Sigismund Righini, Portrait of an elegant lady in the gardenThe woman at the butcher’s brought through a large vacuum-packed batch of bacon. “Here was I thinking you had a bacon-slicer through the back,” I said. She grinned and shook her head. The butcher in Aberdeen had one of those, but that was in the 1980s. My grandfather was a butcher, and he did everything from slaughtering the beasts to serving customers- ninety years ago.

Yvonne had double-booked, so gave me half an hour. I have come away with more ways of thinking about The Issue, but that may be a bad thing.

-What did you get, last time, from curling up on the floor and screaming?

It really has been that bad. I am here because of the pain I have suffered. I am not here because of being useless or worthless or weak. Absolution has to come from me.

(It occurs to me that I have got something from curling up in the past- someone takes pity, and lessens the demands on me- but that is less likely in adulthood. A psychiatrist wrote my friend’s issue was “adjusting to adult life”.)

Crisis is coming. Early next year my benefit is not certain, but very likely to get cut by £50 a week, and possibly stop entirely. So I could get evicted. I accept that it is better to deal with that now than the day before: now, I have more options.

-You get out a bit. You do things with the- Mormons?
-No, Quakers. We like to think they’re the weirdos, we are perfectly normal. Or weird in a good way.

I want to survive- but just surviving has very little appeal to me. Any way I can envisage of earning money just seems a grind. I want instant gratification.

Counselling is not her telling me stuff. She said something, I forgot it, I asked her to repeat it, I forget it again. Something about my values.

-How do you see yourself?
-Ah. Long counselling journey there. I realised aged 20 that I see myself as the Centre of the Universe, and at the same time utterly worthless. Total arrogance and terror. In my forties I come to “I am a human being”- fearfully and wonderfully made, but one in seven billion; this seems a more rational way of seeing it; but the extremes are still there.

-What would you get out of volunteering at the charity shop?
-Getting out of the house, doing something worthwhile, being with people. I had a summer job in a hotel when I was at university, and a woman took me to task for being “The Lawyer, looking down on all of us” though my aloofness was partly from nervousness. I did not despise them. I think. I would get more practice with that.

-How do other people see you?

This is the new way of (over)thinking the problem. I notice, and am affected by, rejection far more than acceptance or admiration. Admiration is never enough. Just as winning every claim and appeal, at work, was never enough.

-What options do I really have?

10 thoughts on “Aloof

  1. I guess rejection hurts more than acceptance or admiration because it is a negative action; it stabs while the other two caress. So I guess the best defense against rejection is lookingat “who” is rejecting you and whether your life can carry on without their rejections or admiration. No one is admired by all or rejected by all – such is life 😀


  2. Risk aversion is a real thing … once burned, twice shy. I find that crying helps me, though I’m not sure why. Every now and then I think about how a bulldozer drove through my life leaving nothing recognizable behind and I also go into crying mode.

    Getting a job is impossible for me practically and emotionally, and I suspect you’re fishing in the same stream. I tried throwing myself on the mercy of the Episcopal Church … they seem down a quart in mercy from days of yore. I now don’t go to church … that’ll teach them.

    The point is, there’s no easy answer or solution for emotional pain and psychological crisis. Pills work, ask any American; alcohol works, ask anyone living under a bridge in winter. I certainly think that we can feel rejected by enough of the significant people in our lives for it to feel like “all.” On the other hand, if only we can improve ourselves … well, let’s all curl up and cry.

    I’m sorry Clare … we’re too similar. I canna help, lassie (I though a bit of Scots might warm your heart).


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