story of my dark night

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    Trigger Warning – This story contains an account of drug use. I just thought I should warn you beforehand.

    I feel compelled to write and share with you this account of when things were extremely bad for me. This was my dark night of the soul (or should I say dark year of the soul) and I had never experienced fear, paranoia and desperation as intensely as I had done that year. This happened in 2012/2013 when I was at university. Why did I write this? I guess I wrote it to put my current life situation into perspective – it’s not ideal at the moment but it’s not bad either and it will pass, just like this horrific chapter in my life passed. It feels once more that I am stuck, going nowhere and not knowing what I am doing with my life but I will move out of it eventually and that at least I no longer experience the extreme fear of what I felt in 2012/2013. I’ve never really told anybody the exact details of what happened during this period either. Sometimes I still feel edgy and bitter about it but not as intensely as I used to.

    I was dragged into the vortex…In my naivete I used to think being dragged into a vortex was something that sounded cool – how exciting it would be to be spirited away, to dive down into the rabbit hole, to take the red pill, to escape the real world…To be the hero in my own computer game…

    Back then I had this need to please other people, and to be the craziest and the wildest. To escape from the dull and boring person I felt I had been conditioned to be all my life, as a way of sticking my fingers up to all the people who had tried to control me or make me feel less than they were. I wanted to be a wild horse, a loose cannon. Alcohol. Drugs. Chainsmoking.

    Creating chaos and explosions wherever I went, doing as I damn well pleased.

    Even if I knew it would damage me in some way, I still wanted to do it. For thrills. To unleash this untamed beast. To show everybody that I was an absolute badass. I didn’t care if I’d crash and burn. I just wanted to add more fuel to my fire. Feeding a very hungry ghost.

    One of the first times I had tried drugs was extremely unpleasant. I was with a bunch of people I hardly knew and shouldn’t really have trusted but we were all sat in somebodies bedroom, passing a joint around. I didn’t think nothing of it, I just wanted to be fun and wild and crazy, and I was also necking an entire bottle of Mickey Finn (some kind of vodka with a strong sour fruit flavour). I remember hearing the other people talking about somebody who had spiked somebodies drink and I immediately thought “Oh shit, they’ve spiked my drink.” I staggered back to my room and after being violently sick I collapsed on the bed. All my senses were magnified. I heard this really weird high-pitched humming noise and it felt like I was on the moon. I think the fire alarm went off in the student accommodation building but I couldn’t physically move (just some prat who had set the alarm off deliberately, still it could have been a real fire). I remember hearing everybody on the courtyard and people knocking on my door – “Where’s Joe?” What if they thought I had been killed or kidnapped? I think I was convinced that I had died and they were trying to find my body. My ears were ringing and I could almost hear my parents and sisters at home, arguing and shouting about me – I’d gone and really done it this time, getting drunk and stoned, they would never forgive me for that…

    Okay, I was just really drunk and stoned (and possibly spiked) at the time, to my knowledge they never found out about this incident. You’d think that I would have learned my lesson from this but oh no…

    I said yes to things even when I didn’t want to do it, when I knew it would damage me and it made me sick.

    Opening the doors of perception. Surely the others I was with were able to perceive things beyond their own normal cognition and I was scared that they managed to see through my disguise. He’s not hardcore at all. What a loser. Why doesn’t he just kill himself? There were cracks and folds in reality. In the corner of my eye, in my peripheral vision, my friend was no longer my friend as I knew him. His once-human face hideously distorted and stretched to resemble that of a sewer rat. When I faced him, he was him again. But not my friend. There was something about him now. A cold empty stare, filled with apathy and hate.

    I felt intense hatred and apathy towards him, but I couldn’t show it. I was afraid of what might happen. I hated confrontation. As I stepped outside to smoke a cigarette, I could hear echoes of laughter from the living room. My housemates were somehow consorting with people I had known from school who had made my life miserable back then, and they were all laughing at my expense.

    Some times, but only on a rare occasion, it was fun. An escape, a nice distraction. One pill afforded me an hour of such bliss like I had never experienced before. I felt like I was made of light and I could feel the vibrations, that which many people describe in stories of out of body experiences. I felt pure love, even towards somebody I was not even close to. If I could, I could have probably willed myself to simply float away like a helium balloon.

