Sunday, 30 October 2016

Tickling

So I just woke from a dream, and I suppose because I woke up with a fast heartbeat and twitching muscles, it was a nightmare. The nightmare was my dad tickling me. I know. Sounds like nothing much.

But I woke up panicking. Literally. And without sounding like a tumblr writer, a bunch of memories and feelings came flooding back. The number of times he would tickle me until I felt uncomfortable. It was a lot. The game called 'tickle trap'. I remember a game we played called 'trap' which I guess looking back was kind of weird, based as it was on me liking the feeling of being dominated and held down. Literally. That was the game. I can kind of see why my dad was confused.
"How about tickle trap?" he once said.
"No, I prefer trap," I replied, anticipating my future sexual confusion over Bailey Jay.
 
And yet he obviously seemed to enjoy the tickling, even though I didn't. Maybe because I didn't. I always remember the times he would go overboard were always when my mum wasn't around. I remember quite distinctly a holiday in Spain when I was five, and my sister and dad lying on a bed, and him tickling her and her lashing out and actually kicking him. At the time I felt really bad for my dad, but looking back, I'm glad she did it.
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I know how ridiculous this sounds, like I'm accusing my dad of being abusive. I'm not. It's just a strange feeling, waking in panic and a fast heartbeat based on something as seemingly innocent as being tickled. A few things make sense now. Like, when my nieces try to tickle my feet, I don't laugh.  When asked why, I shrug and say 'I just don't get ticklish'. But I do. I can distinctly remember the feeling of involuntarily laughing whilst gasping 'stop' and being ignored, so I guess what I ended up doing was just not allow myself to laugh anymore. Anyone who goes to tickle my ribs will get a jerk away and nothing more. It feels like being poked with a cattle prod. I don't laugh at all. I don't allow myself to laugh, because then that's giving them the way in.

And that's the origin story of how I became deadpan catface, basically.

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I'm doing that English thing I always do where I try to make it at least slightly amusing and self-deprecating, but the feelings were really real. He was strong, man. It was like fighting an octopus. And it was a fight, no doubt about it. I remember many times literally being on the floor and pushing him in the chest to get him off, and then getting my ribs tickled whilst my hands were up - I dunno, maybe I enjoyed it, but the primary feeling I remember was wondering who the hell this person was. Like it wasn't really my dad, but just this random person who had decided to do this. I hated the feeling of not knowing when it was going to end either.

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Catface in action.

Even now he does random weird shit with my nieces, like stroking their arms... I know there's nothing particularly wrong with it, but I just always think "they clearly don't want him to do that". And to be honest, I wouldn't do that to them or even want to. It's like, they're not yours to randomly touch and stroke. Yes, they're children with soft skin, but that doesn't mean you randomly get to stroke them. My older niece now sometimes says that he's weird. I feel bad that she has to think that way about someone she ought to trust. A bit of physical affection is ok, but there is a line, and it should be fairly obvious.

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Like the whole having to hug people goodbye thing. For ages my sister used to get them to either hug or kiss us goodbye. In fact it started as 'kiss on the lips' to 'kiss' to 'hug' until now finally she doesn't insist at all. She still occasionally might, but I always say it's fine or offer a high five instead. When I was their age we always had to hug or kiss people even though we didn't want to, and if we did what we were told, that meant we were 'good'. Even now I hate hearing anyone say 'good girl' to my nieces, and of course my dad's the one who says it to them all the time.

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Point is, man, I awoke from a nightmare and it was about something which hasn't happened in twenty years and yet my brain still felt the need to rehash it, a bit like the current trend for rehashing the 90s generally. And the genuine panic - I think that was what freaked me out a bit, waking up feeling like I was right back in that moment, feeling trapped. You could argue it's a metaphor for the fact I'm living at home with my parents (sort of), but for the specificity of the dream and the physical reaction I felt upon waking.
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I could go on about the other numbers of times my dad overrode me and fucked up my self esteem, but the post would go on forever. The irony is that apparently he used to moan to my mum about his terrible dad when they were first going out as if it excused how he was. My mum was initially sympathetic.

I just don't really know what to feel about the guy if I'm honest. I remember when I first heard the Nirvana lyric (yep, I've gone full Nirvana) about 'I tried hard to have a father but instead I had a dad' and thinking that's wrong - it should be 'I tried hard to have a dad, but instead I got a father'. I remember a distinct moment as a boy thinking 'is this really my dad?' Other kids' dads seemed to actually be what I always imagined dads to be. Lovable. Jovial. Gentle. Not insistent on attention like some child. It was like he was the kid, and I had to humour him, instead of the other way round. I dunno.

