Today, I had my meeting with my MH Champion. I wanted to have this meeting before allowing myself to go back on Tinder.
I seem to be in control of how I am thinking and feeling and what I am doing. The main thing to be aware of is to not let that "control cycle" control me. This means that I am constantly overthinking, overanalysing, monitoring and judging myself for thinking and feeling a particular way. The danger of this is that it might make me less susceptible and open to new experiences.
I am constantly judging myself for saying and doing certain things. I am often quick to ascribe emotional meaning to those things without needing to. An example is of those times when I was out in Soho with the M&M people. I judged myself for talking about my ex because it might come across as "negative". It is a positive process to confront these things and be able to talk about them openly. But I was blaming myself for talking about them too much and spreading negative energy. Worse still, I was seeing myself as manifesting those things happening again simply by talking about them. This was a distinction that I needed to learn. The distinction between thought and actuality.
My MH Champion tells me that we all talk about our ex's. To some degree, each and every one of us has pain attached to us. When we talk about our pain, it gets our pain out in the open, which makes it easier to move on. I should not feel bad for saying my ex's name in public or talking about him if it helps me to move on. I related to her about my most recent journal entry in which I said his name. How Dumbledore got it right "fear of the name increases fear of the thing itself". And how the process of saying his name helps draw power out of him and trivialises him so that he becomes less frightening. I felt like I had acted aggressively by saying his name to people in public. My MH Champion affirmed that there is nothing negative or aggressive about saying my ex's name to people in public if it helps me to "move on". Eventually, I will have said his name enough times that one morning, I might wake up and realise that I have not thought about him once for 6 months. I told my MH Champion about the dreams that I was having about Avi Taler. In the act of telling her, I realised that I have not had a dream about him for over a month. It shows that I have made progress.
For the record, the above is not necessarily all about Avi Taler. It is about anyone who I have come across in that way. And the fact that I had spent my entire life preventing myself from saying someone's name in public, which is what ultimately hurt me (not the qualifiers themselves). Social pressure, norms and expectations. 🙅♂️
This expands into the wider question of Tinder (and other dating apps). My boycotting of Tinder arose out of my fear to swim in an ocean where I might be bitten by a shark (= my ex). It was driven my motivation to get back on the dating apps if / when I feel "ready", i.e., if I can find a healthy and positive way of doing it. One that is serviceable to my needs.
Between November - March, I was convincing myself that I am not "ready". Because of what happened with HZ on Halloween. I invited him out to see a show. I sold him his ticket as a little test to see if he were true to his intention of attending. He purchased the ticket, but he did not turn up. I was with 2 other friends anyway so it was not like a "date" setup. But I did wait and wonder for 3 hours and send him several messages without hearing anything back. At the time, I responded negatively (Read More: 01/11/2020). I thought "OMG, I have been stood up!" I might have played the Love Fool / Eternal Victim by reporting it to the WhatsApp group of 200+ people. In my journal, I wrote "how perfect and ironic - ghosted on Halloween". The following morning, HZ messaged me immediately to tell me that his phone had died. I was left thinking "what was all that about, was it necessary to put myself (or others) through that thought process?" This formed the basis of my rationale that I was not "ready" to date. The premise that I have all of this pain inside me waiting to tap into. Just because someone does not message me or show up, I immediately think the worst of them. Or blame them. I felt scared and shocked about how much I seemed to be blaming other people for something else that someone else had done in the past. Afterwards, HZ & I exchanged a few flirtatious messages but they did not lead to anything. I felt too anxious and nervous about messaging him back. I realised that this was not a healthy situation for me to be in. And that if I felt this way, he was probably not the right guy for me. Again, that is a judgement in itself. On the one hand, I might be protecting myself through making those judgements. On the other hand, I might be restricting myself. Yes, the fact that I felt too anxious about messaging HZ might be an indicator that he is not the right guy for me. It should feel natural. By the same token, the right guy will understand my restraint and make an effort with me.
Back in 2016, a mental health practitioner at the Lambeth Living Well Network observed that I have all of these layers. Every time someone penetrates those layers and hurts me in some way, I tweak my armour and add another layer. I have been through that whole process of telling myself "I am not ready to date because I have all of this unresolved pain that is waiting for someone to tap into". Actually, that is not such a bad thing. To some degree, each and every person has pain. It is all part of the package. By talking about it openly, am I not purging myself of that pain? Am I judging myself for doing so? I came to the realisation that I might not be ready to date because I am telling myself that I am not ready to date. I am limiting and restricting myself through my own negative judgements and preconceptions of myself. But if I tell myself otherwise, the act of telling might make me "ready".
My MH Champion says that it is good to have layers. I could practise messaging and interacting with people without caring so much. She observes that I have such a high degree of control over myself that I (and others) struggle to move forwards. A super control cycle. If I can practise messaging and interacting with people whilst not ruminating on my messages and actions so much, I might open myself up to new experiences. Meanwhile, my barriers will kick in naturally if / when they need to, whenever I find myself in a situation in which I feel compromised. Like they did on March 28th, 2019 (which is in itself not a bad thing as long as I do not beat myself up about it). So I do not need to worry about having layers.
She says that the fact that I have these layers is a positive. They protect me. They weed out those guys who will not attempt to penetrate those layers and get to the soft, squidgy centre of me. Eventually, one guy will. I will know that he is the right guy for me because he has invested on getting to that centre of me. Like a hot knife through butter. A nice analogy.
She says that I hurt hard and I love hard. She observes that this is a nice quality about me. She also realises that this makes life hard for me. I experience emotions intensely. The pain is much harder whenever I experience a breakup. Most people can move on quite easily. I cannot. I hurt deeply. This is not a bad thing. But it does mean that these layers are necessary to have in the first place. She says that there is a reason for saying and doing everything that I say and do. A higher purpose. And that I must believe in that reason. Not judge myself or do myself down for feeling a certain way about someone.
