The Sins of the Father

Today, I am reminded of one of my previous articles, about my panic attacks. It dawned on me that it has been quite a while since I’ve had one… almost since I posted the article.

Yet I am confronted by another troubling issue. My dear daughter, who appears to be suffering from her own version of these panic attacks, and has further anxiety issues. Add this to her being at the age where everything is changing, confusing, and overwhelming, the poor girl must feel like the rope in a multi-directional tug-of-war.

4wg_3

Plus the divorce… Yes, her parents are getting divorced. Not your typical, aggressive, bad-blood type divorce, but the far more common, it-just-isn’t working and still friends kind. So while there is none of the agro, arguments, and frustration, this is just yet another thing that our daughter is processing. The pressure is sure on.

If it wasn’t for the anxiety attacks, the complete disregard for her personal hygiene, and 180 degree personality flip in the past year, I would simply put it down to teenage years. Maybe my Depression Radar is over reacting again, or I am being the overly concerned dad… I am worried.

We, her mother and I, have initiated an intervention of sorts. Nothing too extreme, just something the get her attention. When words fail, or fall on a closed mind, then action must be taken, for action speaks louder.

I have also tried to teach her some calming mediation, to help manager her feelings a little. She says it has helped.

It’s early days yet, but already, we have seen some changes in her. Positive ones.

If there is anything I can do to to prevent it, I will do what I can to help my daughter through the fog.

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The Hard Road Part 6 – Someone Saved my Life

DarkI left off at a very dark place with my last post on this, and it got darker. My emotions slowly grew in strength and I struggled to maintain my rational self. I began fantasising ways I could end my life, and yet leave wife and daughter able to carry on financially. I thought that was the value of my character; the money I was worth.

Theatre was a small bright light, but even that was becoming a chore. Keeping up the pretence was exhausting, and I was tired a lot, even though I had substantially cut down how much I was doing. Still, I had made a great many good friends their, and I still enjoyed their company. It just wasn’t enough to cast light into the darker places of my thoughts.

ReactI lived like that for over a year, going through the motions, just barely containing the bubbling chemical reaction inside.

I had been directing theatre productions by this point in time for a few years. Owing to my cut-down commitments, I had only done a couple, but I had formed a close circle of friends whom had all connected on my shows. It gave some joy to see the friendships that formed, and still exist to this day, in shows where I was the one calling the shots. Even today, it is a warm and pleasant feeling to think on.

One from this circle managed to break through my walls, and reach me in a way no-one else did. They showed me something that I had lost; that I was worthy of appreciation, of love, and of respect. Their kindness, and faith in me, was uplifting, and in my darkest hour, dreadfully needed. While it did not clear the darkness within, it did stop it, giving me some room to breath, room to think. I had been on the brink, and now stood looking at what I was doing with clear sight.

Fighting Alone

ZombiesI had discovered that something was wrong with me years before, when I found the knife in my hand. I vowed then to watch and keep a check on it. I realised this time that what I was doing was not enough. I was trying to manage this alone, out of shame, fear. It took another to show me I wasn’t coping. I needed help. I needed knowledge.

When I was working with Curtin University, I had seen an on-campus counsellor to help me the pressures I was feeling, so I thought about starting there. My wife an I agreed to seek further advice for both ourselves, and as a couple. We did this for a number of years, and with a variety of services.

I also engaged in personal research, to find methods to cope with my feelings. I learnt a lot about myself.

I am a “touchy-feely” person, in the sense that I value and enjoy physical contact with others (don’t go dirty on me here.) I resolved, for the sake of my marriage and daughter, to find a way to manage this. I was committed and I accepted the implications of my choice. I knew that I would not be able to turn-it-off so to speak, but I wanted to find ways to manage my feelings.

What I discovered was far more. I read a wide range of texts including religious, philosophical, psychological, new-age, and so forth. I don’t think I have read more in my life than during this time. I was exposed to all kinds of methods, beliefs, and concepts which challenged so many things in myself. I began to question, not myself, but the perceptions that I had grown up with.

