Archimedes didn’t get Screwed.


There is an Archimedes Screw in Durham at the river Wear.  The screwing action raises substantial weights of water from a low level to a higher one. Effortless simplicity, providing water powered energy to the Freeman’s Quay area of Durham . Doubling up as a fish ramp, so fish can more easily get up river to reproduce. A jolly good all round invention.

I feel anxious. Wretchedly so. Blustery Spring morning in need of coffee. Waiting for my date. My coffee date. Even Archimedean principles are useless now. There are plenty of other unseen universal laws and variables amok.

The law of the creepy guy in a public place.

An unkempt unshaven man carrying a suspicious carrier bag lurks nearby. He stares at me over the various steps and concrete installations. One of those men in a public space where you immediately feel uncomfortable. 

I feel anxious. Observed. Uncomfortable. All kinds of thoughts race through my brain. 

‘He has sent a creepy friend to check me out first.’

‘He has caught a glimpse of me first without me knowing and has skiddaled. ‘

‘My profile pictures are up to date. Do I really look so different in real life?’

The law of why are the cops here again? I haven’t done anything this time.

An innocent looking cop passes by. He may have some cop business at the nearby Passport Office. You would think I would be reassured, but no. In an unfamiliar city, for me this would only cause more intricate and elaborate conspiracy theories.

I stare at the Archimedean Screw. 

The law of if in doubt Pray.

‘Please God, no trouble with the cops again.’

The motion of the screw in other circumstances might be calming. I am transfixed. The anxiety in my tummy accelerates its oscillating velocity. 

The law of ‘all men are bastards’, has changed to ‘all men are weird.’ Particularly men on on line dating sites.

Personal Disclaimer:

I do not hate men.

I do not think all men are bastards.

See above law of ‘All men on dating sites are weird.’

Men are weird. My caffeine fix is overdue and I am destined to be single for the rest of my life.

And I want to be as far away from carrier bag man as I can possibly be or at least in a coffee shop surrounded by potential witnesses for the court case.

I message the date as I drink my coffee Alone. (Dramatic sob!) I feel stressed anxious annoyed and with little diplomacy tell him as much. He doesn’t reply in the next second or minute even. So I express my emotions to friends in whatsapp and weep and wail with zero dignity on Facebook.

I message other guys on the dating site. Tell them:

“I’ve been stood up. Men are weird.”

I glean varied responses, most of which are kind and understanding.  What men can be kind and understanding?  I may have to adjust the ‘all men are weird’ law, but not today.

I drink my coffee which by now is cold!

Carrier bag man is not following me. Phew! No crime scene to report.

An hour or so passes. My date replies to my messages. He was there. Couldn’t get parked. He was at the entrance to the foot bridge on the other side of the Passport Office.

We had discussed at least three venues all in a very close vicinity to the other. I/We got muddled with the meeting point.

Archimedes really didn’t get screwed. 

Enough


Lost. I said. I feel lost. My skull. A chalice. The greyness dissipates into papier mache space. Grey space. A skull without a lid. There isn’t anything horrifying about this blog, unless I include a woman’s whispered disclosure of how an old family member rapes her, apparently he brings a younger fitter bloke with him, to hold her down. 

I saw those lower arm and wrist bruises. 

The police, she whispers, have not taken action. No rape kit tests or arresting of suspects. Perhaps I watch too many cop shows. They have it all sewn up in fifty minutes or so, including the sentencing. 

Flashback to yesterday. A caring friend called with various quotes on how not to be mentally ill. I was touched. Knowing about the law of attraction and how ‘you attract and create all your own experiences,’ does not necessarily make me feel better, nor does it miraculously cure me. What touches my soul deeply is the sincerity of his voice. This man cares for me and an intricate intangible tentacled connective tissue binds itself to the lost papier mache matter. I am a raft, he said and I saw you bobbing in the water.

He is a very old friend. We hung out when we were teenagers.  Learning how to kiss and perform oral sex, though not on each other and he does not know about my aversion to all life size water borne vessels, including rafts. His metaphor fits, it is only this time, I feel lost on solid ground. This is a gigantual improvement on being lost at sea. (Even if only in metaphorical terms).

I haven’t written a blog in a very long time. I thought it best to spare the world my misery, heaven knows it has enough of its own. When I say the world, in this context, I mean the handful of people who actually read my blog.

My ability to write isnt in question. It is my fear of an audience, it is my fear and anxiety of being seen. This inevitably triggers paranoia and anxiety. 

After a very long wait, I now see a counsellor via my GP surgery. I survived the waiting list. Some, sadly, do not. And I wake up and I am breathing and that’s a win.

