Wednesday, August 15, 2007

No joy

I am afraid that I am a *mumbles*-year-old father of three living in Brisbane suburbia.

I have not written anything in, well, so long that I can't remember how long. A year, maybe. And that was a short story, the work of an hour, or a poem.

I hate writing about things like this on my blog. Because I know I am inviting well-meaning, but clueless, comments on how I should submit my writing here or do this or do that or whatever the fuck, none of which addresses the problem. Or some prick will take the opportunity to be spiteful, which only makes me wonder, why are you bothering to read my blog every fucking day? I'm not suddenly going to turn around and start writing about kittens. The single most compelling subject for me is that I have been drowning in melancholy, born out of a crisis of confidence that I have no idea how to resolve.

It's easy to say, just resign yourself to living the life you have. But it is somebody else's life. It's as though someone abducted me and forced me to live it.

I know who is responsible. I do not need to be told who the guilty party is. Believe you me, he is being punished for it.

***

Becoming sad, although it happened overnight, was the outcome of a longer process. I felt the joy leaching out of everything I was doing, as though someone was squeezing me until I couldn't enjoy anything. I started to feel I was walking up and down on the spot, always doing the same things, my life static and unrewarding.

I stopped enjoying trolling, because I could simply have written a bot to do it for me, and got the same results. I stopped having any thrill from writing, because I stopped hoping it would ever receive an audience. I stopped making music because it became clear to me that the outcome was embarrassing and awful. I have never enjoyed sex, but the realisation of how little I get from it grew to the point that I started thinking of it as something like eating -- which I do not enjoy at all, particularly given the paucity of things that are actually good to eat in this place. Even masturbation became boring, because I stopped being able to fantasise, and I had always enjoyed that. Now I cannot construct fantasies that I enjoy, only wan pictureshows that do not enliven, and seem unreal and unhappy.

I stopped enjoying walking in the woods. It didn't help that I hurt my Achilles tendon and had to avoid anything too strenuous for a while, but I was a lot less enthused than I had been about bushwalking. I just cannot be bothered. I should become fit, but what is the point? No women like to look at me whether I'm thin, fat or anything in between, and I do not care about extending my life: living to 100 seems a bad idea when you're fucked at 75. It seems easier to sit at home and play computer games. Which I also don't enjoy. Or play poker. Which has become a grim pursuit of a dream that won't come true; I spend most of the time I play angry at things that shouldn't make me angry (for instance, when the software "rewards" a bad call, or a useless player says something stupid in the chat).

Of course, it is distressing not to enjoy your life, but the answer is simple: find things you do enjoy. But there isn't anything. It all seems pointless, which is as it should be, because it is pointless. But life is about pretending that there is a point to it all. And failing to do that makes it a horrible thing to have to go through.

***

I think it has not helped that recent changes in my life have not been improvements. My work situation has changed. My major client first took me on as a full-time employee, effectively. It was just that I didn't work in their office. But the personnel changed, and I slipped to being just a freelance. But it's made my income less stable, which worries me, because it's not easy to get more work here. Another client simply stopped giving me work. We had a problem but it wasn't major. I wrote to them recently, and they promised me a project, but it fell through. Another client changed its way of working, so that no sooner had I acquired them as a client than they binned me. If you haven't been there, you can't know how bad it feels to go from someone's saying they will give you x amount of work a week (so that you feel you can rely on it and schedule it in) to saying they won't give you anything a couple of weeks later. Of course, you question yourself. You ask whether it's what you've done. I know I'm not doing the best job I can for any of these people. But to be honest, they're not treating me well. I would love to be working for people who actually valued me. When you are not valued, you stop being able to give value.

I lost S as a friend, and that hurt. Faced with the choice of being a friend by my lights, or being a hanger-on, a sycophant, I chose the former and she binned me. I don't think she realises, or cares is probably the better word, that if you tell someone, be someone else or I'll fuck you off, they are inevitably going to be hurt. I don't think I often suggest to other people that they should be any different from what they are. Mitigate your flaws, yes; fake your relationship with me, no. I am over it, but I have a residual hurt that the effort I put into my relationship with her, the care I showed her when she needed it, the price I paid in my life for knowing her, all is for nothing. But worse than any of that was having to re-evaluate her: realising that she saw me as just another person to use, worse, that she did not value me above a fucking website! Man, did I get her wrong.