I found them lacking.

Find the entire Hard Road series here.

The Hard Road Part 5 – Picking up the pieces

DeskJobSo with the events of my trip to the UK behind me, and my still aching ego nagging at me, I nursed my wounds for a short while. Then I ended up back at uni, this time as an employee. I got straight back into my theatre work, and resigned myself to the life of a single, mediocre actor, working to keep alive. I moved in with a long time friend and left behind staying with my parents. I needed to work myself out.

Incidentally, I had moved out previously during my years at uni (as a student), but it was short-term. When my flat mates decided to get married and get a place of their own, I went back to my parents. That was before England of course.

An interesting thing happens when you stop looking for things, or stop worrying about not having things; they stop getting you down, and they have a tendency to find you instead.

The job I had at uni was working alongside my course controller, from when I was a student, in the development of an on-line, Professional Educator Development course. It was for teachers at all levels, and focus on the use of technology, in its carious forms, as tools in the classroom. I was even given an entire unit of my own to develop, deploy and teach. It was great work.

The One

I also connected with a woman who would go on to be my wife. We had actually met briefly before I had left for my ill-fated trip overseas, but my plans were in place and I wasn’t really thinking of anything else at the time. The story of how we got started is peculiar for those who knew me in the old days.

BFGFI’d been back a while before it happened, and had done a few seasons of theatre up in the hills. I recall, almost as if yesterday, walking out from the theatre into the foyer. There was the usual mill of people around, and I was on the look-out for my agent who I had recently signed up with. Sadly they never showed and that partnership was short-lived.

Then I saw her. I swear that the room around me when to shades of grey as a spot-light of colour focused on this one woman. Initially, I did not recognise her from previous meetings (there had been a couple), and so what I did next was so completely out-of-character, I still wonder today what came over me.

I walked right up to her and her small group, said, “I’ll be right back, just going to get a drink” and did exactly that. I pretty much ignored, without thought, everyone else in the room, and that was the beginning of a new direction in life. I had never before expressed such confidence and bravado. It didn’t shock me until much later, after the thrill had worn off.

Our relationship was exciting, frightening, stressful, wonderful. It was a little whirlwind turbulent. I quickly realised how naive I was about many things, but I was committed to making it work, as best I could. I made some embarrassing and almost deal breaking mistakes. I fumbled emotionally through many things, and found myself having to learn very quickly about things I never realised existed.

It wasn’t my first relationship. I had had a few previously, but most lasted between a day to a fortnight before simply not being anything any more. I look back, and I know I tried far to hard than I really should. I potentially made things worse.We both brought our baggage and dealing with that was a new, and difficult challenge for me.

At the end of my two-year contract with the uni, I was let go. My work performance had dropped, and they simply could not justify my employment any further. This was shortly after my partner went through a painful and distressful ectopic pregnancy. I ended up working as a contract trainer doing odd job for a number of training establishments. We proposed to each other. I did mine in the privacy of our house… I was a little chicken all right! She had the balls to do it at a restaurant, which got us a free champaign. WIN!

A Proud Dad

ProudDadWe married in December of 2000. Then, on September 11, 2001, our daughter Hayley was born. I remember holding our little girl in the Birthing centre, watching the news about planes going into the World Trade Centre. It was surreal. For months after, the TV was dominated with articles on the event, and we wanted to focus on our daughter. So we didn’t watch a lot of TV for a long time. I focused on developing my training connections to keep the work coming in, and my theatre dropped off almost completely. I was, I am proud to say, a hands on dad.

Those first few years were stressful and incredible, for both of us. We went through extremes highs one day to extreme lows the next. We were learning a whole new way of life from nothing. We got into a habit of waking every two hours during the night to feed Hayley. I would get out to get Hayley, as her mum got herself ready. I would then sit beside and read until they were finished, and then return Hayley to her cot. I wanted to be a part of the process somehow.

