I caught up with Cheeseboy last night at one of our old haunts, Brown Cow in Hampton. It was a warmish night and we sat drinking pints of cold beer and talking about all manner of things, but much particularly about my predicament.
It’s good, even necessary, to get an outside perspective, and much of what he advised me last night made good sense. For the most part it dealt with the practical difficulties of my situation, and the corollaries of that. I need that perspective, but what really ails me now is my soul. I don’t know if anyone can understand this but me, and no-one can help, but myself.
What was good about last night is that it enabled me to mentally articulate what I need for my soul to be healthy.
Firstly, I have a fine and discerning mind that I love using. I’m far from being intellectually passive. I like to think and wonder and investigate. I like pushing my mind into difficult spaces and nooks and crannies. I have confidence in my ability to assess and potentially understand what I find – and if not I’ll keep searching, keep investigating, keep thinking.
For much of my professional career that mind has been at the service of my work. My brain was properly utilised. It’s always been a great pleasure applying my mind to a problem or situation and gradually decoding it. At times I’ve felt like a magician, hey presto. Most importantly, I was being used to my capabilities. That’s no longer anywhere near the case, and I feel it desperately. I feel myself withering and wasted, craving the opportunity to be myself again.
Secondly, and related to the first, I’m very competitive. I’m driven and hard running. The harder it gets the harder I like to think I get going. My work has always been an outlet for that. To be honest, it’s not really competition with my rivals – I tend to be dismissive of that. It’s competition with the challenge I must wrestle with. It’s personal – I take it on, and it’s it or me.
In that battle you find others you’re happy to fight shoulder to shoulder with. There’s great pleasure in joining with similarly capable and motivated colleagues to overcome whatever challenge we’re faced with. There’s few better feelings than getting it done.
I have none of that now. I have no competitive outlet at work. It’s bad for me because it doesn’t go away, it brews instead. I need to express it, to apply it, to make it so.
Both of these overlap my vanity. This is how I see myself. This is how I want to be. Can that change? Possibly, but I don’t know how. And anyway, I don’t want to change – that would seem too much like submission (which is ironic). In the end the easier solution is to find the way that allows me to be that person, than to try and change that person to another way.
I miss being important. Good old relevance deprivation syndrome.
Finally, what’s missing is intimacy. There are no real emotional bonds in my life. For many years I was happy to go my own way happy to enjoy fleeting episodes of intimacy. I was too busy doing other things.
Now that my circumstances are reduced I feel that lack. I tried to explain that, and had solutions proffered to me that missed the essential point. I’m not lonely. I’m isolated by circumstance, but I don’t crave companionship. I miss being social, but largely because it is fun and now, as it seems to me, because it represents the normality I can no longer possess. But a simulation of that will do me no good because it is not real.
I think a large part of romantic love is being with that one person who understands you better than any other – and accepts you for what you are. I want to be understood – understanding is so underrated. I want to be accepted, flaws and all. I want to be myself, but vulnerable too when I feel it, and strong otherwise as I am. Above all I think I just want to be honest and open, and to share that with the person who understands me and who is honest and open with me.
I need that now because it’s hard going this alone. And because I’ve reached that stage of my life, or that level of understanding, when I can appreciate the simple beauty of it. I want to be able to close my eyes, and for someone to there for me.
I feel better today because I feel clearer – I need to feed my intellect, serve my spirit, and open myself up to intimacy. Now I know, but how do I manage that?
Nothing’s changed in that regard. I need to change my circumstances. I have to be patient, but determined. It’s probably baby steps from here. I have to hang in there. These are frustrating sentiments for me when I want to take things by the scruff of the neck. But it’s reality. What are ‘things’ after all? And where’s the scruff of the neck?
For now little goals and small targets. And reaching out.