I have been on Facebook Dating and Hinge to ease myself back into dating. Strangely enough, I seem to have allowed myself to do that before consciously thinking that I had found a "healthy" way of using dating apps. I recounted my experience of:
Subconsciously, I might have realised that the screenshotting is precisely that mechanism that enables me to use dating apps in a healthy mindset. I self-subjugated to my MH Champion by saying: "I know that this is super weird but I have trained myself to take a screen shot of anyone who I come across on a dating app who I know". She was completely understanding and even mentioned that she does a similar thing. She observed that if this is what works for me, I should do it. If it enables me to feel more in control and more comfortable. She advises me to try a few conversations without the screenshotting to see how comfortable I feel about letting things go. But definitely, as a "stabilisers on a bike"-style mechanism, to practise putting myself through that mindset of not caring. Screenshotting is a good thing to do if it helps me to feel more comfortable when I am on a dating app. And yes, I should try dating even if I do not feel 100% "ready". I might surprise myself. Go on a few dates and enjoy them. This is the most important thing. Try not to judge situations too much but enjoy them in the moment without ascribing emotional meaning to them where emotional meaning is not necessary. She says that I am a fun guy and I deserve to get myself out in the world again.
Last Friday, I went on a date with MK. I suppose that you could call it a "date". We met on Facebook Dating. At first, it was going well. We were messaging over 2-3 days. We talked about teddy bears and cats and other cute things. Until he casually dropped in that he lives with his boyfriend. My first question was "may I ask you what you are looking for on here [a dating app]?" His response: "I do not know, friendships, something casual. What about you?" My response was "I am looking to love and be loved in return." He said that he could offer friendly love if that is any good? I said that this is fine. I encouraged him to give me a shout next time that he is in Vauxhall as a way of "signing out" nicely - sending the Last Message. At which point, he instigated a meeting. We met. The date was short and sweet. It lasted the best part of 2 hours. He said that he would like to meet me again. I agreed. I walked away thinking that the date was nice. I was not overly enraptured. Since then, he has not messaged me. I am OK with this. What is the point of messaging someone unless there is something to talk about? A basis for the conversation to happen? It is true that some people might not know what they want. To justify them existing on a dating app in the first place. But that does not need to be my problem. My job is to separate the wheat from the chaff.
I have some little tools and techniques to help me remain in control:
Ultimately, these tools help me to protect myself. I might have felt deflated because nothing much came out of our date. Maybe that in itself is a form of prophecising. I do not know yet. But the act of resolving each and every account within myself enables me to draw closure (albeit temporary) and focus on other experiences and people.
At a wider level, this has resulted in me developing an Abundance Mentality. Not seeing each and every guy as "the one". Instead, keeping my options option. Believing in myself to know that "the one" is the right guy who is out there who will make an effort with me. And that I have equipped myself with the right tools and techniques to vet them. It was not something that happened overnight. Sonia explained to me the concept of Abundance Mentality back on 01/05/2019, before messaging Avi Taler to wish him luck in his concert. But I did not believe in it. How could I? I was hurting. I was blinded by my pain. I was suffering from cognitive dissonance along with trauma bonding. I was fixated on Avi Taler being the answer to everything. When he was in fact the door that needed to open in order for me to arrive at this realisation.
So, MK has a boyfriend. That is his business. He has acted honestly and transparently enough with me to make this fact known to me from the outset. The difference between MK and Lalo is that MK has not led me on by saying that he likes me and that we have time. I have manifested MK's honesty by asking an honest, open question. This is what I did not do with Lalo. And what I learned to do with Ron and subsequently ML. Law of Attraction.
I do not need to worry about the fact that MK might have a boyfriend. I am free to meet, mingle, hug and kiss whoever I like. I am not the one in a relationship. That is his lookout. Which begs the question of whether MK is getting enough from his existing relationship to be on a dating app in the first place? But that does not need to be my question to ask. I do not know enough about him or what has happened in his life. There is nothing that I need to do or speculate. I am comfortable enough in myself to know that we enjoyed a nice evening together. I am OK with the possibility that I might never hear from him again. I might! Whatever happens, I must ensure that I am happy and comfortable with both outcomes. That is life. People disappear. I used to try and do things to change that in other people. Like the AGA (Anti-Ghosting Agreement). But I realised that there is nothing that I can say or do to prevent people from disappearing. What I can change is how I respond to it. Time again, I come back to this principle. This does not stop me from asking the question if I think that something has gone amiss. But it is my choice of whether or not I wish to ask that question. And I must feel confident enough in myself to ask it, regardless of the answer. To not put all of my eggs in the basket of the person who I perceive to be determining my "destiny". This is why I am holding off explicitly asking Rob if he would like to attend my birthday until I am beyond caring about the possibility that he might decline.
I told my MH Champion about how I continue attending the Meetup events every week to remain "part of the crowd". She observes that I do not seem like the type of person who would disappear or drop off the radar. I am ubiquitous. Forming platonic friendships with other members of the LGBTQ+ community is important. It enriches my life. It strengthens me. I know that it is not a process that can happen overnight. I cannot expect to attend a few Meetup events and instantly make friends. It is a process. It takes time. This is why I am trying (not forcing myself) to go regularly. Even if I do not have a great time every weekend, or have a mediocre time. Sometimes, I meet new people and never see or hear of them ever again (despite whatever was discussed). Other times, I catch up with people who I know. Occasionally, I meet someone who I have not met in a long time. This is all part of life. I begin to realise that the true friends are those who do stick around. My MH Champion says that it is the same in my workplace. Although we have not met live (only virtually), she has the impression that people think of me as a nice, fun guy. I should be proud of that. She reminds me that I am regulating myself and ruminating over conversations and situations with other people more than I need to. This is something that I can work on. My conscientiousness is a nice quality to have, but it might make life difficult and more painful for me. She says that I am kind enough and that I do not need to regulate myself as much. If I ask someone if something came across as negative, they might question themselves and how they responded to what I said or did. Which would increase a cycle of self-doubt. In most cases, what I said and did might not have come across as negative. And if it did, other people might have their own reasons why they responded to it in such a way. Reasons that have nothing to do with me.
My MH Champion encourages me to not hide myself away. Find a dating app, whether it be Tinder or another app that I feel comfortable with. Go on dates. Enjoy them. Keep her in the loop with what is going on. If I ever feel under pressure or compromised in any way, she can interpret what is going on. Just like she did with Rob. I had not heard from Rob in over a month. But I was OK with it. Perhaps there was simply not much to say. Rather than anything that I said or did. It is a natural process. I have invited him to my birthday party. This time (in contrast to the Halloween scenario), I am not planning on asking anyone else or giving him 24 hours to respond. I am prepared for the possibility that he might not want to come and that there will be 5 (not 6) of us. Accepting that as a possibility is a positive state of being. Ensuring that I am happy whichever way the wind blows. It is nice of me to invite him. He has been my friend, my foundation. An important influence in my life over the past 1.5 years. I would stick by him in anything. Perhaps our friendship is not "carnal" like it was before. But maybe it is something more than that. It is a nice gesture to show him that whatever happens, I care about him. Even though he has only said "looks cool" and not stipulated whether or not he intends to attend. I might message him a week before and clarify that. For now, I feel satisfied in myself to know that I have done enough by inviting him.
