Posts Tagged ‘pity’

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if i weren’t me.

April 29, 2010

Last week I spent a full week at university, which by this point of the course has become pretty much a rarity.  I was pretty down last week (which culminated in a weekend of feeling so ill that my head was going to drop off… I wonder if it was psychosomatic? Who knows.  I’m more or less better now though 🙂 ) and had a lot to think about, a lot of voices in my head and a couple of voices in my ear.  Ultimately, the situation has been resolved for the moment and I feel a lot better about it – it’s always best to be honest in a relationship.  Anyways, I’m not going to talk about that because I believe that a relationship is best kept private, and neither me nor my boyfriend would want things to be splashed across here publicly.

But while I was feeling down, I withdrew into myself somewhat, and it was interesting what I noticed.  A couple of people whom I don’t normally talk to on my course were quite concerned and asked me how I was, but then I’m not close enough to them that I really wanted to go into details so I just brushed it off and diverted the conversation onto something more general, less specific.  My close friends knew what was up and were genuinely helpful and listened without being overly cloying, which I really appreciated.  But for some people, I ceased to exist.  Now, in one way I really appreciated this because I didn’t want everyone coming up to me and being all in my ear like “Alan what’s wrong? You seem like this” or “You should do this” or “You’re normally so bubbly”.  I can decide how to tackle my own problems and I don’t need anyone’s pity or for them to point out my mood, because that’s not going to make things any better or help me.  But it was like I was invisible; if I didn’t make the effort to be friendly and say hello, they didn’t even acknowledge my presence.  It was funny how machiavellian it all seemed; I am a friendly acquaintance but not a good friend, so they don’t need me and therefore I don’t merit even a civil greeting, because I haven’t put myself out there first? I won’t forget that.  I’m very lucky that I have enough very good, beloved friends who do care about me and are genuine because that behaviour in the past would have made me insecure, whereas now it doesn’t matter to me.  But it doesn’t mean I didn’t notice.

I remember when I first started on the course, I was quite outgoing, confident and very sociable, organising nights out and gatherings.  I really threw myself into it and everyone seemed to really like me; I somehow managed to say hello to everyone and be everyone’s friend.  One person whom I barely talk to even called me “the glue that holds our course together”!  Now, there’s nobody I dislike on the course and I am pretty sure nobody dislikes me, but at this point we have formed our own cliques and allegiances and we don’t really deviate from those.  The only time I am generally a talking point these days is if I have a new tattoo or if I am somehow connected to a large group activity.  So from my shell looking out, I noticed last week how different I am from Mike, how much more laddish he is and how easily he can mix with other people socially.  I mean, it’s all superficial and I am not very good at shooting the breeze on a superficial level with someone with whom I know I have little in common.  But I wondered, why are we such good friends if we’re such different people? Like, we have different interests, differing music tastes, and yet we’ve always had so much to talk about and the same opinions on a lot of things.  I can’t quite quantify it and I’m not sure what the working formula is, but I am glad it does work and I hold our friendship so dearly.

And although I was looking at myself toughly wondering why he might want to be friends with me, I looked at the other members of our group: Emily is absolutely hilarious, quite filthy and very Welsh; Vikki is similarly Welsh and very family oriented; Gina is sweet and lovely with a heart of gold, but quiet as a mouse.  And I think that I’m quite interesting, I definitely have my quirks, but I don’t need to shout about them and I don’t need to be noticed, so I guess that I fit into that group because I’m not overly opinionated, and I also don’t have an off-kilter, geeky sense of cheesy humour aspect to me that even the “cooler” people in the big clique on our course have.  I like my friends and I think I fit into our group perfectly, that I wouldn’t want to belong anywhere else and I don’t feel I need to.  But I miss the community sense of friendship that was on our course in those initial months.