    I took the same again at a party – the intense love feelings happened again but to the point where I was reduced to tears. The effects soon wore off but I stayed up the whole night trying desperately to pick myself up after the chemical comedown. I must have smoked 40 cigarettes that night. I couldn’t even get drunk. The harsh brutal light of morning came, and we vampires scuttled off to bed. The dreadful feeling of the morning after. I lay in the room – there were no curtains and the harsh light made the room feel cold and chilly. At the side of my bed was a plastic toy skull which I had bought from a halloween shop a few years before. Just a silly little object I liked to keep as an ornament. It leered at me. I could tell. To another person, it would have just looked like a plastic toy skull but it was glaring at me. Mocking me. Warning me. Reminding me that I’m descending into a dark place. I remember being freaked out at this skull.

    Another pill took me into a vivid nightmarish scenario where it seemed like the others were once again able to see through my disguise. At first, it felt like the euphoria of what I felt, but it soon turned to brutal shivering. This intoxicating realm of violent neon chemical purples, greens and oranges was cold and uninviting, and I shivered violently. More cold empty stares from my space companions. Why was it they were having great experiences and I was going through hell? We were watching a film and the colour cyan/teal featured prominently in that film. I perceived that as having some kind of significance.

    Another brutal morning after where the effects had worn off. I had enough. I didn’t want to go down this road after all.

    I don’t think I was the same after that. The crappy terraced student house I had been living in was now a haunted house. A portal, a gateway into hell. The house mates who resided there were now nothing more than parasites. Vampires. The living dead. More soulless stares.

    “Aren’t you going to join in anymore?”

    I hated them. I fantasized ways to bring about their downfall. I wished them dead.

    Outside the haunted house, it felt as if the world was different. I felt as though I was now in a parallel world. It looked exactly the same as the one I had left but it was devoid of feeling. The people I knew and saw were merely clones, doppelgangers of their real counterparts that I had known in the real world.

    There was no going back to that world. Nothing I could do could change that.

    I’d notice cyan/teal coloured things and remember the state I was in that night. This was significant somehow and I was somehow scared by it. Why is this teal? I could have sworn that this was red before.

    I would watch late night cartoons where the characters would be joking about sausages. I’d switch the channel to another cartoon and they are also joking about sausages. Is this connected? Why is this significant? I felt uneasy.

    Strangers would give me more soulless stares in the street when I walked past them.

    Classmates I barely spoke to making light-hearted banter but to me it seemed like a vicious attack.

    The landlord phoning me to tell me that he didn’t receive the rent money when I had gave it to the letting agent (luckily he did find it), there was a sharp jolt as it felt like I had been shot through the heart.

    The preacher who had taken it upon himself to approach me in the street, a scared confused 20 year old goth with black and red hair, piercings, black leather jacket and large combat boots, and tell me that if I didn’t renounce my lifestyle choices and taste in music I would be going to hell. Looking back now, I thought it was ironic because I was literally in hell already. I walked away quickly, telling him I wasn’t interested.

    Somebody else in the subpass who was as equally freaked out as I was when I walked past.

    Some old acquaintances of mine who had uploaded a photo to Facebook of the time where I had gotten so drunk, I had been violently sick everywhere. They were laughing and reminiscing about this incident at my expense.

    My bank balance going overdrawn from all the times I sought solace in junk food, alcohol and cigarettes. I didn’t want to stay at the haunted house, I would go to restaurants and pubs just to get out of the house. I would go for long walks to the petrol station to buy cigarettes and whiskey.

    The time the bathroom door had gotten jammed and I panicked.

    All of these occurrences were somehow connected, it seemed. I was only going to attract more bad luck. I was cursed, somehow. It soon started to increase and it became more insidious.

    An innocent lunch at the cafe with my friends where one of my friends joked that the cake I was eating was poisoned. Shot through the heart again. Was I really being poisoned?

    Making out faces in clouds, in trees from a distance, in the stony texture of the wall. More soulless faces staring. Offering no comfort whatsoever. I was surrounded by Roarsch blots and they were soulless faces staring at me.

    Walking to the bus stop at evening. I could see the hills. I could see street lamps. More Roarsch blots but this time they were rabbits. I thought they were all the shapes of grotesque mangled rabbit ears.

    Rabbits. I had always made an association between rabbits and a descent into madness. Harvey the imaginary rabbit in that film. Lennie hallucinates that a rabbit is talking to him at the end of ‘Of Mice And Men’. Frank, the man in the rabbit costume in Donnie Darko. And of course, the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, leading Alice down the rabbit hole into a bizarre, surreal, screwed up world.

    Rabbits would just follow me everywhere. On TV. In books. On the internet. On advertisements. In shop displays. Every time I saw a rabbit, the feeling of being shot through the heart occurred every time. Oh no, I groaned. I’m going mad.

    Intellectually I clung to this notion that it was nothing, but I was scared for my life. Scared for my sanity. I had all of these irrational thoughts – I knew they were irrational but I was still horrified.

