Loneliness

On The Therapist’s Couch – Part 1

A woman went to see a therapist.  He showed her in and offered her chair and a cup of coffee, both of which she accepted.  She was nervous, having never visited a therapist before nor even talked about her problem in too much depth but she’d reached a point of desperation.  She knew she couldn’t go on like this; she wanted it sorted out once and for all and she knew she couldn’t achieve it alone.

Therapist – Hi, why have you come to see me today?

Patient – Because I want to understand my problem and sort it out.

Therapist – And what do you believe your problem to be?

Patient – I comfort eat.  I’m fat and can’t lose weight.  I want to be thin but food just won’t let me go.

Therapist – So is the problem you or food?

Patient – What do you mean?

Therapist – You started off by saying you comfort eat but then said food won’t let you go.  First you intimated that you have the problem, then you said food controls you.  Which do you think it is?

Patient – I suppose it’s both.

Therapist – Why do feel it’s both?  Explain your reasoning if you can.

Patient – Well, I eat for comfort but at the same time, food seems to have a hold over me.  I guess it’s an addiction now.

Therapist – Like a symbiotic relationship perhaps?

Patient – Yeah, I guess so.

Therapist – So what do you get out of this relationship?

Patient – Well I  have to eat.  Everyone has to eat.  I enjoy eating.  It’s a little indulgence just for me, something  nice for myself.

Therapist – If this is a symbiotic relationship, what does the other half get out of it?  What does the food get out of it?

Patient – Well, nothing really.

Therapist – So it can’t be symbiotic can it?

Patient – No, I guess not.

Therapist – In that case it must be a one sided relationship.

Patient – Yeah.

Therapist – So who is in control?

Patient – The food, definitely the food.

Therapist – And what does the food get out of controlling you?  What’s the payback, the reward, for the food I mean.  If you’re in charge of something, you control in order to gain a reward.  So if the food is controlling, what’s its reward?

Patient – Umm, well there isn’t a reward for the food.

Therapist – So why would the food be controlling you if there’s no purpose in it?

Patient – I don’t know.  I can’t think of one.  I see your point.  I’ve never thought of it that way before.

Therapist – Then think about it now.  Who is getting the reward?

Patient – Me.

Therapist – So that would intimate that you’re the controller, not the food.  Don’t you agree?

Patient – Yeah, I guess.  But then if I’m the controller, why can’t I stop?

Therapist – Tell me again why you over eat.

Patient – For comfort.  When I’m bored and lonely and feeling upset about things.  Food is there, easily available.  It’s just for me and I can buy it and eat it just for myself.  A treat.

Therapist – So you expect a lot from your food, don’t you?

Patient – Huh?

Therapist – Well, you want it to entertain you when you’re bored, be company when you’re lonely and make you happy when you’re upset.  You want it to always be there and give you its undivided attention to the exclusion of everyone else.

Patient – I guess.

Therapist – What else is there in life that could keep someone company when they’re lonely, entertain them when they’re bored and make them happy when they’re sad?

Patient – A person.  Or a pet I guess.

Therapist – So you’re asking food to take on the role of a person in your life.

Patient – I suppose so.

Therapist – Do you think that’s an appropriate role for food to take in someone’s life?

Patient – No, of course not.

Therapist – But you ask this of your food.

Patient – Yeah.

Therapist – Why?

Patient – Because there is no person to do it.

Therapist – Does the absence of another person to fulfill their proper role, make it appropriate to ask food to take on that role?

Patient – No, it doesn’t.

Therapist – So what does this tell you?

Patient – That food can’t take the place of a person.  That eating like I do won’t make the loneliness go away because food can’t fulfill that role, only a person can.  I’m eating to try to fix something, but I’m using the wrong tool to fix it.

Therapist – Now you’ve put those ideas together in your head, how do you feel about the control issue?

Patient – I’ve been expecting food to do something it’s not capable of doing.  And then, because it can’t do what I want it to do, I eat more to try again to fill that hole but food can never fill that hole cos it’s not made to fit it.  I’ve been trying to force my mind to find a solution in totally the wrong direction.  It’s my fault, not the food’s.  Food is food, it keeps us alive, nothing more.  It can’t keep me company or cuddle me at night or laugh with me at the movies.  Only a person can do that.

Therapist – Next time we meet, we’ll talk about where the problem really lies.  See you next time.