If I weren’t me, would I be more deserving of their acknowledgement? Maybe. Maybe if I could talk about sports or about marriage or about wandering around South America or whatever it is they talk about, I might fit in better.  But that’s not me, that’s not who I am.  By this point, I’ve worked quite hard at uncovering, discovering and improving the man that I am that I quite like myself, generally speaking (though this depends on whether you catch me on a good or a bad day 😉 ).  I am also very grateful that I have the friends I have, that we all care about each other and we are so close.  Life isn’t a popularity contest (though I have never been unpopular), and I know where I stand and I think I am happy here, it’s just interesting to contemplate if I were different, would my friendships be different? Would Mike and I have more in common, and would that change our friendship for the better or for the worse? I can’t imagine us having a closer friendship considering what we have achieved in the last 8 months, and I am truly blessed and I wouldn’t want that to change in the slightest.  I sincerely hope nothing ever changes between us and that we are friends forever (I can’t see anything changing this in the future, but you never know).  I still went on a guys’ poker night and that went perfectly well (I was deceptively skilled, which impressed the others), so although I am not quite as laddish as Mike or the other guys on our course, I must be fine and I guess that my differences are to be cherished: I am unapologetically myself and people do respect me for that, which I appreciate.  I guess it’s useless to think about being a different person, because we can only be who we are.  I am happy with who I am, I just wonder if there are sometimes ways I could act which would be better, or more charismatic to attract other people to me.  Food for thought.

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trust, humiliation & beauty.

November 7, 2009

I understand that this blog has been a bit Rihanna-focused lately, but between the new material that has been premiering online and the publicity surrounding her 20/20 interview (which is a must-see – check it out at Toya’s World), I’ve been hooked on her once again.

Within this interview (which resonated with me more than I will go into on this particular post), Rihanna said two things that I thought were particularly interesting.  One thing was the notion of feeling ashamed and embarrassed when the picture of her battered face was leaked by the media – because she fell in love with a person who could do that to her.  Obviously you can’t help who you fall in love with, you never know how abusive they might be until the first time it happens, and the notion of shame is one that we could debate for days anyway.  But the idea of that was interesting to me, that there are certain of us who seem to feel humiliated or ashamed by things that are essentially not our fault – yet we take the blame for ourselves.  It reminded me of a time when I was dating L, and we found out that we had a friend in common, M.  So everything was cool, and it was a nice coincidence and all that business.  And I remember having a conversation with L, and he said that M had told him effectively to be gentle / careful with me as I’d been hurt in the past.  I remember just feeling utterly mortified, humiliated and ashamed.  I wasn’t angry (and I’m not angry about it now) – after all, M wasn’t wrong, and I wasn’t embarrassed by the fact that he had told L to treat me nicely; although it wasn’t necessary for him to do that, I appreciated the sentiment and understand that M was only looking out for me.

But I felt ashamed that someone viewed me as fragile, vulnerable or emotionally unstable.  That someone might have to explain my apparent insecurities to someone else made me feel humiliated.  I mean, yes, I have been hurt in the past (and then during that relationship – although I caused L hurt too, something which I still feel sad about, as I never meant to – and since) and my reluctance to let somebody in right away stems from that.  I was discussing with Emma last night that I am a very suspicious person, and if someone is friends with me or enters into a relationship with me, or even just approaches me in a bar or whatever flirtatious setting, I can’t help but wonder why they’re doing it, what they want from me, and whether they just want to use me up and throw me away.  I guess that comes from past experiences, and also probably what I’ve learned from my mother.  But I can’t help suspecting people, and I admit that I’m still growing as a person and I’m more insecure than I might care to admit to anyone who isn’t very close to me.  So for somebody to not only penetrate the façade I uphold of being strong (and at the same time as being a vulnerable person, I also believe that I am a strong person and that the two can co-exist within me), of being independent and of being teflon, but also to have to make excuses for the way I am and the fact that I might not let somebody in as quickly as 1-2-3 made me feel embarrassed.

Why should I feel embarrassed about myself?  In relationships, I don’t know what is up with me but I generally manage to get into these tortuous situations without ever having something concrete that lasts very long.  But I am a popular person, an intelligent person and a handsome person – my friends say that I will not be single for long, etc. etc.  These are things people say – who knows whether it will come true or not?  There’s more to life, but I can’t help but wonder if the façade I try to maintain at all times slips more often than I realise?  I think I would feel equally humiliated to know that the vulnerability and sadness I try to hide every day of my life was in actuality on full show half the time, and that that might be part of what turns people off wanting to date me or feeling attracted to me.  I hate the thought of people feeling sorry for me – not only because they shouldn’t, since everyone has their own pain and who’s to say that mine is greater than anyone else’s, but because I’d rather people didn’t focus their pity on me.  I understand it’s out of kindness or what have you, but I don’t desire that kind of attention.