Then Hayley didn’t seem to want to wake up, but we persisted anyway. She didn’t want to feed, which was troubling, and eventually frustrating. We eventually sort professional help, and their advice was, let her sleep. If she wants to sleep, let her sleep. So after two further stressful nights where we let her sleep, but worried that she was still all right, we eventually were able to relax ourselves. We were lucky that Hayley weaned so quickly. I have since heard far to many stories about children taking far longer. Not sure how I would have handled that.

This was pretty much our life, new things would crop up. We got scared by what it meant, found out better, then onto the next crisis. However, the stress of it all, the before and after, took its toll on both of us,. The relationship, little by little began to erode. There were other things; medical, psychological, fiscal, etc, that further exacerbated the relationship.

In my work life, I was offered some long-term contract work with the Department of Corrective Services, and after the instability of contract training, the thought a period of regular pay was very appealing. This eventually lead to permanent full-time employment with the Department of the Attorney General, making our future a little more secure. Yet even the regular working hours took a further toll.

A Defeated Man

FearIt wasn’t long before I found myself in uncomfortable, yet overly familiar waters; questioning my reason for being. I blamed myself for the breaking down of the marriage, and it was easy. I knew myself best, and knew my faults best, so being able to attribute the changes to things in me was… like riding a bike. I actually rationalised that if I were to die, not by suicide mind, but die all the same, that they would be better off because of the insurance on me, and I wondered how I could arrange that.

I felt like I was not good enough. That I couldn’t be loved, because there was nothing to love.

Find the entire Hard Road series here.

The Hard Road Part 4 – Strange Games

Not my actual cat, but very like him. I may upload a proper photo later.

Upon my return home, somewhat relieved, but bitterly disappointed in myself, some interesting stories unravelled over the course of a few weeks. First I need to explain one thing before getting to the meat.

While I was in the UK, my cat had passed away. He was a gorgeous Russian Blue, and incredibly intelligent. When he passed, my parents told my grandmother, with whom I was staying at the time. They did not want me to know as they thought it would upset me. My grandmother didn’t agree, and eventually told me. Thing is, I already knew.

I had been strolling across Cornish fields with some of my extended family, when I suddenly saw Smokey (my cat). He ran up to me and rubbed himself on my legs. He then looked up at me before running and fading away.

I had to step away from my desk for a moment. The emotion got to me, which in itself is interesting, considering that at the time, I felt an incredible sense of calm. I knew then that he had passed. Just a note, this wasn’t my first contact with “spiritual” experiences, but that is another story entirely.

So my parents were understandably concerned that I may upset about that, which I wasn’t, but they were hesitant about telling me about other things, so news came in dribbles for a while.

JealousAs I recall today, the first thing I remember being told was that my grandmother had thought my decision to go to London had been my own decision, and that my uncle had been surprised by it, and had apparently tried to talk me out of it. Then I heard that he had been concerned for my well-being, and thought that I was acting autistic. With each revelation, I recounted my version of events, and soon a picture formed of a man who saw this young lad (me) as a rival in some obscure family relations game. Driven by a fearful jealousy, he seemed to have played both sides, or at least, that was/is how it appeared to me, in order to “get me out of the way”.

When all knew the story, there was much anger and upset from the family, except from me. I instead saw it all as having been done, and in the past. There was nothing to anyone could do to change time. It was a fateful series of events telling me that I was not ready, or destined for a different path. Partly self-depreciating, and partly couldn’t be bothered dealing with it. Much later, I learned that the uncle in question was himself a sufferer of depression, and his own actions had caused more suffering for himself, including the loss of his partner, and loss of trust from his family. I just felt pity for him, and moved on.

It was a half-way point for me. I was not getting overly upset by the turn of events, but I was not yet above blaming myself for much of what happened. After all, I had allowed myself to be duped, convinced, and talked into making the decisions I had made. I began to realise that this was a common trend in me; allowing other people to make decisions for me. Giving my self-control over to others, and it had started at home.

