Apr 2009

My friend Gill is a very special person. She has given me a lot of advice and helped me immensely in many ways. I am honoured to include her among my small circle of friends, and know that I can always count on her to be at the other end of an Internet connection when I need help or advice.

And yet, when I say how wonderful she has been to me, she finds it hard to accept my praise. She can’t bring herself to take the credit for helping me with my problems because she feels she caused those problems. I say, “You were only a child then. You didn’t have the maturity to understand what you were doing to me.” She sees the logic in that but can’t shake off her feeling of guilt. I think that’s a pity. I think it comes between us, especially when we meet in person.

You see, when we were at school together, Gill wasn’t so nice to me. In fact, the truth is that she bullied me. (She calls it victimisation.) She certainly wasn’t the only one, or the worst, but, about forty years later, she still lives with that guilt, which unfortunately wasn’t eased when we got to know each other again and she discovered how my school experiences have affected my life ever since.

Anyway, I couldn’t go any further into my blog without mentioning Gill, without whom this blog certainly wouldn’t exist.  And, of course, the beautiful fractal images that she now produces. One of them appears above and many others are on her website: http://exentropy.co.uk/.

Thank you, Gill.

And thank you, everyone, for coming here.


Open Letter to Writing Group

Dear Writing Group,

I’m so sorry I had to put you though the ordeal of listening to me during what was otherwise a very pleasant meeting, yesterday. I’m torn between trying and often failing to convey my opinions, and keeping them to myself. Explaining eloquently isn’t an option, I’m afraid.

There was a time – many years – most of my life, in fact – when I thought I didn’t have opinions. The habit of keeping them to myself had made them not worth remembering, and caused me to be unaware of their existence.

Now, they’ve returned to my consciousness because I’m making the effort. Unfortunately, because you’re all kind and polite and patient, that means you have to listen to my struggles, and for that I apologise. But I don’t want to return to those empty years, because they were … well, empty. Sorry.


Books Are Boring

“I’ve always been fascinated by books; always loved to read; always knew I wanted to be a writer.”

How many times have you heard that? How many times have you heard this from a writer:

“Most books bored me. I understood how to put language together, but I had nothing to say.”

The latter quote was true of my childhood and young adulthood. I’m only beginning to understand why: I took a long time to grow up. I wasn’t emotionally ready for the books considered suitable for my age. When children say they’re bored by books, it’s often because they’re not ready to read those books; not yet able to understand them.

If I’d been born two weeks later, I’d have been in the year below. Probably, I would have been better at English, at comprehension in other languages and at interacting socially with my peers.

Of course I had nothing to write about. I’ve had nothing to write about for most of my life. Because I didn’t understand myself. I think you have to understand yourself before you can write about anything. Do you agree?

It was only when I had something to write, when I knew that I wanted to tell the world about social anxiety, that I began to realise how enjoyable writing is. And so my desire to publicise a specific topic has grown into a need to express myself in the way I know best, and a wish to inform and give pleasure to others.

When did you know you wanted to write? Or haven’t you discovered that yet?


World Viewing Blog

The trouble with blogs is that everyone can read them. I know that’s the whole point of writing a blog. Before I started this blog, I thought long and hard about the fact that I was exposing myself to the whole world – to anyone who might stumble across what I write and, even more daunting, to people I know. Although I know that this is what I want to do, I’m still frightened by the possible consequences.

During the past few days, I discovered another problem. Something happened between me and one other person. I wanted to write about it on my blog, because my reactions to it were partly what most people would consider “normal” and partly due to my lack of self-esteem. In fact, I wrote the article but decided not to post it, because that one person might have read it and might have been hurt by it, and I have no way of knowing.

So that’s all I can say. My lips are sealed.

Tune in again, keep in touch and don’t suffer in silence.

Well? Are you normal? How do you rate yourself on the normalcy scale?

What did you say? There’s no such thing as “normal”?

Strange, that. Probably most people would say that. It’s the normal answer. And yet, most people have a pretty good idea of who is normal and who isn’t. Normal people dress in certain ways, act in certain ways, talk in certain ways.

Talk in certain ways. When I’m not sure whether I’ve made a faux pas, I only have to look at my listeners’ eyebrows to have my fears confirmed. When you’ve seen as many raised ones as I have, you know that the things you say are often socially abnormal. Or that the way that you say them is not acceptable amongst normal people.

That’s why it’s nice to meet others with similar problems. Suddenly, it becomes all right to hesitate, stumble or even to keep mum. You know that the other person understands. And in such company, your behaviour becomes normal.

The people I meet in my daily life don’t have these problems. And because I, like most people, don’t want to be the ugly duckling, I have always tried to pretend to be what they see as normal. Tried and failed.

Enough! Pretending means keeping quiet in order to hide deficiencies, and I want to talk. But the imagined necessity of pretending is ingrained and therefore hard to change.

From now on, I’m going to try. I shall keep my hands firmly down and try to announce, albeit hesitantly, that I’m not normal.

Tune in again, keep in touch and don’t suffer in silence.