    When the landlord had misplaced the rent money that previous week, I was convinced that he and the housemates were plotting against me, to defraud me.

    There were times when I overheard people talking on the bus and they would suddenly talk about something I was thinking about moments earlier. They can read my thoughts. The same would happen with the television. They are reading my thoughts. They are tracking me down.

    Even small things which seemingly had no significance whatsoever. It felt like I was noticing things that other people couldn’t pick up on, like when I watched a cartoon near Christmas and there was something in the cartoon that stood out, that just didn’t seem right. “Why is that there? That shouldn’t be there! This is a sign!”

    I clung to the intellectual idea that this was all crap and I was desperately trying to rationalise everything but I still freaked out.

    “Everything is a conspiracy against me. They are trying to brainwash me. The Illuminati are trying to get me. There are subliminal codes and messages everywhere. Aliens are going to attack. I’ve got a microchip in me reading my thoughts and trying to control me. I have an alien parasite in my brain. They are monitoring my phonecalls and e-mails and internet browsing.”

    I prayed for all of this to stop, even though I don’t belong to any religion but nothing I prayed seemed to make it go away. Before this point, I think I maintained that I did believe in some kind of god but now it felt as though he/she/it/whatever had abandoned me and dumped me in this parallel universe.

    I remember watching and reading The Secret religiously at this time, wishing and praying for things to be normal. Nothing seemed to work as usual. I remember going into Waterstones to buy ‘The Magic’, the latest book by Ronda Byrne in the hope that I could follow the advice and get out of this nightmare. This was in the self-help and spirituality section in the bookshop. Next to ‘The Secret’ books were select titles by David Icke – books detailing that we were all holograms being controlled by shapeshifting lizards and that all the world’s most prominent, richest people were also lizards. That only freaked me out even more.

    Everything seemed grey and pointless, and I just lost all joy for everything. Nothing seemed to satisfy me anymore. I would buy books and computer games but I just got bored of them after a while. I tried reading “His Dark Materials” by Phillip Pullman to take my mind off things. In the second book, there was an instance where one of the main characters’ mother was being pursued. That freaked me out. Even watching or reading about people who were being pursued or conspired against, and they were made to feel like they were going crazy would trigger the feelings of intense fear and panic. Watching or reading accounts of people going insane. People who suddenly started wearing hats made of tinfoil. Conspiracies. Even watching ‘The Matrix’.

    Everybody seemed grey and pointless. I just felt a deep bitterness and anger for everybody. People who didn’t give a crap about anybody but themselves, they just want to drag you into their own twisted dramas and agendas and darkness. Everybody seemed to love drugs. I wanted annihilation. Especially on the vampires who had pressured me into this mad alternate reality.

    I was still rationalising and I knew that it was all crap but why did I still feel paranoid and freaked out all the time?

    I was scared that I was really losing it. I would obsessively google the symptoms, trying to figure out what was going on. Schizophrenia? Psychosis? Multiple sclerosis? No, I couldn’t be any of those things. I needed to check the symptoms every day to validate the fact that I wasn’t schizophrenic (for the record, I’m not schizophrenic). I thought the loud internal dialogue that I have with myself would constitute as hearing voices but there is a difference between inner dialogue and auditory hallucinations, which I knew I wasn’t experiencing. I still needed to check the symptoms every day. It became an obsession. I couldn’t allow myself to end up like that, I just couldn’t. I felt that I’d bring shame on myself and my family, and everybody would look down on me even more. My life would be over.

    Nobody knew about this. I couldn’t tell anybody.

    Some nights I couldn’t sleep, and it literally felt like my thoughts were driving me mad. In the dead of night. It felt like they were zooming around my head like a Formula 1 race car and there were no brakes to slow down. They felt loud. Loud thoughts. I would confuse that with auditory hallucinations.

    Around this time I was desperate to feel better without assistance of any kind. I couldn’t bring myself to tell anybody what I was going through, I felt as though I had to keep it locked away tightly and keep myself together. I couldn’t go to the doctor. I’d research supplements and herbs I could take and I would self-medicate. Garic. Gingko biloba. Valerian hops. St Johns Wort. After all, natural health supplements would have been better than being on medication, I thought. Nothing seemed to work. I had temporarily given up smoking (but I was still indulging in junkfood, takeout, frozen pizzas, caffeine, alcohol and chocolates).

