Memories of Pain beyond Pain

This morning I was sitting on the bus with my wife on our regular morning commute to Belfast when, for some reason, I started to drag up some very old memories of being in first year at school. One memory in particular came to mind; I remember staring at this girl in my English class and I obviously looked a little too long; I think I had started to daydream about something, when she snapped, “What are you looking at?”

I must disclose that I was still dealing with the trauma of my dad’s murder just 3yrs before. In addition to this, I had lost a full years’ worth of memories, my mother had moved a new partner in, we moved from Belfast to Antrim, I then had my 11+, changed school again for the 3rd time in 3yrs, my self-confidence and self-esteem were at all-time lows, I was dealing with the beginnings of survivors guilt, my mental health problems had begun to accelerate, I didn’t trust anyone, I thought people were all out to make fun of me, I was starting to self-harm in different ways and I was also dealing with anger issues that were directed entirely towards myself.

In an instant I was able to examine all the different ways this could go wrong for me if I had told her the truth. My initial thought was to reply, “something beautiful looking back.” But I already knew nothing would ever happen between us; I was unpopular and a bit of an outcast. I was never tall or muscular or popular with the ladies (I am nearly 40, happily married, but even now I would struggle, if my marriage ever failed, to meet someone new as some issues have never been examined nor dealt with). I also read the tone of her voice – the venom and warnings it contained and the clear message that I was shopping where I could never afford, and even if I could, it was not for sale to people like me, and the aggression that told me to clearly back off as far as possible as quickly as possible. It was something I have heard often before and since, when I have been attracted to girls my age or slightly older/younger by a year or 3. 

I also knew that if I told her my initial thought, meaning it as a compliment and nothing more, that she would seize upon the chance to humiliate me as I think she would feel like I had made her feel unclean by even considering looking at her in a way that denoted any sort of attraction or appreciation of beauty. All this went through my head in less than half a second and I realised I had only one option open to us both was to tell her something that would allow her to verbally get her point across and, having dealt with the situation to her satisfaction, despite the pain I knew it would cause me, I needed to lie to her.

So I replied, “something ugly looking back.” She replied, “Well you must be looking in a mirror then!”

Back then I was never good at reading between the lines, and even now that still applies. What I was and always have been, however, am deeply respectful. I always knew that if I was told “no” then I that would be the end of it and I would not pursue the matter.

However, in another window of insight into my developing mental health problems, I never always obeyed this rule. Don’t get me wrong, I never physically touched anyone or forced myself upon anyone – that would be something I could never forgive and I would self-harm until I felt I had been suitably punished, even if other people did. But I didn’t always take no for an answer. I was 11 or 12 and hormones were starting to compete with my level of self-control over my mental state. When I finally gave up, I made myself write 100 lines as a punishment. In a few years this would progress to starvation, cutting with a blade, punching walls (I once went 34hrs without drinking any liquid and I wanted to go much much further), mentally beating myself to a pulp every day and night and l began to think of ways to end my own life. I prayed that day would come very soon.

As the years were to go on through my teens and my defeats grew ever higher whilst my successes remained at the Zero mark (13+ strikeouts (I stopped counting) versus ZERO successes), my mental health problems within this area were to get ever worse and also contribute to other destructive behaviour aimed at myself to cause as much internal pain as I could. I must also point out that when I mean I struck-out, I don’t mean on an intimate level, I mean on ANY level. And it wasn’t just the continuous rejections; it was the way they were handed out.

I could never figure out what I was doing wrong, but I was also never told what, if anything I was doing right either. I was destined to keep making the same mistakes, but also hoping for different results every time (the very definition of insanity). I got to be beyond desperate. I prayed every night for nearly 2yrs, without answer. In the end I had to assume that the thing that was wrong was…me. My very existence was what was wrong. I represented everything a person DIDN’T want in a partner.

I took advice from everyone I could think off and when I wasn’t asking I was observing. I tried being upfront and asked people out = FAIL. I played the friend game = FAIL. I played the long game = FAIL. I played the waiting game in the hope that someone would ask me out = FAIL; and this was partly because when it did happen I was always distrustful (see the contradiction in behaviours emerging again?) and thought that they wanted to humiliate me as others have done, so I was too quick to reject them. And then I self-harmed as a result of blowing another chance. That anger that came as a result…is just…WOW!!! Like a nuclear blast going off inside my ribcage. Mental pain beyond pain; mental agony beyond words. I would scream my head off, and had enough control that the sound that escaped my lips was a mere whisper. I always felt that if I fully let it out that the only way to stop the pain would be to kill myself. And it wasn’t just the pain; it was the energy that came with it. It was more than my physical body could cope with or contain.