For a while, I had taken control over my decisions and my life, and it had been great, and uplifting. I made the choice to go to the UK, to apply for RADA. They were my choices, and it felt good to make them. Then old habits, which really are hard to kick, took up their familiar mantle and things quickly turned sour.

It was the hindsight realisation that when I made the decision to return home, I really learnt the value in taking control over your choices, and the effects it could have. There were so many things that were beyond my control, and there was very little I could do about them, except consider how I truly felt about them. Me. My feelings. When I had my doubts about the plan to go to London, rather than question those doubts, I allowed another to make the decision for me.

Side Note – Food for thought

Now why do we do that? And don’t say you don’t because we all have done, or continue to do. I would hazard a guess that it would be because responsibility is frightening. And why is that? Because we don’t want to be blamed for anything? And why would we be blamed for anything? Because it might go wrong? Might?

ControlOne of the most liberating things I have done to date is to acknowledge those things I am actually responsible for; my actions, my beliefs, my decisions, and my reactions. The good and the bad combined. I’ve stopped worrying about things I can’t control; other people’s actions, beliefs, decisions, and reactions, or even things that simple are.

And don’t get confused between consider and worry. I still consider those things that are beyond my control. I don’t want to become an arrogant snob after all, and I like the feeling being considerate gives me. I just choose not to get anxious, or fretful over things that I can’t do anything about. It is a surprisingly distinct line, and simplifies life choices.

We are complex beings. We have light-sides and dark-sides, and a variety of shades between. Denying a part of yourself is akin to stopping the flow of a river by blocking only half of it, you just make the water work harder to get out, and you increase the pressure. Eventually, the wall will fall.

The question is, would you rather control the flow, or let it explode?

Find the entire Hard Road series here.

The Hard Road Part 3 – Side Track

I had been staying with my grandmother in Mousehole, just outside of Penzance. A small fishing village, but the Penzance city centre was a short walk away, and I went there often.

Life was good. I was seeing a lot of the Cornish landscape, and getting familiar with the lifestyle. I was invited to stay with various family members , and eventually went to stay with one of my uncles near Plymouth. He lived with his partner in a lovely little cottage some distance from the city centre. He was rather encouraging and introduced me to a theatrical group in the city, and took me to see some productions.

Then he confided in me that my grandmother was feeling a little stressed about my staying with her. I felt bad about this and debated what I could do. My uncle convinced me that I should go to London, find a place to reside, while I followed through with my application to RADA. It made a sort of sense, but I was uncertain of something, and couldn’t put my finger on it. Next thing I know, I’m packed and heading off to London, even before I had a chance to see anyone else. Even now, it seemed all a little rushed.

I was alone, and in the belief that I shouldn’t call on anyone for help. I can’t recall if I or my uncle had arranged for a hotel for the night, but after that, I had to find a place to reside. I was fortunate enough to find a place at a boarding house in the Aussie section of London. Yet I was out of my depth. I was confused, and felt incredible alone, regardless of the new friends I was making, and I was running out of money. Finding a job in London was more daunting than Penzance, where I had had a possible opportunity on the horizon.

LondonDarkMaybe my situation tainted my experiences somewhat, but I found London dark, and unfriendly. I didn’t seem to notice the grand architecture and monuments that dotted the city. I was consumed by my own dark thoughts of failure, fear, loss, and isolation. I became constantly panicked. I felt frustrated and constantly blamed myself for expecting to much, dreaming to high, and so on

It didn’t take long for me to make the decision to return home, tail between my legs. Even with some of my new-found friends giving me encouragement to stay, my resolve was total.

Now here is the interesting thing. As soon as I made that decision, I began to see London in a different light. I noticed the grandeur of the place, and for a day or two, I enjoyed being a tourist in London. I hadn’t even bought my ticket home, but my outlook was different. I still felt sad and disappointed that things had not worked out. I wrote to RADA and apologised for possibly wasting their time, and asked to be withdrawn. I later got a very nice letter, and offer of encouragement later.