    The feelings of fear and paranoia were at their worst when I hadn’t slept, that’s why I tried to self-medicate with some valerian hops tea I bought from the supermarket. It worked for a while but then it seemed to have the opposite effect – because I was relying on it too much, had I developed a tolerance to it that it wouldn’t help me sleep? The loud rapid thoughts returned, once more it was the middle of the night and I was in bed frightened. I had even tried taking a prescription painkiller with codeine, I think that only seemed to make it worse.

    I reached for the phone to once again google my symptoms. This episode was probably the most severe that I experienced and I think I decided at that moment that enough was enough. This time, I found a web forum and there were descriptions of exactly the kind of things I had been through but from other people who had done marijuana, ecstacy and other psychoactive substances. I remember reading the words ‘De-personalization’ and ‘De-realisation’. Had I finally found the key?

    The feelings of paranoia subsided after that night, I haven’t felt them to the extent of what I felt that year. That’s not to say I no longer feel anxious and edgy at times because I do, but that year was the worst. Sometimes I still worry that those feelings will all come back to haunt me further down the line.

    After all this, I felt more at ease with myself, and I didn’t feel the need to be as wild or crazy afterwards. I feel that this was a major turning point in my life, and that I had to make changes (it’s still taking me a few years to make the changes I need to). I used to think being edgy, f****d up and dark was cool but I don’t think it’s cool any more – why is it worth being cool and edgy if the cost for being those things is your own sanity? This was the closest thing to a dark night of the soul as I can imagine and I don’t want to descend down this path again…


    Dear Joe:

    It’s been a long while since I read something that is written so well. I was amazed as I kept reading. I don’t remember your previous writings being so skillful and talented. I am moved by your writing- the content and the form. Humbled to be reading your account.

    You repeated through your thread soulless faces, one such mention: “soulless faces staring. Offering no comfort whatsoever. I was surrounded by Roarsch blots and they were soulless faces staring at me.”

    This very much reminds me of your drawings, that link to your drawings that you posted here long ago. I thought at the time those faces were waiting. Now I think they were those soulless faces.

    I was thinking, as I read your account, of Joe the child, in your family. I think those soulless faces were the faces of the people whose love you needed. The people you looked up to for comfort, guidance. But they offered “no comfort whatsoever.”

    That year, 2012/2013. You were afraid of going down the rabbit hole, insane. I think this is a real fear a child has, losing one’s ability to understand what is going on and do something about it.

    I have more thoughts about your amazing share. Will wait to read your thoughts and whether you are interested in more of my input.




    Thankyou for your reply. I love writing, I don’t really do as much writing as I should but I want to. And you know that I am always interested in reading your thoughts.

    As for the drawings – I think looking back, I didn’t really know what I was doing and I had no direction with my work, I was trying to make a lot of fantasy illustrations inspired by nature and Celtic myths but I think I was too heavily influenced by the work of other illustrators. Their work afforded me a glimpse into their imagination, their world and I wanted to be immersed in it. They were painting their truth, things that were true to them but I was just too heavily influenced. I wasn’t outright copying their work, I just hoped it would lead to me finding my own story to paint. I didn’t know what I really wanted to paint back then.

    Lately I’ve been making more of an effort to illustrate people taking action, or getting ready to bite back. I want to paint perfectly flawed, perfectly ugly, perfectly damaged characters who aren’t afraid of diving deep and unearthing more ugliness, and exposing the sinister inner ugliness of the so-called “shiny happy people”. I want to paint imperfect characters as a way of sticking their fingers up to the notion that we have to always project an image of being happy and subscribing to another persons notion of perfection. I’m perfectly imperfect with my flaws, inner and outer ugliness.

    I’ve painted a lot of tigers in the past few weeks or so and I feel fearless, as if by painting tigers I can assimilate the characteristics of the tiger into my own psyche. Have you ever read the poem by William Blake?

    I’ve painted owls. Owls are creatures of the night, and the general consensus is that they are wise creatures. Omnipresent. Seeing in the dark, seeing things as they are. Not being scared of the dark. I feel wiser from painting and drawing owls.

    I’ve also painted peacocks. Why peacocks? I’ve just always been fascinated by them, and the eye patterns on their elaborate tails. Eyes keeping a watch out. Eyes looking out for danger. Threats. Maybe the eyes are from the perceptions of other people, analysing and scrutinising. Peacocks are proud creatures, always controlled in the way they carry themselves. Pride is something I have thought a lot about over the past few weeks. Too proud to admit my flaws to other people, too proud to admit I need help sometimes and that I’m struggling. I won’t ever stop illustrating and creating art but pursuing it as a full-time job has to take a back seat at the moment because I’m not earning enough money and I was too proud to admit it.

