I want to write something but I’m not sure what. When I’ve written on this blog, it’s usually been quite self-indulgent. Kind of like an open diary, probably sharing too much. It usually came from a place that was angry, pissed off, violent, maybe a bit spoiled and greedy I don’t know.
I’ve had 3400 hits here over the past year for search terms like
“life seems pointless”
“nothing seems meaningful”
“feeling shameful all the time”
to name a few.
It’s all grotty heavy stuff. I cringe at what I wrote in the past. And think maybe I should take it down… but then it must have some value to some people. I want to help..
What I will say is that I had an experience in September where everything flipped.
I’d been living in near isolation by myself in Spain for about 15 months. I’d just gone on a mountain trip to Lanjaron, near Granada. The heat was pelting down and I’d been on long hikes into the hills with a rucksack of cheese, bread and ham.
It sounds very idyllic and it was in many ways. But I went to this bar, ordered a beer and the girl brought it over to me. The TV was blaring away. There was a family on a table next to me. And I just became incredibly sad.
It wasn’t just the sight of this family. It was the heat, and tiredness and general weariness with everything. I just felt this emptiness and isolation and desolation. I felt so bummed out. I’d come here to cheer myself up yet I felt so miserable. I went to my hotel room and cried.
Various other events happened through the following few weeks. It felt like I’d hit the end of the road and there was nothing more I could do with my life. My plan to do everything myself and live it up in Spain and whatever had come to an end. It felt very very bleak.
Then I had what I can only describe as an awakening.
An absurd amount of energy was coursing through me. I had various visions of how I’d tied myself in knots. There had been all this blackness in my heart, although, at times my heart had been golden. I had built this gigantic tall towering castle with me in a turret at the top. No-one could hurt me here. But nor could anyone touch me. The the tower crumbled into the ground.
I had a very happy couple of weeks, but then I realised I was too open. I was starting to see things that I’d filter out before. Lots of very unpleasant things. I won’t go into it here, but a great deal of it was very scary. I can only say it was like going into my deepest fears. One moment I’d feel like I was dying. My body felt like it was burning up. The next moment I would be clowning around on Cloud 9 without a care in the world. I was feeling other people’s emotions more strongly than they were.
I worried I was going mad. I worried that my entire world was turning upside down. I worried that aliens would land. I was worried I’d be made homeless. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to survive. All my normal rational man-view of the world was out the window. I was finding some things incredibly scary. I would find other things incredibly wonderful.
Eventually I couldn’t take it any more, and went back home to England. I talked through a lot of difficult things and fears with parents and a few old friends. They helped me rebalance and stay grounded. They were very good. There was a lot of crying, a lot of release. I felt very crazy and nothing was making sense any more.
But I just said “one day at a time” and it happened one day at a time.
I had had all these ideas in my head of who I should be, what I should be doing. And most of that faded away. Some days it was such an intensely difficult challenge just to make it to the end of the day. But that’s what it became. Just make it to the end of the day. Anything else is a bonus.
I was totally over-emotional, over-sensitive and a total mess. To be honest I hated it all. I hated the intensity of everything and feeling overwhelmed all the time. I’m sanitising all of this for you now, but at the most intense moments it felt like being a real zombie.
Now that process is still going on, except at a gentler pace. I’ve got a few more defences back, but I’m still very sensitive to people and places and their energies. I’m generally very intolerant to cities and crowds. Some mornings I feel like crying for no reason. Other days I’m angry. You could probably diagnose me with endless diagnoses and mental disorders. But as long as you get through the day without hurting yourself or anyone else and appear normal, everything is fine. One day at a time.
Other days I’ll feel totally inspired and in a healthy happy place. I write pages and pages. From everything I’ve read – both of these things are normal and natural. I just let it all flow.
Overall though I’m so grateful that I’ve had support and a roof over my head and friends and family. Isolation is valuable in small doses, but it eats away at you and you neglect yourself if you do it for too long. Humans are social creatures. Even some time with knobheads is better than no social interactions at all.
I also have a greater sense of faith and belonging and hope. Over the past few months, I’ve joined a writing group at the local uni. That’s been a total lifesaver and it’s felt like finding kindred spirits.
I’m not saying any of this to brag. In many ways this whole experience has been very horrible. In the past I’ve been totally overconfident and bolshy and “my way is the only way and everyone else is an idiot”. I’ve been humbled.
There’s a lot to be said for the normal and the boring and the mundane. “Ignorance is bliss” is a very true phrase. “Curiosity killed the cat” is true too. A few days after my awakening there was a dead cat in the street outside my door and I took this as a sign.
What I’m trying to say is it’s ok not to look under every dark rock. It’s ok to not want to change. It’s ok to have a perfectly average 2.4-kids-mortgage-job-ford-mondeo-cul-de-sac-housing-estate-life. It’s much better for your general wellbeing and sanity.
That’s probably clear to everyone else. But it seems like a revelation to me who’s had his mind set on “changing the world” all the time. I’ve realised it’s not that everyone else is an idiot – they just do the best with the knowledge they have to make themselves comfortable.
I’ve been probing all these dark places and doing the things I’m not supposed to do because it hasn’t been a choice. I feel like I’m some kind of ‘special snowflake’ and seeking has seemed like the right thing to do. I’ve also had an obsessive focus on the harsh effects of social conditioning through families, schools and workplaces. So this has skewed my perception and driven me somewhat.
In some ways I probably am a bit strange and special. But if that goes to your head, you start to go doolally, feel like Jesus, and then the universe trips you up and you land on your face.
Bringing this to a close: what I’ve realised is it’s worth being close to people despite the crap you and they go through. We’re all in this together really. We all have “stuff” we struggle with and work through. But most people have good hearts and warm souls underneath it all and there’s a lot of love once you let it in. The only thing that matters is that you give your best to your relationships and your craft.
I have a talent for writing – that I’ve recently used for stories. I’ll go and write a few subtlety-revolutionary books, win some writing competitions, earn a few bob, go on a few travels, make some new friends, get a cosy wood cabin with a sexy lumberjack somewhere in Scandinavia. Or something like that until the next mission calls.
(It won’t be that straightforward, but it’ll be a hell of a lot more pleasant than the crap in the past)