picture has helped me se how much I have lived my life with a sense of entitlement and expectation. If I could start to live my life as if I am going to get nothing in return then I think I would be so much more content.  It is so basic and yet so hard to do.

Finally the course has made me consider my deep need for some kind of legacy.  Why do I need to make my mark on everything?  Is it because I know how tiny and insignificant my little life is?  Does this terrify me? Yes it does and each day I feel like I have wasted this one little life I had. I need to get away from this kind of thinking.  All I am doing really is writing on water as my teacher says.  Nothing lasts and this very blog comes almost entirely from my ego needing some kind of proof that I exist and I am here in the world.

It sometimes feels like most of us are constantly shadow boxing with ourselves. We get attached to things and thoughts even though both will dissolve and neither make us who we are. We are constantly craving things we don’t have and desiring more of what we do have. Endlessly distracted by shiny and glittering illusions and then longing for these illusions when things do not seem to be going well. I want to believe that there really is an ocean of knowledge that we can access if we just sit still for long enough and concentrate deeply. I want to spend more time looking inward but I am just not yet ready to visualise some dude with four arms, a deer skin wrapped around him and a moon disc under his butt. Maybe in time but not just yet. Thanks for reading.

When the rules don’t apply

If courage comes from clarity then it would explain why I find it so hard to do anything courageous. I am constantly restless as many of us seem to be these days and this restlessness means that I seldom take time to consider the motivations underpinning all my frantic comings and goings. To find clarity I now believe you have to review where you have been. You must allow for some silence and solitude from time to time in order to question what your intentions are.  I feel like I am constantly reacting to situations before I have even considered why I am reacting the way I am. Reacting before I have taken the time to question whether I should react at all.

When I am not reacting I feel like I am yearning. Yearning for my own happiness as if it is something to be acquired. Craving for external factors to soothe me and take away my inner demons. This is the strange paradox for many of us I think. We are so often looking inward and naval gazing to one degree or another and yet many of us still see happiness as coming from external sources. On one level I am quite aware that only by changing my mindset and view can I actually change my life and yet it is so much easier and convenient to blame what you are surrounded by or what you lack as the reason for your unhappiness and suffering.

I have been told many times by various teachers that you must fully experience everything in order to know what to let go. Now lately I have been trying to experience some painful events from my past in a way that I never have allowed myself to do before. For years I have suppressed certain things that I am now trying to look at more fully. I am trying to open up my heart and see what lies there. For I believe that this suppression makes it impossible to get any clarity on what your true feelings are about anything.

Last night we looked at how many of us actually seek out disturbances and these disturbances make it impossible to feel settled or serene. So we seek out drama and difficulty as it keeps us from addressing some of the real hurt we feel. So my goal now is to really try and look deeply within myself to attempt to understand why I keep doing the same self destructive things over and over.  The oldest expressions often carry great truth and so how can I possibly expect to be able to love or understand another person if I cannot love or understand myself?

Rob Nairn says that the well of desire is bottomless and this desire comes from the constant feeling that we don’t have enough. He also says that we already are what we want to become, we just can’t see it clearly any more. Could it really be true that I already have within me all that is needed to be truly happy?  This seems laughable right now but at the same time I dearly hope that it’s true. For Nairn we also need to know our own aspirations as this knowledge in turn helps us see other peoples aspirations. True friendship and true love comes when two people understand one another’s aspirations.  This is what we might call being soul mates.

So this is where I am at right now. I want to learn more patience and be less restless.  I am trying to be honest with myself and others about things that have happened and how it made me feel. I am working on enjoying each moment as it comes rather than constantly worrying about what comes next. I wish to be able to admit to feeling anger and hurt without feeling like a drama Queen who is making a fuss over very little. In order to overcome the likes of shame, hurt and humiliation we must first accept that they are there within you. I am trying to allow myself to feel these emotions fully and hopefully in time they will diminish in their strength and power over me. These are my aspirations and this is the view for me at this moment. Thanks for reading.


Never quite good enough

I am seeing a counsellor and each week I am asked to reflect on things that came up in the previous session and bring anything that comes up from that reflection into the next session.

Last week we delved into my childhood which is an area I am vague about in terms of clear memories and am also a little guarded about as well. Why am I guarded you might ask? Well when I first went for professional help I was told that I needed to focus on my present predicament and look forward not backwards. That made a lot of sense at the time and I was informed that what was needed was an intervention and I was given a form of CBT. For those who do not know, CBT stands for Compulsive Behaviour Therapy and is very popular in treating all kids of addictions and compulsions. It was used on me to try and stop me taking things and to gain more control of my compulsive thought patterns. It worked to a degree but after a number of sessions I was told that CBT could only help so much.  The underlying reasons for why I did what I did was not being tackled and so eventually I would probably be wise to see a psychiatrist.

That was two and half years ago.  A lot has happened since then. I have been put on many different types of medication and I have seen both psychiatrists and therapists as well as three other counsellors.  I have been in serious trouble and lost a lot of friends.  I have stretched the patience of my dear family and watched my partner walk away despite us loving each other deeply. My childhood has been analysed in this time but in a way that was looking at whether my troubles came from a chemical imbalance there since birth.

