Monday, 11 December 2017

Leonid Gayev

An occasional moment of clarity from an always-muddied, constantly distracted mind.

It's something that blindsides me when I am least expecting it: something with seemingly no trigger and very little substance, and (often) something with no result, because even if I know the path (and I don't), I ultimately lack the drive.

But it comes down, today at least, to this: I am lonely.

I am. I do very little these days except blog, work, wait, and think. I don't sleep much because I have insomnia, but when I do, it' a bizarre experience. Last night I had a dream in which I made a new (female) friend - someone who doesn't exist, as opposed to a real person in that r么le - with whom I spent a lot of time. I pretended to her that I didn't have a girlfriend, although I've no idea why, and at the end, both of them left, leaving me alone once again.

In real life, I have a girlfriend who spends a lot of time at work - more time than I do - and, when she is here, she spends a lot of time resting, or engaged in other activities: this is perfectly understandable, she needs her rest to recharge her energy for the physically demanding job she does. I, on the other hand, do a job which nominally takes up very few hours, but actually takes up a lot more (unpaid) time. I am in a constantly client-facing position, which suits me due to my nature, but ultimately this is a personal connection which is transient, and merely professional. Very few clients actually become friends. I don't expect them to.

And then there are my friends. Seeing them used to be a weekly experience, or maybe more so. Now, it's a very rare one, and one that I can't afford to do (seriously - I can't even make a bus journey because my card doesn't let me, and my boss is refusing to pay anyone until the unachievable gets achieved. That's a Catch-22 just before Christmas.); when I am reminded of my friends, it is usually in one of a few ways: a group that no longer exists, a group in which everyone is achieving more than me; a group which consists of my closest friends but I appear to be out of their grasp for reasons unknown; and a group which I've been part of for a very long time but in which I now feel as if I am persona non grata.

Some groups feel different now. One of them has fractured into little shards, one has faded into obscurity, and one has become much less of a "community" and is more of an autocracy with a figurehead and a "team" whose job is it to approve members' contributions.

If there's one group of people I spend most of my time with recently, it's my family, who are by and large pretty great people, but they can be tiresome, and their attitude towards each other often makes me feel like an outsider (even though, being right in the middle in terms of both age and cliques, I should be the lynchpin that holds us together).

And I get it. Everyone feels like this now and again. I know. And yes, it seems ridiculous, writing this post when there is a snoozing girlfriend in my bed and bustling housemates within earshot, a 'phone full of contacts and access to social networking on which hundreds of thousands of people buzz. It even seems somewhat pathetic, feeling so isolated like this and not going out and doing something, but what? With what money? And with who? The people whose jobs keep them busy, the people whose children keep them busy, the people who make me feel unworthy of their time, the people of whom I am insanely jealous, or the people who may not like me any more but don't say so directly?

But whatever it is, it makes me second-guess myself. I don't want to play video games because I reach hard bits, get stuck and end up hitting myself very hard when it gets too much. I don't want to read books because my eyes get tired, my brain gets overloaded, and the book I'm reading at the moment makes me yearn for the unobtainable. I don't want to write because I fear the reactions I never used to fear. I don't want to eat, or drink, or go to the gym because all of those exacerbate my poor self-image. I don't want to sleep in case my brain invents another temporary friend for me to be distraught about.

I am lonely. I am poor, I am isolated, I am put-upon, I am overworked, I am tired, and I am lonely.

And it hurts so much that sometimes I want to throw my head back and SCREAM.

I try to hold it together; I really do. I need to be solid, dependable, reliable, flexible and tolerant. I don't want to bend so much that I feel I will crack at any point. I don't want to go through day after day fighting the urge to cry, maintaining a brave smile while my colleague continuously bitches at me because she doesn't like her job, fending off accusations from all angles on all subjects, and feeling nervous and twitchy whenever asked what I'm doing in case this is the catalyst for something else.

I don't know what would help. I don't know who to ask, or where to go, or even how to say I'm feeling what I'm feeling. I am surrounded by people and yet I feel lonelier than I ever remember feeling.

Was I intending to publish this? I'm not even sure if I was. I was scared to go into the kitchen to make tea to drink because my housemate was there and I didn't want to disturb him. I sat down to write, and I wrote this. I don't know if I was ever going to hit the publish button.

But I will. I don't have a void to scream into, but this will do. I'm hitting the publish button. Here I go.


Anonymous said...