Patient – Thanks a lot.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Novelist

Okay so the title’s a play on words; an adulteration of the title of the famous short story by Alan Sillitoe but this blog was inspired by similar feelings to that of Sillitoe’s main character Colin.  In Sillitoe’s story, Colin uses long distance running as a way to cope with the borstal regime he is forced to endure after committing a crime and it helps him to focus his energy and determination in a positive direction.  It’s very similar to what writing does for me.

why I write

 

I haven’t made the best that I could of my life; let’s face it, who does?  I’ve had obstacles like everyone has and some of them have been pretty huge.  I’m autistic, which means I can’t communicate as effectively as most other people when in the physical presence of people.  It also means I don’t ‘get’ signals and can’t give them.  Let me explain about the signal thing as most folks don’t know what I’m on about.  We all give subtle (or not so subtle) signals to each other, body language etc, to communicate on a non verbal level.  Our subconscious mind is expert at reading these signals and this is where our gut feelings about people and their behaviours come from.  One typical form of signal is flirting.  The eye contact, licking the lips, playing with hair etc etc, all those are signals.  People instinctively know how to give them and our subconscious minds expertly read them and we communicate in more ways than just talking.  If I am in a crowded place and I’m watching two people interacting, which I do quite often: people watching is fascinating, I can read their signals to each other with 100% accuracy.  Put me into an interaction and something goes wrong with the process.  I now can’t read the other person’s signals with any accuracy at all and I can’t give accurate ones.  The whole interaction gets fucked up and they can’t wait to get away from this ugly crazy woman.  I long ago gave up trying to overcome this particular obstacle.

I was an abused child, sexually abused and this gives one a very warped sense of what men are, who they are and what my role with them should be.  This was probably the reason I always made the most horrendous choices possible when it came to boyfriends.  Two divorces later and I realised I was never going to get this dating thing right, so I resigned myself to being alone for the rest of my natural.  Don’t get me wrong, I like to look at good looking men.  After all, a thing of beauty is a joy forever, so they say, but I know that I’m neither pretty enough, slim enough, young enough or adept enough at conversation and interaction, to attract one.  I do get lonely but constantly trying and constantly being rejected is more painful than being lonely and unloved.  Believe me, it is.  You take the lesser of two evils when the chips are down and make what you can of it.

These two things combined, meant I grew up an outsider on the fringes of society.  I was always looking in the window but never had the key to the door.  I wanted to be a part of society but at the same time, I knew I never would be and I had years, decades, of anguish over it.  Inside myself I knew I had a voice, with something to say but there was  never anyone to listen or hear it and so what I had to say never got said.  I knew there was something inside wanting to get out but I had no clue how to give it that freedom.  I tried several things as I grew up, drawing, playing guitar (that one lasted a few years until I had to realise I was shit at it), acting (the shortest lived of all), craftwork of various kinds (I still do this one, kind of) but it was always the same.  Whatever I tried as a conduit to get my inner voice out, I was, at best, mediocre and no one listened.

As I grew older and older, I’d make acquaintances who would quickly tire of me and walk away hating the very thought of me (that’s one thing I am good at) and I resigned myself to just being an invisible old person who would one day wither away without fanfare (oh please let that be soon) and the world would carry on as if I’d never been.  Then Vin Diesel got me writing (yes, if you hate my writing, blame Vin as he started it) and suddenly after all these years, my voice had its way out.  It had been so long waiting that on that first night when I began to write, I wrote for 8 hours non stop and finally dragged myself from the computer at 4am knowing I was a writer, a novelist, a science fiction novelist.  I knew it with every fibre of my being and it was wonderful to know I’d finally found my place in the universe.  Now I could give what was inside of me its freedom and that would remain as part of the universal consciousness until the end of time itself.  Now I knew I had a legacy.

That was June 2011, not long ago and although I sincerely doubt I will ever be a famous writer, nor even able to feed myself and pay the bills from it, I feel I am finally fulfilling my life’s purpose.

As I say in the quote above, only via my writing can I achieve all that I failed to achieve, only via my writing can I experience all that I failed to experience and only via my writing will I be, all that I failed to be.

Through writing with my characters I can be strong, courageous, fearless, popular, funny, beautiful and loved.  So long as I write, I can be them, live their lives on their worlds, feel their feelings and be a part of the universe at last.

That is why I write, why I will always write.  Without writing, I had no life and without continuing to write, I will have no life.  I am still the outsider but for a moment, when I am with my characters, I’m someone else, somewhere else and I’m smiling.