I managed to get an incredibly cheap flight home (I think the travel agent liked me) and was soon home in Perth.

I then learnt the truth, which was stranger than fiction.

Find the entire Hard Road series here.

Support of the Family

imagesIt is an interesting beast family. They come in all shapes and sizes. For many, it is the seat of support, comfort and encouragement. For others, it is something to fear, avoid, or deny the existence of. Mine edges towards the latter, sadly.

As I have been opening up more and more about the past, I have discovered a developing ability to observe my life from a very detached point of view. Detached yet objective, as opposed to disassociated out of fear and depression. One does not see things very clearly, no matter how detached they are, when the scene is obscured by the exaggerated view point of anxiety.

I have long known that the causes for my troubles stem from my childhood, and my relationships with adults, and quite specifically, my parents. I am also a person that really doesn’t see the need, not like, to blame anyone for things, yet I do accept that people can be responsible. That may sound a little contradictory, so I’ll explain.

To blame, in my mind, implies intent and purpose. Rarely does anyone do anything bad deliberately, or without considerable distraction. Of course, when intent is clear, then blame is certainly appropriate.

hole

Sure glad the hole isn’t at our end.

On the flip side, people’s actions do have impacts. So even when the results are unintended, we are still responsible for it, or at the very least, our part in it.

Also, blame is often very focussed on the individual or group, where as responsibility is more often a shared accountability, with each involved member being accountable for their part in the process, even the victim. Even though I was a child, I still made decisions that are mine, and I take responsibility for those choices, but I can’t be responsible for the choices and actions of another.

When it comes to accepting responsibility, everyone shares that.

And before anyone says anything, this does not imply that the choice is either right or wrong, just that the choice was made.

But I digress. The point for my post today is the meaning of family.

FearOnce I valued the need for family, while at the same time was eager to leave it. I swallowed the platitudes and warm fuzzies that spoke of the wonder of families. The love and support they offered. The sense of security. The solidarity that one should always show to family. I tried hard to believe it. Tried.

I still think it is a fine thing to feel that sense of connection to family, and in a small way I envy those that have such a bond. I do not feel it myself.

For me, family has been a source of fear, sadness, pain, and uncertainty. While I do still stay in contact with my parents, my natural inclination is one of reluctance and hesitation. It is far to easy, and natural, for me to let weeks slip by without even a thought, and often I have a voice inside telling that this is wrong…

This contrast was brought into sharp focus of late when I informed my parents of my separation from my wife of 14 years. It is not a separation of anger, sadness, or conflict, just an appreciation that we have drifted apart over the years. It is not unexpected, nor overly upsetting. Well, it is a little upsetting, but not devastating.

Upon telling my parents, it was as if I had flipped a switch. Suddenly the warnings, fears, judgements, and suspicions were flying faster than debris in a cyclone. My attempts to clarify and explain that there was nothing to worry about brought on the statement that they questioned my ability to handle it. I assured them that I was quite able to handle it and to please, for once, have a little faith in me. What followed I shall not repeat, but it demonstrated utterly what they thought of me.

imagesShortly after, I hung up after telling them that I wasn’t going to keep talking if they couldn’t talk reasonably with me… They couldn’t.

I have received more positive, and loving support from people who are not my biological family, than I have from my own blood. Even my brother, long since moved away, and with a paternal beef of his own, has demonstrated for respect.

For me, I have had to redefine what family means to me in order to be able to find the support and comfort I need as a human being. So for me, family is the people who do accept you for who you are. They support you, encourage you, and do not judge, yet can equally tell you when you are wrong.

Turns out, I have a very large family.

Forgetful Panic

One thing that has plagued me for years is strange little periods of a panic like fear. They can last minutes or for hours. At worst, they have lingered for a few days. It’s like a sense that you have forgotten something really important, and something bad will happen if you don’t figure it out soon.