[hugs] Ugh, this really resonates with me these days, even if it's for different reasons. (I'm an extremely single gal with a struggling artsy career whose friends are physically and emotionally distant thanks to demanding tech jobs and families, and at times I feel like I'm going through a second adolescence in my early forties. My mom, who was always my best confidante, is having her own issues following my father's death a few years ago, and suddenly doesn't get me anymore. I definitely find my brain conjuring up sympathetic guys, who sometimes feel like my secret weapon and at other times the sign that I'm finally insane.) All I can think of is to be kind to yourself, however that works for you...I'd guarantee that a lot of the people who seem happier, more successful, and more together from a distance are going through a lot of stuff themselves, and probably putting on a brave front. The general horrors of 2017, jerky bosses and co-workers, and the added pressures of holiday merriment make everything that much harder, so it's totally justified and not just you. That's about all I know is true: you're not alone in feeling this way, so it's no sign of anything lacking in you. And I think "lonely" is the default state for almost all of us nowadays, myself included. I wish you well!

Anonymous said...

I’ll bite. I’m not sure why because I have heard others make the below comments to you (more than once) and they might as well have been talking to a wall for all the effect I’ve seen.

You’re writing yet another post in which I’m sure your intention is to elicit sympathy for yourself and yet it comes across as you showing contempt for your friends, co-workers, and family. Maybe the whinging coworker is a single parent struggling to feed their child because they make so little? Maybe the group that excludes you did so because your actions hurt other people? (No it doesn’t matter if you got hurt, unless you intend to argue that two wrongs make a right).

You express fading into obscurity or becoming a persona non grata. Then do something different. These things don’t happen for no reason. Be interested in other people - not so that you can judge them on your secret blogs, not so that you can show off about how much you know or how well connected you are but so that people actually feel valued. At the same time, stop doing things that people don’t like. Stop writing about them. Stop judging them. Stop jumping to conclusions about things before you have all the facts. Stop trying to put yourself up by correcting people or showing off - people don’t like to be made to feel stupid. Using the word “r么le” falls into this category. The world won’t end if you say “role”. You won’t look any less smart. Instead people are less likely to think of you as typo-prone/a douche.

You mention a faded group. Get off your ass and bring it back to life? Why wouldn’t you try and do this automatically if it matters to you?

You mention an autocratic group. Without even knowing what it is, I’m sceptical because the notion of a team doesn’t really fit with an autocracy (quotation marks or otherwise) and it certainly doesn’t fit with a system that actively seeks contribution. At the very least, there’s more going on here than you’re saying, But anyway, if that’s a group you want to be part of then contribute. Knowing you, I am sure your concern is that they’ll be critical. If they do so unnecessarily then it’s their loss. If they do so necessarily, then you need to swallow your pride and accept that you aren’t as good as you think you are. Either way, you become part of the group and you’re practicing a skill, it’s win-win.

I see you as a very image obsessed man that cares about other people, yet never looks beyond himself. You’ve told us about how inconvenienced you are by your whinging coworker, but not what she’s going through. You’ve told us about getting tired of your family, but not what you’ve done to prevent that? We know about your autocratic and fading groups. But what have YOU done to be part of them? Why are you waiting for others to fit in around you? I know of things that you’ve done and said that have seriously hurt others. Yet you seem to have been oblivious to them. I could go on, but it’s all been said before.

People tell you these things not because they are bullying you (a conclusion you jump to far too often) but because they are trying to help you. I know you think you need to be told these things gently and carefully. But you don’t because then you just find a loophole in what’s being said and you convince yourself that the message can be ignored.

Who do you ask for help? Who do you turn to? What should you do? (essentially your final questions)?
If you genuinely want to change things, the only person you can talk to is someone you trust who will be blunt and tell you what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear. Then you need to actually follow their advice.


Innocent Loverboy said...

Anonymous (not the first time you've posted on my blog? Just a hunch) -

While not the kindest comment in the world, you do raise some salient points. Some of them are right. I did want to go into more details about the things that have been upsetting me, but to do so would take time, effort, and also come close to me naming names. Not that this isn't something I've done in the past, via pseudonyms, but I was trying hard not to. You also have to take into account my mental state at the time I wrote this post.

I'll give a bit of extra context to a few of the things I've said - not as an excuse, just a point of information. I have completely run out of money and my boss is refusing to pay me for November. She has given everyone in the same position as me paperwork which can't be done without clients present, and we have no guarantee that clients will even come to meetings (even if they are booked). Much of the paperwork is done - in fact, all that I can do on my own has been done. The rest is up to the clients.

We are still not being paid. I'm certainly not being; some of the others probably have. I haven't been paid and neither has the colleague below.

My colleague, who I travel back from work with on the bus because we are friends, has an extra job (as do I, but hers is more regular; mine is ad-hoc), and has very little time. She has plenty of money - her children are grown-up and live in Italy with wives and jobs - but is overworked. I offer her a sympathetic ear every night and she will talk about how much she works. I feel for her, but can't really do any of her work for her. I've tried to engage her in other topics, but she isn't willing to talk about it.

