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The unmentionable

I can’t believe how I’ve been deceived by my moods. You grow up, as a teenager, reading 19th century and early 20th century psychologists, you think subconscious is terribly important. Then you graduate into adulthood and modern-day psychology and think reason is everything and mind is mouldable. But then wham, subconscious strikes back.

I have been feeling quite well this autumn. I don’t have any anxiety or stress. I have money again and don’t have to deal with not being able to afford soap, like this time last year. Today, I even experienced a totally mad impulse of offering financial aid to a person who I only know by reading her blog. She seemed to need it for a greater cause than I could ever find. I resisted the impulse this time around. The buffer is not yet strong enough. I guess I was just fancying myself to be Jean Valjean and wanted to feel more like I’ve done something good to other people too.

I found November enchanting in its early days. There had been so much sunshine this summer and autumn that when darkness came, it was romantic. One warm evening, I went for an unplanned stroll by the seaside and it was magical, the darkness, the belt of stars, the distant murmur of waves. A little eerie too as you could not see where the sea actually begun. So – too brave steps and splash, your feet would be in it. That was pretty glorious.

I knew my ability to deal with winter darkness could be a bit poor, so in September, I planned many activities for myself to keep the bad moods and anxiety at bay. I haven’t needed them. I don’t think I’ve felt as mentally strong as I do now at any point in the last three years.

Side by side to it, I have not done anything at all outside of work and my programming course. I’ve put life on hold and have recently developed strong avoidant tendencies regarding conflict and disruption. I put things off because the pause in life is better than the certain disruption/misery. And in the waiting room, it’s okay.

But it seems that, as I feel I don’t need anything, I have, unbeknownst to myself, ran out of life energy. That I’m actually deeply depressed. I may have shut myself into my cosy, soft-music-and-warm-blankets waiting room, but my subconscious is fully aware, in spite of my attempts to guide my brain to think otherwise or not think about it at all, that behind both doors is misery. I do know I cannot stay in the waiting room but opening either door, knowing full well I will be unhappy either way, it’s understandable I delay in the only place that feels good.

But the point is that I totally managed to deceive myself. I thought that I was doing really well for someone with my life, I had never had such a stress- and anxiety-free autumn in recent years. I had many days of glee and most days seemed neutral. Nothing bad happened. So you know, one thinks this is good.

I had this passing thought earlier that even dying would not cause much of a reaction or resistance in me now. Like, I just don’t care. And that was the eye-opener. That I was not okay. That I’m simply having a different kind of depression from the usual kind. A more passive, silent fading-away. As fading-aways go, it’s not that bad. It’s bad when you resist and fight it. But as I don’t have the energy for that, well, it’s a very strange mood and type of depression, deceptively feel-good.

Such is life sometimes. Now back to my soft blanket.

Blogging + lying vol. 2

There we go. Got rid of some posts I no longer liked polluting this space.

I’ve enjoyed gradually developing my own style of keeping a blog. When I started out,  the way I approached a blog as a medium was as something much more pre-defined. When a text goes up in a blog, that’s it. The end. You may correct a spelling mistake, but what’s up, stays up, in the way it went up. I’ve moved away from this to a more fluid approach. A kind of mind diary, with chapters I can sometimes re-read and decide that a) I’ve used that exact phrase twice! How embarrassing. Delete one. b) That post is badly written/too personal/too stupid/total drivel. Delete entire post. c) That photo is no good. Delete. Replace. d) Hmm. This needs a post script. Write it. e) This needs a paragraph added. Write it. f) That sentence is badly written/too personal/too stupid. Delete. g) This post in the trash folder is quite good after all. Publish again.

I do that a lot, really. A kind of delayed perfectionism. At first anything goes up and I’m not very critical but later I like to polish things. It’s a great tactic for any kind of writing, by the way. Highly recommended for perfectionists who want that first paragraph perfect and spend enormous amounts of time getting nowhere. Do your polishing later.