There is no reason behind the feeling, and there is often nothing specific that triggers it. It is just a feeling that creeps upon me and sits on top of my heart and lungs, like weighty pressure, making it a little hard to breath.

Even when you reason through everything you have done, have yet to do, and things you actually can do something about, there is nothing you can put your finger on as the cause of the dread. Invariably, it passes and the truth that there was nothing is revealed.

I have been feeling like that for much of today, although I think this time it is due to some concerns I have about dealing with the growing number of jobs I am facing; some offering financial benefit, some not but things I want to do.

Still, these “attacks” are a frequent occurrence, and I have never really spoken about them to anyone, apart from maybe one or two close friends. It has been, until recently, a thing of false shame. You think that something is wrong with you, and all the years of being told to keep your chin up, rise above it, don’t let others see, re-enforces the idea that to be this way is wrong.

Lately, I have been telling myself that wrong is a human concept. Wrong is not a natural thing, only something we humans have imposed on ourselves. Wrong is a rather subjective thing, as you can get different ideas of wrong from different people. I believe the inflated importance we in general have placed on being right or wrong is the cause for so much conflict, both internally and with others.

Your feelings are as valid as anything else. You have the right to show weakness when you need help. By seeing things that are natural in yourself as flawed, causes a conflict between fantasy and reality. The gap is the hole we often find ourselves in.

I suffer from anxiety attacks, and I am getting better at accepting that.

Uncertain

Following your dreams. We keep telling each other to do this. Don’t give up on your dreams, living the dream life, or other variations of the theme. I’ve come to the realisation that this idea can be just as dangerous as the overly negative “realistic” phrases such as “you’ll never make a living” or “it’s a great hobby.” Both are opposite sides of the same coin really. One is idealistic and potentially misleading. The other is far to grounded in avoiding any form of risk taking and defeatist

I am a long time believer in the “everything in moderation” philosophy. I am also prone to making mistakes, just like anyone else, so I don’t always find that point of moderation. I guess that is the thing with moderation. It isn’t always obvious. The extremes are easy to find, which is no doubt part of the reason why people often choose one or the other, even bouncing from one extreme to another.

So I led myself a little astray with a few inflated hopes and dreams, and belief that a platter had been handed to me. In hindsight, I was too eager, too frustrated, feeling too confined. I wanted luck to smile on me, and I felt I deserved it. I leapt, without really looking at where is was falling, which I wouldn’t ever do normally.

Things changed, I was in a strange place, and I had to find a way to make it work quickly. It wasn’t just me in this leap of faith. I had people depending on me. I struggled. I wasn’t ready. Things crumbled quickly, things I should have planned for, and others beyond my control.

Fortunately, I had a fall back plan which had been strongly recommended prior to my leap. I was able to play my get-out-jail-card in the nick of time, and now I find myself back in familiar territory. Even after a day, it was like I had never left.

However, even though I am back in familiar territory, things are not the same. I am changed. I know, irrespective of how things fell apart, that I want to go back. Better prepared and armed to the teeth of course, and this will take some time. I am also a little more aware that I was a little blinded to my life before. I had seen restrictions when there weren’t any. I had held myself back with a false reality. I had believed that in order to “follow my dreams” I had to change my lifestyle. I was a little deluded, and I should have known better.

MakeItHappenI have learnt a very important lesson; following your dreams is not enough, and the wrong way to look at it. I mean think about it, to follow is to remain behind, having your dreams lead you on. I want to be in the driver’s seat, not the rear seat. I have to do hard work in order to get that seat, like learning to drive, learn the routes, understanding the rules, and making sure there is enough fuel in the tank.

A Darker Path: Part 5 – Out of School

So, anyway, continuing on from Part 4...

In writing these posts, I have stirred up a swarm of old forgotten emotions and memories. It is rather incredible what the human mind can store, and what it takes to trigger it.