As a result of this, I have had to not do things I would otherwise be doing. Something I've been wanting to do is to see a friend (Mane) play some of his music. He has recently become an independent musician and is doing much better than I ever did when I had the same ambition. Instead of seething with jealousy, which wouldn't help anyone, I've offered to listen to his music and help with recording, producing, or even just offer feedback. The other week, I genuinely couldn't afford the £10 ticket to his gig (or train fare there; my debit card doesn't work), which bites.

Some of the communities I've been part of have just ceased without an opportunity to restart. The band I was in split up because the musicians all moved away. The theatre group I was in closed down due to a lack of funding (I was in their last production ever for about 20 seconds, but I'd do that all over again for them). One group that made me feel better than I've ever felt, I had to leave because of the age limit. I had no control over any of those.

Other groups are a sticking point for me. The faded group I mentioned is something that I did attempt to restart - several times. Eventually, I had to accept that people had moved on with their lives (and we were using a deprecated medium to communicate), and left it in stasis, committing it all to memory. I'm thankful of the friendships I made through it, but without our community, they too are fading.

[1/2 - there's a character limit]

Innocent Loverboy said...

[2/2 - continued from above]

With the community that I said was autocratic, it is one that runs mostly on contributions, but I've noticed increasingly that said contributions are essentially routed through (and usually created by) an aforementioned "team" which I think is becoming more like a clique. I am aware that this happens within communities all the time - just look at the sex blogging community! - I don't recall the community being like that in earlier days. The person who is de facto first point of contact - the autocrat - is someone who I in fact have a great amount of respect for (despite what they may think), but who - frankly - scares me.

This person has spent the last few months routinely questioning my intelligence in increasingly direct ways, which was originally playful teasing but has recently become more and more disturbing. If that's not bullying, what is? Part of being a tease is knowing where to stop. This is probably the reason why I don't contribute more to said community. I still consider myself a member, certainly, but I've consciously stepped back from a more active role, like the one I used to have, as a result.

I'm sensitive to criticism, I'm aware. I don't take things well, especially if they're put to me in a blunt way. I've been bullied in various ways since the first day of nursery school, and all the way through into adulthood, including the present day. I've come to expect to be bullied, and one of the ways I can defy them is to continue to be myself. Maybe this isn't true, but it's how I've been conditioned.

Oh, and incidentally, I've always spelled "r么le" like that. That's how I was taught. I'm not intending to show off; as far as I'm aware, that's how it's spelled, as with other French-derived words, like "clich茅".

None of the above is intended to be an excuse. It's just an explanation, and a response to what you're saying. I had a conversation with girlfriend after she woke up, and we've kind of agreed that we will (re)start creative/expressive projects in 2018. It's a start, but due to the lack of resources I have at my disposal - not just money, but physical resources (I misplaced a lot of equipment, or broke it, in four house moves over the past few years), access to space (again, something I lost), a secure network of contacts (again...), or even good health (both of us have recently had a decline in health; I certainly have very little energy at the moment. My next step is to take a shower, even the though of which is exhausting.), it's not that I won't do things to get myself back on track. Some of the things I really, genuinely, agonisingly can't.

Although, as I've said, it's not the kindest of comments you left, you did leave a comment that was intended to help - a long one - and that means you do care. The knowledge that someone does is as valuable as any advice of any kind. Thank you. 馃檪

Anonymous said...

I now feel vilified for my "brick wall" statement. Let's give this one more go around.

> First time

I posted one other time about six years ago.

> Not being paid

Then stop working for free, take them to court, and find another job.
I don't plan to respond again, so let me short-circuit the conversation of "but I like this job" by pointing out that it if you don't get paid, it's a hobby not a job. I'll also short-circuit the conversation of "it's too hard to find a job" with the observation that data entry jobs are always available.

> Your colleague

I don't really understand the problem. She whinges, and you can't do her job for her. You're whinging, and nobody here can run your life for you. So whatever it is that you expect of your whinging is probably all she's looking for when she whinges.

> Mane

He worked harder at something than you, and is now better than you. Sounds like putting the work in is what it takes. Now where have I heard that before....?

> The band

Form a new one? Work together online?

> The theatre group

Join a new one? Form a new one? Do it in your house. Or a school hall. Or a village hall. Or a room in a church. Or a car park. Or a pub meeting room. Or the park.

> Feel-good group

Then volunteer. Or staff. Or get involved with admin. Or start a new one under the same principles with a wider age range?