And of course the content has developed over the years too, and has become ……more authentic? If I want to write a one-line post, I do that. If I want to write a longer one, I do that.

Lying Vol. 2

I wrote about being one of the liars of the world, the fantasist, the dramatist, the exaggerator. The thing with this is that it is other people that think I’m exaggerating or being blind to the truth. I don’t think that. I believe in it all at the moment of telling/experiencing it. Sometimes with every nerve cell, sometimes with half.  That’s my authentic self. I can turn on my highly analytical mindset and then I do see that, well, maybe things aren’t quite like that. But at the moment of experiencing or telling it, I’m perfectly frank.

Actual lying, and that thing that gets classified under politeness but is closer to manipulation, is very hard for me. It seems to require a lot of social energy, which I don’t have oodles of to begin with. I knew a guy once who was always telling me what rubbish colleagues he has. One day he showed me a reference letter he had written for one of them upon being asked. It was the most glowingly positive reference letter. I was confused. How can one manage that while disliking the person?! That is the sort of lying I have no aptitude for. I would have at best written a coldly positive letter – no glow, no superlatives, no style (because no inspiration), but positive enough in a formal sort of way.

The best I manage in situations of that kind is being civil. If I think someone’s new hairdo is unflattering and they ask me for an opinion, I will say, “It’s nice, glad you like it”. I won’t say “Oh my god, you look so beautiful with this. Wow!”. That’s terrible. I don’t know what would have to happen for me to manage to fake a reaction like that. I’d need to prepare for this like Elizabeth rehearses her surprised reaction for Hyacinth’s table decor in Keeping up Appearances. And I’d feel sick at myself for having to resort to this.

I do struggle with this sort of social lying if it goes beyond what is necessary to avoid hurting someone. At the receiving end of it, I’m quite gullible also. Since I usually don’t express things I don’t mean at the time of expressing them, I don’t assume it of others either.

I thought this was an important addition to the lying subject.

 

Lying

After a year (or years?) of living in my post-disillusionment world, I think I’m one of life’s liars after all and feel a growing desire to return to my kin and its ways of seeing.

Oscar Wilde has written of that type of liars in his The Decay of Lying.

Some random excerpts:

One of the chief causes that can be assigned for the curiously commonplace character of most of the literature of our age is undoubtedly the decay of Lying as an art, a science, and a social pleasure. The ancient historians gave us delightful fiction in the form of fact; the modern novelist presents us with dull facts under the guise of fiction /————-/

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Many a young man starts in life with a natural gift for exaggeration which, if nurtured in congenial and sympathetic surroundings, or by the imitation of the best models, might grow into something really great and wonderful. But, as a rule, he comes to nothing. He either falls into careless habits of accuracy /—–/ or takes to frequenting the society of the aged and the well-informed. Both things are equally fatal to his imagination, as indeed they would be fatal to the imagination of anybody, and in a short time he develops a morbid and unhealthy faculty of truth-telling, begins to verify all statements made in his presence, has no hesitation in contradicting people who are much younger than himself, and often ends by writing novels which are so lifelike that no one can possibly believe in their probability.

(Happy Oscar, little did he know what was to follow and how much more mundane literature’s subjects could get!)

I think understanding the truth about the way society works has completed me, made me more well-rounded, which is likely to benefit me in all sorts of ways, but I do not enjoy living in that kind of world.  Now, it has also run its course and I want to shift focus.

As Oscar said somewhere else, lying and poetry are essentially connected. Yes, I mean that sort of liars, not the types who lie on their CVs and other similar self-serving behaviour: I mean the fantasists, the dreamers and believers in things that are not strictly true or rarely true but can become true when you believe hard enough. That sounds so unicorns and glitter. But well, I feel a longing for the unicorns and glitter people as well. They make my heart happy.

And generally, I think the dreamer side of me has become a little neglected lately and I want to nourish it a bit more again. Become less world-aware.

 

 

Delusions

I had a revelation the other day.

