An Explanation of a Poem

I posted this poem a few days ago, and said that I might attempt to explain it in a future post.  Well, here it is! I’m not sure how much sense it’ll make because it was an exceptionally profound experience, and previous attempts to explain it to people have resulted in failure.  I don’t know if it was a near-death experience, a hallucination, or even just a terrible nightmare but, whichever way, it was the most frightened I’ve ever been.  If anyone has had any experiences akin to this one, I’d love to hear about them.

To set the scene, I’d been drinking cheap white cider with my best buddy Tommy Harris.  We were listening to music and watching South Park.  I remember turning to him at one point after a protracted silence and saying, “Am I supposed to be replying to something you just said?”  He looked back at me and replied, “I don’t know.” Yes, it was one of those nights.

Anyway, the action kicked off after Tommy had left.  I saw him to the door as usual, then walked into the kitchen for a glass of water before bed.  I also picked up a slice of coffee cake that the mother had made.  Then things went tits-up, though I don’t remember leaving the kitchen.

Suddenly, I was in an almost free fall.  This is the part I mentioned earlier that is difficult to explain.  To me it was a slow death, pure and simple.  It was like being tied to a giant wheel, half shaded good and half shaded bad.  As I moved around the wheel the bad was desperate, it was despair, and the good was glorious and full of light.  After every revolution, though, the dark part grew larger and the light part correspondingly smaller.  All while I was in a feeling of freefall.  And this went on and on.  What also happened was that the euphoric highs got higher and the depressive lows got lower.  Approaching the light areas granted me a supreme peace and a happiness like I’ve never known whereas approaching the darkness sapped all of the goodness from my soul, and was the worst I’ve ever felt.  And all through this the darkness was growing larger while the light was receding, minute by minute.  I’d liken it to being tied to a mill-wheel in rising water.  Your time out of the water, your time to take a breath becoming less and less as the minutes go by.  Your time under the water, your life out of your hands and dependent on how long you can hold your breath until you see the light of the surface above you, getting longer.

And then I woke up.  In the fetal position in the middle of the dining-room floor.  With coffee cake in my mouth.  I don’t know how long I was gone for – seconds, minutes, even hours, but that night has stayed with me for a hell of a long time.  I could have easily choked.  Maybe I did, and a lucky spasm dislodged the offending item.  I don’t know.  I didn’t end there.  For a fair amount of time afterwards, at random times and places, I’d go dizzy and feel myself falling, my heart would start to race and I’d think back to that night.

I still don’t think I’ve managed to do justice in writing to exactly what happened.  I do, though, like to think of the multiverse, that in an infinite number of universes I died that night , and that by surviving I should have learned something.

I learned nothing.

A Poem

Digging through the cupboards at my mother’s house I happened upon a folder of my University work.  Included in there was the following poem.  I’d forgotten about it, but reading through it again I’m quite proud of it.  I think it must have been a first year piece, maybe early second year.  There’s a story behind it that I may delve into at some point in the future.  It’s replicated below, let me know what you think 🙂

The Lucid Dream of Life

That illicit space where creepers crawl,
big and small, through ears and eyes
they do not cease, they come in peace,
they come in your sleep, when children
weep, and the past is alive and well,
when heaven is heaven and heaven is hell.

In your waking sleep, your lucid dream,
when you try to scream, but your mouth is full
of coffee cake, that you sat and watched
your mother bake, can’t remember when,
but that was then, and this is now,
when you want to get out but you don’t know how.

The perfect form lying next to you, it is not there,
it’s everywhere, in your eyes and ears and hands
and head, she can’t be dead, you miss her
touch, did she exist? You’re falling down,
you can not breathe, this is the hell of
your waking dream, you’ve seen it before,
and you’ll relive it for ever more.

You can’t see the light, can’t figure it out,
you try to shout but coffee cake, you can not
wake, you can not sleep, you’re in too deep,
if only you could wake yourself, could see
the truth, the darkness of your jaded
youth has brought you here, to die in
fear, you want and hate the end that’s near.