I get a lot of things wrong. It's easy to paint yourself as the hero when you're the one writing the story, easy to feel comfortable in your rightness and the world's wrongness when you are the one making the judgements. It's easy to feel that when you are being kicked, you are a victim, not someone who has brought the kicking on themselves.

It's easy to feel that when you are not being loved, it is others who are broken, and not you. And you become sad when you realise that it is you who is unlovable.

***

The last of the things I do not enjoy is writing this blog. I do not feel passionate about politics these days; mostly just bemused at how fucking horrible people are. I don't want to write about what I do or where I go. I don't enjoy reviews of stuff, because I feel so uninspired, and how many times can you write "I didn't enjoy that". I tried to enthuse myself with a new series of posts, but I just went meh.

And how much can you enjoy revelling in melancholy? I'm no Keats. I do not feel it is necessary for creativity; quite the opposite, I feel it is robbing me of it.

So I'm not going to. I intend to confine myself to small sparks of joy. It is bad enough living someone else's life without diarising it for him.

17 Comments:

At 5:41 pm, Anonymous bickerfest.com said...

I would love to be working for people who actually valued me.

you already know my suggestion in that regard.

 
At 10:44 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I gather you're on a downer today. Not to worry, you'll be manic tomorrow, all free to attack and troll others, call everyone in the world a holocaust denier, and then insist that libelling people by saying their real names attached to your lies is okay because you don't say your real name anywhere.

There is treatment for bipolar disorder you know. You'd be a lot happier if you didn't have highs and lows to these kinds of extremes, but rather had a more stable life.

 
At 11:14 pm, Blogger Miz UV said...

Last night my daughter told me her grandpa said something was ironic; she told him no, that was just an opposite. Then I told her what you said back when, and that was the end of it. "Doctor Zen said so." (We call you "doctor," okay?) I can't tell you how many times I've uttered that phrase in my house. Thought you'd find a possible small smile in that. Take care, man.

 
At 1:48 am, Blogger Don said...

Gad, you mention internet people in your own home? I would no more mention internet people in real life than I would my belief in faeries.

Sorry, Doc, but you're worse off than me. (This doesn't make me feel better, in case you wonder. The diff is I married luckier -- not better, luckier -- it's all chance.)

It's easy to say, just resign yourself to living the life you have. But it is somebody else's life. It's as though someone abducted me and forced me to live it.

How many people feel this way? I hope it's a lot and they're all even better at denial and deferment than I am.

 
At 2:21 am, Blogger Miz UV said...

Don, I like when my kids roll their eyes and say, "Oh, mom's talking about her IMAGINARY friends again." Yes, it's just me here. You're all figments.

I don't know what happened. I hated the idea of living my parents' life, yet here I am, married going on 20 years, 2 kids, mortgages, cars, job, crap. WTF? Stupid biology.

 
At 2:23 am, Blogger blurbees.com said...

yes, but figments with attitude!

 
At 10:52 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you were a real man you'd seek professional help. I've said it before you must enjoy your misery.

I read this:

"Of course, it is distressing not to enjoy your life, but the answer is simple: find things you do enjoy. But there isn't anything. It all seems pointless, which is as it should be, because it is pointless. But life is about pretending that there is a point to it all. And failing to do that makes it a horrible thing to have to go through."

And i think of your poor children, they are the "point" life is lived for others, in a utopia it wouldn't be but in the real world we live for other people and your children are the meaning of your life.

 
At 2:42 pm, Blogger Arleen said...

yes, but figments with attitude!

LOL! and then some.

Miz UV, in my house (or at work) it's "my editor blog friend."

{{{Zen}}}

 
At 2:58 pm, Anonymous Alan said...

Does your daughter bring you any joy?

Keep up the good work on the blog. It's a source of inspiration for me (believe it or not).

 
At 4:58 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

boots sez:

The single most compelling subject for me is that I have been drowning in melancholy, born out of a crisis of confidence that I have no idea how to resolve.

I've had these "crisis of confidence" things. They seem not to resolve overnight, but if you stick to your sense of who you are, what is right, they seem to work themselves out.

The last one for me was around the turn of the century. It seemed that my concept of who I was professionally was suddenly invalid. Turned out that I was at the end of my first career and it was time to launch into the next one. A false start on that brought the feeling back with a vengance and I was lost again for a while. The whole experience was a springboard into a new and better life, but it reeked of failure and was quite disorienting.