I’ve spent most of my life trying to hide who I am. I’ve become so adept at it that it is automatic and person-dependant. People I judge to be more similar to me or who I trust not to be uncomprehending or judgemental see a truer version of myself.  Others see my best performance of a normal person. My family sees a spoilt git with a giant soft spot for cats. I am most myself when alone with myself, or when writing on this blog (though I acknowledge that since I omit so much and don’t cover a lot of things, the overall image would probably be somewhat off the mark too?). The truest version of myself swears more and is less balanced than the blog version. I tame myself a little and don’t say everything that pops in my head. This is all natural and has but a minor effect on the truth of oneself.

Outside the circle of kindred spirits, I don’t consider my social selves to be at all accurate representations of myself. I’m very shy with strangers, and as stated above, I do my best performance of an average person. I also often don’t show my better sides and fear I might indeed come off as rude and selfish.This person is not even a shadow of my actual self. She is a puppet. It would take an extremely clear-sighted person to dismiss it and see beyond.

All this was just intro, not the revelation. The revelation was that the people close to me sometimes surprise me with seeing themselves completely inaccurately.  I’ve always had the audacity to spot it and even correct it, where such correction is not rude. But maybe this is indeed audacity on my part, and not their delusions?  Maybe they too have private and truer selves that don’t come forth in social interaction? And it only appears a delusion to me because I only see their social self. Hm.

Alternatively, my private self is all a delusion too and my real self is that absolutely dull inhibited extremely proper super-quiet and slightly weird girl with no personality and a visible IQ of 90.

No and no. I can’t quite agree with either line of reasoning. People are indeed delusional at times. I’ve had numerous delusions about myself and probably still do (maybe the one above too about how I think my social self is perceived). It is good if they are corrected, particularly the negative ones. Positive delusions I rarely have the heart to correct. It’s like taking away a sugary dream and replacing it with emptiness.

On the other hand, maybe one should not dismiss these self-characterisations of others so readily as delusions, even if they contrast with the personality one knows. Maybe this person has layers one hasn’t had the chance to know yet. That’s the idea I’ve come away with after the realisation, I suppose.

PS. There is no way people are not delusional. Sometimes, it is so glaring it is grotesque how mistaken a person is about themselves. I must be as delusional. Though I’d like to think I was, but am no more. I probably flatter myself.

A year ago, I was propelled on a truth-seeking quest. I didn’t give that enthusiasm a long life, but it has endured and altered me. There is definitely a pre- and post-disillusionment self.

PPS. I was hesitant using the word ‘disillusionment’ last time. I figured later it was because of the common connotation of it having something to do with an idealist turning into a cynic. No, not that kind of disillusionment. I’m as Romantic as ever. Core nature and all that.  It’s more of a veil having been lifted between myself and the way society works. My mind is like a computer-scanner now in spotting the patterns. It can become something you want to un-know though. It takes away from one’s humanity. Fortunately, it is not my only mode of thinking.

Being a dreamer

I think I’ve been throwing around that descriptive a little too uncomprehendingly, and I have never doubted its positivity.

To me, being a dreamer meant  that you spend more time in your head and are prone to fantasizing of other worlds and alternative lives or environments, some more realistic, others completely not.

This is the kind of dreamer I am. However, I’ve recently realised that there is after all a downside – I don’t like it when my dreams start to turn into reality. I want to take the opposite course. I want to reject it and run away. And it is not fear, it’s the misery of getting what you want.

Truly, there is nothing worse than getting what you want to a dreamer like myself.  I live on hopes and dreams, what will I live on if yet another is destroyed by turning itself into a reality? Reality can never live up and I will have lost.

Sometimes, it’s not so bad, of course. Sometimes you get used to it and there are days when you are pleased and praise yourself for having made a very good choice. But other times you just want to get rid of what you obtained to return to the blissful state that you were in when only dreaming of it.