The session lasts an hour and during this time I am searching my soul. The reason for my unhealthy all or nothing behavioural patterns. I feel the panic in my chest. The quicker breath. The feeling of an external force preventing my intercostal muscles doing their job. The ribs feel constricted, a heavy constant weight against them.

Admittedly, my panic attacks are not as severe but they do still happen.  People and relationships are usually at the root cause.

I no longer have the luxury of resilient youth on my side. At forty eight I have unenviable access to the portal of feeling wholly vulnerable. Life has unfiltered access to my soul. I never used to consider myself to be one of those sensitive types. 

Sensitivity knows how to escalate. 

Hyper sensitive. 

Hyper aware. 

Hyper vigilant. 

I used to be tough. Real tough. In charge. In control. 

That woman’s rape ordeal rattles around my insides and I feel powerless too about her predicament. Peculiar how we imprint each others souls. I never saw her again. And I still wonder, quite morbidly, if she is still subjected to those attacks.

My counsellor listens and I talk. I discover that I have no internal mechanism for when ‘enough is enough’. 

Hence, extreme behaviour traits.

(That is probably an over simplification).

On a day to day level it poses such questions. What or how much can I tolerate that is over my limit of ‘enough’? How much can I push myself safely without overstretching my capability limit? And more importantly how do I recognise this? And then further, what measures do put in place to prevent the extreme behaviours happening?

Prince Harry has come out of the closet about his mental health issues about the grief he had for his mother. 

We are being encouraged now as a nation to soften the stiff upper lip and talk.

Talk about being mentally ill.

I grew up with a mother and brother who had a schizoid disorder.  I still cringe inside with shame at those memories of our family from the 70’s & 80’s.

Mental illness is still a shocker today.

Back then it was the equivalent of medieval leprosy. 

I became the chameleon. Changing colour. Disguising the truth.

I will need mental health support for the rest of my life. Though I am hopeful I will recover.

It takes time.

And it will need me to know and recognise when enough is enough.

The Twenty Minute Date


He was on time. He had texted me, a lot, I put this down to his nerves. I was calm. I had stipulated in my profile I wanted a man who felt comfortable in his own skin. He greeted me with wide open eyes. I took this to mean, he liked what he saw. 

We walked towards the old part of the city. He said he didn’t drink tea or coffee, nor did he understand my request. Going for an afternoon coffee was standard dating procedure. We walked to the Cathedral and sat on the wall. The Holy place towering above us. He had never been to this bit before. 

He was a southerner. He didn’t like me questioning him at all. This raised his discomfort levels. I can not remember exactly what came first, the pursed lips lunge for a junior school style kiss or the comment about my good set of knockers. Either way, this was a cringe worthy date fail.

Prior to this social code failure, he confessed his children didn’t speak to him and he was bored of travelling.

We walked back to the centre and went our different ways. I, to a coffee shop. He, to his car. Twenty minutes of dismal dating.
 

8th AugustĀ 


8th August,

Peculiar as it may seem, I am grateful to be dreaming of being socially inept and incompetent in large public buildings. A hotel perhaps, or a department store. The lighting is dim. Very little natural light. There is a definite maze like experience going on in my thoughts in my head in my dream. It is a dream, close to the border of nightmare, but not; 

Thankfully the terrifying water themed dreams have gradually ebbed from the shore of my sleeping psyche. Being trapped in a concrete maze is grateful relief in comparison to the inevitable death by drowning in previous nocturnal adventures.

I thank God for these small mercies.

I am with an older distant male relative who seems to have a purpose for coming to this odd venue. There are a lot of people around and there is an air of expectancy. 

I search the dark walls and wallpaper for exits. I can see none under the amber glow of light and bustling social activity.

An auction or sale.

I need the loo. Yes, those foreboding loo dreams. Needing to urinate or defecate in an overcrowded place. An inevitable long queue, filled with awkward and embarrassed and uncomfortable people. Myself included. Public conveniences are not that convenient, especially in a dream where there is no way out.

I am in the queue forever. Long enough for my relative to have disappeared into the dark and amber recesses of this sinister department store.

I lurk around. Trying to inconspicuously slip down a badly lit staircase that either I can not find or does not exist.

Instead I find a relatively quiet seat. Burgundy velour upholstery. A wood table in front of me under which I place my legs. I observe the scene of darkness ahead of me and other than an intuitive knowing that there are fewer people in the building, I can see only the yellow glow of the ladies toilets. Urine yellow to be precise, shining apologetically into the dark, black maze.

I am grateful to be sitting. Grateful to feel unease. The unease of being trapped in a strange place with strange people is much more of an attractive prospect than the gasping and the swallowing involved in the drowning process.

I am grateful for being uncomfortably alive.

But only just.

Only just grateful.

And only just alive.

