Thursday, 27 July 2017

Would You Just... Eat the Cake?

I'm someone who struggles with issues of self-esteem, with thoughts of intense self-loathing. There is a reason this is my first post in months. It's like the negative voices are a monster threatening to eat me alive. As long as I stay small and quiet, as I've been doing recently -- go to my little bar job, drink beer afterwards, go home and watch YouTube videos until 3am, sleep late, repeat the cycle -- as long as I do only this, the monster is content to hover in the background, a dark, formless thing on the peripheries of my vision, prowling and watching, but not attacking.

Yet when I try to do anything I actually care about, for example writing this blog, the monster comes down with its full force, snarling that I am worthless, disgusting, that every word from my brain is lame and repugnant, that I'm making such a fool of myself I'll be cast out of society and have to limp about in the wilderness gnawing on rat carcasses and sleeping in caves and eventually succumbing to exposure and/or a mauling by a pack of ravenous ferrets -- that, in short, my only chance of survival is to quit and go back to doing nothing again.

I built up momentum with my posts before this last stumble, faced the monster of self-loathing again and again, stood in a storm of self-criticism and said, fuck it, I'm putting this up anyway.

And in a way that made things easier. It started to wear in a groove of routine. But as time went on it also became more difficult, because with each post I published the monster would just growl that here was even more pressure to keep it going, that it knew I was going to fail anyway, and it would be all the more embarrassing when I did, after so many stupid words pretending I was fixed, pretending I was healing myself, pretending <spits> that I might actually be helping anyone else.

Yeah. My brain is screwed up. But here's something I've been thinking while trying to get myself back on my feet. These cycles appear pretty unavoidable. Pretty inevitable. I write for a time, the pressure becomes too much, I crash for a time.

Maybe I should just accept that for what it is, and not worry so much about the down times. It's cool to get a chance to write at all, even if there are weeks or months when it just doesn't happen.

If that monster is going to be with me, and going to continue leaping, I just have to accept the struggle as part of my life, and make sure for every time it knocks me down, I get one extra time.

Or, hang on... get up the same number of times? Because if it knocks me down twice, I get up twice, right? Whatever.

Anyway, this all reminds me of a lesson from CBT -- which is cognitive behavioural therapy, for those of you who are less utterly mental and in need of constant help than I. The lesson is about self-esteem, and where you choose to base that esteem. The most well-adjusted people, the happiest people, aren't the ones who are the most successful, but the ones who recognise they don't need success to feel self-esteem.

It's like cake. Success, or attractiveness, or sexual prowess, being the smartest, the funniest, having the best car, winning the race -- whatever is your personal thing -- is like the icing on the cake. Everyone likes icing. Everyone likes success. It's great. But it's only a fleeting thing on top. It's there and then it's gone.

What's more important is the cake underneath. And the cake underneath is whatever you can't help but being. The person you are without even trying. When you're at your lamest and awkwardest and most trippy-over, when you finish dead last, when you work the worst job, have the biggest nose, can't remember the capital of Norway or explain the concept of socialism, when you're fat and ugly and stupid and gross -- you've still got cake all the way through.

Cake is existence. You get to be here, alive, experiencing life. You might have no icing at all, but every second you're breathing you're eating cake. Exciting, interesting, ever-novel cake. And you'd be surprised how many chocolate chips and gooey fudge bits and baked almond pieces there are to find, when you start looking.

Why not focus on that for a change?

As for me, I'll try to remember that getting to write these blog posts is delicious icing, and I sure love it when it's available, but when it's not it's no big thing. There's still all the cake I can eat. And I can eat a lot of cake.

I've written cake too many times now. Cake cake cake.