Remember the venom I spoke about? That was something I came to know the pain off only too well. The disgusted look on their faces, the tone of voice used; it wasn’t just heart breaking…it was soul destroying. It was also something I look and internalised. When I looked in a mirror I saw the most disgusting, humiliating, inhuman and unworthy of life, thing looking back. I wanted to kill it!!!

You have to have experienced this and more to fully realise the power of a simple kiss on the lips can be. On those unbelievably rare occasions when it happened, it had the power to drag me from the depths of my own self-induced personal hell and sent me to heights that would make an Eagle jealous and at speeds that would dwarf any rocket NASA ever launched into space.

And this was just ONE KISS on the lips, from ONE person, ONCE every 15-18months on average (I never got any further than a kiss, for a long time, but that is a different story). I needed these EXTREMELY rare victories as proof that I am worthy of some affection. That I am not a waste of time; that I deserved a chance to continue to live.

Things got so bad that I made a plan to end my life when I turned 25 as this pain was everything and every day. I knew roughly where I would do it (see plan below), I knew I wouldn’t be found on time, I knew how I would like it to happen and I didn’t give a fuck about the pain it would cause because no-one ever gave a flying fuck about how I felt, only to twist the knife to maximise my pain. The world had fucked me over and I was done being everyone’s punch bag. I was expected to absorb the punishment and not complain. Well…FUCK YOU!!!

I will also say this…I was a coward. As 25 approached I thought it was a little soon. I thought 30 would be a better number and by that point, if things hadn’t changed, the pain would be so all-consuming that suicide would be a relief!

I met my wife just a month before I turned 26.

Mind Scrambled

I don’t know if my mind is quiet or overactive as it seems to be doing both at the same time and I can’t figure out what the heck is going on.

I guess it’s because there is so much uncertainty around what we can and cannot do in this day and age that it’s hard to see a beginning and an end. Where does one start and the other begin? It’s hard to plan much in advance, and therefore commit to anything, without knowing for certain if plans will change and therefore is it worth building up much excitement knowing that it could be snatched away at any moment?

Sorry, I know this is not making much sense right now. this is just the garbage that is going through my head and I feel the need to vent these thoughts.

Despite all of the uncertainty with the new restrictions coming into play, and more are due to be announced within the next 72 hours by the Stormont Executive, I am still looking forward to opening new possibilities.

I have ordered a special book for keeping all my records of any Rune work within it and I will be calling it, “Odins Gift” as it was Odin who gifted the runes onto mankind. I have also ordered a few necessities for the new laptop (which I am not going to fill with useless software can cause the same problems as the last time) as well as waiting on the engraver to arrive at the end of the month. I have bits of wood and leather set aside on which I can experiment with the view to making gifts for friends and offering services to my Viking group.

I think the other issue I am having is that I have read so many books (well over 52 since 21St January 2020) that I have reached a kind of saturation point and I am just reading for the sake of it. It has lost some of its pleasure and now feels more like a habit than a real joy.

Finally I think, for the sake of my Mental Health, I just need to get out somewhere new and do something for myself. Though, with the current and new restrictions coming into force, this will be hard and therefore creating a vicious cycle where mentally I am being worn down as I can’t get out and the less I can get out to ‘reset’ my mind the worse I feel.

Time will tell what happens next…

Vikings

By the light of stars
They set sail this night
To lands of new
And villages to fight

Of gold and silver they were told
To be taken by the brave and bold
Protected by men as big as a tree
Slay them we must and claim our victory

New villages were made
And lands were settled
They farmed with spade
And maidens protected

Invades they were,
But now no more
No fight to be had
They had settled their score

Yet their deeds live on
Past through history
Through their stories of war
And great victory

A Message to a Killer

You took my yesterday
You’ve robbed me in every way
It’s been 30 years this year
Now you’ve had my final tear

I’ve fallen on the floor
I don’t want this any more
I’ve finally had enough
My life til now had been tough

Now I’m making my last stand
I’ve found my helping hand
I have finally found a way
With my new voice I now say
That I’m giving up my sorrow
So that you can’t steal another tomorrow

Titanic

RMS_Titanic_3

Born in a Belfast dry dock,
Growing bigger in every way
Their sheer size was a shock
The biggest sisters of their day

People stopped and gazed
Stirring all the time
They were looking up amazed
At the flagship of the White Star Line

All aboard the people went
Their hopes were high and free
For their money was all spent
On dreams across the sea.