I told my MH Champion that I unlocked my journal on March 23. Last September, I was going through a difficult phase. My parents found out about my journal (via my brother). I think that their concern was not about anything that I had said in it (I had said nothing bad or wrong). But more about how others might interpret it. I highlighted that the way in which I see myself is more important than the way in which others see me. Nevertheless, I abided by their concerns and password-protected my journal. Over the winter months, I felt disempowered by a feeling of not being able to act openly or transparently about what has happened in my life. I actually felt more comfortable about my life being out in the open. Not in an "airing dirty linen" sense. More from the perspective that people had access to my thoughts and could read me like an open book and see where I am coming from. Without me feeling the need to justify or explain my existence in the world. The other motivation for having my online journal is because it helps me to draw a separation between myself and what is happening to me (what I am experiencing). Anything negative > goes straight into the journal. It becomes trivialised in words. Put to account. Again, I self-subjugated by saying "I know that this is super weird". Straight away, my MH Champion shook her head. She reassured me that this is part of who I am. I am an open book. I should never censor what I say or do. I should remain open in the way in which I talk and act. Some people might shy away from my openness. But the right people for me will appreciate it and be in my life more. She says that I do not need to change myself. My openness is my virtue. What she said reminds me of what Sonia said to me 1.5 years ago. That I have shown honesty and attracted the same back in return. How that honesty manifests in a more open and relaxed conversation.
Read More: 04/09/2019 + 06/11/2020
My MH Champion says that I have a lot of love but also a lot of pain. Sometimes, my pain comes out strong and intense. It scares people away. Occasionally, I might even scare myself with my own pain. This is perfectly natural and healthy. But I should never feel the need to suppress it.
I explained to her that unlocking my journal on March 23 was something that I disciplined myself to do. And to wait for. As a precautionary measure, I went through and re-worded some entries, always considering whether I am happy for someone else to be potentially reading them. I transformed any instances where I might notice myself name-calling. Instead of saying "he was ungrateful", I might say "he acted ungrateful". Moving from "being" to "acting".
The unlocking was something that I did for myself, not for anyone else. I did not "announce" it. I simply put a date in my calendar and went about my business quietly, ensuring that I felt comfortable to do it. This was a positive process in which I acted in sync with myself. Although I had covered my back by "toning it down", my ultimate concern is not with whether or not someone might read it. Simply the fact that my thoughts are out there and accessible (regardless of who reads it) is enough for me.
What about the rest of my life? I am exercising a lot. My MH Champion has seen my Captain Tom 100 Burpee Challenge video. I told her about how my nutritionist at work is meeting with me next week to help me sort out my diet and exercise regime. I am socialising and drinking a lot. Sometimes a bit too much. A couple of times over the past weeks, I have drank a lot, come home and felt ashamed for drinking so much. My MH Champion says that sometimes you need that. To purge emotions and get it out of your system. It can help you feel connected with others. There is nothing wrong with that. Everything in moderation. I mentioned that I am trying to maintain a point of equilibrium. I am going to the gym 3x per week. If I know that I am about to go out on a night out, I will hit the treadmill, cross trainer and bike to kick back at least 500 calories. And I will walk to the event and back again. To keep me accountable to myself (via MyFitnessPal) and within my deficit. I can still make allowances for that. I have started doing a bit of recording. Not too much. But just enough to keep me balanced.
The online shopping has become an addiction. Again, I have developed rules to regulate it.
I think that the same processes and procedures that I go about with my online dating come about in my online shopping. It starts with Mindfulness. Noticing patterns. Being aware of what is going on. I am obsessive. That is not a bad quality to have. There are good things that come out of it. Structure. Discipline. Perseverance. Willpower. Ability to rationalise and not act on impulse. Control. But maybe I could work on is making myself feel better. Ensuring that I feel free, liberated and comfortable. Not beating myself up about life. Enjoying life for the moment rather than ruminating on the past or speculating on the future. Ensuring that I feel happy at any given moment. Going home early for a night cap and treating myself to fresh tortellini pasta if I am not feeling it.
The other day, I bumped into my friend Maria in the post office when I was returning an Amazon item. I told her about my online shopping streak that happens 2x a year (Spring and Autumn). She said that the main thing is that I ENJOY IT.
My conversation with my MH Champion and previous conversations with Maria and Sonia have taught me that I do have the tools to regulate myself. But I do not need to regulate myself to the extent that I am no longer enjoying life. I might become a slave to my own expectations. This is the balance that I am drawing myself closer to. It is OK to feel the need to take screenshots to regulate myself and others if it enables me to feel more in control. It is like having stabilisers on a bike. The key difference is not letting that self-regulation take control over me and my life. Not allowing myself to become a slave to it. Learning how to master it, as and when I need it to. Weighing up the pros and cons at each and every step of the way. Whether it is Tinder or Amazon, this is what making healthy, positive, conscious choices is all about.
OK, so I "met" a guy on Facebook Dating. He is super cute and handsome etc., blah blah blah (but will he keep me warm in the middle of the night?). You know the rest. The conversation was going well. We talked about teddy bears and cats and other wonderful things. Lar-de-dar. Hearts and flowers. 😍
Until he casually drops the bomb "by the way"... It turns out that he has a boyfriend. Oh. 😨
Either, I could respond super-pissed, jealous and negative. Or, I could show that I am an honest man by using this as an opportunity to gain insight and knowledge. To find out what he is looking for. To explore his motivation for being on a dating app in the first place.
30 Apr, 13:22
Mirroring = matching emojis (😅) and tone of voice to the person who I am speaking to.
30 Apr, 13:55
At this point, I found myself at a crossroads. My first instinct was to say something like "I am not sure that we are looking for the same things!" Like Sonia advised on 15/05/2019. That way, I might have protected myself in the short-term but not armed myself in the long-term. My curiosity got the better of me.