A few months ago, I made myself an Instagram account upon a whim. Sometimes I scroll through other people’s pictures. Who has not heard that social media depresses people because they feel their own lives are inferior? Well, it doesn’t seem to work on me. Instead, I use it to cheer myself up. It inspires me to dream on dull, dreamless days. I notice someone has a fabulous flower garden, and I dream of my own, and make a mental note of the design. I notice someone more beautiful than me, and am full of admiration. I notice someone has an awesome bookshelf and dream of the time when I will have a similar one.

Dreams are the most important things to me in life. I am truly unhappy only when I don’t have anything to dream about, anything to be inspired by, to look forward to, to hope for.

So getting everything I want must promise great unhappiness indeed.

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Today looks like the last day of summer. The wind is so strong but also so warm. I spent the morning reading The Secret Garden, and must praise it as one of the few 19th to early 20th century children’s books that doesn’t suffer from excessive sentimentality. It is what it describes. Magic. The style does exactly what the words say the garden and children are doing. Growing, transforming. It’s an ode to the transformative potential of the individual and to nature.

I hope the fair weather holds until I get my work done and can go out to enjoy it.

Continuing on truth

I’m struggling to find things to write about on the blog now that I’ve banned introspection and incompetent statements expressed with unfitting confidence.

I’d just end up producing lies or texts that embarrass me upon a second reading.

Introspection defines the self. The moment I do that and realise that I’m X rather than Y, I cancel out the Y. Even though the Y might also exist in me. A while back, I wrote about how I assumed I was an introvert for most of my life and my lifestyle adapted to this. Currently, it’s taking a lot of effort from me to adjust my life to my extroversion. Making new friends at my age is not the easiest thing etc.

I think all these introspective thoughtlings that I have – and continue to have because I am simply like that and cannot help it – they should stay amorphous like my dreams. I will think and analyse as before, but I shouldn’t drag them out into the open. Just as with dreams, when expressed outside the mind, they become one’s prison bars, limiting a person to a homogeneous identity, which mine is not.

Some time ago, I was rehearsing a difficult conversation in my head. I didn’t seem to get anywhere with figuring out the best way of saying what I wanted to say. In the middle of yet another clumsy monologue, I stopped: “Just tell the goddamn truth!”. But what is the truth? All the four or five monologues I had been having were true, but they emphasised completely different aspects and would create a completely different emotion and reaction in the recipient. That was my struggle. They were all true, but I couldn’t easily tell them all because they seemed inconsistent with each other. How can you invoke – or desire to invoke – anger and pity and hurt and disappointment and amiability at once? I would have to choose my preferred narrative, my preferred emotion and tell that. But that would be a lie because the others are as essential.

To my surprise, I do continue on this course of truth-seeking. The mood Jean-Christophe and perhaps a certain person I know (whose name begins with the letter J) have led me to, seems to be more lasting than I initially dared predict. In the end, I resolved the above situation by deciding to offer no explanation whatsoever and simply say the gist in one sentence. At least I wouldn’t be lying and avoiding that seemed topmost.

I hope in the future I can focus more on simply being and not trying to force the inconsistent manifestations of character into something like a personality. I think it is the right thing to do  – for me, at this point – and not for anyone else, because this is my journey, my shedding of skin I have grown too big for.

It seems old-fashioned to be valuing and striving for truthfulness at our time, but it feels fresh to me, like spring water.

DSC01748

Authenticity dream

Sometimes, truth hits you in the face with a frying pan. And everything you are and were becomes a lie.

I have no wish to disseminate more lies by writing about myself. I don’t like this self.

Let’s see how long my rebellion against falseness lasts. I’d give it two weeks.

Of course, I’d like it to be more. I’d like a rebirth as a purer and truer version of myself.

 

Other than that, my rose is blossoming.

My rose is blossoming

Laziness

The truth is,

laziness is my undoing.

 

I’ve never had to, never learnt to put in a lot of effort to acquire knowledge and understand things at school. In primary school, I deliberately lowered my grades and studied less so to be more equal to my classmates. Not tower above them like a genius (which I am not, but the average level was dismal in my class). I didn’t understand people who learnt for maths or English tests. I only ever learnt for tests where you had to memorize rather than understand, such as history or biology.