This counsellor asked me to look for patterns of behaviour in my childhood and adolescence.  Initially I felt blocked.  I could not think of much.  Then things started to pour out of my memory.  Times when I vandalized property with my peers.  Other times when I threw water balloons at cars and rotten apples at other kids from a safe distance. Nothing particularly unusual and almost all of these activities were done as part of a group.  There was a pack mentality at work in these actions.

However I then started to think about my adolescent behaviour when I was on my own. I remembered stuffing socks down my jeans to try and look like I was better endowed.  I would put mascara on my bum fluff to look like I had more of a moustache and sometimes the mascara would get wet and run and my class mates would laugh at me. At this same time I developed almost an obsession with buying ‘designer’ clothes.  All my money (and some that was not mine) went on buying Calvin Klein jumpers and Caterpillar boots. I genuinely believed that these clothes would make me more popular.  They would give me a new status and make people respect me a little.  It never happened but I kept buying these clothes for years after.

After this came a new phase which I will label as the Supplement years.  I started to buy a wide variety of vitamins and supplements.  I read about their properties and became convinced that taking them all would make me smarter, stronger, better. I was spending crazy amounts of money on these things and not feeling the improvement I was so hoping for but again I persisted.  In fact I only stopped this a year or so ago once my partner at the time told me how unhealthy and dangerous it actually was.

Why am I mentioning all these things?  Because at the heart of all these actions was a common theme. It was that all of these activities were ways of trying to enhance myself somehow. All were attempts to be a better version of myself.  Indeed my love of illegal drugs also came from the same notions.  I felt sexier and more fun on drugs and so got to a stage where I could not go out socially without them. Without drugs and fancy clothes I felt naked and exposed. Terribly vulnerable. For me then and still now, just being me is not enough. I feel that without these extras I am below average and undeserving of love and attention. This makes me so sad to write.  Yet I think it is so important that I recognise and accept these truths as maybe then I can start to move on.

We live in a culture that constantly makes us feel the need to be enhanced somehow. I know I am not alone and I know some people suffer from  these thoughts on a much more intense level than I do. It is a culture that feeds on peoples insecurities and the most vulnerable and those with the least self esteem feel it’s impact most. I never saw myself as one of life’s vulnerable but I am. I have been looking constantly for a magic pill to make me someone different. Someone, anyone other than myself.  At the root of all this is a lack of self love.  This is what causes me to self sabotage. To push people away. To hurt the people I love the most. It is not an excuse, just a realization. So what caused this lack of self love? Well that of course is the $164 million question. I doubt I will ever know this but I do feel that I will get to a point where I know myself fully enough to love at least parts of who I am.  Thanks for reading.

Master of None

I read so much about living in the moment and yet I am not in the moment at all most of the time. Routine broken and all feels shapeless and scary. All things pass so why I am still holding onto to all this pain and second guessing what others feel about me? I manage to seize opportunities and boldly go forward into unknown areas but only to then spent the next few days ruminating on past regrets. Oddly in the moment and stuck in the past somehow almost simultaneously but not quite.

What I lack is any real depth. I am trying to make more time for reflection and meditation. I wish to read more and  immerse myself in worlds beyond pleasure and desire. I see the people around me with their talents and passion for things and I feel a fraud. What is my passion? I just want to feel a part of something. I want to be part of a community, something bigger than just me and my self interest. Yet as hard as I chase this dream, I don’t feel it happening. I feel I am endlessly in awe of other people which makes me feel worse about myself. This is where the hurt lies. I am growing ever more empty as I try to fill up on others inspiration and enthusiasm.  I feel more and more dead inside as I watch others around me taking flight. Finding their voice in the world. This voice allows them to feel self sufficient.  Independent.  The very things that I do not feel at all. I constantly need validation. Assurance that I matter. I am so scared as I have not found a world of my own.  At 36, my world still shatters without others noticing me. Without the possibility of romance or at least flirtation I feel incomplete. Like in romantic films up until about ten years ago, a happy ending had to involve two people falling in love and living happily ever after. Anything else was just a crying shame.

I am very much drawn into tv shows, comedians and films that reflect life for a thirty something at this time. I can’t get enough of culture that reflects this sense of emptiness and frustration around modern life. People like Amy Schumer and Aziz Ansari who make fun of the online worlds we now inhabit.  Our laughable attempts to have sex like porn stars and the frustration of trying to build real relationships with anybody.  The frustration and the alienation of living in a major city in 2018. The sense of disconnect with people despite being so connected at the same time. Through the likes of Spotify I can see what people I once loved are listening to but I don’t dare actually contact them.  I go on Facebook to see what people I no longer see are now doing.  I don’t dare actually communicate with them.  Instead I just imagine all the ways in which their lives are more fulfilling than mine. The technology is neither good  or bad but I am using it a way that is only making me down.

Then I think that the problem is that I don’t have enough of a sheened/sculpted online presence. The problem is that my profiles are too honest.  Too reflective of my actual life.  I am not projecting an image of the person I would like to be. Like this doubt layers upon doubt. Frustration builds on frustration. Time leaks away and it is night time again. Online and on autopilot. Complaining but not doing anything about it. Enough! I am tired of wasting my life wishing I was somebody else. Thanks for reading.


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