Scars

I have a couple of scars on my right hand. I always think people will assume they’re from brawling, but they’re not. Both of them are from washing-up, and both created within a month of each other. I have a wide scar on my left wrist, but not from self-harm, rather from not noticing a nail in the wall while I was scraping off some wallpaper. I have a very obvious scar inside my right elbow, made by nothing more innocuous than a girl I worked with pinching me with her nails in jest. I have a large circle-shaped scar on my left shin, made by slipping in rain into the bottom of a metal fence. And I have a large scar on my right ankle, made when screws were inserted after a particularly nasty football injury that required a short hospital stay. I have many visible scars and blemishes that are caused by nothing more than bad luck and happenstance, and other than an interesting anecdote in the right context, none of them mean anything.

It’s the scars that can’t be seen that have been cut the deepest. The shame at being a failure in a family where everyone else is doing so well. The embarrassment at having achieved a degree despite never studying a day in my life, of having written the majority of my Dissertation in the 12 hours before I handed it in, followed by the hollow disappointment of wondering how far I could have gone if I’d not been naturally intelligent and bored, but rather had to fight for it and taken pride in it.  Wondering where life would have taken me if, instead of turning my back on socialising to sit drinking on my own while playing the Xbox, I’d retained the adventurous and inquisitive spirit of my youth.  The spirit that gave me so many memories and experiences. What shames me the most is that these are all the results of my own decisions, nothing else. I don’t know when depression first manifested itself, but I didn’t enjoy school. If it wasn’t for my football ability (I was player of the year and top scorer in the season before I broke my ankle) I’m sure I would have enjoyed it much less. But I’ve had it easy. I’ve never been abused, I’ve never been beaten, I’ve never once been told I’m worthless or had to go without food – I’ve been handed life on a plate, and had it easier than most, and it continues to be that way. I feel ashamed to call myself depressed when, on paper, there is no reason for it at all.

It’s Not All Been Bad…

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Despite all the negative thoughts I’ve been having, I never used to be like this.  I never used to be the person whose every thought is shaded by negativity.  I never used to be the person who stares into an empty dishwasher for ten minutes, frozen in the fear that I won’t be able to fill it up properly or that everything won’t fit.  I never used to be the person who spends so long working up the courage to use the toilet on a coach that I’ve reached my destination without leaving my seat.  I’ve been making a concerted effort today to think about the person I used to be, to put myself in his shoes, and to remember some of his greatest moments, which I’m going to write about below to make me feel better and to remind me that my life has not been wasted and I’ve been lucky enough to do some incredible (and sometimes stupid) things.

Canada

While seated alone in front of a computer, highly intoxicated, back in January of 2004, I did what I assume every 20 year old would like to do but few ever go for.  I booked a solo, eight-night trip to Toronto, simply because I could and it looked nice.  I didn’t end up going on my own as it turns out because when I told my mate Gary about it he loved the idea and booked a seat on the same flight and a room in the same hotel.  What a guy.  The trip was incredible, from the free beer on the flight out of the UK to the free beer on the flight back into the UK.  We watched the European Championships in a number of bars with a number of interesting people.  We sat at the top of the CN Tower drinking beer that was brewed near the bottom of it.  We went to Hooters and Gary’s testicle was visible through a hole in his jeans. It was, again, an incredible trip.  The best thing about it was the people.  Everyone we met was awesome with us, we had folks inviting us for nights out so they could show us the best places, folks joining us for a beer and asking us how we liked their city, even the bus drivers struck up conversations with us.  It’s a place to which I will definitely be returning.

