Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Slipping the Straitjacket

Slipping the straightjacket is my expression for disengaging myself from correlating happiness and emotional wellness with the judgements or opinions of others. In a sense, I am freer now than at any other point in my life. As ironic and counter intuitive as that sounds, especially since I've lost so much of my independence, psychologically I feel liberated and unconstrained in expressing myself.

I have nothing left to lose. I know this. I understand what it means. I see the implications of feeling this way.

Have you ever have a bad head cold and been heavily congested, your nose and ears blocked? Have you ever pinched your nose closed with your fingers and snorted, thereby unblocking your ears? At that moment as your ear canals become unblocked by air pressure, the sensation – at least with me anyway – often feels as through your head has burst through an unseen barrier, like a bubble bursting. I have felt somewhat similar, with respect to my life generally, as I have been writing on this blog. I have felt the pressure on me begin to dissipate as I have found a release. I have moved past a barrier of sorts; speaking metaphorically, I have burst through a blockage, a membrane, and now there's stillness. Freedom. I am unrestrained in a very real sense.

I am not trying to protect anything any more. I have no cause to be concerned about what an employer or co-workers may think of me. I know my family love me no matter what. I would hope that my friends care for and respect me, and I don't intend to do anything to diminish or invalidate that. But I am not trying to impress anyone anymore. I am not trying to find a girlfriend. I'm not trying to network or boost my reputation. I'm not trying to be something I'm not, and I will no longer allow others' perceptions of me affect the quality of my life. I am becoming more at ease with me. The mental self-flagellation is abating.

I feel released from worry about what people think of me and I no longer fear disappointing anybody. I am living what I regard as quite a benign sort of life these days. I am trying to be a good person - I think I have always tried to, although results have varied on occasion. I am choosing not to turn myself inside out because someone else can't accept me for who and what I am.

I used to really worry about what people thought of me. I used to worry that people sometimes thought I got special treatment because of my disability or that I played on it at times to get my own way. I am as flawed a human being as anyone else and at times I have traded on it, but it has always been my belief that I didn’t do it as often as some may have suspected or in the areas some may have assumed I did.

I think it is implied elsewhere in this blog, and most especially in the Revelation chapter, but it’s worth stating specifically that although I am writing in such a frank and candid manner, I am not revealing these thoughts because I am looking for sympathy, or pity, or that I’m looking for attention or seeking to give anyone a guilt trip. I acknowledge that it is entirely possible, based upon what I have shared so far, for such an interpretation to be made. However, that is not my intention.

The Revelation chapter sets out, I hope clearly, why I am writing this blog in the way that I am. Adding to what I have said in that section of my blog, I am trying to understand not only where I am in my life now, but also how I got here.

I have had an urge to write for a very long time; long before the events of the past few years. Yet, I don’t possess the creativity to write fiction or the desire to read it. I read non-fiction almost exclusively. In part, this blog derives from my desire to begin writing now; I have sat around (metaphorically as well as literally) for years waiting for the perfect idea for a novel to come into my consciousness but it never has.  

Then it occurred to me that, although not unique or special by any means, my life has been different. I look at the world a little differently I guess, and it is perhaps worthwhile to try to capture some of this information whilst I still can and whilst I still want to. Moreover, I feel I need to try a different method of dealing with my thoughts and strong emotions.

Throughout my life I have had two ways of handling stress, turmoil or sadness; (1) keeping it contained and compacted until it bursts out, seemingly from nowhere and often if I had been drinking, or (2) over-venting or excessively sharing. 

I would often swing between these methods, in a pendulous yet erratic fashion. I think in many ways I have been on a quest to not only understand myself better, but also to feel that those around me understand as well.

The thought occurred to me today that it is a measure of the quality of my friends and family that the comments I have received about my blog have been, without exception, positive, supportive and encouraging. No-one has queried my motives or suggested that I was fishing for compliments or seeking sympathy or consolation. I deeply appreciate that those who have read my blog seem to have understood what I am trying to do. And say.

I will soon begin to discuss a range of issues through the prism of my mind and from my perspective as a person who has used an electric wheelchair for the past 31 years. From time to time, people have asked me questions about what life is like in an electric wheelchair, and I’m going to start to writing about many of these issues in my Manual for a Mechanised Man series of posts.

The intent is to write a number of letters or journal entries to a hypothetical descendant born with the same unknown neuromuscular condition as I, each letter with a particular theme. The hypothetical descendant is assumed to be male not only to allow for alliteration in the title, but because the overwhelming majority of people with similar conditions are male. Also, I believe the subjective experience of being wheelchair-bound has a gender specific component to it. I will discuss this further in future posts.

The Manual for a Mechanised Man series will be a subgroup of posts within the main blog. Of course, my blog isn’t exclusively about my disability, or disability issues more generally, and I will continue to post randomly on other topics as the mood takes me.

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