I realised that this was like a little test from the Universe. Remembering to practise what I preach regarding defining an external situation by how I respond to it internally. I did not need to engage with any negativity as this might kill the atmosphere. I needed to draw as much positivity out of it as I could. That meant not commenting on his answer but giving the purest, sincerest and most honest answer in return. Showing him who is boss. 🤠
The other aspect is: if he has a boyfriend and if he is using Facebook Dating to cheat on his boyfriend, that does not need to be my problem. The only way in which I might have let it become my problem is if he had acted dishonestly with me (like Lalo) by letting me think that there was something between us that no-one else had. Tricked me into falling in love. Wrenching me. But he has not. He has acted transparently. If anything, he is putting himself in a vulnerable position in trusting me with the knowledge that he has a boyfriend. Knowing that if he crosses me, there is the chance that I could tell the boyfriend. If we played out this trajectory to the most extreme level. I do not need to worry about the fact that he has a boyfriend. That is his business. It is his lookout if he has decided to pursue someone else (me) when he already has a boyfriend. Of course, this could play out in another way completely, one that is less serviceable to my interests. I might remain mindful that this scenario could potentially lead to another disappearing act if the boyfriend decided to intervene. What will I do to ensure that never happens? Use this as an opportunity to gather as much information as possible. Add him on all social media channels (or entice him to do the adding). Sit back and watch the fireworks fly.
Initially, I thought about writing: "I am looking for hugs, kisses and someone to keep me warm at night". But by revealing too much of myself, too soon, I might put myself in a vulnerable position. A position in which I might unintentionally bring about a disappointment or a rejection. By asking out of my comfort zone. I could still act honestly without giving away too much of myself. Find an answer that allows him to do some speculating and interpret how he wishes.
My thoughts took me back to the words of Joyce Meyer and the actions of Princess Diana. Attack the world with love. How to put this into words? Take Jesus' advice. Drop the "L" word. Without fear. Let him interpret it in whichever way he wishes without expecting something tangible back from him. Maintain my position of control.
Then, I realised that I have already written those words in a song: Místico. "All that he ever wanted was to love and be loved in return". Which was probably inspired by Nature Boy.
Hmmm, I am not convinced by his vague, non-committal answer. That is OK. It sounds like he is not taking this seriously enough for me? Maybe. Maybe not. Perhaps my expectations are too high?
In ERD's words: gaga?
What am I going to do about it? I think that I will play him at his game and give him a vague, non-committal answer in response. To show that I am doing him the courtesy of responding but stepping back from the situation ever so slightly to safeguard my comfort. My personal happiness must be my number one priority.
Like my MH Champion mentioned on 03/12/2020, if I pretend that I do not care, they always end up coming back for more.
At this point of the conversation, I was OWNING IT. 💪💪
I think that I said more in one message than had been said in the entire conversation:
Rory: I'm based in Vauxhall.
Again, stepping back ever so slightly. Let him do the asking.
Fair enough. It seems like he has twigged the slight stepping back.
He might be seeing if I am true to my intentions of wishing to be notified when he is in town. Again, let him think that I have nothing better to do. Play myself down. Play it down. Keep it light and friendly. 😅
I love the irony of this whole situation. How it coincides perfectly with the advice that I am giving to my friend. Better take my own medicine.
[12/01/2020, 12:26:07] Avi:
[26/01/2020, 22:47:43] Avi: But I don't think there's anything I can do more than I have to express my regret. I can't fix the past more than realize the situation and repent it.
I must be realistic. "Needing to hear from Avi that it was all a lie" is an unhealthy mindset. He has chosen to cut me out because I have not taken him at his word. He has said and done everything that he can. He has owned up, apologised and tried to repent. I did not believe that he was acting honestly with me. At worst, it was a denial of his feelings towards me (notwithstanding his own feelings of hurt). A rejection of his repentance. Even now, I still am blinded by my own internalised grief. Understandably, he felt that there was nothing more to say or do.
I was expecting an "admission" from Avi that he could not give. Asking him to say that it was "all a lie" is asking him to obscure the truth, deny his feelings towards me, which would only confuse matters further. The only way in which I can resolve the situation is to accept that he did feel something for me. But the expression of his feelings towards me was stronger than he actually felt or meant it to be in the long term. He acknowledged that himself. Surely that was enough? We rushed our feelings towards one another. I imparted that he was more "serious" about me than he actually was.
[22/03/2019, 09:56:39] Avi: It's okay if we're taking things slow
The condemnation of Avi's words and gestures as "all a lie" originates from me and my own predispositions. In the past, I have experienced guys who have "played" me. The boundaries between my past, present and future became blurred. I failed to make the distinctions. I was trapped in an endless cycle of perceived unrequited love to such an extent that I brought about my "fate" (unrequited love) by thinking about it.
At this point, it is easy to blame myself again. Blame myself for telling Avi that I loved him on 28th March 2019. There is nothing wrong with telling someone that I love them. This was simply my mirror. My interpretation and perceived reciprocation of his feelings towards me. Based on the way in which he had behaved towards me up until that point. I was not reciprocating enough. I felt that the "I love you" was what he wanted me to say. It came out incoherently. A little too strong for him.
[16/01/2020, 16:22:07] Rory Duffy: Did I say something to put you off? If you felt that strongly those things about me, could you really stand by them if you were all of a sudden put off by something I said?
Yes, Avi might have made a snap judgement of my entire character based on a few inarticulate things that I said on one day when I was not feeling particularly well. Equally, my "slip up" might have inadvertently placed an expectation on him to become the arbiter of what once made me a victim? If that were the case, it made life difficult for me. He might act more patient with me. Open up a positive dialogue. Surely, I should be able to express my love for someone without fear? If love is reciprocated (i.e., if that someone cares about me as much as they have thus far made out), they would stay in my life. But how was he to recognise my "slip up" for what it was (a "slip up") if he did not even know me that well?
[01/01/2020, 19:18:43] Avi: I hope I'm not pressuring you with my text, this is not my intent. I want to be as tolerant and patient as possible to allow you do the best thing for your sake without consideration me - I wish it didn't sound patronising, just caring and sensitive.
[26/01/2020, 22:47:43] Avi: Therefore, I hate to say that this will be my very last message I am sending.