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Graceland

Back in 2007 the family decided that we’d send the mother off to Graceland for her 60th birthday.  She needed someone to go with her so she didn’t end up sharing a room with some weirdo, so I jumped at the chance.  She’d still say she ended up sharing the room with some weirdo, I expect.  The trip was incredible though, from Graceland and downtown Memphis, to Tupelo, Mississippi, then Nashville, it was full of amazing experiences.  I ate a massive T-Bone steak in Memphis, I bought a sandwich made out of a full loaf of bread at Walmart, and I was lucky enough to experience the thrill of a night out in Nashville.  The best night out I’ve ever had, by far.  And, as with Canada, the people were amazing, everyone was approachable and had a story to tell, and it was good listening.  I even got told by a young gentleman that I was “brave” for turning up at the Grand Ole Opry in a Death Metal T-shirt.

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Wacken Open Air

I’ve been lucky enough to twice attend the Wacken Open Air festival in Northern Germany, the finest metal festival in the world.  I’ve seen some of my favourite bands in that place – Amon Amarth, Grave Digger, Satyricon, Children of Bodom, Mayhem, In Extremo, Machine Head, and so many more. The first time I went was with a few friends, and I had terrible pink hair at the time. I met Satyricon and Amon Amarth. With pink hair. I stayed up drinking relentlessly until 5am and woke up in my tent the following morning with the worst hangover I’ve ever experienced. The only thing that could save me was a king-size jar of pickled gherkins, and luckily I found one. The second time was in 2009 with my then-girlfriend. I behaved impeccably.

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My Children

Easily my greatest, most proud achievements and, barring an extremely unlikely third child, they will remain the two high-points in my life. They’re intelligent, they’re funny, and they have a zest for life that I envy.

Now all I need to do is train them both to look at a camera at the same time…

Dragonforce!!!!!

I used to get on well with these guys. I loved their first album, and one song off the second, but they went downhill after that. They’d always put me on the guest list for their UK shows, and they recognised me instantly whenever we bumped into each other. I even worked the merchandise stand at one of their Manchester gigs with my unique brand of salesmanship. Good times.  There is a relevant picture to go with this, but I can’t find it!

I think I’ve gone into enough depth about the glory days now, but writing about them has cheered me up a good deal. I would love to regain some of the spirit of independence that I used to have, some of the vivacity that won me friends and created some outstanding memories.  There’s time for one more picture though. I have a friend who’s very sensitive about losing his hair, so I shaved my head in an attempt to match his… for solidarity.

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Here’s to the future.

Another Curveball…

Sometimes, words fail me…

Yesterday was a pretty brutal day.  Five and a half hours on a bus from Bristol to Manchester, ninety minutes to pick out a beef and horseradish sandwich, then six and a half hours on a bus between Manchester and Dundee.  Pretty brutal.  I’ve ventured up North of Dundee into rural Scotland for a few days for a nice change of scenery.  And because my mother’s visiting my little sister in Bristol.  Not that I don’t love the woman, there’s just not enough space, so I’m imposing on another sister instead!  Regardless, after the phone call I received when I got here, that journey seemed tame in comparison.

(I’ll interrupt myself at this point to remark that I don’t feel like I’m writing very well tonight.  I’ve had about six hours sleep in total over the last couple of nights and I’m starting to feel it, so sorry if it’s making little sense).

Anyway, the phone call.  It was the ex-girlfriend; mother to my two phenomenal children and, formerly, the bane of my existence.  She needed, she said, to have a serious discussion with me.  Now, I’ve been totally open with her about the depression, the antidepressants, everything that’s been going on with me recently, as I wanted to be totally up front and to give her the opportunity to make the decision as Parent With Care as to whether she’d rather I didn’t see the boys for a while.  She surprised me by being extremely understanding and supportive – despite our past differences – and I spent the best part of ten years with her, so she knows me and my character as well as anyone does.  Still though, a serious discussion filled me with fear.  Last night though, she told me that as I’m looking to move closer to the children, she thinks it would be for the best if they were to live with me once I’ve done so.  With the small proviso that they stay at the same school around their friends, which makes perfect sense.