In high school, I was surrounded by somewhat brighter students. Likewise at university, but even a lot of my BA courses were cruising (from an intellectual perspective). I did have to study for them (to memorize), and some sort of motivation to study for exams I do have, but outside that – I just can’t be bothered to systematically work towards improving myself. The rewards are not concrete enough. I wonder if it’s the early years of being so used to doing very little to obtain good results that this has become ingrained. I’m really just naturally lazy too, of course, no doubt about that.

I’ve spent years at a point from which I don’t develop further intellectually. It’s snug here. I’m smart enough. Just enough. I can write tolerably enough. My English is decent enough. Everything is enough. Not great, but enough.

I’ve put no effort into being here intellectually, but I would have to if I wanted to progress further from this point.

But the laziness and self-satisfaction.

I’ve been thinking that I’d like to live like the moomins really. Their family dynamics are delightful. And if you want to be a moomin, there is no reason to become very intelligent, but you would need to have an open mind and an intelligence for living. As a moomin, I can have strawberries on the veranda and stars in the sky bright enough to get a stiff neck from staring. I can build a tree house with the kids and water my husband from the watering can when he is napping (and I’m not).

But it’d take a few years until then. These days, I have to content myself with threatening to water the cat.

And meanwhile, my laziness does frustrate me.

So there. Hoping against hope to conquer it.

The base and frivolous things I do

My recent surge in frivolity requires a proper send-off (temporary, of course!), hence sharing my greatest current fictional infatuation.

Morse

morse purr

I have moods where I act like a complete airhead and my favourite conversation topics are other people. Such moods tend to alternate with more serious, intellectual or melancholy moods, where I prefer to discuss the nature of selfishness, the shortcomings of personality theories and my lack of prospects in life. In my reading habits, I tend to alternate between serious literature (usually classics) and light literature (usually children’s books or adventure novels). In films too, I cannot imagine watching three comedies in a row without having a good dose of drama in between. And the dramas I divide into those that might personally impact me (due to being able to relate) and those that most likely won’t (war films, hero films, stuff like 12 Angry Men). In short, I like varying things up a bit and cannot imagine spending time with only one type of things or indulging only one side of my personality.

There is an embarrassing side to it, however. A side I’d really much rather eradicate but which probably is just another manifestation of my general tendency of liking low culture. Except I can’t say I liked THIS, I just do it.

I read internet comments and internet forums quite often. Sometimes I visit blogs and websites by the kind of people you’d meet in reality TV. I’m sure there are decent people in some reality shows too, but it shouldn’t be hard to deduce the type I have in mind. It’s not something I particularly like doing, but I do it out of habit. It gives my brain a rest, and at one point, I must have done it to keep myself informed about how the average person thinks. I no longer feel like I care, but the old habits die hard. Sometimes I feel grateful my world is so different. Other times I feel alienated and depressed that I must live in a world where mentalities like that predominate.

Mostly though, and this is why I wanted to write about it in the first place, is that it has left its mark on me. One cannot consume anything on a regular basis without it leaving a trace on their thinking and being. My core personality and values are relatively fixed since the dawn of time, but subtle changes can be produced. And these changes are hardly flattering.

I’m far too impressionable and sponge-like and I ought to make that quality work for me and not against me. When I read good literature, I’ve noticed my writing automatically improves and takes on slight style influences from the author I’ve been reading. It’s not deliberate, but it happens. I read Keats and Lucy Maud Montgomery during my first years of university and my writing was really a poor imitation of their work in hindsight, although I never consciously meant to imitate it. And those two I liked. A year ago I read A. S. Byatt and started writing my novel roughly around then, her influence had crept in, even though I didn’t even like this novel of hers and didn’t finish it.

The gist of it is, I shouldn’t consume so much things I don’t like out of sheer apathy because such things breed apathy and mental stagnation. And I may have moods when I want to be emotionally dead, this is why I read such stuff, but I do not like it.

