Saturday, August 29, 2015

Self Examination

It has been my experience that a person’s surroundings often reflect the state of their mind. When I worked in engineering (on a milling machine) those with the muckiest work benches scattered with oily tools and swarf were the slowest and most untidy workers. I always spent time cleaning down my bench and my milling machine, and I still worked faster than others. Tidy mind; tidy surroundings.

Today I cleaned my house because sometimes if you tidy your surroundings it helps to tidy your mind. Recently I experienced a disfunction of my mind I’d never had before. I’m not going to go into much detail but it stemmed from low self-esteem, low self-worth. It scared me and I hated myself for it. This wasn’t me and I was baffled by it — looking for excuses.

A piece of the puzzle fell into a place for me today when I remembered something a friend said, while drunk and upset recently. This person said, ‘I don’t know who I am anymore.’ I realised then that this applied to me too. Why should I have low self-esteem and self-worth? I am, by whatever measure you care to use, a success. I am fit, healthy and strong. I can’t recollect anything I’ve tried to do that I’ve failed at.

And of course the explanation is there in my recent past. When I watched my wife die of bowel cancer, I could do nothing but offer the support I could. But nothing I could do stopped the process. Nothing I found on the Internet, no fucking supplements, no miracles, nothing hard work could solve. I think it was then that I lost sight of who I am. I didn’t know who I was anymore.

It’s time to find myself and kick myself up the arse.


Kirby Uber said...

You are one Hell of a guy. Seems you were wondering. Your self-insight and drive have been much admired but more than just me, I feel confident saying.

Kick the metaphorical or literal in anyway you see fit. Give 'em Hell. You remain a personal hero of mine.

Bystroushaak said...

You are a great writer, thats for sure.

Simon Collier said...

it is rare to find someone willing to bare their soul in this way. I went through my fathers' last illness at the same time as your wife was ill. I am a surgeon and I know both medicine and 'the system' and do you know what? It didn't help.

Cannae said...

Yup, you're right - you used to be one half of a couple, it was an important part of your self image.
Now you need to develop a new identity. That sucks, you liked your old one. By developing a new one you are abandoning your old identity, and thus your wife. It's horrible.
As above, I'm a doctor too, ex-psychiatrist, and it doesn't help. I've never found anything that "fixes" people, and you know what, it would be terrible if you could.
You are a caring human being with the capacity for love, and this is the price you pay, and some days it will be too much.
Good luck.

The Last Homely Housekeeper said...

I came across your blog a little while ago, intending only to say nice things about a book of yours that I recently finished. Then scrolling through the top entries I saw this one, read it, and was completely taken aback.

Just as I was at first by the dedication in your book, which I now know was to your wife: "They say time heals. No, it just wears away pain. It grinds everything to dust." I'd never seen a work of speculative fiction dedicated that way, and wasn't sure what to make of it. Then as the words sank in I admired their poignant honesty: bleak but with a sort of harsh beauty, like a desert.

The same with this blog entry. Disconcerting, then upon reflection I think: this is what writing should actually be about. For telling what's important and true, without evasion or ornamentation. For communicating what it is to be a human being. I don't know you from Adam, but reading this makes me feel I've glimpsed you as a real person. So thank you for daring to write so personally to utter strangers.

"Who am I?" is a hard enough question to answer at the best of times. We're ignorant, fearful little creatures in an enigmatic universe. Where is there solid ground to stand on? I do get the kick-yourself-up-the-arse impulse, as a means of putting your life back on course; only considering your recent traumatic loss I think you might cut yourself some slack.

No, you couldn't save your wife from cancer. But you were there for her. You held her hand as she went along that dark path, so she wouldn't have to walk it alone. It may not seem like much to you – it may feel horribly inadequate – but it must have been a great comfort to her. All we really have, in the end, is each other.

Rolf Luchs

The Last Homely Housekeeper said...

(Forgive me if I mistakenly sent my comment multiple times: I almost never use social media and wasn't sure whether or not it had actually gone out.)