The second sentiment Rihanna expressed was that of “F love”.  If you’re in an abusive relationship, be it physically, verbally or emotionally, you have to keep your judgment unclouded by love, and you need to do what is logically right for you, your safety and your health, regardless of the direction in which your heart pulls you.  That is a hell of a lot easier said than done; exhibit a) my current infatuation with somebody with a ring on it.  And this isn’t the first time that love has led me astray – this time, although the feelings are intense, at least I am getting something out of the relationship and it makes me happy more than it makes me sad.  Looking at my parents’ marriage, both past and very current present, although I’m proud of the storms they have weathered, if I had been in my mother’s position, I would never have put up with it.  And if I had been in my father’s position, I would never have put up with it.  Without saying too much, I don’t know if love was their only motivation in deciding to stay together (I highly doubt it, since things are rarely that clear-cut), but I would certainly have said “Fuck love, fuck everything, I’m gone.”  Even though I am a vulnerable person, and quite often I believe that part of me must be really an ugly person, I still have more self-worth than to go along with it.

Last night, I was out with Emma and we had some really special heart-to-heart conversations.  Obviously I am going to divulge nothing of what we discussed (here or anywhere else), because I made her a promise to keep what she told me to myself, and that is the whole point – I am a trustworthy person and trust is such a fragile thing, such a precious thing and something that takes so long to build.  Be it because of past experiences, be it because of what I’ve learned from my parents and other relationships that have surrounded me as I’ve grown up, but I find it hard to trust people and it’s rare that I am totally and immediately open with my heart to friends I’ve known for years, let alone somebody new in my life.  But I believe that trust is vital for life, for relationships, for friendships.  The thought of my betraying someone else makes me feel sick; a promise is a sacred thing, and there is so little that is sacred in life.  I think that having some self-worth as a person, even if it ebbs and flows sometimes, is really important, and the fact that I feel I am trustworthy, that I have dignity, and that I have the ability to give love but also am now aware that sometimes we have to say “F love” makes me a good friend and will one day mean that I might be a good boyfriend and not feel so ugly at my lowest… These things give me hope, they give me something to aspire to, and I hope to at the end of my life be able to look back and say that I was a good person, I was a strong person and that I did myself proud.  Work in progress.

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why should i be sad?

July 28, 2009

I decided to name this post after my favourite track from Britney Spears’ album Blackout because it kinda sums up how I’ve been feeling.  I think at times we all get the temptation to feel sorry for ourselves, but in a way this self-pity is something we can rationalise and yet something we know we shouldn’t do (or don’t need to feel).  There’s a tension between appreciating the good things in your life, and then seeing how you could still improve your life and all the faults that exist within it.  I will explain with illustrations from my very own personal life. 😉

With the last person I officially dated, L, I knew all along that I wasn’t really into the relationship.  And it was all too clear just how into me he was.  On the surface, he was kind, attentive, considerate and charming, if a little bit childlike (despite being 3 years my senior).  But I knew, deep down, that I didn’t feel for him how he obviously felt for me, and my failing was not putting a stop to it and nipping it in the bud.  Instead, I kept going hoping that my feelings would grow to match his, and perhaps accepting my caution at first as a defence mechanism after previous bad experiences.  But finally, it became clear to me that I had to break up with him, though I ended up doing it by accident… I sent him a text message I meant to send to my friend, saying that I couldn’t take the situation anymore and that I had to break up with L, as it was making me ill.  So L received this and went insane, and we had a breakup-via-text that I never meant to initiate.  I apologised and explained that it was all a mistake, and sending a text message to the wrong person happens all the time.  It’s an easy mistake to make, and all my friends have done it just as I now have.  And yet, be it out of hurt or out of anger, my apology was rejected because L and “his friends” (whom I never met and who never met me) decided that I had decided to send the text on purpose.  I had nothing more to say, because I had attempted to apologise, and I wasn’t going to pursue L when I’d wanted us to be apart anyway.  I will always regret the way that it happened, but I suppose I got what I wanted.  And yet, despite it being an accident, for weeks afterwards I felt like a bad person, like the guilty one because I had caused pain to someone else.  Perhaps because I knew I should have broken things off before that point.  I was angry because my friends, whom L had met, had been nothing but nice to him, whereas I’d never met his friends and yet they were perfectly ready to pass judgment on me and analyse non-existent reasons for my text message, rather than take my apology at face value.  So I was irritated, and I was relieved, but mostly I felt guilty for hurting someone.  And yet, it was an escape from a face-to-face scenario (which I was planning that week, but considering L’s reaction over text messages, perhaps breaking up in person would have meant that he’d caused a scene in the café – lucky escape?) and I never had to see him or hear from him again.  Is that really what I wanted?  I guess so.  So why should I be sad?

