No longer as truthful as should be deserved, some names, places and events deliberately vague to protect identities that aren't mine

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Please, listen

I discovered the below poem in Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul back when I was a moody teenager, and I continuously come back to it, for how it plainly points the importance of simply listening to the other person's feelings, views, opinions etc, and truly acknowledging the impact they have on that individual before jumping in with your own assessment

I always remember it in concern with the basic premise laid out in the popsci book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.  Men when faced with a problem go off into their mancave and sit by themselves and think about it and maybe smash some things and then think more until they've solved it.  And if they truly can't solve it, they will find another man and tell him the problem, and they are expecting him to provide solutions.  Women on the other hand are group focused.  They gather together and talk not about the problem itself, but about all the things around and related to the problem, and in doing so they build up a web of understanding about the problem that allows them to see the solution.  Massively overgeneralizing sure, but like all rules of thumb, it applies good enough on a broad rough basis.  Sometimes you need a friend to help provide solutions.  Sometimes you just need a sympathetic ear.  Both routes have merit.  The world would be a lot easier if we often prefaced talks with our friends with what kind of responses we were looking for from them.

And of course my mental health issues acutely remind me, that what is manageable and tolerable for one person may be very different from another.  We all experience stressors very differently and very subjectively to ourselves alone.  So often saying "oh you shouldn't think like that or some variety" is in fact very unhelpful and counterproductive.

I've tried at various occasions today to talk about things and feelings I keep very hidden and quiet about.  These conversations didn't appear any different to others in terms of tone or anything - quite purposefully, I don't wish to take time to properly consider the seriousness of what I'm finally admitting at the time.  But each time I was quickly shot down.  In jest usually.  A defence mechanism of the person I was talking to.  They deflect and deflect repeatedly in quick succession.  Leaving me emotionally winded having just built up the courage to say it in the first place.  Being ridiculed, or having my thoughts waved away as insignificant massively damages that confidence and I clam up from revealing anything for a good few hours and usually end up rather defensively angry as well, which causes its own set of issues as it comes across as if I have disproportionately reacted to a normal conversation.  Its hard, and the best I can manage right now is occasionally trying to discuss something else difficult instead at a later point.  But I'm losing my confidence a lot at the moment.


When I ask you to listen to me
and you start giving me advice,
you have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me why
I shouldn’t feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do something
to solve my problem,
you have failed me,
strange as that may seem.

Listen! All I ask is that you listen.
Don’t talk or do – just hear me.

Advice is cheap; 20 cents will get
you both Dear Abby and Billy Graham
in the same newspaper.
And I can do for myself; I am not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering,
but not helpless.

When you do something for me that I can
and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and

But when you accept as a simple fact
that I feel what I feel,
no matter how irrational,
then I can stop trying to convince
you and get about this business
of understanding what’s behind
this irrational feeling.

And when that’s clear, the answers are
obvious and I don’t need advice.
Irrational feelings make sense when
we understand what’s behind them.

Perhaps that’s why prayer works, sometimes,
for some people – because God is mute,
and he doesn’t give advice or try
to fix things.
God just listens and lets you work
it out for yourself.

So please listen, and just hear me.
And if you want to talk, wait a minute
for your turn – and I will listen to you.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

We're not done

It's easy to ignore you
When I see you down the hall
It's easy to be angry
It's easy not to call
To throw away this thing we had
And blame it all on you
It's harder to admit
I miss it too

It's hard when I come up with something new
And I can't show you
It's hard to see you suffering
It's hard because I know you
It's hard to find forgiveness
We've said all there is to say
What sucks is
I don't see another way

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Quiet thoughts on a Saturday afternoon

There's a lot of things I'm not saying.

I miss my friends.
This is partly my own fault and partly not.  Between disagreements over previous repeated suicidal bouts, attempting to recover from such, insane work commitments over the last 12 months, intentionally shrinking my social circles to cope with the previous 2, and my just naturally overly busy schedule, I haven't had much free time.  A friend asked if we could do something on a Sunday not too long ago - over a 3 month period I only had 2 dates I could offer, the soonest being 6 weeks away even still.  Friends have, probably understandably, rather given up on trying to hang out with me except for special occasions like group birthdays etc.

I still have my Monday night social, which keeps me sane(ish) week and week, in so much as it acts like a stress reliever, but after 5 years of such and an ever decreasing size of the group that turn up each week my mind has partially desensitised to the effect of it - as I say, it works as a temporary stress reliever, but given its default regularity, doesn't seem to count a huge amount towards 'seeing people' anymore.

I'm supposed to be in Brussels this weekend.  A replanned trip for a good friend who wanted to go to Amsterdam but I told him I could only go as far as Brussels.  Clearly, we're not there.  Work got in the way.  Super long days, weekend work, getting home at 2am and going back to work at 7am, not eating, all of this meant I had to make the call that 6 hours of driving, half of it in a foreign country, was going to end badly, and so I cancelled the trip.  It sucks.  I feel horrible for cancelling on the friend who was counting on me for one of his first proper vacations in years.  Everytime he tries to tease me about it I get defensive and lash out at him.  I'm at work on Sunday this weekend already of course.

I was supposed to be in Thiepval this weekend.  At the Somme memorial event.  I won tickets.  I asked my best friend if he was up for it.  War services seem to be a thing we do.  For someone who normally does not display the correct emotional connection during times of public grief, war services do have a connection with me, again, not so much an outward one, but inwardly they mean a great deal to me.  Brussels was the replanning of this Thiepval trip when that went awry.   Thiepval went awry, well because I fell out with my best friend I suppose.  Which sucks.

I miss him.  He fucked up pretty badly and did something pretty damning to be fair.  I would like to somehow reconcile, but that's not just about me forgiving him and forgetting about it, that involves him putting in a fair amount of effort in to try and make things up or apologise to me.  That effort seems to be... virtually non-existent.  One in person talk that he walked away from and a handful of text messages over 6 weeks.  He seems to have no interest in putting in the effort to make up with me.  Which is the way things go sometimes, but it still hurts a lot, I still miss him a lot.  He was a big and critical part of my life (and a very critical part of my mental health support over the past 18 months that has now vanished - at many times the curiosity of where his friendship might go over the years was the sole thing keeping me around) so finding out you're not worth making the effort for is never a nice position to be in.

I miss his husband.  He's someone who doesn't say a lot, and who doesn't reveal his emotions very easily.  But over the last year I've reached a point where I feel I can read him fairly well, that we have established some of our own connection.  We both realise that ultimately, our friendship will always hinge on my interaction with the (ex-?)best friend, but we had definitely got to a point that there was a personal interaction between us.  The messages he's sent me over the past few weeks have been heart-wrenching at times.  It made me realise I don't just miss my friend; I miss both of them.

This all leaves me in a state where I'm falling very free and loose mental health wise again.  I feel supremely disconnected from the world, there's no one I feel like talking to, seeing people is either a chore or they're no longer around or interested.  I've wondered about reaching out to the best friend - about once again, swallowing the hurt and being friends with him because I mentally need the stability.  But ignoring the problem would lead to internalised resentment down the line.  Brussels friend is also seemingly very concerned about any prospect of reconciliation - partly because of the effect the whole issue and its history have had on him personally, and I also get the feeling he just doesn't think the guy is any good for me to be around, period.  It's not hard to work out who each of these people are, so you'll understand why Brussels friend's severe reaction to me reaching out makes me give pause and consider whether he is in fact right and I should trust in his assessment of me far more than I trust my own.

But either way, I miss everything right now.  It all gets increasingly distant every day.