Growing into your own skin

All these articles are a bit like looking at your own bum. It’s a bit self-indulgent, most people don’t really understand and well, it’s probably not that pretty.

But on the other hand, I’ve had to write. I have little tolerance for fakery and facades. And by probing in all the places that people don’t like you probing, by asking all the questions you’re not supposed to ask – you understand yourself, and shake other people out of delusions which aren’t serving them.

I think people in society are a bit like tectonic plates. If you’re in the middle of one, you’ll probably stay in tact your entire life, you won’t change much. Ok, there might be problems here and there, but you’re rooted in the soil, you’re supported by other people, you’re OK.

submerging-tectonic-platesBut if you’re on the fringes, on the edge of a tectonic plate – it’s like you’re being submerged into the earth’s crust. You’re being submerged into the lava by forces who don’t even realise they’re doing it.

You have to suppress things, conform, melt, mould and reform yourself. You melt down into the earth’s mantle. You flow around as a current, exploring where you can make it to the surface again. You’re this high pressured current of hot angry frustrated molten rock… you look for where the crust is thinnest. Then you spurt out as a volcano, or out of a volcano. Ultimately you become a bit like the Pacific Islands, Hawaii and suchlike. You become your own island. Eventually the adventurers will discover you, plants will grow from you, animals will roam around you and you can support a population and nourish them in a lot of ways.


I say all this. But I don’t know if any of that’s going to happen yet. I hope so.

This writing tends to attract fringe type people – people going through reconfigurations, people who aren’t comfortable in society despite trying to fit in, people who find many situations unbearable.

Society is created by the mass market to fit the needs of the mass market. TV companies try and find the lowest common denominator for their programming, for the biggest audience. Careers advisers try and guide people to ‘sensible’ roles and boxes for people in life. Schools are designed be ruthlessly authoritarian to create compliant people who are good for industry and do what they’re told. They also become breeding grounds and shark tanks for bullies, so that nobody has the self-esteem or confidence to be revolutionary.


And for the majority of people – society meets their needs reasonably well. They have somewhere to live, somewhere to work, TV shows and culture that resonate with them, the supermarket supplies their food. Most importantly they can blend in to most groups. They feel comfortable and have a sense of belonging in the group, in the hivemind. It’s very good that many people feel that way.


The problems arise if you’re intelligent, or perceptive or curious. Things don’t add up. The world seems to be full of people fighting, cheating, stealing, conning people. The power structures and hierarchies are oppressive. Power is misused. The culture is bland and desolate – it’s very rare that a TV show or film really speaks to you. Everyone seems to be controlled by fear around you. Fear of lack of money, fear of losing things, fear of losing face, fear of illness, fear of terrorists, fear of death, fear of being alive.


It feels like being the only man who can see among the blind.

The hardest part is until you’re 18, and can’t leave home – you’re probably alone in it all. Everybody seems so inert, and indifferent, with no passion in their eyes. It all seems so hopeless.


Everyone thinks there’s something wrong with you. You doubt yourself. You try and change yourself. You try to fit in somehow. You have to do what you’re told. You have to play the game. You have to build up defence mechanisms to survive. You have to control and manipulate people and situations (which other people don’t even realise you’re doing).


The more intolerant and acidic the petri dish where you grow up is, the more layers of crud build up. And there’s no escape valve. Parts of you are cut off and die – but those are the most important, relevant parts to finding meaning in life. They’re what really matters. The playful, naughty, silly, mischievous, wrong, creative, deeply emotional, caring and loving sides.


It’s a problem I see again and again in rich men. Money and power hasn’t satiated them… because what they’re really longing for is that feeling of being carefree, playful and childlike again. They’ve had to self-mutilate their minds to survive hostile environments. They bought into the myth that fame and fortune will make you desirable and loveable. But no amount is ever enough. No accumulation of land, houses, trophy partners or cars is satisfying.

There’s that Rolling Stones song – “I can’t get no… duh duh duh. satisfaction… duh duh duh”. Even being the Stones, high as a kite on drugs, having girls and boys throwing themselves at you, being the most admired rockers in the world. It wasn’t enough.

Because the only satisfying thing in the world is taking a good honest look in the mirror and saying, am I really doing myself justice? Am I respecting myself here? Am I being honest about who/what/where I am – and am I doing the best that I can here?

If yes. Then good. And if no, then good too. It’s getting somewhere, it’s unraveling the layers and defenses and crap that have accumulated over the years.


The truth about all that crap, none of it’s really your fault. Childhood and adolescence are supposedly the happiest times of your life. But it can actually be rather terrible. You have no control over anything. You are beholden to your parents regardless of how good or bad they are. You have to go to bed at certain times. You have to please parents and adults for your survival. You probably can’t communicate everything you need or want. You have to deal with the piranhas of teachers and bullies at school. Your innermost needs to emote and play and love – are probably not acceptable and laughed at by others.


Then you’re thrust into adulthood, university, jobs and cities. And it’s usually as equally harsh. The only relief you get is your evenings and weekends, and the few friends that you make if you’re lucky.

The cycle continues. The layers build up. And you eventually you realise you’re becoming one of the ghastly adults you were so loathsome of when you were younger. It’s all too much. You might turn to food, alcohol or sex it or some other kind of addiction. For me it was alcohol and sex with strangers. It doesn’t change anything. Nobody understands. You become like this nuclear bomb where you’re desperately hopefully, praying for some kind of change, some kind of relief. You become dangerous.


Then you either kill yourself (possibly not physically, but most probably just mentally and become a zombie).

Or you transfigure yourself if you’re lucky to have someone who can see you and pull you out of it. Suddenly they’ll be a big crescendo – everything will be falling apart, nothing is possible, you reach a dead end. And you realise that something has got to give. You erupt, transform, utterly change.


And then everything’s OK. Everything has a fresh zest about it. You become a different person. You’re able to talk honestly about what’s bothering you. Everything changes. You feel empowered. New paths and possibilities unfold in front of you. You kind of become a beacon for others who are as equally troubled as you. You’ll repel people who aren’t ready to hear or process what you say.


Fuck it all Derek!

Everything becomes OK again and actually quite enjoyable. The average age for this stage to happen (if at all) is probably about 60-65, when people retire. Suddenly with lots of time on their hands, people can’t avoid the truth of the above. So if you reach this stage at 50, 40, 30 or 22… then you’re ahead of curve.

And the other side of this, you do become your own island, sustaining your own life and people. Where I live here in Spain has become a kind of retreat center. Seven stressed out friends have come and visited me in the past year and they’ve gone back as different people. They are much more in touch with themselves, more calm, more content. There’s a whole energetic shift in them. I’ve changed too.


I’m also 18,000 words into writing a book. It’s not one I want to share under my own name because it’s a bit too dark and has elements of people I know in it. But I hope and suspect that it will touch a few nerves, shine light on taboos, and stimulate the unconscious mind.

I’m still a bit unstable, insecure, indebted, lonely and many other things here. But I feel more hopeful than ever before. I feel safer, saner and more comfortable with myself than I have ever felt before too.

Even in the worse case scenario, if the book is a total flop, I get into piles of debt over the next few years, declare bankruptcy, I have to live with my parents and work on a supermarket checkout – I would be OK with that. I feel like I’m comfortable enough with myself to not need to become this mega-high-achieving, tech billionaire that I needed to be a few years ago. It all seems like a silly idea now.

I might become that, or something else. But we’re only as big as our spirits, not our labels.

Woohoo, what a cheesy authoritative line. Who do I think I am? I don’t know.

Remember, anything’s possible. Anything’s possible.


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