There’s A Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven’t Thought Of It Yet

December 3, 2008

I went Christmas shopping yesterday for my one-legged girlfriend. I managed to find her this great prosthetic leg, so I bought it. It’s not her main present though, more of a stocking filler.

 

 

Thanks folks, I’ll be here all week.

 

Ok, seriously, this is my favourite joke of the week: Two nuns are driving down the road, when out of nowhere, a vampire jumps on the car bonnet. ‘What shall we do?!?!’ Screams the first nun, to which the second nun replies ‘show it your cross.’ So the first nun shouts ‘GET OFF THE FUCKING CAR!’

 

This week, I have mostly been NOT revising. I write this sentence at 09:26am, meaning that I have a grand total of 33hrs 34mins to learn the entire biological process and theory of anxiety, including notable dates of discovery, who discovered them, and, for good measure, an encyclopaedic mental reference guide to animal testing, differences in human and animal brain hemispheres, and, if possible, where all the main receptors are located in the brain. Shouldn’t be a problem, right?

 

But prior to this, I have some work of an entirely different nature to do. In fact, no, scrub that – it’s basically the same. I have a friend we’ll call Alex. Alex is a fucking great guy, has a great job, and a great life. Alex has a brother, who we’ll call Steve. Steve is ying to Alex’s yang – where Alex is successful, bright and together, Steve is unemployed, has no motivation, and suffers terribly with depression.

 

Alex and I know each other well enough that I was able to tell him about my process – why I did it, what I was going through, and how I feel as a result, and, because of this, Alex has asked me to talk to his brother. I met Steve once – he came out for my birthday with Alex – and, at the time, he seemed pretty happy, if a little shy. The meeting was orchestrated by Alex, with a view to me meeting his brother, just so he has someone to empathise with, and to talk to – I guess Alex feels I’ll understand some of the things Steve is suffering with.

 

So last week, I called Steve, and my heart nearly broke. Alex has obviously told Steve he can talk to me and he can tell me anything he likes, and I’ll have at least a small understanding of what he is saying – but when I called him, he sounded as though somewhere inside of him, all he wanted to do was curl up in a corner and wait until the entire idea just goes away.

 

Gone was the friendly, together person I met 6 weeks earlier, and in his place was a very clearly frightened person, stammering and stuttering his way through disjointed sentences. Like I said, my heart nearly broke. How I felt for this guy; how daunting the entire idea must be for him. He’s never had a day’s therapy in his life, and has just shouldered and swallowed every feeling he’s ever had, and tonight, he’s meeting with someone that was there, and has come out the other side. What he doesn’t know is just how nervous I am, too.

 

Though there is overwhelming temptation, I am going to resist the urge to advise Steve about what he should do. Sure, I can help in little ways, but mostly, I am just going to listen. And hopefully he will talk. I really, really hope that whatever I can do, it will help or comfort in some small way.

 

Thinking last night about talking to Steve, I remembered an oh-so great behavioural pattern of mine, and, in thinking about things I might talk to him about, I was reminded of what I used to do, and, in a time when I am consumed by change in my life, am perhaps guilty of recently.

 

And that is setting myself unobtainable targets, and experiencing what it is to ‘fail’. (and whatever goes with it)

 

Currently, it is with regards to finding a new job, so I set myself the target of get ‘get a job’. Of course, unconsciously, I don’t just want ‘a’ job, I want a job that best represents myself, caters to my ego needs, and pays the sort of money I feel I should be earning.

 

None of these things are impossible, of course. But what I have learnt, and can thankfully now identify, is that in-between thinking ‘I want a new job’ and the many, many rejections all applicants receive at one point or another, I experience no ‘win’ – no sense of a target reached, or something achieved. Instead, I batter down the mental door with a constant barrage of ‘no’ and negativity, and, eventually, my self-esteem suffers.

 

A more positive process takes a little extra time, but the rewards are significantly more. Instead of setting myself a long-term target which will take a long time to receive, I break things down. I start, perhaps, by checking my CV (or ‘resume’) best represents me and the job I am applying for. Target 1 achieved. Then, maybe, I’ll think and try and identify something I might want to do. Target 2. And this continues and continues – the point being that I always feel overwhelmingly positive about what I am doing. Of course, it helps that I like myself quite a lot, and feel like I know what I want, but that in itself is just another process which needs to be approached in small steps.

 

So I guess what I’m getting at is this: if you’re out there struggling with something, or getting down on yourself because you feel you can’t do it, set yourself achievable targets. Let yourself feel good. Let yourself experience the joy of actually starting and finishing something. It can be as small and seemingly insignificant as you like – my sister, also a Hoffman graduate, always begins any period where she wants to lose some weight by saying ‘I want to lose ¼ lb,’ for instance – and alleviate some of that pressure. It really, really works.

 

I’d like to finish today with a pondering I have been throwing around in my head. I’ve been thinking about this a while, but I have to tell the truth and say that I am very hesitant to say it out loud. But you know something? I’ve never been scared of speaking my mind, and I’m not about to start any time soon.