For anyone who read my detective blog yesterday, J did come back on msn.  Although he didn’t really change his monosyllabic style of talking, he did seem a little bit more open.  He maintained that his msn was crashing (I don’t believe this for a second) but that he wasn’t annoyed or embarrassed or anything, so fine.  And this is the funny thing: even though he was the one perpetrating a sort of deception, I once again felt guilty (I obviously inherited the Catholic guilt from my mother’s family, despite not being Catholic myself) because I’d unceremoniously uncovered his secret – however shabbily-kept – and confronted him with it.  I felt like I’d embarrassed him, because there is nothing wrong with being direct and asking for sex online if you so wish; there are plenty who are only too happy to oblige.  So I tried to keep things light and smooth things over.  Why did I feel the need to do this? I wasn’t the one who had tried to hide my identity, who had effectively advertised for people to come into my house and rape me, who had pretended that I didn’t want people to see my body.  All I’d done was uncover that J had done these things, and yet in a way I felt like I had robbed him of a tiny piece of dignity.  Perhaps that was a part of his façade, and I guess I felt like I’d ripped it away.  But why so guilty?  If it had been me, the person wouldn’t have given it a second thought… So why should I feel sad?

I decided to return B’s text, and he replied after a while wishing me luck, and saying he had work all week also.  I thought I might as well bite the bullet, since I’ve all but lost interest, and asked him whether he had received my invite to the cinema and how come he was never on msn anymore (we used to have really long, intimate conversations on there at first).  Again, no reply as of yet, and I don’t even expect one.  I don’t think that B is a malicious person, and I like him, but I’m not under any delusions – he’s a little bit crazy.  He doesn’t think anything of only replying to people when he chooses, and one minute he can’t leave me alone, the next he disappears off the face of the earth.  It makes no sense; and yet I anticipated that something like this would happen.  I’m not surprised, because my paranoia once again was proved right.  I’m not going to waste my time pursuing somebody who can’t communicate, and I’m not going to expect a high level of friendship from someone until they show they can be more consistent and reliable.  And yet, I feel guilty once again: what did I do to drive him away? Am I ugly to him? Am I boring? Does he just not want to go on a date?  My heart hurts and the guilt fades all too slowly, despite the fact that I know in my head that I should aim higher and not get strung out on people who already irritate me with their fluctuating attention spans.  So why should I be sad?

I know that in this blog I’ve focused a fair amount of the fact that I’m not where I thought I would be at this point in my life, having graduated from Oxford University with a good degree.  As a child and a teenager, I always seemed to do the right things, and despite never being the richest or the most popular at school, I was someone who seemed to have everything going for me.  And I can’t complain; I’ve lived in Spain, I’ve studied at a prestigious university, I’ve paid off my overdraft and credit cards, I’ve been a retail manager, I have a close family and close friends, I write, sing and produce my own music, I’m starting a new university course in September which will hopefully give me the extra kick I need to get a job at Connexions that I will enjoy.  It’s hard to believe in myself when life takes me on a different course to what I intended, but despite this year being a bit less exciting than what I’d intended, I suppose I shouldn’t waste my time feeling down.  Half of me feels like I’m stuck in a rut, but I know it won’t last for long.  I try to keep in mind all of the achievements I’ve made and the positive things, and compared to others, I guess I’m pretty lucky (though I won’t complain to be luckier!).  So why should I be sad?