    On the subject of eyes, I wanted to share with you a song by the Cocteau Twins, one of my favourite music groups – one lyric has significance for me in this song – “I see me as other people see me.” –

    First rabbits, now tigers, owls and peacocks…I’m almost tempted to claim that those are my spirit animals!

    I will start writing more. I need to get back into journalling, I used to love writing this stream of consciousness kind of stuff.



    Dear Joe:

    I read the first part of your latest post, about your illustrations. I think I understand. About your writing, I am genuinely impressed. I thought about your thread on my two hours walk today. It is hard for me to get over how well it is written. Really, I don’t need to look for any published material; I have done my quality reading today right here.

    It is not bedtime for me yet and I will answer other threads but I want to return to your thread tomorrow morning with a fresh brain and read parts of your original post as well as the rest of your last post, in 14 hours or so. Will write more then.




    I am glad you like my writing, and this gives me more encouragement to write more often. I would love to combine writing with my artwork – hopefully I will write and draw my own graphic novel someday, or maybe even a kids storybook. Sometimes when I write, I get triggers which I use to write more, and the more I write the more I can unearth things and view something from a different angle. I always said that if I didn’t do illustration at university, I would have probably done creative writing instead.

    I can’t wait to read more from you.



    Dear Joe:

    I enjoyed reading your second post as well. It is not only the form of your writing, the way you separate sentences so to create emphasis, for example. It is also the theme that fascinates me. This is why I am interested in reading anything you write. Your theme is unearthing the truth, seeing into the darkness, seeing all; not pretending, not faking so to appear this or that. These are my passions.

    You draw owls because they look into the darkness and they see what is there. They don’t sleep when it is dark or they don’t pretend the darkness is not there. peacocks with their many eyes, again, seeing. I want to open the link you posted and will do it by tomorrow.

    A combination of writing and illustrating, in a book to be published by you someday, that seems to me like a reasonable aspiration. It seems to me that you do have what it takes to produce such a creation and it will be beautiful and ugly and wise with lots of eyes…

    As to the poem about The Tiger by William Blake, I googled it and want to study it (my vocabulary is limited, for one)- again, will need to do it later.


    The Tiger (for later study):

    Tiger Tiger. burning bright,
    In the forests of the night;
    What immortal hand or eye.
    Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

    In what distant deeps or skies.
    Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
    On what wings dare he aspire?
    What the hand, dare seize the fire?

    And what shoulder, & what art,
    Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
    And when thy heart began to beat.
    What dread hand? & what dread feet?

    What the hammer? what the chain,
    In what furnace was thy brain?
    What the anvil? what dread grasp.
    Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

    When the stars threw down their spears
    And watered heaven with their tears:
    Did he smile His work to see?
    Did he who made the lamb make thee?

    Tiger Tiger burning bright,
    In the forests of the night:
    What immortal hand or eye,
    Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?


    Dear Joe, Tiger burning bright In the forests of the night:

    This is what I get from the poem, that you, Joe, are that tiger burning bright. Your art: your writing in particular, and secondly, your drawings- these are your fire burning bright.

    Those “soulless faces”- the term repeated in your original post, I am thinking these are the faces in the night that are not seeing the fire, the fire, your fire does not reflect in those faces, in those eyes.

    I am thinking of you as a child in your family, with your fire burning, your emotions intense, but your emotions, your internal experience was not reflected in the faces and eyes of your parents/ family members. You needed to be SEEN- needed to see your own fire in the eyes of another. And didn’t.

    Am I correct?




    I think you are right. I was just dismissed as being too sensitive or just immature but it’s taken me until now to realise that the way I react to things and feel things are just as they are. I don’t need validation or approval from anybody but myself.

    I attribute the tiger to my own stubbornness sometimes, especially when people are trying to tell me what I should and shouldn’t do. I don’t like people reminding me or pointing out my flaws or limitations – somebody I know and trust recently called me and we had a conversation where he told me why I shouldn’t pursue a particular course of action. I was upset and felt attacked when he was telling me this – I know he had my best interests at heart and I didn’t want to be reminded of my limitations. Sometimes I still find myself getting angry about this conversation even though it happened a month ago – how dare he point out my flaws and limitations? How dare he be so judgemental? How dare he scrutinize I’m aware of my own flaws and shortcomings but I don’t need to be reminded or told by other people because I have my pride. Tigers, like peacocks are proud creatures as well.

    But beyond all of this anger and defensiveness about my wounded pride, there was a valid message beneath it all – having to face up to reality. It’s a brutal sobering experience, having to wake up and face reality when I spent the past few months entertaining an extremely foolish course of action – I was planning to run away to teach English in China.

