Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Defensive much?

So Woody Allen, CBT psychologists, Human Givens therapists (my current score: 5/10) and many others agree that too much time alone is pretty much guaranteed to spin us out. Excessive rumination is not good, they say. I too concur. But I also think that too much denial - keep busy, keep busy, and for god's sake don't look the demon in the eye - isn't a long-term solution either; these volcanoes have a habit of erupting eventually.

Yeah, OK, probably if I wasn't in a job where I have several hours a day without much to distract me, I wouldn't be having these thoughts so often. But as we all know, there are tons of people out there in super-hectic jobs, who are still only one passive aggressive remark away from a nervous breakdown, and there are also a lot of employees with crushingly dull jobs who are more likely to actually melt than have a meltdown.

What's my point? Dunno really. I guess I'm trying to defend myself against some faceless individuals who believe that if I had a more fulfilling job, everything would be OK. I'm saying: a) I can't think of a more fulfilling job that I would both like to do and am qualified to do, and b) I need this salary because I own a flat on my own, have a huge mortgage on interest only, and not much of a safety net, and yes, I could get rid of the flat and then take some amazing low-paid job, but then I'd be without something that brings me a LOT of security and pleasure, and also please refer back to a).

You might think I'm having this existential crisis precisely because there's so little on my plate. Chicken and egg, I'd say - maybe you're right, but I'm pretty sure it would have happened eventually, and personally I maintain that it's lucky I'm having it now while I've got nothing else to do. It is, I reckon, perfect timing. I snog my crisis, squeeze its bum, and we walk off together into the sunset, leaving you and your happy balanced lifestyle playing alone on the beach, realising it's got quite cold suddenly and that you forgot your cardigan.

On the flipside, I thought I should update you on the mundane details, since we haven't done that for a while:

1. I still take Hair, Skin and Nails supplements from Boots and remain happy with the results.
2. Brown & Harris moisturiser (received in goody bag at Christmas) is fractionally more effective than smoothing water over your hands and arms, but not much. Admittedly it does smell more strongly than (most) water, which might be considered to be in its pro column, depending on whether or not you like the aroma of Muguet des Bois, or Lily of the Valley.
3. I watched Bright Star, about the poet Keats' relationship with his neighbour, Fanny. It made me cry a lot but I also thought it was quite silly.
4. I have decided that Rimmel 60 Seconds nail varnish is the best.
5. It is annoying because I have had my glasses frames for ages but I don't think I will ever find ones I like better than these, so I can't buy new ones. Good for my bank balance but bad for my potential to reinvent myself.
6. I received an email this morning, subject line 'Your Glastonbury tickets are being delivered today'. That made me happy.
7. Crunchies and Daim (The Chocolate Bar Formerly Known As Dime) are my current winners. I think I possibly ODed on Lindt with sea salt.
8. If I was only allowed to buy clothes from one shop for the rest of my life, I would choose Marks & Spencer. My back-up would be ASOS but I don't think their bras are good enough.
9. I have booked in a date to have my hideous ganglion removed. The surgeon offered me a general anaesthetic but after my hideous wisdom teeth experience I said I'd rather have a local, which he said was fine, but apparently in addition to the local, they will also put me to sleep in some way that isn't a general anaesthetic, because I might get stressed. This is annoying as I want to watch. It has been in my hand for years, it would be nice to put a face to the name. But then I think the reality of seeing inside my own hand might be freakier than I imagine. Apparently I can decide on the day. The day is the 2nd June. Pop it in your diaries now so you don't forget to send me MASSIVE BOUQUETS OF FLOWERS.
10. I am still on the lookout for the perfect mascara. Cheap or expensive, they all go clumpy. These cosmetics companies have money coming out of their ears and the world's top greedy scientists working for them. How hard can it be to get right? It is most distressing.
11. I really want a cat and/or a dog. It is annoying that I can't have one. But then life is full of compromises.