 

I have a friend, we’ll call her Christine. Christine has a history of problems I won’t go into, but recently, she went away for some treatment, finished, and decided she wanted some more. Christine is, I wish to stress, one of the bravest people I know, and I am proud and almost humbled by how she faced the ghosts and horrors of her past in the way she did. Over a period of about 4 months, I cannot even begin to conceive how much punishment she must have put herself through almost every day, just to get better. But get better she did, and returned to normal life, happily declaring her treatment complete.

 

Of course, like everyone that knows Christine, I readily (and genuinely) joined in the congratulations – she thoroughly deserved every bit of it.

 

But then something began to trouble me. Christine declared she wanted to go by a new name, lets say Jane. Jane decided that she had left Christine behind, and that the person who had gone by her previous name was long gone into the mists of the past. But, I have to confess, my first thought was that she was running.

 

I am in no way accusing her of anything, nor am I trying to demean what she went through, because I think she’s amazing, and, of course, I could never even begin to understand the internal processing that led to wanting to change one’s name.

 

But (now) Jane’s new name made me think of parallels with another story I had heard recently. A friend of a friend had been dating a guy for about 6 months. He was into drugs, suffered with depression and anxiety, was quick to anger, and was constantly involved in something or other ‘dodgy’. After these 6 months, this friend of a friend discovered that (a) his American accent was a fake, (b) he lied about his parents being dead, and that (c) essentially nothing he had told her had been true, not even his name. This guy was, she decided, consumed by self-hatred to the point where he had invented an entirely new persona to live by.

 

A situation I can well sympathise with, as I have done similar, just to lesser extremes.

 

So, dear readers, I leave you with a question, a question I have been wrestling with for about a week.

 

‘When is a new beginning actually a new beginning, and not just another really big target we set ourselves?’

 

Maybe you’ll be able to answer it better than I.

 

Until next time, my love to you all.

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7 Responses to “There’s A Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven’t Thought Of It Yet”

  1. posteret Says:

    I don’t believe in “New Beginnings” as such. I think it is often just a way we try to brush the past behind us.
    I can understand the love of the phrase, sometimes we all want to be able to crowbar a door shut and just forget a part of our life. But it really shouldn’t be done. The things that we go through make us who we are and to deny pieces of our past is to deny our own existence.
    I learnt this myself the hard way. Things that you bury inside yourself WILL resurface at some point, no matter how well you think you have forgotton…
    I’ve done a fair few things I’m not proud of over the years, and I’ve had a lot of shitty things happen to me too but I can honestly say I am square with almost all of it now. It isn’t about me having a fresh start, or a new beginning, it’s about me confronting the demons inside myself and getting them under my control so I can continue with my life. Continue still being me, because when I really sit and ponder I am fucking proud of how well I’ve done and how far I’ve come. You should be too, David!

  2. David Levy Says:

    Just for clarity – I am not casting any sort of doubt upon myself. Nor am I on ‘Jane’. I am simply posing the question that has been running around my head for a bit, which is ‘is her new name a signal of change, or is it ‘running’?’

  3. Neil Says:

    Pre Hoffman, I ‘wore a mask’ that allowed to me behave in certain ways, and avoid certain situations, all primarily work and social standing related.
    Hoffman allowed me to remove this mask (smash it with a shoe actually, in time to a slightly mad, ululating Irish giant) and face the issues head on. It isn’t always easy in the short term, but ultimately is the only way.
    I too am fearful that by simply changing a name, a look or even a location (and not for the first time) our friend is not dealing with things, rather relying on hope that the issues stay with the old persona.

  4. UrbanVox Says:

    I have no idea!!!
    I’ve been having new beginings so often that I can’t remember when a middle is a middle anymore…
    🙂

  5. David Levy Says:

    Neil – I agree. And the problem is that ‘Jane’ has changed all 3. What I worry about does not come from spite, but from concern. I am seeing her for lunch on Friday, so i’ll update you when i’ve spoken to her. Probably not on here, though.

    UrbanVox – It’s normally the bit when you can’t decide where you are. Or something. I dunno either.

  6. Mike Says:

    Great Carrie Bradshaw parody at the end…

    When I first heard about Jane I thought ‘Oh Lordy! Here we go!’. However, I met Jane last week and I felt guilty for having such a negative reaction which I recognised as a knee-jerk response.

    I don’t think I’m really in a position to judge whether or not it’s a good idea for her. As long as it is not an eraser for Christine, using ‘Jane’ as a talisman for a fresher brighter future may help and I wish her luck with it.

    I agree with the comments above that change is often tempting for its own sake and it’s important to recognise this:

    Some years ago I harboured a huge desire to travel the world, and ‘travelling’ was exotic and enticing. While there are plenty of benefits, in my case I realise that is was merely a way to avoid facing up to daily life.

    “If you can’t change the world, change yourself” as Matt Johnson once sang…

  7. Dominic Says:

    I must admit I had concerns but was keen to accentuate the positive change which it seemed to herald. Having said that, Im reading a book a the moment about the theory of language. Apart from it being very dull in parts, the bit on names is interesting. It suggests that a name is actually a psychological pointer to a whole host of attributes and previous experiences with that name rather than just a name. For example, if you were bullied in school by a Carl, chances are you would never call your child that name. Perhaps Jane is in a similar position and the name thing helps those negative connotations to shift


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