    I planned everything – I’d leave without saying goodbye and it would be the start of my brand new life and my career. I felt I had to take this because that’s what life is about, taking opportunities and raising the bar. I had my heart set on it for a few years. I first started reading articles on Tiny Buddha in late 2013/early 2014, right after the horrific year dealing with de-personalization and de-realisation. Articles and stories from people who just ‘went with the flow’ and went travelling and just said ‘f**k it I’m going to take this opportunity, screw the consequences’. At least, that was the vibe that I got.

    I thought to myself – “I really want to do that! To prove it to myself that I can do it. To escape from my problems.” Around that time I had gotten accepted onto that graphic design internship in Spain. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before. I wasn’t the kind of person who got accepted onto great opportunities or winning competitions or anything like that. It raised the bar for me and made me want to dream big. Dream unrealistic. I wanted to believe that because things in my life were less than ideal and things never went according to plan for me, it must all be a sign that I was destined for better things. I was so incredibly up my own arse.

    But I realise how incredibly foolish and reckless that could have been – the flights were provided by the learning institutions but I had no way of returning home if things didn’t go according to plan. I didn’t consider everything, I was just too focused on running away and starting a new life.

    China is off the cards for the foreseeable future, as much as I didn’t want to admit it. I’m not doing great with any of my freelance work. Realising this and facing up to what is – it seems dreadful at first and I wanted to avoid that dreadful feeling but it is as it is. Addressing my pride has compelled me to take action.

    It’s perhaps made me realise that making such a reckless impulsive decision, making bad decisions in general and not being careful with my finances might be a sign of bipolar or borderline personality disorder. I know I should seek further help about this but I need to swallow my pride first. Writing my experiences of 2012/2013 was my way of reminding me that I got through that rough patch in my life, I can get through this next one.

    Tigers are fiery, proud, wild and formidable but part of me thinks I’d rather be a tiger than be the timid rabbit I thought was leading me down into the rabbit hole in 2012/2013.

    What do you think?


    • This reply was modified 3 years, 10 months ago by Joe.

    Dear Joe:

    I think you are amazing, Joe. I mean it. You are a tiger; not living a full fledged tiger life yet, but a tiger nonetheless: fiery, proud, wild and formidable.

    I remember the China offer, you started a thread about it. In it I suggested that you do leave your family but not go as far as China, closer, Europe, Scotland, you wrote you want to travel there. Much closer. Maybe the USA. I didn’t like the China idea because the offer was so limited and iffy. It was not that I thought you were limited; the offer was.

    Whomever talked to you, reminding you of your limitations- for crying out loud (!) – you don’t need people reinforcing your fears. You need someone believing in you, infusing you with courage.

    In my last post to you I wrote: “You needed to be SEEN- needed to see your own fire in the eyes of another”
    I think if there was a person in your life who did see you and believe in you as the worthy young man that you are, intelligent, skillful, talented, creative, complex… and through the faith of that person in you… It is getting late and I have difficulty finding the words. Please let me know if I made sense to you on this post.

    I think what I am trying to say is that you’ve been alone for too long, and I am thinking maybe you need a special connection with another person so to … send you off to a life that will fit who you are.




    It’s a fine balancing act, needing to find the in-between of what it is I need to be and what I need in other people. It would be nice to be around people who encourage and believe in me but at the same time not discouraging me, feeding the fears or instilling too much encouragement. Lately I am thinking about the dynamics of many of my relationships. Most of which, they do all the talking 90% of the time. They are either talking down to me as if I am a clueless child, or they are talking AT me as if I am attending a lecture. I have things I’d like to add to the conversation but I can’t because they force the conversation on what they say, and I am never given an opportunity to add to the conversation. They will just waffle on for hours and then go off on a tangent, when it is my turn to speak they have changed the subject. I find it hard to follow through when people lecture me.

    This person I spoke of – I really don’t want to dislike him but there have been many times throughout the supposed friendship where we clashed or he rubbed me the wrong way, and now I start to doubt our compatibility as friends. Generally he talks in a patronising way and sometimes he just comes across as insensitive – he accused me of wanting to go for the China opportunity because I saw it as a vacation which I was really offended by, he thinks it is okay to ask questions about my earnings when I was always brought up on the idea that it’s rude to talk about money in social situations. He often makes annoying and very stereotypical remarks about my lifestyle choices and the kind of music I listen to – if he is not saying stupid things like “ROCK ON DUDE!” like he’s from that film Wayne’s World or something, he makes more idiotic comments that I’m a satanist (he is religious) and he is part of a friendship group I was part of two years ago but I really don’t want to be around. They are all quite judgemental towards others and I can’t help but wonder what they say about me behind my back when they are slagging other people off and scrutinising them. I’ve been avoiding them for the past year and it’s gotten to the point where I’ve told this person I’ve moved to another part of the country just to get out of going for nights out with these people because I genuinely don’t enjoy spending time with them.