OK, he might not have acted quite as patient with me as I had hoped. Understandably so. I know my insatiable tenacity to test the limits of people's patience and exhaust others. I am high functioning. Deal with it. However, he did try to explain himself, which might have been difficult for him to do given that he was hurting as well. He was under no obligation to do so. But he did. Why? Because I asked him to. Although his explanation did not fully clarify the situation for me, it helped somewhat. Now I realise that this was the best that he could do given the circumstances.
Ultimately, I must accept that Avi did have feelings for me but in a way in which I am not blaming myself. These feelings were only intended for the current moment. I took them to mean more than that. I felt them at a deeper level. I took his words and gestures to heart. His words and gestures meant more to me than they perhaps might or should have done.
[26/03/2019, 13:51:02] Avi: How are you babe?
Personally, I would not say or do things (holding hands, hugging or kissing) that move us from base to base so quickly. And pin the rushing on the other person. To put it in more mundane terms, I would not hold hands, hug or kiss someone unless I loved them or at least felt some sort of love for them. By my definition, doing so without those provisos is "leading on someone", not "getting to know someone". But Avi is not me. He is a different person. He has lived a different life. He might not share my view. Words and gestures might be less meaningful and more trivial to him. They might mean less to him than they do to me. For him, holding hands, hugging and kissing are activities that one can engage in with anyone. I "read into" those gestures. I took them to mean more that they were intended.
Avi did not know that about me. How could he have done? I did not express myself clearly at all.
[08/03/2019, 16:46:32] Avi: I find you a little distant today
A frequent pattern that I have found in introverts is that we process emotion at a deeper level than extroverts. This is both a blessing and a curse. We find ourselves somewhat ill-equipped to express emotions in words. Words trivialise emotions to the extent that there is a disparity between words, gestures and what we are actually feeling deep down. I wanted nothing more than to express my enjoyment of Avi and his company and the desire for it to continue. Which, in theory, should not be bad.
To extroverts, holding hands, hugging and kissing may not be such a big deal. Extroverts process those gestures closer to the surface. They feel less reserved to spread themselves around freely. For introverts, holding hands, hugging and kissing are felt at a deeper level. That is why we experience greater difficulty translating the deeper emotional meanings that we assign to those gestures into words. Consequently, we need to guard and protect ourselves a little more than extroverts.
Avi did not know that about me. How could he? Introverts are slow-burners. It takes longer for us to come out of our shells. I could be a little more guarded and not let him hold hands, hug or kiss me. Unless I am 100% sure that he is feeling what he makes out to be feeling. Until I am 100% sure that he would not steal my kisses and randomly disappear from my life like others have done before.
At one point, I felt the uncomfortable sense that this might happen.
[08/03/2019, 16:46:32] Avi: I find you a little distant today
Sadly, I did not have the language tools to articulate / express the vague discomfort that I was feeling at that precise moment. I was in the dark. The telltale signs that things were not what they seemed. That I was being "taken on a ride". At a subconscious level, I sensed that Avi might not be speaking sincerely. I did not register this consciously enough to safely navigate my way around my own fears and insecurities. Until that fateful evening of 28th March 2019. When I translated my internal reservations somewhat extremely into him "taking advantage of me". Taking advantage of my feelings was something that I perceived previous guys to have done to me. It was a projection. My internal reservations came out stronger than intended. I was projecting previous experiences of guys and encounters (where the guy had stolen my kisses and disappeared) on to Avi. Inadvertently blaming him for something that someone else had done to me in another point of my life that was completely independent of this one. Effectively setting him up to do exactly the same thing.
At the time, I realised my mistake:
[30/03/2019, 10:12:49] Rory Duffy: I'm sorry if I got intense on Thursday, I was feeling under the weather and I didn't mean to make you feel any discomfort. I hope you enjoyed the party last night and I'm still up for meeting today if you want to.
But it was too late. The judgement had already been made. The expectation was set. The wheels were in motion. For a few minutes, I had showed Avi my vulnerable side. He thought that this meant that he was going to hurt me. It became a self fulfilling prophecy. In the act of trying to spare my feelings by ceasing to message me, he ended up unintentionally hurting me even more. Disappearing from my life. Becoming the latest in a list of guys who did that to me. Manifesting the exact fear that made me afraid to begin with. Further solidifying my conviction that I was "unloveable". Further entrenching me into a cycle of perceived unrequited love. I brought about his actions through my own projection and words.
Just at the point at which I had finally found someone.
[27/03/2019, 18:53:22] Rory Duffy: Just in case my 3 friends tonight ask me what I've been up to recently
I understand how and why it crippled me. After Avi had been pursuing me, this was the moment that I finally dropped my guard ("OK, I love you"). Fooled myself into thinking that this time things would be different. Finally accepted something that was not "true" (or at least not "true" in the sense in which I perceived it to be "true"). I allowed Avi to penetrate all of my defences. Leaving me exposed. When everything fell through, I was left with no protection. I let him into my world. He became my world. My world fell apart.
I was conscious of what was happening. But I did not have the language tools to prevent it. It was like being strapped down in a chair, being forced to witness my future unravel in the same way. Yet feeling powerless to do anything about it. A state of paralysis.
No wonder I tried to harm myself. I recognised what was on the horizon long before it arrived. Yet (in my mind) I did nothing to prevent it.
Just a little bit worse this time. I had let Avi get further than anyone else before him.
[27/03/2019, 19:10:00] Rory Duffy: I'm very happy to hear it 🤗
At that point, how was I to tell? I must not blame myself. It was an ambiguous situation to circumnavigate. It was a minefield. I was about to get blown up. Responding to subtle signs and signals is not a process that comes naturally to me. I am highly sensitive. I sense things all of the time. Sometimes, I am aware of things too much. To the extent that they become incomprehensible and begin to have an influence over my decision-making. Overtake my ability to rationalise. My acute sensitivity is both an advantage and a disadvantage. A gift that is intended to provide me with a head start and compensate for my slowness of responding. I experience a strange feeling when I sense that things are not what they seem. But I am slow at responding to these feelings in a way that is meaningful to another person. When I feel under pressure to rush, I fall over and hurt myself. That is where I struggle.
[12/01/2020, 12:26:07] Avi: i was actually thinking about you and your well-being, which is not very likely even for me, to be so thoughtful.
There might have been a mixture. To an extent, Avi was thinking about me and my wellbeing. I did not believe this because he might not have believed this himself, judging by his subsequent statement. He was not giving himself enough credit. We were both projecting onto one another. Each of us was trying to second guess what the other one was thinking such that the conversation became less authentic.
