The chameleon man

It’s 2017: the first day of a new year.  I’d like to come to some conclusions about the last twelve months.

They have not been easy: not easy for myself; not easy for the people I have ever so slowly had to detach my existence from.

First, I’d like to talk about love.  It’s an important, fairly unfathomable emotion for me.  I have been extremely unsuccessful in my expression of it.  I have failed the two women I most loved and respected in my life, at the same time as suffering greatly at their hands.  With respect to the second of the two, who was the first, I am still allowing that suffering to continue.

Up until recently, meanwhile, I spent over a decade tied up by a terrible depression over the affair I had in 2004.  Its resolution was truncated by my own terrible and multiple senses of guilt: most people would have moved on; I was unable to.

I was an autopilot in my life from 2006 till December 2015, which is when I started writing this blog.

I didn’t fly in planes.

I feared even driving my car.

I was more and more resigning myself to a living death of boring conversations over coffees with the very few family members who cared to be around me, and practically with no friends outside these circles at all.

I was as lonely as hell.

In fact, I have been lonely as hell ever since my honeymoon which wasn’t.  That was in 1988.

All of this would have had its solution in my eventual taking control of my life.

But I clearly felt I had no right to take any such control: I felt I had no feelings which could express themselves with justice and fairness.  As justice and fairness were not mine to be had, equally my feelings did not exist.

I do, however, remember moments over the years which shame me tremendously.  Not choosing the woman I had an affair with until it was too late, and so that’s when she chose to say no back to me; apologising to the universe for such an affair by confessing to a priest my sins (I was a practising Catholic at the time; no longer, I hasten to add – no longer, even, do I condone or permit the term lapsed …); and finally, my choosing to be together in a mountain of lies with a wife who deserved honesty above all: the honesty of clarity and decisiveness and openness.  The honesty which doesn’t decry.

What’s worse – as already alluded to above – is that this latter situation, at least for the moment, continues exactly as was.

But the most shameful thing I have done happened in the summer of 2016, when I actually believed a second cousin might have fallen in love with a balding, pot-bellied 54-year-old man.  Its circumstances, and aftermath, have led to the hate I have communicated over the past few days on these very pages.  I have learnt through this experience that, indeed, I am capable of such hate – and in that sense, this makes me far more human than I considered myself previously.

That I have said and described such awful things to yous may be good or bad in a wider societal context, but the discovery is mine to cogitate and meditate much further than even I am capable of writing down.

It is clear that the mighty rejection I suffered the other day, where my second cousin’s silence proved far more powerful than the words her mother had sent my dejected way in 2006, has chastened me considerably.

But it has also a heavy cloud formation with a potentially silver lining.

For I have decided and concluded several things on the back of it:

  1. Whilst I may be objectively ugly, at least from a physical point of view, my own character and personality, where allowed to revel in the fun of good people who truly wish to treasure me, will be more than enough to make me the attractive soul I have always wanted to be.
  2. Commitment in love to particular woman has always been really painful to me.  It’s not that I haven’t done it; rather, it’s that it’s killed me in life.  I have lived an isolated manhood as a result, because I feared I had no right to explore with multiple women the things I wanted to do in life, and where appropriate in sex too.  No more do I feel this.  I realise, now, I am promiscuous by nature, and my Catholic upbringing and my painfully strict mother and father have inhibited a natural growth of my various selves: a process of inhibiting which has prejudiced me both in my being as well as in my work.
  3. Writing poetry has literally saved my life.  If I had continued as in the last decade, since my affair collapsed utterly, and since I was utterly unable to change my life’s direction by myself, I would be dead by now for sure.  I don’t mean dead on my feet: I mean dead, and underground.
  4. I have realised that almost as importantly as poetry, for me photography serves to substitute – on a daily and highly pleasurable basis – the taking of further pills and other medications.  Whilst with a wife who has found this hard to take onboard as a serious need of mine, truly serious, truly life-saving, the time that I have not been able to pursue – as I peruse and examine and use and sometimes abuse the environments and spaces and cities and towns I now do travel around – has been a time dreadfully lost.  Equally, no more shall I allow this to happen.
  5. Now that I find it so difficult to love two of the three women who meant anything in my life, and who have hurt me in so many methods and manners, I can see my future opening up in quite different ways: ways which suggest that life does not have to be a sequence of diminishing contractual understandings, but rather can be an active, spontaneous and joyous process whereby moments can be chased and made happy as hell, just so long as all parties are clearly consenting and comprehending.
  6. Penultimately there is one thing, however, which I cannot forget to mention: it really, actually, is the most important thing which has happened to me in my life to date.  The Master in Criminal Justice which I am currently studying at Liverpool John Moores University is the best thing at the best moment at the best time ever, which anyone anywhere could have experienced.  My eyes have been opened to the strangest of experiences: I watch myself grow in confidence, week to week even.  I realise I have a mind which is worthy of interest: I realise that maybe, finally, I will be able to do good things that others will see have real utility, and will help to make society so much better.
  7. Finally, as an extremely lucky seven, my recent love of – in fact, my falling in love with – the cities of Liverpool and Dublin has shown me that I am in many ways what I’d like to describe as a chameleon man: you put me in an environment, you put me in a space, you put me with these people or those, and I sponge it all up with a desire and thirst that is often far greater than any kind of sex you could, I am sure, ever be lucky enough to experience.  I cannot not identify with whomever or whatever you show me: I don’t change colour literally, of course, but fairly similar to what I see before me I do truly, sometimes astonishingly, become.  Now, whether this a virtue or a flaw, only yous can say either way.  All I do know is it’s a truth I live every time I awake from the sleep which, every night, closes my brain down.

So there’s a quick update for those of you late to the show.  Almost 1000 posts, in just over a year, isn’t bad going, and although quantity of work never guarantees quality of implementation, without quantity no quality can properly become itself.

But more important than the poetry and prose themselves is the impact they have had on my life.  They are clearly interesting in many respects, but interesting doesn’t mean they will have a persistent value.  As none of us persist, this is hardly a sadness which cannot be overcome: what I am far more interested in, during my fifty-fifth year, is whether what I have been doing has really helped anyone (including myself!) at all.

There are moments when I think: “Hey, this is OK!”  Other times, I think: “There are sacred greats out there who I will never even get close to.”  And then in very low moments: “It’s not that I’m rubbish: worse, I’m just mediocre …”

I wonder why I think these things, too.

I wonder a lot.

I’m sure others think these of themselves, but also will think them of me.

One thing I do ask of 2017, then, is if what I am doing is as wrong as I fear, and is not at all right in any way at all, that redemption may exist; that happiness may spread; that the people I’ve touched positively will finally let me know it’s true; and that those who are hurting because of the weird things I write and do will want to talk to me, and chat with me, and discuss this stuff more or less sensibly.

And if none of the above is going to happen, because none of the above can ever take place, maybe what we all need to do is forget we ever met, or ever read this or that, or ever went out together for those wonderful meals you now regret.

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