No more barriers

I’m a firm believer that a lot of good physical health is the result of a healthy mind and attitude. If you feel good in yourself a lot of the aches and pains go away; when you don’t, they can cripple you.

That’s a part of the challenge this time of year. Christmas is a pretty stark checkpoint of where you’re at.

Nothing is ever set in stone. Just because things are bad now, it doesn’t mean that they’ll stay that way. Still, Christmas was a bracing reminder of all I don’t have. For the first time in my life, I reckon, I felt like a loser.

On bare facts, it’s hard to argue against that. I’ve got no money, no family, I live in a small box, I’m getting older and (currently) feeling it, and – worst of all – I’m uncertain of what I want. I felt embarrassed at the thought. Funnily, I actually stopped to think how other people may view me. My friends are generous, even complimentary, but I reckon a few of them must look upon me with sorrow in their heart. It’s only my pride that has stood against that.

My instinct, in situations like that, is to withdraw into the fortress inside myself. I become aware of how much I need the support of my friends, but because I don’t want to be needy, I reject it. Needless to say, I don’t want anyone’s pity either, and so I choose to avoid circumstances where I may feel it – that is, I’m tempted to withdraw socially.

This instinct to batten down the hatches is purely for self-preservation, and in some form was instrumental in surviving the harsh times. I endure. No matter that I feel it again now, it goes directly against what I believe my best interests are. To go forward, I can’t withdraw back into my shell.

None of this is easy. I have to go against instinct, and that becomes a matter of will. But then it gets sort of funny.

I met the woman on Boxing Day. We went to a movie and drinks after. With her was a guest visiting from England. I found myself slipping into a fluent and social persona. None of it was phony, but it felt incongruous. I don’t know how many times I wonder at how easy I appear when inside it feels all hard. I think a lot of it is training. I grew up in a social household and, my mother was an expert hostess, and somebody that everyone generally liked. All that eluded my sister, but a fair bit stuck to me, if only as technique. I know how to play a crowd, how to make someone feel welcome, and I revert to that when I don’t feel it myself.

In that regard, I’m either on or off, really, and when I’m on, it comes naturally. I smile, I joke, I ask questions and make comments, and feel pretty much in control. It bewilders me sometimes, how can I be these two things? How can I be so cool when inside, often, I’m full of doubt? Yet it happens so often these days.

I was aware, sitting in the rooftop bar at QT that I was appraising this woman, who was probably doing the same of me. I came away unconvinced. That’s gutfeel, mostly, and generally, that’s been good enough for me in the past. I’m trying to be more generous these days, like everyone’s always told me to be.

There were a couple of things. She’s a smart woman, an entrepreneur who’s done a bit the past and has a new venture going now. All power to her, but somehow I wasn’t convinced, and probably because I don’t think she is. There’s nothing wrong with that. To doubt is human, and necessary often, and it doesn’t preclude success. But, I wondered, if she saw in me another lost soul she could join up with.

I think she likes me for who I am, but I sense there may be some opportunism as part of that. I’m not as pragmatic as that. I feel, or I don’t. Again, I’m urged to be more flexible, but… In any case, I don’t want to be a choice made by opportunity.

There’s a test for that, which we haven’t got to yet. Here I am talking about how I’m portraying one thing when I feel another, but these days when I open up, I open up properly. That wasn’t the case before. I was very traditional masculine, keeping it to myself. I’m much less diffident these days knowing that keeping it bottled up inside wasn’t doing me much good.

I don’t go around advertising things, but the door isn’t locked anymore, and if anyone knocks on it I’ll open it. Once that happens I’m pretty raw with it, or so I reckon.

I’ve opened up to her before, though on limited occasions. She’s told me some of her story, but we haven’t really sat down to have a long and intimate conversation. The test for me is how authentic will she be then. I’m at the stage of my life I’m not interested in the form of things, I want to get at the heart of them. I suspect there’s a lot of stuff in her. I want to hear it real. If it means she has to break some of those barriers, then good. I’m not interested unless it’s all on the table, then I’ll know. And I’ll know not because of what’s on the table, but how it got there.

I don’t think this will eventuate in anything much, but I have to let it play out. This is one way forward that may mean Christmas next year is a different story.

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