That aside, Avi has cut me out because he feels that there is nothing more that he can do or say to rectify the situation. He has done and said everything that he feels that he could do (which is a lot to ask of someone who I barely knew for a few weeks).
[26/01/2020, 22:47:43] Avi: I am aware of hurting you. I am aware of making mistakes, which I had mentioned. But it sounds like... You want me to change the past, or say something that would change the past... I am not able to do so, nor you, nor anyone. I wish I could change things in the past and prevent you to go through what you had. But I can't. I explained what I could, and from now on all I can do is repeating myself. As you do..
The lesson is this. I must find a way of asserting my boundaries with people without projecting everything onto them. There is a balance to be had. It is not a balance that is "out there in the world" or pre-determined by someone else. It is a balance set by me. I am the only person who can find that balance. For myself. Not him. Not anyone else. Me.
Therefore, I have conjectured a set of guidelines for myself.
First, I must monitor those moments where I experience feelings of discomfort. Where I sense that things are not as they seem. Like I did when I walked through the barriers of Ravenscourt Park Tube Station on 28th March 2019. I experienced that same feeling of discomfort when I was deciding whether or not to board that bus to visit Grant Russell in 2010. Or straight after Lalo kissed me in that nightclub in 2015. In these moments, there was always a dilemma of whether to go with my head or my heart. On all 3 occasions, I went with my heart and lost myself in the passion. The advice of "going with the heart" is overrated. Sometimes it is wise to go with the head. Not to say that the head and relationships do not mix and that one should not feel love. But it is smarter to have a dialogue between the two. Sometimes, the head can compensate for the heart's inability to judge. Act a little more "clinical". Reverse-engineer a situation from a clearer, more detached standpoint. I must recognise those moments and know when to press the pause button. Temporarily put a situation on hold before it gets out of control.
Second, I must recognise that a kiss is not necessarily everything. It might mean a lot to me. That is sweet and lovely. But it might not mean much or anything to the other person. A kiss does not necessarily mean that they love me or feel the same way about me as I do about the kiss or about them. Since this makes me more likely to get hurt, I could use that vocabulary in a more restrained way with other people. Not shun someone if they try to kiss me.
Third, I must remember that I am not to blame. No-one ever taught me this stuff. Instead, I am learning this stuff the hard way, first hand, through experience. It is hard and complicated stuff to deal with. It is natural (and healthy) for me to feel anger and resentment. I am not playing down the challenge that I faced in any way. It is hard not to perceive my present and future through the lens of my past. To extricate my past from my present sufficiently enough to make the right choices for my future without confusing the tenses. It is in my nature to project. I did nothing wrong. There was nothing that I could have done differently without having the advantage of hindsight. It was an unfortunate irony how our relationship played out. This irony (and Superstarlight) was a necessary lesson that:
Fourth, I must realise that Avi was not to blame. He did not know me well enough to know these facts about me. The internalised grief that he did not cause but merely tapped out of me. There is nothing that he could have done differently without the advantage of hindsight. I truly believe that he is aware of making mistakes, too.
Fifth, I am now better equipped to deal with this stuff in the future. I know that my life does not have to be this way.
In addition, there are my complications of being on the ASD spectrum. I am inclined to take things literally. Or read into something extremely because I am a literal person who has been conditioned into a world where people read between the lines. And it is in my nature to avoid hurting or leading on others because I have high expectations of others and of myself - again, due to my own lack of confidence (thinking that I had said or done something wrong when I had not).
With this in mind, I can still keep my bar raised high (i.e., test people). Not in an extreme way. But in a little, more measurable way. Within my comfort zone. To ensure that the other person's conception of "genuine" matches up with my own conception of "genuine". In a way that helps me to differentiate between what is and is not "genuine". Without driving away the other person completely.
This line from Desiderata encompasses all of the above:
for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
The world is full of trickery. I have to kiss a number of frogs before I meet my prince. Avi might have been a "frog" who fooled me into thinking that he was a "prince". I wished to believe him but I did not believe in myself. I longed to continue dating him but I was not secure enough in myself. I must find a way of acknowledging and coming to terms with my past without letting it blind my present and future via projection (isolating myself, hiding away for years).
The best things that I can do are:
Take people at their word. Since I am good at taking things literally, why not capitalise on that? I can use that to my advantage. In every walk of life, not only dating. With friends and ex-colleagues, too. Like I did with Miz. Let that help me see the good in people. Let that help people see the good in me. I am a caring albeit highly sensitive person. I do not need to jump to conclusions or automatically judge the other person of "playing" me, deliberately trying to "trick" me or "lying" to me.
Be extra careful to think about what I want at this point. And find the words to manifest the world that I want.
Understand how words can change everything so profoundly in their utterance.
Understand that Avi was not lying when he said "I meant every word I said or wrote, I was expressing what I was feeling at the moment back then."
[12/01/2020, 12:26:07] Avi: I meant every word I said or wrote, i was expressing what I was feeling at the moment back then. Maybe I did it too strongly, and maybe this would be my lesson, not to express everything that occurs to you, but I do back everything I said and wrote because I know that I meant it.
Understand that Avi might have expressed his feelings stronger than he meant. Likewise, understand that I might have interpreted his feelings stronger than I ought to.
Recognise that Avi did feel something for me at one point and that this was not a lie. The condemnation of his words "as a lie" was again projection - my own insecurities talking - still, even now! This was my mistake. Letting it win over me. Letting myself be defeated. Living out my life as a "victim". Not coming to terms with everything that had happened up until that point enough to understand what was going on.
Where do we go from here? I still hold hope that Avi will one day come back into my life. But I must accept the possibility that I have lost him forever. I guess that these are the risks that you take when you feel a certain way about someone. Learning how to fall in love is the hardest lesson that I am facing in my life. Perhaps the secret can never truly be "mastered".
At least I have finally found a resolution point in which I can begin to cultivate compassion with Avi and with myself. I still have the memories. I know that what I felt was real. I have the capacity to love again. 🕯
I am 80% there with the journalling.
The other 20%:
Out of today's session came a repetition of what so many other people have been saying to me for the last 2 years.
This trajectory made me realise something. The Avi / CheaterBuster situation. I commend Avi for saying "in order to make me happy, you first need to make yourself happy". He was right. My issue was with what happened afterwards. In my mind, I set up Avi to be the exact problem that I have been struggling with all of my life. By thinking about it, I was challenging him to become that problem.