Obviously he never did anything actually abusive. But it was, and still is, constant belittlement and little putdowns. It's like instead of being stabbed once by a knife, it's thousands of tiny pinpricks through your whole life. Being poked and prodded to the point where it's uncomfortable is the perfect physical representation of that I guess. Just enough to be acceptable, but also enough to me to feel reduced by it. That's all. Just a banal reduction. And it's all too easy to say 'oh, they fuck you up, your mum and dad' or 'everyone's dads are like that' because that excuses it too easily, and actually takes away me as a person who feels things, and him as a person who does things. I'm not being oversensitive - I used to think I was, and so buried how I felt - and I know I'm not because eveyone else in my family is feeling this way too. Just a constant feeling of 'hmm, maybe the guy who we were forcing ourselves to act happy around was actually a bit of a bully and a self-centered man-child with no sense of parental responsibility or even real love at all.'

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Memes take all the emotion away. Feels better, man.

Monday, 2 May 2016

The Patient


Patient exists in a constant state of existential flux. Only the acts of sensory pleasure invoke an entrance into the arena of humanity. The creation of personal masterpieces - kept hidden and stored as talismanic representations of the ideal self - these are the only traces of evidence to the patient that he exists. He studies these solid blocks of self at night before he goes to sleep in order to maintain an anchor in a sea of uncertainty. He must exist because this creation exists. It does not matter how crude the art, how inconsequential - what’s important is that it exists. Time is taken out of the equation: the artwork stands up to decay. Space is limited to its own construct: it creates its own universe.
The artwork, a depiction of a man and a woman engaged in carnal acts, lie under the bed inside a special box. The box is the ego distilled. The box is where he is really kept, and he feels a sense of superiority when engaging with humans in real life because the humans don’t know about his box so no one can really touch who he is really. This makes him a real person because nobody can alter what’s inside the box.
Each night when he checks he dreads that the nature of the art inside the box will have changed. It doesn’t. The piece from three years ago is still his favourite. The pieces recently fashioned have not been as good as the earlier pieces, but that does not matter because the box exists outside of the rigorous tests and scrutiny of humanity. The piece made three years ago and the piece made two weeks ago are inside the box which is outside because it is outside people and so age does not matter. Here space is compressed, and time is a circle.
Nothing beside remains.
Under the bed is the real room. Under the bed the dust is the only witness, and dust is intrinsically dead, dust is the remnant of a long-shed skin, the reminder that as much as we hate the idea, we are already dead and will soon become that dust which we try to clean away as much as we can. We are the dust, except inside the box when the lid is shut there is no dust. Even if there was, the artwork doesn’t mind. Paper lasts longer than human life if it is stored well. This bed will be here after the patient is dead, because the patient is planning on dying soon. Any day now his death will come to him. No point chasing after something that’s always a lingering thought, a fatherly hand on the shoulder.
The lid goes on the box and it is closed away. The patient closes his eyes and dreams of people fucking. He is one of the people fucking and it feels good because in the dream he doesn’t have to think about time, and space, and death.
I am not the patient. The patient is another possible me. I carry the echo of the ideas that float inside the head of the patient and those who find themselves thinking like the patient on occasion. In the moments when you consider the possibility that nothing is meaningful. The moments where you look at your child and imagine how after they die their body will decay. The moment when you’re eating food and think about what exactly it is you’re doing. When you vomit and see the reality behind the artifice.
The world as we know it is a botched plastic surgery operation. The universe as we know it is incompatible with life itself. In terms of the universe, our existence on Earth is so unimportant that to think too much about it is enough to drive you crazy. The patient had spent most of his time on Earth thinking about it and that is why he was possibly crazy. But it is not the thought that is crazy, it is allowing the insanity of the situation to enter your head that is crazy. You have to be able to shut the monsters out.
The wriggling crawling black shapes with white eyes and no mouths infiltrate every artifice. You talk about depression like a word is enough to summarise it. You talk about depression like it’s an illness that can be cured. But it is not as simple as that. The truth is that depression is the natural result of pure and complete thinking outside of the man-made manacles of time and space restriction.
Without work, we lose the sense of time and space because we no longer have to measure them.
Without time and space, we no longer have any humanity because humanity itself is defined by quantification.
Existing outside of time and space, stripped and bereft of his humanity, the patient is no longer haunted by the wriggling crawling black shapes, for he is one of them.