anxiety

Run away

Run away
It will fix itself
If you’re not there
Run away
Uphill
Away from the depths
Where it can only be worse
Which you cannot bear to explore
To confront
Too hard
Run away
From the you you most fear
That fatal truth
Too much to feel
Too much of a battle
Run away
From that waste of time
To higher ground
To the edge
To fall again

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Mind Wars

I’m spending this weekend with The Mother. I haven’t seen her in the flesh since March, seven months ago. Then I had protection in the form of other people. This time it’s just us two. The relationship between The Mother and me is a whole tortuous book in itself, so I won’t bore you with it. All you need to know is she’s a controlling person, and I have let her be that person with me. She does that through fear because of childhood things, exacerbated by secret alcoholic husband, which, in that context, makes it totally understandable. Now.

I can pinpoint the exact time I decided that I wasn’t going to be like I was anymore. I wasn’t going to take this shit from her. Or anyone else for that matter. I’d had a bad year. Most years up to then hadn’t been good, apart from the odd moment here or there after I escaped home and school, and the heady days at university when everything was possible. After that came a complete breakdown, but all good things have to come to an end somehow. I regained some stability with my OH for the last ten years, a home, and two cats. Thank fuck! However, all good situations have their evil side. The grass may be greener, but there’s still perennial weeds in there.  The home situation with an autistic step-son, his not so interested mother, and my OH had got out of hand. When I say out of hand, I mean it hadn’t been dealt with. None of it. It was impossible to when that part of our lives wasn’t within our control. We weren’t allowed to make the decisions. And, looking back, I don’t think we wanted to be making them either. Without the OH’s Asperger’s diagnosis it was difficult for us to communicate about anything properly. Like a cushion trying to understand a hammer.

It was a lonely time for both of us. I sought solitude, which then sought company in some of the best friends I’ll ever have. That’s what it felt like at the time anyway. Then, suddenly, all my friends had got boyfriends/girlfriends/lives all at the same time. I was left alone. Isolated. Again. [Insert boring record of not having any family at all other than The Mother and inadequate training in social interaction due to alcoholic father here]. So keen was I to not be lonely for the rest of my life I’d put myself behind others, be there without question, the best friend they’d ever had. I’d been there for them, and they just left me. Obviously, that feeling has nothing to do with them, and everything to do with me. The way it felt, the injustice, the pain of rejection and forced isolation in the middle of a situation that was already unstable, was intolerable – and I mean intolerable, to the point of physical pain that had only one way out. I put myself out there more than I’d ever done before. Prostrate on the floor, metaphorical innards bared. And I got hurt, obviously.

Turns out that’s the best thing they could have done for me.

It was on an excruciating week’s ‘holiday’ (she called it this. I call it a week in enforced hell with en suite) in Cornwall with my mother that I decided I wasn’t going to put up with her or anyone else’s shit any longer. My innards healed over and put an extra protective layer of fixative on top. I physically felt it one of those long nights stuck in a converted barn in the middle of nowhere with my life long guilt giver snoring in the next room. Once that huge, ugly monster (of emotions, not The Mother. Although…) had been encased forever inside me things started to show themselves from the other side. Their shapes were different and their overpowering repression not so overpowering anymore. That’s when the ever present Rebel sitting at the back marched forward and said, “I’m driving this body now. Get out of the bloody way Anxiety. Shift your fucking fat arse Self-Doubt, I’m taking over, you can all fuck off!”

I’d felt Rebel before, but this time was different. Instead of Anxiety throttling her on the spot, Rebel fought back, hard. They tried to push Rebel out before she could strap herself in, but Rebel was too strong and had been ignored, crushed and bullied for far too long by the others. She has won nearly every battle ever since. Rebel was finally able to teach me how to have confidence in my own intelligence (knocked out of me at school, of course), that I could work this life thing out myself if I just put in some time and effort and really used this amazing (and controllable!!) blob of grey slime in my skull. Rebel appointed Stubborn as Mind monitor. Stubborn was strict about things, making me read things that really helped me learn about how this bunch of cells I call my body works. Stubborn made me stick with battling through the nonsense commercial (bullshit) self-help market and find the real information. I learned about my biology, my chemistry, how it creates those intangible things called feelings and behaviours and reactions, and how I can control them with this flimsy thing called Mind. Defenceless as Mind would usually be, Rebel has released its full force. Now that Rebel is in charge I’m allowed to have confidence in myself as a fully formed human person (to the point anyone can be approaching midlife crisis age). I care about what people think about my writing, the way I look, what I think and say, but at the same time I don’t. I know that I know how to know stuff (think about it), and I know that I know how to unknow the old and inknow the new (I make up words. Problem?). I am capable, in my own way. Different to everyone else’s way. Good.

Those friends? After I’d hit the bottom of the pit and struggled back out again some of them turned out to be actual friends! But the majority turned out to be not worth any effort at all. And that’s fine.

Of course Rebel has to have the odd holiday. We all need a rest. That’s when Anxiety comes back for a day or two. Or Self-Doubt, with the apprentice, Self-Loathing. But they’re only temporary staff.