The exact problem that made me seem "less happy" to begin with.
The disappearing act.
My concern was whether Avi would make the same mistake with someone else. My concern could be whether I will learn from my own mistake myself and ensuring that I do not make the same mistake with someone else. It does not matter what he does or does not do. That is not my concern.
My MH Champion says that it is sweet of me to care enough about other guy's feelings not to want the same thing to happen to them. Given the opportunity, I would be open about what happened between me and Avi without reserve. It is an important part of my life. I hope that he feels able to talk openly about me to others as well.
My MH Champion says that she reads me like an open book. She says that I could work on recognising my strengths. She says that I have developed confidence but I do not know it well enough. To me, that seems paradoxical. Surely, confidence comes with the act of knowing?
I alluded to what happened just over a year ago on 28/10/2019. I had a "crisis meeting" with my mum, my mental health care coordinator and her supervisor. My Self Esteem had hit rock bottom. I had not learned how to take care of myself. They got me to write 10 positive things about myself. I can see from my journal entry that I did eventually manage it. I remember sitting there in that room and finding it difficult. It was upsetting and disturbing. I remember that my mum was making lots of suggestions. I kept knocking back her suggestions. My MH Champion pointed out how positive it is that I have realised this. It shows progress.
My mental health history
Earliest memory. Sports at school. The teacher made us all change shirts, or even worse, playing without a shirt. I felt uncomfortable and self conscious about doing so in public. Nowadays, such practice might probably be illegal. I refused. I got into trouble. I remember looking hopefully at the road and having a fantasy about getting run over by a car. I was 10.
When I was a student, I had problems. The incident of trying to freeze myself to death comes to mind. During my 1st year, I had counselling. When I self harmed. I had 4 sessions of psychology. The outcome: "I must let people know how much water is in my bucket". This formed the foundation of my honesty principle. The principle that empowered me to write to Avi on New Year's Day.
Roger was a qualifier. He was a friend. He was a colleague. It was personal. It was professional. I found the situation too much. I ended up walking away from the situation in the nicest possible way. The relief sent my mood plummeting. I did not self harm or make a calculated suicide attempt. However, I found myself in a silent crying state. I lacked the words to disclose the level of my grief. I became incomprehensible. My flatmates called an ambulance, the paramedic peeled me off the bed because I was face down, suffocating. After 4 psychiatrists in hospital, I started speaking. When I descend into a state of extreme low mood, I lose the ability to speak. I cannot string a sentence together. I cannot find the words to talk about my depression. After then, I resolved to never let anyone feel like that about anyone for a while until I could regulate and manage myself better. I spent 3 years working on myself. The mental health system put me on antidepressants. Sertraline. I gained 21 kg and lost it. But I did not work through any of the issues with which I was struggling.
Avi was a qualifier. My response to him opened up all of those old wounds. On holiday, it was perceived that I was lonely and I was recommended to try dating. I came back, went on Tinder and found Avi. Beforehand, I had experienced Tinder. I never made progress with it because people on there seemed not to talk or engage with one another. They were merely "faces". I would send them messages. They would not respond. All that I had experienced were blank silences. I became frustrated with it to such an extent that I started sending numbers to people. 1 number for every day that passed in which I did not receive a response from them. It brought out all of my insecurities. Avi was different. He did respond. The conversation flowed naturally. Within a day, we met. At first, he seemed more keen on me than I was keen on him. He was constantly messaging me to say that he was cold, hungry or wondering what to eat.
[04/03/2019, 21:43:35] Avi: Just coldish
[08/03/2019, 16:29:55] Avi: My shoulder and neck got sore
[12/03/2019, 16:32:39] Avi: So why didn't you write to me to ask if I'm ok?
Initially, I was thinking "who is this guy and what does he want with me?
As the weeks progressed, I found myself more and more drawn into him. He melted my ice cap. He took things from base to base, starting with the sweet words, the careful flattery, the compliments and sentiments. To the hand-holding. To the hugs and embraces. To the kissing. To the sleeping together. All of those these gestures were instigated by him. I thought that he was inviting me round to his house to watch a movie.
Then he ghosted me. My MH Champion's mouth opened in shock at this point of the story. It was a shock for me. I could not believe it. It seemed to contradict everything that I had learned about him in a way in which I began to doubt myself. After everything, why would Avi change so suddenly? It was like a light switch being flipped from the on to the off position. There was something inhuman about it.
Because before he was always asking me when are we going to meet, saying how happy he would be to meet me, how lucky he was to know me etc. I can't understand why someone would suddenly change like that.
Something happened. I told him that I loved him. He felt uncomfortable about that. I pressurised him into confronting his feelings by arranging a meeting. He gave me all of the dates. He said that he would be back in the country on the 25th April and that we should not see each other until then. I said that this is fine. He needed time. I respected that. I said that I would give him time. The mistake was in asking him (not me) to be the one to make contact. I lacked the confidence to do so myself. The way in which he behaved in the 3 days between the 28th March, 2019 and our final meeting had already put a huge dent in my confidence. Asking him to make contact was a mistake. It put me in a vulnerable position. A position in which I would be expecting something from him. Something that might not come to be.
My MH Champion says that I showed a lot of courage and bravery.
[12:37, 2/5/2019] Rory Duffy: Wishing you the very best of luck in tonight's concert,you'll be great 😌
When it got to the 2nd May, I conjectured that all of the hope and feeling that I had invested in Avi would never be returned. I spent the rest of the year getting my life back together.
I was hungry for something. I was insecure. This insecurity culminated in me sitting in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens hallucinating; seeing figures coming towards me out of nowhere and disappearing, melting out of sight. This was the way in which my mind visualised metaphorically how I felt these fools and ghosts were treating me. It was not a healthy mindset to be in.
My community mental health team care coordinator helped me to realise that these thoughts and feelings were not "me" talking. They were my depression and social anxiety talking.
Those were the things I cannot control. Disengagement is an issue with how people perceive themselves. I include myself in that category.
What I can control is how I choose to respond and act upon it. That is the important thing. I chose not to remain silent. I chose to speak out. I chose to tell those guys where I was coming from. That is why I wrote those letters to those guys in the new year. That is why I wrote to Avi. My intention was not to blame him any more than I could blame myself. I know that the way in which I responded to it (i.e., not responding to it) could attribute more to my own mental state than his. As he so rightly pointed out. I wished to make him aware of how he had impacted me over the past year. As a starting point towards understanding and eventual resolution.