You can't know, Zen. You can guess, sure. You can make assertions based on your worldview at the time. You can have beliefs about what's going on. You can be absolutely certain. But you can't know until after the fact, which is sometimes years later.

Keep getting up in the morning and responding to your day from the soul, eventually you'll complete the interminable underwater swim and find yourself on the other side. Being told that by someone you know only as a 'nym isn't going to make it all better certainly, but the belief that things need to be all better with everything working nicely all the time is just that, a belief.

 
At 5:12 pm, Anonymous theminotaur said...

"children are the meaning of your life"

That's what everybody tells young parents or people who are about to become parents. Having a child is supposed to all of a sudden miraculously give your life meaning, the kind of meaning it didn't have before and could never possibly have.

The problem is, it's not so easy. Having a baby does temporarily force all other concerns from your mind, that's true, but it doesn't add meaning. It's just that now you cannot not do laundry or clean-up, because there is a tiny human life that depends on you utterly and completely. It's a responsibility like no other, but it doesn't necessarily enlighten. Your routine changes, but that doesn't mean that your state of mind can easily do the same.

My own child isn't even 2, and there are times when I feel that I don't know her. She isn't talking yet, not in complete sentences anyway, but I know that she's thinking and feeling so many things that I will never find out, because she will never remember them. She has a personality of her own, to be sure, one that is so frighteningly mine, and at the same time completely separate from me. She's not even 2, but she's an individual. I cannot imagine having three kids, three distinct individualities, all of whom need you to always make the right choice, always be the one who is right.

Saying that your children are the meaning of your life, as in the entirety of the meaning of your life is a lie, to others or (most commonly) to yourself. When you have nothing to show for yourself, it's easy to say, well, at least I have beautiful children. Children may not be the worst justification for your existence, but having them does not bring upon an understanding, and it cannot calm a mind that knows that it had the potential to do more than just manage to pass on the DNA. If you are nothing to yourself but a parent, even if you're a good one (whatever that means), then surely you must realize that this will last 16 years (at best), and then when these kids, these individuals leave, then what do you have? Are you just leaving it up to them to go out and accomplish something, so that you can tell yourself that their success is your success? Do you become the one who calls every night at 9 to make sure that your little one is still doing okay? Do you make them do something you wanted desperately for yourself but didn't quite manage?

Being a parent doesn't solve your problems, it just pushes them aside for a while, and then they come back with doubled force, because now you not only feel the pressure to be something for yourself, you need to be something for them. And that is hard.

Sorry for the long post, Zen. I just wanted to tell you that I think I understand what you're going through. Nice Lolcat. Hope to find some more posts at some point.

 
At 7:38 pm, Anonymous Noss said...

"I gather you're on a downer today. Not to worry, you'll be manic tomorrow, all free to attack and troll others, call everyone in the world a holocaust denier, and then insist that libelling people by saying their real names attached to your lies is okay because you don't say your real name anywhere."

Is Blissy playing the kettle calling the pot black game again?

 
At 10:25 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

theminotaur said...

"children are the meaning of your life"

You don't get it.

When you have kids, you have to sort yourself out, you have to do what ever it takes. For there sakes and your own if you want to keep them of course. Zen just seems to enjoy wallowing in his misery

 
At 11:14 pm, Blogger Anonymiss said...

And how much can you enjoy revelling in melancholy?

"revelling" is a bit strong but dood, you are to the depressed what jude was to lost causes. you can't desert us now.

 
At 11:48 pm, Anonymous theminotaur said...

"For there sakes and your own if you want to keep them of course"

It would also be nice to learn to spell.

 
At 12:22 am, Blogger Father Luke said...

Keep breathing, and don't die.

Your friend,
Father Luke

 
At 1:46 am, Blogger blurbees.com said...

Keep breathing, and don't die.

i can vouch for that bit of advice.

a close friend of my family went to the hospital early this morning with some back pain, but after a few hours he told his family to go home and get some rest after the medical staff had looked him over but advised that he stay the day.

none of us even knew that he went to the hospital last night, as it was in the wee hours.

he died this morning, just a few hours ago, pretty much out of the blue while his family was resting at home.

so while the priests were getting ready to say a prayer at his dead bedside, his wife called my mother from the nurse's station at about 8:30 am shockingly saying "it's all over", asking her to come to the hospital.

the news really shook us all up and put life into perspective, yet again.

 

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