    I don’t need validation or approval from everybody and it’s not my purpose in life to seek those things from people. I did that before and I became a junkie for approval. I guess what I’m trying to say is I don’t need constant compliments but I don’t need criticism where it’s not due. I’d just like to find people who are cool enough to let me get on and make my own choices and not push me around.

    I think I know what you are getting at about seeking a connection with another person – I guess I’m not looking for that kind of relationship with somebody else, at least not now. I’m too cynical and jaded about relationships in general and I don’t believe being in a relationship or being married is the be-all end-all, the fairytale ending where they live happily ever after…I just can’t spend too long around a person, I’d resent them or they would end up resenting me. The majority of people I have known end up intentionally or unintentionally dragging me down into their drama and bulls**t and I just can’t deal with somebody else’s drama on a 24 hour basis. I know I sound incredibly selfish but I’m just being honest, personal relationships aren’t for me at this time.

    I’ve reached a point in my life where I am happy being single and I don’t feel the need to explain myself. Society at large seems to have a problem with people who are single – if people aren’t in a relationship, they are clearly sad and lonely or they are some kind of freak and other people will take it upon themselves to play matchmaker without even considering their feelings.

    I was always made to feel inadequate for being single, back when my self-esteem and confidence were at their worst. I wasn’t attractive as a teenager – I was spotty, overweight and greasy and sometimes I’d be approached by girls who would say “My friend fancies you” when they were just clearly taking the piss. I’ve been in relationships before but they all ended. When I reached my twenties, other people started to act shocked about the fact I was single – “That’s so sad!” “Why are you single?” “Are you lonely?” “Are you gay?” “I’m going to set you up with somebody.” It’s also the same with my sense of humour – I am able to laugh at myself and be self-depreciating. The last time somebody asked why I was single, I said “They would have to be absolutely stark raving mad to consider being with me.” They were really shocked – “Oh my god, you can’t say that about yourself!” That is what I believe, somebody would have to be mad to put up with me – in fact, I insist upon it!

    I get it from relatives as well – “Ohhhhh you’re going to get married next!” “When are you getting married?” “When are you having kids?” People seem to make assumptions – “Oh, when you have kids you will……” or “When you get married….” I personally don’t believe in marriage and I don’t want kids. My aunt is under the impression that I’m supposed to be some kind of playboy and that I am constantly flirting and chatting up women and sleeping around. Every time I’m on my smartphone she always says “Ooooh, who are you texting? A new girlfriend we don’t know about?” “No, I was just looking on Amazon for art supplies?” Society dictates that’s what all young men should be like. I find that most men who subscribe to this idea are just vulgar and disrespectful.

    I learned to make peace with being single. I’m not unhappy. As far as I’m concerned I can do whatever the hell I want, I am single, it’s my choice and it doesn’t define me as a person. I don’t need relationships to define me. Me being okay with being single has meant that it’s my decision, it’s something I own, I’m in control and nobody else can take that away from me. Having said that, I’m not entirely against the idea of being not single, but it would have to be the right person and the right circumstances. Rather be single and lonely than spend time with people I really don’t enjoy spending time with.


    • This reply was modified 3 years, 10 months ago by Joe.

    Dear Joe:

    I enjoyed your witty humor in the sentence: ” That is what I believe, somebody would have to be mad to put up with me – in fact, I insist upon it!”

    When I wrote to you “maybe you need a special connection with another person so to … send you off to a life that will fit who you are.” – notice the last part: “to send you off to a life that will fit who you are”

    I was thinking a competent, empathetic therapist would be best. And I was also thinking, if such is not a possibility, then a person who will interact with you respectfully, empathetically, listen to you attentively, repeat what you say so that you know he/ she heard you and so forth. In other words, someone who will interact with you like a competent, empathetic therapist would, so that you can make the move you need to make next, alone, I was thinking.

    The idea that you should have a girlfriend or get married was not something I entertained. Neither was the idea that you spend more time with your family members or with the friends of the kinds you described.

    Which brings me to thinking, after reading your very last post: did you ever have an experience with a person who did hear you, listen to you, get you… someone who expressed empathy, understanding…?

    * People who lecture you, talking at you, patronizing you; someone who negatively criticizes you or others behind their backs (meaning they are likely to criticize you behind your back); people who go on and on about themselves, their dramas, ignoring you… those are not the people for you to be with, if I may say so.