> The faded group

Are you really saying that with all of your intelligence there was simply no way that this could be resurrected? That you know of nobody or nothing that could even breathe a little life into it? Why use an old medium? Did you try using a new one? That seems like an immediate fix. Again, it feels like there's something you're not saying.

> The autocratic community

It's changed from the old days? All you've described is a community that seems to have gotten its act together and is getting stuff done. Unless they've banned people from the community, this can only be a plus. And your involvement is one contribution away, so I don't understand the problem.

> The scary autocrat

I know you to have repeatedly questioned peoples abilities (skills and/or intelligence) - to such an extent that one person self-harmed. So I guess you didn't know where to stop. Are you a bully?

He questions your intelligence? Isn't that similar to you correcting people or using words/sentence structures that people don't understand?
If he has a point then swallow your pride and learn something (as I said in my last post). You admit you can't take criticism. You need to learn to do so. If he's wrong then what's the problem? He's wrong.

> "I've come to expect to be bullied, and one of the ways I can defy them is to continue to be myself. Maybe this isn't true, but it's how I've been conditioned."

If you insist on handling something in a way that you think might be bad, you can hardly complain when it has a bad outcome.

Perhaps the "bullying" you're receiving is a reaction to your own ascorbic personality where you insist on correcting people, using words they don't understand to make them feel stupid, or writing about them/breaking confidences on your blog.

> R么le

"R么le" is French, not English.
I reject your excuse. You surely have been taught things that were wrong or that you disagreed with. You must realise that people will either think you've made a mistake or that you're pretentious. And you're setting yourself to look stupid - for instance, in your previous posts you haven't said "fa莽ade", you've said "facade".

> You did leave a comment that was intended to help - a long one - and that means you do care

Is that a glimmer of light I see?

Innocent Loverboy said...

I really don't want to go around and around via comments (this has happened before, and it never ends well), but you've said you don't plan to respond again, so I may as well add a few more points of explanation and leave it at that.

- I was paid yesterday (finally) and I'm now waiting for the cheque to clear. There are still some issues with client satisfaction, but that doesn't affect me much; in fact, it's my job to resolve those issues. I'm usually paid late; this month was exceptionally so. Now I've been paid, I'm at least a little calmer.

- From what I've heard (and not being able to go to the gigs I haven't heard much), Mane is an excellent musician. For comparison, I've been playing the guitar for approximately the same time and I don't have his technical ability. 47 is also another good example. But I'm not bitter; most people say I write the best lyrics, so it's a matter of playing to my strengths. I struggle to find the same exposure, but when I next get the chance to talk to Mane, I'll ask him for ideas.

- I'm struggling to think of anyone who would have the time or distance to form a new band (Mane doesn't count!). Robinson, Mane Jr., Lovely and 47 can all play instruments, but they all have commitments. I'll pick up music again in January and see if I can get anywhere with anything.

- The feel-good group (that is a good phrase!) was one age-based subsection of a much larger, national organisation, which I've been involved with since primary school. I'm still a paid member, and I still participate when I can; I just enjoyed myself more when I was in the right age bracket. Maybe this is a matter of being able to let things go, as opposed to getting them back.

- Ditto with the faded group. I can't say much else, really; it was a very ambiguous tie that held us together and dwindling interest (as much as the medium we used) was what ended us. I made a couple of attempts to resuscitate, but no response from anyone after any attempt means that I decided it wasn't going to happen. I still miss it, though.

- It's true that the community is perhaps more organised than it once was, but as I said, all the contributions appear to be from the same people. There's a way to contribute, but it seems very difficult to do technically, and anything I want to contribute would fall under the remit of the admin team. Maybe I'm just being a little nervous about it, but I don't want to irritate anyone (else)!

- This person is questioning my intelligence by using direct words, in a public setting, such as "moronic" and "stupid". I'd say that's designed to get a rise out of me, but I wonder exactly what he's trying to achieve? I don't respond to his taunts, so I don't think I'll ever know.

- I've also received physical bullying in the past. I haven't been hit, punched, or kicked for a couple of years now, but it has happened (even in adulthood), so it's not just an adverse reaction.

- I am a bit pretentious. 馃構

In any case, I wrote this post when I was having a very bad mental health day. I still feel this way, but its effects come in peaks and troughs. I had a good day at work yesterday (with excellent feedback from clients and rapport with my colleague, who's also just been paid and so was more cheerful than usual), and I've just booked to see The Last Jedi, so I'm a lot calmer than I was.

I'm sure solutions will present themselves in time. Some of them I'll need to work on. It may not all end with me presenting Have I Got News For You, but with a new year coming and no discernable change evident, maybe that's the time to work on that.

Now if only I had the energy to start moving...