My initial reaction was one of excitement, tempered with realism.  I told her that I would think about it and look at what my options are.  I’d need to rent somewhere furnished, for a start.  Oh, and get a job in the Wakefield area, that too.  Small problems then!  I’ve mentioned in a previous post her lack of maternal instinct and the fact that I think I would be a better person for them to grow up around, but as soon as the call finished the anxiety and self-doubt kicked in big time.

It’s been over three years since I lived with them, and Alex wasn’t even at school at that point.  How am I going to adapt to a routine of getting two kids ready for school, getting them there, sorting out childcare for when I’m working, dealing with parents on the school run?  How can I look after two children when I’ve forgotten how to look after myself?  How will the boys react to it, would they even want to make the change and live with me?  How will it affect their relationship with their mother, will they feel abandoned by her?  There’s so many questions that need to be answered before I can make a decision that I just feel bewildered.  I feel like I should add also that I’m not trying to paint her in a bad light.  I can understand that for a mother to even consider sending her children to live with someone else is a massive decision, and she was very honest and open on the phone about it, saying that she just can’t cope with them.  I just don’t have a clue what to do for the best on this.  Not that it’s a terrible problem to have, but I could have done without it happening right now.

Suicidal Ideation

This is a subject I’ve not been anywhere near before because my little sister reads this blog (Hiya Sian!) Now, I’m not suicidal.  The idea of my children being without me is a thought that fills me with dread.  Not that children can’t thrive with a single parent – me and Sian didn’t do bad – but their mother has no maternal instinct at all, and it pains me to see my boys being misunderstood, being forced to behave in a certain way when I’m sure that I would be so much more understanding and accomodating to their needs.  But I’m sure many absentee fathers say similar things.  And obviously, every time they’re with me, they miss their mother, same as they miss me when they’re with her.

Anyway, I digress.  What we’re talking about here is suicidal ideation.  It’s something I’d never even heard about until a few weeks ago, and might be the biggest influence in my seeking help.  For me, for a long time, longer than I can remember, when things go wrong I’ve thought about being dead.  Fantasised even.  As soon as things go wrong, or I perceive that things have gone wrong, picturing myself dying has been my go-to thought.  I lived in a flat on my own for over 12 months and I can’t count the amount of times that I was lying in bed, unable to sleep, thinking about where I could set up the ropes, feeding them out of one window and in through another maybe, any way that would work when I needed it to.  It was an idealistic thing, of course.  When I was picturing things I was thinking about a thick rope and a hangmans noose, like you see in the films.  I wouldn’t have had the first idea about how to go about it myself.

The thing is, I don’t think I’d have done it then, at any of the points where I was fantasising about it, and I don’t think I ever will, but I never even realised that just thinking in this way was something that ‘normal’ people just don’t do.  It’d been a part of my psyche, part of my personality, for so long that I was under the impression that thoughts like this were normal.  It was natural for me, and has been for a long time.  Am I still thinking this way? Yes, to a degree, but it’s less to do with doing it myself and more to do with the idea that it’d be nice to just not wake up tomorrow, that if it’s not done by my own hand then maybe people won’t mourn so much.  It’s still the go-to thought, though I recognise that it’ll never happen, however much I’d like it to.

Small Acts of Kindness

Please read this post, it makes so much sense.

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With so many of us fawning over the latest iPhone model & brand of designer trousers, it’s easy for us to overlook the significance of the practise of kindness & generosity which, believe it or not, don’t always have to come in the form of a two week all-inclusive holiday to the Bahamas as a gift for somebody’s birthday (although I, for one, would not refuse such a gift if the opportunity represented itself!) I am a firm believer that even the smallest, or seemingly most meaningless acts of kindness can go an extremely long way & have a seismic impact upon another person’s outlook, spirit, day or week.

In my opinion, it all starts with the act of looking beyond a person’s initial appearance or perceived “differences”. It’s a case of accepting that everybody is the same – each of us have lots to offer, have dreams, aspirations &…

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