Full speed ahead, the captain said
A fastest journey to best
Beat this time and forget your bed,
No time for sleep or rest

Whilst crossing the ocean,
Titanic ran out of luck
A disaster was set in motion
When an iceberg was struck

The price to live was set far too high,
And many couldn’t pay
The question was and does remain, “Why
Did hundreds have to die that day?”

These mysteries are proving hard to solve
And a sad truth awaits for some
It was not for lack of money or love
That those answers may never come

Forever deep down on the ocean bed
The sinking still a mystery
We will always remember her brave dead
And their small part in Belfast history.

Hope

The thing that was broken
Has now begun to mend
My hope has been awoken
As I near journeys end

My path has been rough
And filled with much emotion
I knew it was tough
Like sailing a stormy ocean

I do not regret my past
For without it I would not be
Able to move on at last
And finally be free

I can see in plain sight
The end of my plight
The dawn has broken
Now my hope has awoken

A future lies before me
Unwritten and totally free
Whereas before I could not see
That the best is yet to be

I will give it my all
And defiant I stand
Because I will never again fall
For upon my feet I will always land

Mind Map

Mind Maps are something I came across whilst studying for my GCSEs and they have stayed with me since then.
My English teacher, Mrs Morby, told us that before we begin writing a story, we need to plan it out in our heads and visually before we begin writing as it would help us provide structure.
For example, when I was writing the Titanic poem, there were certain areas I wanted to cover such as:

  • Origins
  • Why was it going so fast
  • Something about the people boarding it
  • Collision
  • Recent history

This helped me keep on topic and gave me different areas which I wanted to cover.
But Mind Maps have also helped me when it has felt like I have too much going through my head to even think straight. It has helped me visually see connections to different things that were going through my head and which I couldn’t understand.
I approach Mind Maps in relation to Mental Health as though it was a spiders web.

11697-H8-831 W10

At the centre of the web is me. My life. And from it there are branches that go off into different areas of my life. The big areas from which everything else is connected. E.g. Work, Health, Home etc.

The Web pt2

From here I can break things down even more into the image you can see above. I can then see the bigger picture of what is going through my head and from here I can make connections. E.g. I enjoy outdoor photography so I can make a connection between it and my physical health as it means I have to get out and walk, which has a positive impact on my life.
At the same time I can create a box relating to my PTSD and draw connections to anywhere else in my life that it can be connected.

Connections
Suddenly this nice spiders web is no longer orderly and structured, but has connections that link different areas and it becomes quite messy.
But it does help me see those connections and through self-awareness I can either challenge those beliefs or I can pick an area to work on improving.
E.g. Coping = self-harm = physical pain = impact on my physical health as it takes time for my injuries to heal and I feel I need a way to justify them to people who may query them.
In the past I have had to do a web, such as that for my PTSD, in other areas of my life to see what the relationships are between the different groups and where those connections not only are but where they also lead.
So in the end I have an overall picture but also a more detailed picture of each specific area of my life.
Doing it this way has shown me just how complex mental health can be and how it can drastically affect different areas of my life which were seemingly unconnected. But that PTSD has its tendrils linked to every aspect of my life and personality. It’s impossible to untangle it without completely changing the person whom I am today.
In fact, the only way to remove it is to go back in time and stop my dad from being murdered; then I would be a completely different person and we delve into the realms of “what ifs” and that road only leads to pure speculation without any concrete evidence or impact on my life today.
These diagrams are just examples and simplifications of what my life is like.
Any questions, just ask 🙂

My Dragon

Black-Dragon-04

My Journey began
So many years ago
Where it will end
I do not know

The scars I have
You cannot see
They are not on my skin
But hidden inside me

The rage that was bottled
Has now begun to crack
Once it shatters
There’s no going back

The fight is on
The dragon has awoken
Now its container
Has finally broken

I will beat this anger
And I will thrive
I am now stronger
And I will survive

You will not kill me
That much is true
You’ve done your worst
And I say ‘Goodbye to you!’

A Cube

s-l640

A secret hides in a little red box
Described by a word, rhyming with Ox
It awaits being mixed in many a kitchen
Into something tasty, described as bitchin

It also comes in a few different flavours
Give it more variety for us to savour
It helps make dinner time taste even better
So thank you Oxo for this little letter

Sorrow

I lost my dad at the age of eight,
And this opened a secret gate.
I went down this path of sorrow,
Only to return the next day, tomorrow.
If only people knew,
Of the pain I’d gone through,
They would think twice,
And take my advice,
To stand your ground and face the threat,
Rather than run away and later regret,
That you did not make that vital stand
And someday shake the hand
That you once feared.