  1. Craig18:02

    I completely agree with your first three paragraphs. That doesn't mean we're not both wrong, of course.

  2. kate09:55

    I don't think anyone is pretending that 'everything will be ok' if you don't look problems in the eye.

    I think the bottom line is that there are all sorts of terrifying realities in life (for every single human) and no-one is going to 'resolve' these by either denying it or by embracing it.

    Personally I think the best thing is to manage these existential fears/angst as much as possible, and if keeping fairly busy in activities that you value and enjoy helps lift your mood, why not do it?

  3. @Craig. Yes. Nice to have company in my beliefs though, even if they *are* wrong, so thanks for posting.

    @Kate - Are you saying that you think it's impossible to 'resolve' the 'terrifying realities' of life? I'm not really sure what you mean by 'managing' the existential angst. Does that involve talking/thinking about it, or do you think that there is no solution?

    Personally, as I wrote above, I'm really glad for the opportunity to ask these questions, and I do feel like I'm gradually coming to terms with all this. It's not PLEASANT by any means! But I am certainly finding some peace and satisfaction, and I do believe I'm making progress. And I think there's a good chance I simply wouldn't have had time to make this progress if I'd been manically busy in a different job or managing a toddler!

    I believe that until one has looked this stuff right in the eye and accepted reality for what it is, a feeling of angst will bubble away underneath and is pretty much guaranteed to spew out eventually.

    Once you've taken time to come to terms with these difficult questions, then sure, get on with distracting yourself! But in my utterly unqualified opinion, avoidance/a reluctance to face up to all this is not a long-term solution. Keeping fairly busy might help for a bit, but in the end, I think it's important to look at the Big Stuff.

  4. Kate11:01

    I would be very interested to meet someone who is completely at peace (ie resolved) with what I see as 'the terrifying realities' of life, ie, we live alone, we die alone and we do not know what happens after we die.

    I admire your courage in seeking out coming to terms with it and watch the journey with interest!

  5. Haha. Yeah, I don't think I'm ever going to find The Truth hilariously good fun! But I think I'm facing up to some stuff that I was running from before, and I think I'll be a happier, more peaceful person as a result. Not TOTALLY at peace, but a bit better off.

    PS I do know what happens after we die. ;-)

  6. Hannah12:42

    I may also be completely wrong but I think too much denial just creates more tension because, in addition to being worried about all the things you're trying to avoid thinking about, you've got the fact that you're not facing up to stuff to worry about too.
    After trying pretty much every mascara available (having been a great fan of L'Oreal until I found out that Nestle are their majority shareholder) I settled on Max Factor False Lash Effect. It may not work for you but I think it's quite fabulous.
    Finally, as adorable as my cats are, I sometimes wish I didn't have pets. They're utterly delightful a lot of the time but they're also little mess factories and mean that going away, even just for a night, takes a lot more planning.

  7. today i will leave profundity to others and just recommend blinc mascara,which puts some strange plastic coating around your eyelashes, which is waterproof ,but you wash off with hot water and a bit of scrubbing. It doesnt lengthen or thicken that much, you can use an basecoat to do that......and i suddenly sound like one of those hideous advert/comments.... just read up on it online :-)

  8. @Hannah - been thinking a lot about all this over the past few days. I think it's OK to stop thinking about it, once you've thought about it a bit. But just running forever isn't practical. I dunno though. Just finished Gary Cox's How To Be An Existentialist, and basically underlined the entire thing - definitely recommend.
    Re. Max Factor False Lash - I don't think I want my eyelashes to look false, though. I want them to be just black, and long, and not clumpy. Natural looking, ideally. I dunno. The search continues...
    Re. cats... I know, I know. I just... every now and then, it'd be nice.

    @Corina - thanks. Will definitely read up on it, but I'm not optimistic as I'm not actually keen on waterproof mascara, hate the resulting scrubbing of the 'delicate eye area'... It should not be this difficult.