Brand: Writer

anxiety_by_morrison3000-d8j3revThe dreaded workshop. Creativity on demand, under the scrutiny of other far more competent creatives. Yes, I attended a couple the other week. It took a lot of courage and many self pep talks to even get myself into the room! I spent the few days leading up to it gathering the neurotic thoughts I could find – you’re not as good as everyone else, they’ll all laugh at your ideas, you’re not clever enough, you can’t write, give up – which inevitably led to the usual anxiety attack just before leaving for the first workshop. The difference between the me now and the me I was this time last year being I ACTUALLY WENT! I didn’t cop out. I really MADE myself go. The few experiences of doing this previously had gone well, and so finally my brain has seemed to reach an equilibrium between the neurotic thoughts and the experiential evidence to show that it’s never as bad as I can very competently make out it’s going to be. I held onto that thought like a toddler with an ice-cream. Also, it’s about self-confidence *looks at self-confidence bucket, status: empty*. It’s about realising what could REALISTICALLY go wrong, and knowing that you do have the ability to get through it if it does. Unfortunately us humans must go through a few harrowing experiences to realise this fact fully, but hey, life’s a bitch on steroids sometimes.lightheaded_by_morrison3000-d9biw0q

Anyway, back to the workshops. So, I was nervous about attending this workshop full of literary geniuses. When I arrived there were 20 other people all sat round a table like the class of 1992, silent, ridged, and concentrating very hard on their pencils. After what seemed like a lifetime plus one, the teacher arrived. Sorry, ‘workshop leader’. As a plan was drawn of the names of the people in attendance and ‘just a little bit about what style of writing you do’ I could see that every single person was bricking it as much as me. Everyone feels the same in these situations. If they don’t look like it then they have years of practice behind them meaning they’re bloody good at covering it up!

Most writers I’ve come across are like this: full of self-doubt, unsure whether their audacity to fill pages of dead trees with their words is justifiable. Of course, some new writers are very confident, some rightly so, and for some it can be their downfall. A bit of humility can go a long way, and it is essential for learning and creating. As writers in the world of open communication we are expected to be brands in ourselves. We need to be personalities which our audience can buy into, like a character in a book. The thought of selling yourself as a package of writing brilliance is incomprehensible to writers, most of whom will openly admit they don’t know everything there is to know about themselves, never mind present it to the world neatly tag-lined and photo-perfect.

hidden_beauty_by_morrison3000-d7x5fbm

Writers are natural introverts, observers rather than participators. Writers are used to hiding behind their writing. Writers want their writing to be their brand that represents them. But to the hungry wolf that is social media being a writer is not enough. sane_and_insane_rivalry_by_morrison3000-d7fc3dmWe need to form relationships with our readers before they’ve even read anything we’ve written, and we need to do it in such a way that it represents our writing style so as to fulfil our readers’ expectations when they do finally skim through the opening lines of our stories. Brand Writer must deliver what it promises.

Again, we come back to that illusive rogue, time. Having time. If I was a social media guru I wouldn’t spend as much time writing. Simple. I’m currently working on how to do both. My brain is complaining about this distraction, but I will come to a mutually beneficial compromise at some point.

a_mess_by_morrison3000-d7k7jnd

The workshops? Loved every second! I didn’t appear to cause offence to anyone, and I didn’t turn into a blubbering jellylike blob, and my head didn’t explode all over my fellow participants. Once I’d forgotten to worry about those things and became absorbed in the whole thing the time passed way too quickly and before I knew it I was leaving that once terrifying room feeling self-sanctimonious, telling myself that I told myself it would be all right, didn’t I, hmm?

It was great to hear what others were writing, and it was great to come up with ideas amongst such creative people, even if certain ideas wouldn’t pop forth on demand. It didn’t matter. It wasn’t a test. It was for us workshopees to learn something. The stuff I did come up with inspired a whole new story with a great character I can hardly believe I created, and I was able to grasp a sense of where my particular comfy cushion of ‘Me’ sits within the writer population. I know more than I think I do is really what these workshops taught me, and I should have confidence in this fact. I came away from my two days of learning feeling super confident about my writing and where I’m going with it. I decided, in comparison (as humans do) that I’ve actually got a head start on some, and that my slight apprehension about attending things like this is actually a good thing: I go there feeling I don’t know everything, and that’s exactly how it should be.

euphoria_by_morrison3000-d7qemab

All artwork by Dolores A Morrison. Please check out this fab artist here…
http://www.doloresmorrison.com
http://morrison3000.deviantart.com
https://www.facebook.com/Morrison3000Art/

Self. Aware.

I am aware that I am there
and sometimes here.
I have confidence that this is the case.
I hate my face and in fact most places about my here-ness.
Is my face that I see what you see too, do I know what you see when you say you do
know me?

I have confidence in the floor being down and space being up, but my confidence drops when I realise I suck
as a person,
to me that is, maybe not to you who says you
know me. Do you?

If my perception is blue then yours might be green,
or a little marine, kind of turquoisey colour.
Should I worry that mine is slightly less yellow than yours when you say you
know me. Should I?

Can you tell that I think this?
Can you see the bubble of explosive kind of muddle that I carry within my face that I hate, in my case, maybe not yours, but can you hear the kafuffle?
Or do I seem calm, relaxed, not bothered, kind of whatever, its fine, and do I shine as somebody who has more confidence than Bobby shouting at the camera saying ‘give us your bloody money!’. Surely not.

Have you got
that comfortable feeling when you’re around me, thinking this gal is sorted, surely she can’t be
a paranoid freak full of self loathing and doubt, wondering what this face is really all about.
Can you catch onto my awkwardness and that I’m trying to stop it by piling down vodka with one hand in my pocket,
and fag after fag is rolled to hide the lack of pride in, well, me.
You see
after this next double I won’t really care.
I’ll not remember to obsess about my hair, my stance and my stride, my strange little mind or whether you find
me disturbing. I’ll stop being stressed about being obsessed about how you see me and if I see me too, like you do. Cos you know me. Don’t you?