It has a story that you shouldn’t ask after. Self-portrait courtesy of my beautiful daughter. :)
Today I’m on a self-enforced day of bed rest because I have the literal death plague in me. The problem with being sick is that I can’t my own lazy hands. The longer I stare at the wall, the more I itch to do something. It hasn’t helped that torn ligaments in my knee have kept me from running for weeks now.
Right, this morning I reread the post I put up over the weekend. Right now I feel far better. Being mindful that feelings of the moment pass always helps. A few friends reached out in odd and unrelated circumstances on Sunday and Monday. Last night I had a great chat with my sister about everything. If I’m struggling sometimes, I’m not over my head yet. Since December I’ve lost a full kilo by switching to full-time vegetarian and tackling my root need to snack on chocolate when something stresses me. My Dutch learning improves week over week.
I’m frustrated and tired, but hale and ready for the spring!
The hardest thing for me to do over the last few months has been to separate my expectations of other peoples’s expectations of what I should feel, from what I expect I should I feel, from what I think I feel, from what I feel. To unpack that,
- there are those who are quite to see me roll around in pain, so I should feel the pain in full;
- there are those who want me to let go, so I should ignore the pain;
- that where I should be happy and fulfilled, I’m instead hollow and angry and empty;
- and that I am exhausted because I can’t reconcile these states.
Like yeah, I live and breathe sorrow and shame for everyone I’ve hurt. Whenever I get in the mood to punish myself I have a draw full of shiny nails to hammer into the cross.
Before that, I was a child. My therapist and I are working through my father. So dad died in November 2003. When I saw him dead on the kitchen floor, I thought “oh, alright”, and went right back to my videos games. Between then and his funeral on the Friday I only wanted for him to go in the ground so I could get back to work. In the 15 years between I haven’t felt much more on the topic of my dad dying. That isn’t normal. It’s not normal to hear someone talk about their fathers as a figure they love and cherish, and wonder to myself “what’s wrong with this person?”
When I was 11 or 12, my dad tried to kill me. My mum and sister were both there. Mum and dad were having some stupid fight about some stupid thing, so of course my sister and I jumped into pull them apart. Whenever the topic of my dad comes up, they defend him with “that’s not who he was” and “you didn’t know him before he got bad.” These are all true things for the person to says them. In truth he wasn’t that bad to them. I guess? It was me flat on my back on the bed, him knelt on top of me, his hands around my throat, his eyes full of dead and hate. It’s beyond fucked up that this even happened, let alone that I go around for 25 years with the idea that this is a normal thing that dads do.
This is why I disassociate. I partition Outside Mark from Brain Mark, and Brain Mark from Heart Mark. This is why I’ll immediately cut out anyone who threatens to leave me vulnerable. It’s why I could date someone for months and not be able to tell them more than “I guess I like you.” The person I allow get close is the one who can hurt me. It’ll be them choking me next if I let down my guard. Whenever I was violent, I was violent with my dad’s hands around my throat. This does not excuse the awful things I’ve done myself. It anything, this underscores how my choices in the moment will stretch out to fill a life. One awful truth is that abuse in families endures across generations. They fuck you up, your mum and dad. I’m dad too.
Whatever I’ve did was what somebody else did to me first. If I’ve made someone, it’s because someone made me. Although I’ve tackled my behaviour and made as much right as I can, I won’t heal-feel inside-until I acknowledge how fucked up my life made me too. It’s heartbreaking to me that I am never let myself be happy or allow love. When the last person I dated told me “I love you”, my reaction was to say “oh, okay” and change topic. And then dump them a few weeks later because their unwanted love and affection threatened me.
What I want most from my life is to be able to be vulnerable. Although I can pour out everything random and awful, I can’t relax enough to be comfortable seen holdings hands in public. That I’m otherwise high-functioning makes me feel even more wrong inside. I’ve gotten my life in gear, I’m learning Dutch and hope to move in April and I’m training for a marathon later. I’ll see my kids in December for the first time since 2012. The more it goes right outside, the worse it gets inside. Every little old scar that therapy opens up to heal makes me feel a little more worse.
I won’t heal until I understand my emotions about me, and that without hedging them with what you want me to feel about me. This is painful on it’s own. My choices to cut out everyone and be alone make it worse.
Snaps dumped from Instagram in no particular order.
103/344 (30/100 normalised)
Previous race: Clontarf Half Marathon
A quick fast new year’s day run around Galway city to burn off the hangover from the night before. While we weren’t awarded medal for not dying on that long and lonely road, I did bag a sweet shirt. :D This marks my fastest single-run pace, my fastest 5k pace, and my first whole-race sub-4:30/km pace. I’m super happy with the results!
In early December I began the deletion of my social media presence. My Facebook, Flickr, Mastodon profiles are all now gone. My Instagram and Twitter accounts are on the endangered list. I kept them so far because Twitter is still a great way for me stay keep in touch with friends.
Back in November I read Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier. Mr. Lanier’s book put into words feelings that I’ve talked about back in 2010. Since the time of the linked talk by me I’ve had an ambivalent outlook on social media:
- Social media brings together a broad network of loose connections. It’s a great way to keep up with people.
- Social media isolates and polarises.
- Social media operates on a negative feedback cycle. Over time it tends magnify and worsen any problems you have.
- The true customers of social media are anyone with the desire to change behaviour and the means to pay for it. Companies with a product to sell are only one among many.
That I built an social network of almost 100k users was a unique experience of the other side of things. One of my last projects in that job was to expand and personalise newsfeeds on a per-user basis. The only things that matter to social media are our “engagement”-our clicks and eyeballs and time. Click on a post, click on an advert too. Read a message, read a sponsored message after. Your happiness, your dignity, and your ability to connect in a meaningful manner with other humans are all irrelevant in such a context.
Last week one of my Twitter contacts tweeted out that they were sick of seeing the 2019 Golden Globes. Twitter decided they had to see it. Their tweet was the first and only mention I had of it in my own timeline. Social media balkanises us. There’s no common ground to find with other people without shared experience.
Separate to all this, I’ve been on a journey to rediscover myself, change the context of my life and build something new from the old. More and more, I felt like Facebook kept me locked into an unchanging negative newsfeed. It mandated how I interacted with people I hardly knew in the first place, let alone in the here and how. So I put up my phone and email and an explanation why I had to decided to leave. And I went.
While getting rid of Facebook wasn’t a panacea, it has left me feeling free in myself for the first time in years. The deletion removed a powerful sense of a lurking monolithic past that I had bring everywhere and make a part of my life. I don’t have to worry anymore about the thoughts and reactions of everyone who added me as a contact. I can be me.