There was, of course, a lot more going on in my life than school. Ju-Jitsu, Boy Scouts, Piano lessons, and a little bit of athletics somewhere in there. Oh, and computers. I was there for the first PCs made for mass consumption. The Commodore Vic20. You could load programs by plugging a cartridge into the back. I remember spending hours playing Omega Race, Space Invaders, the original DOOM!, and so many more. Then they brought out a tape deck so that you could load audio files. With the help of my father, we built our own audio adaptor that made it possible for us to use any tape deck. When I loaded games from cassette, I got to hear all the strange computing noises that are now associated with computers, and I wanted to post a sample, but couldn’t find one that suited. Maybe later.

Frightened Little Boy

I had become fearful of my father, more so than ever. He was a driven man. Stubborn, in pain, frustrated, and no doubt a little afraid himself. He was not in good health, and he could no longer work as he once did, yet he took pride in being the one that paid the bills, and kept us fed. Even though he was often angry, there were moments that I could see the struggle that he lived with, and his stern attempts to not let anyone see, end even though I did see, and did have a glimmer of understanding, I found him unpredictable, and scary.

One telling moment was after another heated telling off for something, which I can’t even remember now. It’s a bit like that. You can remember being told off, but the reason for why has been smothered by the emotional energy of the event. He came into my room, to apologise as it turned out, but to my eyes, he was coming in for round two. I retreated. I had no-where to go, so just curled up in the corner, on my bed, trying to keep as much distance as I could. I can still remember his face. He was disturbed, and shocked. He later confessed that it was this moment that made him rethink a few things, and he tried. I know he did. He is a stubborn, and occasionally opinionated man, but I truly believe that he tried.

To me, he was the perfect role model for going too far. Even though he had serious back issues, he started up a business installing alarms for private and corporate properties. He put his body through some extreme stress, and pushed himself to, and beyond, his limits. He has suffered more injuries than I care to count, and all because he wouldn’t, he couldn’t give in. That attitude often blinded him I believe, to his limits. He just could not accept failure or weakness, and especially in himself.

While I had respect for his persistence, I felt I could never be good enough for him. He was quickly and easily frustrated. I was often “Bloody useless” and he could do the job quicker himself, and he was right of course. He could do the job quicker. I just didn’t have an interest in the same things as he did, and found it very difficult to simulate enthusiasm for him.

Show me Something Jeff

Still, he had his moments. He used to test me and my Ju-Jitsu. For many years, on the odd day here and there, he would give me his best kick, which was really no higher than my waist, and for a long while, I was too frightened to do anything about. One day, I didn’t think. I reacted. I slid sideways, blocked and scooped up his leg, and grabbed his shirt-front. He could have gone flying if I had let myself carry through, but I managed to stop short. He had been completely take off-guard. He said “I don’t think I’ll do that again.” and he didn’t. Amazing what confidence that simple little thing did for me.

I didn’t like getting into fights at the best of times, and I had been dragged into a few, unwillingly. Being able to tackle my father, the man scarier then all the bullies I had ever met, and effectively stop a fight without fighting was quite powerful. When the kids at school found out the I was learning a Martial Art, they all wanted me to “bust a move.”

“Show me something Jeff.” If I had a dollar for each time. I rarely did. Once or twice, I may have twisted the wrists of a couple that got a little to pushy. I think the best demonstration I ever gave was when a group of boys descended on me as I sat watching a sporting session. Because of my hay-fever, I was rarely including in scheduled sports events. I sat at the shed and watched, blowing my nose quietly to myself.

But back to these boys. One in particular sat down next to me, on the other side of a pole that I had been leaning against.

“I hear you do Karate.”

I looked at him. “Nope.”

“Yeah you do. You’re doing that Kung fu shit.”

I just looked at him. The grin on his face told me everything I needed to know. He was picking for a fight, and wanted an easy one. So he picked the quiet, shy, embarrassed, runny nosed nerd for an easy win. Except I wasn’t going to fight him. I just looked at him.