    I have had a few wonderful understanding friendships – I had seeked them out as friendships because they were my kind of people. They also had not-so-shiny-and-happy pasts so they never judged. But sadly this was back at university and we have gone our separate ways now, they have moved on and the friendship just ceased. No other way to describe it. There was somebody I thought I could trust but he was the person I described in ‘a friendship that wasn’t really a friendship’. I even tried to get in touch with him a few months ago to apologise even though I can honestly say I had nothing to apologise for but he doesn’t want to know anymore.

    The only person I know who gets me is my best friend – we’ve been friends for 20 years now. We torture each other and irritate each other at the worst of times but she is the only person who makes any attempt to understand me.



    Dear Joe:

    You wrote about the friends you had, that they “also had not-so-shiny-and-happy pasts so they never judged.”-

    Interesting to me, because the people who do judge, the family members and friends you described, I don’t think they had “shiny and happy pasts”- it is that they refuse to look into the darkness and instead bounce the darkness off them by mistreating another.

    About the last friend, you wrote that she is the only person who makes any attempt to understand you. This is a great improvement over a person who makes no such attempt, yet the friend of the type I am writing about is one who attempts and is successful in understanding you.

    I learned the following principle, as I will verbalize it next: the good friends you have and the one friend you still have- in comparison to the other people in your life- have been and are great friends, but you only know what you know, what you already experienced. What you don’t know is what you didn’t experience yet, a closer friendship, more empathy, more understanding…




    You are right, I only know what I know – I learn and experience in my own time and nobody else’s. Other people just seem intent on spoon-feeding me because they have more experience than I do – which is fair enough but I would rather learn from my own experiences than being told by other people.

    It’s interesting how you suggest that the people who are so judgemental didn’t have shiny happy pasts, these people who seemingly have everything. It never really occurred to me I guess, I just thought some people were mean and judgemental and too conservative just for the sake of being those things.

    I don’t know for certain what causes them to act so judgemental – insecurity? Peer pressure? Take this person who called me and made me doubt myself – I think he was always pressured to act and behave in a certain way and pushed to succeed, he must also faced a lot of scrutiny from everybody growing up and now he has a high-profile job, the pressure and scrutiny to do well all the time with no margin for error. Being somebody who often thinks the worst in people, I just thought he was being a smug arsehole just for the sake of being that.

    My older sister – she was always the nice one, the pretty one, the girl who was popular, loads of friends and always went to parties. Is it that she had a lot to live up to, being the popular girl? Did she feel insecure and couldn’t allow herself to be flawed for fear that they would look down on her and say mean things?

    Is them being judgemental and condescending their way of avoiding their own insecurities of feeling scrutinised? Do they judge according to how they fear they might be judged?

    I never really thought about it that way. I always thought that they just act that way because they can.

    This is interesting. I have a lot to think about now. Thankyou for helping me to reach this viewpoint.

    What do you think?


    • This reply was modified 3 years, 10 months ago by Joe.

    Dear Joe:

    Regarding ” I would rather learn from my own experiences than being told by other people.” I don’t think there is any way to learn the things that count in life (that is beyond trivia and book knowledge) except by personal experience. When people spoon feed you with .. life lessons, what they are teaching you in practice is that you are a baby that needs to be spoon fed (while their shirts are splattered with food morsels they missed while eating themselves).

    So yes, anything I suggest is for your experimentation, your personal experiencing.

    You wrote: ” I just thought some people were mean and judgemental and too conservative just for the sake of being those things.” For the sake of deflecting their own meanness and judgment off themselves.

    You wrote: “Is them being judgemental and condescending their way of avoiding their own insecurities of feeling scrutinised?” Yes, I agree.

    You wrote: “Do they judge according to how they fear they might be judged?”- I say: they judge according to how they judge themselves already, past and present.

    Basically, there is this mental entity called the Inner Critic that takes after our parents/ older siblings, people who were very powerful over us when children. If they were abusive, our own inner critic is abusive (I refer to the abusive inner critic as the Inner Bully). What people do is distract the Inner Bully from bullying themselves by keeping it busy bullying others.

    * This too, what I wrote here, is not intended to spoon feed you. A tiger does not accept spoon feeding! This is one reason why I wrote to you before that you are indeed a tiger. (A tiger is also not a herd animal, and you are clearly not). But there is no way for me to communicate with you other than words, sharing my understanding and experience. It is up to you to take any of my sharing to the higher level, the only level that counts: your own intellect, you own testing.


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