Wednesday 17 August 2011

Let's not be reductive

I don't know if it's the same for you, but there's a great temptation for me to try and compartmentalise different elements of my person, as if they are somehow not related to one another. I suppose it's because there are bits of everyone which are so diametrically opposed that it's hard to reconcile them as belonging to the same package.

However, unless you have some pretty severe psychological multi-personality disorders, it's very unlikely to be the case. In fact, it's precisely because you have done this or that that you will also think and react in certain ways. I'm a tapestry of all of my thoughts, actions and experiences. There's no such thing as "happy me" or "sad me".

The trouble is that, as I well know, there's a thing about art. A person who made a tapestry is likely to have very different feelings towards the end result than the viewer. They've seen all the mistakes, they've seen the raw materials; they know which bits caused them problems, which bits were easy and which bits needed to be unpicked and redone again and again.

I now realise that the tapestry that people see with me is, generally speaking, pleasing to them. Which makes me happy. But today has been one of those picking, picking, picking days where I wonder if it's been worth it. Whether or not you should just stick it all in the fucking bin.

My GP told me a story about one of his old patients, an artist. She would never sell a painting until she'd hung it on the wall of her house for a few months, lived with it herself. If it passed muster with her then it was up to standard. There's a lot of truth in that. You can't ever expect to be doing things for other people and expect it to make you happy. If you're not happy with it, you will forever be miserable.

In the past my self-loathing was poisonous. It infected me to the very core. That those days are starting to look like something of a memory is a great relief. But in a way I still kind of miss it. Because now I'm in an interim period, still feeling agitated and desperate and lonely. The problem I have now is that I don't understand why. Even faulty reasoning has the advantage of giving you reasons for things.

What I need to do is remember that no part of me exists independently of any of the others, that you can't change one thing without repercussions or unexpected consequences. It's hard sometimes, though, to keep the faith with what you know is a good thing on the bad days. Days like today.

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