There is  a vast difference between consuming high culture and low culture on an emotional and intellectual level for me. When I’m exposed to truly beautiful, engaging, challenging art (in any form) or ideas, it makes my eyes shine and I feel enlivened, inspired. My mind is a lot more alert and I’m brighter. When I indulge my base side, I just feel apathy. I feel like I imagine a stay-at-home-housewife must have felt in the old days. You stop using a part of your brain and all you can think of is new hair curlers and shoes and what your husband is doing. Difference is, I do that to myself. I feel a lot of people are doing it to themselves. Too tired after work for worthwhile things, so you just watch TV series on the internet.

I’m light-hearted by nature sometimes. This I don’t really have a problem with. It alternates nicely enough with serious moods. But the baseness just gives me a bad feeling, like I was constantly lowering myself. What a pompous narcissist, true enough, but I can’t help how I feel. I do feel it degrades.

It’s my single filthy habit. Like other people have smoking or drinking or casual sex, I have dumb internet content. I try to quit it but never quite seem to. Maybe I should make a new year’s resolution the next year. Or get myself a motivational wristband.

Freedom

I travelled through the countryside for four hours in total and somehow it got rid of the excess of negative emotion I’ve been suffering under lately. Life has been overwhelmingly stressful but this is not what I want to write of.

A friend asked me some months ago what was the most important thing for me in life. I said liberty. In hindsight, I think it is impossible to pick one thing that towers above others, but I could narrow it down to three: love, liberty and health.

Why liberty? Because I can’t take being pigeon-holed and forced into roles and behaviour patterns. I was never good at accepting authority and it is stressful for me when I have to do it. I chose my job because it provided maximum liberty compared to a lot of other jobs. I couldn’t do regular hours. I had tried regular hours during high school, but I soon grew frustrated with having outsiders regulating MY daily schedule.I like doing as many things as possible when I feel like doing them. I do need some rules or I procrastinate to no end, but I cannot imagine a life where my work hours were fully determined by someone else. Unless I, being of sound mind and in possession of absolute freedom to do otherwise, would grant such permission. Suppose I got a raging stomach ache? Or I need to deal with some serious personal crisis? Like the roof leaking. I mean, yes, adults are supposed to ignore that and carry on, but I prefer to do things in my own time and pace. If I get them done, it shouldn’t matter if I work from 10.00-12.00, take six hours off to go for a picnic at the seaside, and continue at 20.00? That’s what my work hours are like these days.

Financial freedom has always been important to me as well.  I very much dislike the idea of being dependant on having a job and facing ending up on the street if I should quit or be fired. This is worse than having a few loans hanging over your head, such defencelessness against external forces. I’m hoping to counter this by having some sort of buffer fund to last me at least 3-4 months and by one day living in a country cottage of my own which would guarantee some amount of food. It’s harder to starve in the country and living costs are lower.

Freedom is important to me in everything. It’s hard to provide a full list of areas, but one of these is freedom from social expectations. I don’t know if this is just my personality and life or whether it is some general human tendency, but my relationships with people always fall into specific patterns whilst cancelling out others. My parents know me as very reserved and disinclined to share personal stuff, albeit with bursts of excessive chattering on more general topics. My best friend knows me as an extrovert who needs to be restrained from sharing everything that pops in my head. There are people who would be a little surprised reading some of the stuff I’ve written here because they have no idea such sides to my personality exist. Inevitably, such habitual ways of being friends and family limit me a little. Not all of that is disagreeable. I never talk of my romantic relationships with my family, but I really don’t want to either. I don’t discuss poetry or reveal my childlike sides to people who are not likely to appreciate it. It’s a constant fine-tuning of personality, intuitively choosing what to reveal to the full and what to keep on the background. The full range of my personality is not known to anyone, but those who are more like myself will be trusted with most of it. Freedom to be fully oneself is probably only found in solitude, although some soulmate-like friends come close.