Achilles


Despite your mother’s bold attempt to save you and make you impenetrable to 

That arrow 

Of youth 

Of age 

Of death 

Sting

Stung

Stringy, inflamed and swollen like the tidal river mouth 

And even these back streets 

These Georgian streets 

They 

Ache 

Achilles 

Ache 

For the life that could not bear you

Ache 

Achilles 

Ache 

For the dreams that did not sustain you 

Ache 

Achilles 

Ache

For the mistakes that tried to tame you 

Ache 

Achilles 

Ache 

For all the woven words that claimed you 

And the life to come that blames you

Ache 

Achilles 

Ache 

Goodbye Grief


I feel like I have failed. I feel useless in a dynamic world. I feel like I am stopped. Stopped. The world on its axis tilted and turning. I stay. Rooted. Reluctant. I breathe because I am made that way.  It doesn’t feel like a jolly choice these days. I fell from on high. Directly down. Naturally down. Flat splat on the pavement. The sound of extreme grief, an undignified and messy landing. I grieve. A wild and unabashed grief. The type of grief that almost gets you arrested. The type of grief, that when the fury has passed, changes into a dismal miserable quiet. A sadness of large mass. My body heaves against this mass of sadness. Breathing is all I can do. I detest gravity and all its pitiful laws.
 
I like my psychosis. That was said to me recently. 

Liking a mauling tiger. This is a suitable analogy. Great excitement and thrill and danger. Until it turns and eats itself. 
Combine this with grief. Psychotic grief. I found my brother dead in a pool of his own blood. The ‘anger’ phase has been truly sensational. A lifetime of hatred and injustices soared through my soul.

The tiger leaping through time. A regression of sorts. The eye of an enraged tiger. Bouyant in a spiritual dimension. Floating, soaring and preying in my mind as a multitude of lensed spheres. 

Eyes. Cameras. The unenviable vision of a half assed clairvoyant. To be offered such a spiritual gift and not to be able to use it, begets a very specific style of incompetence.
Some things you are not meant to know. I hear my dads words repeat in my head. Then why have I been offered the sight? For what purpose? Mental illness? The cursed blessing. The blessed curse.

I feel a very particular kind of ineptitude. A rage of emotions.  Socially destructive behaviours. Fury in a local street is particularly humiliating. I now shrug sad shoulders about the politics I was ranting about and feel indifference again at the people who in my deluded outbursts had the audacity not to even know who I am. My grandfather survived the Battle of the Somme. In my heightened deluded state, my grandfathers’ sacrifice in two world wars was to bring me a status in life. A staus that eludes me still. 

I am psychotic again, but sadly, I am not able to recognise my symptoms. The terrifying nature of this particular beast. Shouting, swearing and screaming does nothing to endear me to the locals of the town. I am refused a glass of water in a bar. I am outraged. Every cell. Every neuron firing out anger. Grief. Anger. Grief. Furious grief. 

I notice I  have pissed myself from the exertion. The bliss of the involuntary. A work out of sorts. Psychotic screaming and shouting. I sit in the back of the cop car. I lock the back seat so the friendly cop can’t sit next to me and talk. I am done talking. I am bored with talking and not ever being able to express the magnitude of my pain. 

There is a moment of levity between the cop and I. I locked you out, I say with a smile. I’m naughty like that. Meanwhile the whole town stares. My cousin speaks with the cops and then they drive me to the cop shop. The officer says I am to be searched for weapons. I find this ludicrous. You don’t want to be touching my knickers,  I say, I’ve pissed myself. The cop smiles again and let’s out a giggle.

All the while the cameras and lenses record all the details. As do the cops with their variety of digital recording microphones and cameras. In the raised intensity of the situation, I can no longer tell who or what is recording me, it is a complicated digital paranoia array. They drive me home. Kindly.

Grief. I have talked to counsellors,  psychologists and shrinks. I have approached those who walk close to spirit for their wisdom and guidance. I have given up my soul to those and to all whom I believed who would heal it or simply have it. The job too excessive for my wit alone.  The job nobody wants. I neither. 
All the sense I can make is this, there is no cure for love. A simple and pure lyrical sentiment from Leonard Cohen. Fool I am. Fool I was for not accepting the fact. 

Grief is excruciating. Facing the pain is excruciating. Acknowledging how my brother died and living with that memory of him has been excruciating. Extreme grief is excruciating. 

I grieve for him and my soul and spirit feel oddly cleansed. The tiger naps in the quiet jungle, but I now live with the after math of yet another psychotic episode. This is the official terminology used for the freaky shit that is outside of regular human cognition and inexplicably difficult to describe.

 The flat splat on the pavement of life is the inevitable come down. The ground. The gravity. The living on the earth. The comparatively uneventful three dimensional space.

The goodbye grief.