He reached for the skin just above my left hip, grabbed a handful, and began twisting. I just watched his face. I had a little bit of flab back then. Not a lot, but enough for him to get almost three full twists out of me, and I just watched him. Pain control as something that I had learnt from my training.

When he realised that I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of a reaction, his face fell. He looked a little shocked, which he tried quickly to cover up. He muttered some pathetic statement about me not being worth it, and walked off. His cronies walked off disappointed. I watched them leave without saying a word.

The bruising that appeared the next day was intense, but no-one ever asked me about it afterwards. I think this was the day I learnt how to deal with Trolls; don’t give them anything they could feed off. Give them crumbs and they will hang around like seagulls. Give them nothing, and they will soon wander off seeking another source of sustenance.

Fighting is not the only option. Often the most effective battle to win, is the one with you own self-control.

Pearls of Wisdom

Back to my father for a moment, for all his stubbornness, and strong opinions, he occasionally had something useful to say. In my latter years of high school, I was out the front of the house helping my father with the gardening, when one of my many antagonists walked by the house. You see we lived opposite a small pathway that led to a main road, and a local shopping centre. People often passed by.

My father, much to my embarrassment, said hello to afore said bully, who made an uncertain, hesitant reply. In a rare moment of tact, my father waited until he was gone before asking me why I didn’t say hello to him.

Erm, dad. We don’t like each other. He and his mates are some of the kids that pick on me.

“Still, it’s just a word. Wouldn’t hurt to say it one in a while.”

I thought to myself that he didn’t know what he was saying. I mean please, what would that do? Seriously! He clearly had lost touch.

But the comment stayed with me. What would happen? I realised that I didn’t have a clue. It would certainly be unexpected. It would probably confuse people. I marinated on the idea for a few weeks, then one day, walking along a crowded path between classes, I saw one, and I said “Hello Bill!”**

The reaction was absolutely thrilling. They turned to say Hello back without thinking, then saw who it was, and it was like their brain froze. Their face screwed up in confusion, and I felt brilliant. I had learnt a very important lesson, and thing started to change.

** The name has been changed to protect the guilty!! 😉

Continues…

Paddling the Deep End

Nothing gains you more experience than being chucked in the deep end. Problem is, it is not always a good experience. Certainly not like being able to dip your toes in the pool before you get your knees wet, but then many of us wouldn’t do anything if we always did that.

Taking the metaphor literal for a moment, I do this when going for a swim, I just dive in. It is much better to simply dive in, let the shock of cold water wash over you, then swim away. I’ve done it many times and sort of know what to expect… now.

Taking the same principle and applying it to something that you really haven’t done is quite another thing. The sense of drowning is rather disturbing, even when it is a psychological one, and that is how I have felt for a few weeks now since I made the choice to take the plunge, so to speak.

It is not something I have done before, and I didn’t know what to expect. Well, that is the reality. I thought I did know what to expect. I felt that I was ready, and I still do. Only, in truth, I didn’t know what to expect, which has taken me and my sense of readiness a little by surprise.

I look over the past couple of weeks, and in my hindsight, this is how I feel; unprepared. Yet, I also question how I could have been more prepared? And I really haven’t got an answer to that.

My biggest fear is for that of my family. Where is the money? While I see money as a false god of sorts, digital currency rather than something with intrinsic value, money is what the world I find myself in works on. It’s what the bills want to be paid in, and how you buy your food. Regardless of my desires to follow my passion, which I have the full support of my family, and rapidly growing array of friends, I have to make sure my family is able to co-exist with me.

This is the biggest challenge of my life. Even bigger than taking on the role of Presenter for a Web Base Series, which is a steep learning curve in itself.

Nothing could have prepared me enough I think, and yet I still have the voice inside that says I am ready. Fear and confidence, living in co-habitation within the murkiness of my mind.

I need a drink.