Some people are deliberately put in people's lives to help them overcome challenges that they have never managed to overcome before.
I was in an unhealthy cycle whereby I perceived that these things were happening to me and that circumstances were conspiring against me. People would push the narrative of "let it go, let it go". They would make me feel blameworthy as a victim for wanting to address it. It would feel constantly under pressure to burn whatever was happening. I was in a cycle whereby:
Guys would try me out for their own selfish gains and pleasures. Use me. Drop me whenever they felt like it.
I am a creature of habit. It is hard to see beyond those cycles. And escape them through our words and actions. It is hard not to become defined by my experiences.
The way in which Avi behaved towards me was like a switch flipping on to off. He suddenly changed. It was like the mask was removed and he let me see him for who he truly was.
I just don't understand how someone could just switch it off like that after being so affectionate and dependent before. It's like he's a different person. And the "thank you very much" pretty much says it all. That my role in the relationship was simply a form of self-validation/gratification for him. Nothing more. It was all on his terms. I've been used and served my purpose. Now it's like he's just switched off as soon as he's done with me. Or as soon as he's got what he wanted. Like it was a challenge and he has passed the challenge by getting me to open up and now I have he's got his validation thank you very much goodbye. Because people like to chase the unattainable and as soon as I become attainable all excitement is lost in the chase. After all he said about wanting to get to know me, about being lucky to know me. How could he just blank me off like that? I feel crippled with emotional pain, I doubt everything. I don't know what's real anymore. I can't believe anything anyone says. It's all just a lie. I just don't understand why someone would do that to someone. It's always the same. Someone comes along, plays me and then leaves me in the dark. Someone gets me out, opens me up, plays with me then throws me away. I wish things could be different. Simpler, like I just won't have to ever worry about not being with anyone ever again.
Unmatching with Avi on Tinder last year on the 6th May was the worst possible thing that I could have done. I burned the evidence, finished his work. If I had left him matched, I might have been able to check up on him whenever I needed to. I might have retained some degree of control, however small and seemingly insignificant.
That is why Tinder and other existing apps such as Plenty of Fish are damaging to my mental health. They restrict people from having control. They control, not empower people.
My MH Champion says this:
My MH Champion acknowledges that I obviously felt a deep connection with this man. I love him. I still have feelings for him now, despite it being almost 2 years. I would not be talking about it otherwise! She says that it is recent. I am still sore from it. Time is a healer. She says that I am already doing incredibly well by being able to talk about it. And having the courage to let myself love again. Or open myself up to the risk of getting hurt again. She says that this shows strength. She says that once I have done that, and teach / train myself how to address the things that I find challenging, I will become more resilient. These things will become like "water off a duck's back".
I have paid for the searches. And it hasn't worked. How do I feel? I'm gutted. But I have no regrets. I would have felt worse had I not done the search. Why? Because I would have been forever doubting/questioning whether or not I should have done it. And I would rather have certainty/closure in some form or another than spending the rest of my life wondering whether or not I should have taken this opportunity.
We talked through 2 recent issues.
Which brings me back to the original point about expending energy. In terms of how it relates to my view of a person not being disposable and my attitude towards blocking. In this way, I am treating a situation, not a person, as disposable.
What is the difference between that and ghosting? I define ghosting as intention-driven.
I define "ghosting" as:
The intention to end a relationship by withdrawing from and not responding to all communication in the vain hope that the lack of communication might transmit some sort of "message".
By temporarily stepping back from a situation, I would not be "ghosting" a person. My actions would not deliberately restrict their liberty to follow up on their enquiry. I would be taking my time to respond. That is important.
She advised me that with people and situations, there might be a tendency to respond in the heat of the moment (especially under social pressure) when emotions are flying about everywhere. This can come out abrasive, undermine trust and prevent a positive dialogue from opening up.
Once the moment is gone, the opportunity is gone. That is why it is positive to step back, take a deep breath, regain composure and return when I am feeling more confident.
This is what I did not do after I told Avi that I loved him on the 28th March, 2019. I panicked. I felt that I pressurised him into meeting me on the 31st March, 2019. He did not have time to properly formulate his response to my proclamation of love. He owned up to saying some things that were misleading like "needing time". The time that I ended up needing - and taking - in those 7 months between 27th May last year and New Year's Day this year.
[30/03/2019, 10:12:48] Rory Duffy: I'm sorry if I got intense on Thursday, I was feeling under the weather and I didn't mean to make you feel any discomfort. I hope you enjoyed the party last night and I'm still up for meeting today if you want to.
Can I believe that it is now exactly a year since I started compiling this journal? Journalling is a great way to track my progress.
I alluded to the comparing / contrasting of the 2 "assertiveness" / customer service incidents:
As a club owner, I would never have given me a refund had I shown that subjective attitude. Honesty is great. But there are different forms of honesty. Back in 2015, I thought "I will be honest with everyone about anything and everything". All well and good. But it was not the sort of honesty that did me any favours. There is nothing "dishonest" about tailoring the information that I choose to disclose. Information that might be used against me in court so to speak. Cue Ruby Blue Bar commenting on my review quoting what I wrote about being sick. Cruel, for sure, but perfectly legal and legitimate. It is about picking and choosing my battles. Likewise, I do not have to tell whoever I am with anything and everything on my mind.
This is what is on my mind:
I am working from home Monday. Tuesday & Wednesday will be the intense days. 6:30 wake up, cycling and running. Sorting out major issues in the data team etc. I need to be on the ball for those days. Things got a bit out of control lately. We had an emergency Teams meeting. In which we decided to not respond to other departments until we have consulted amongst ourselves as a team. Why? There are a few big issues needing ironing out. Namely CAF, Gift Aid, Legacies & Payroll Giving. We have been trying to iron out little bugs and errors as we go along. But the fundraising teams keep coming back. We end up in a situation of "emails flying around everywhere", directors being Cc'd in when they should not be. Things got a bit crazy. The reason why things "are out of control" is because the processes are not working. In my manager's words, we have been left to pick up mutated horse manure.
Why am I telling all of this to Rob? I do not know when to stop. This is my problem. I go into matters in detail (too much for some people). That is my problem at work, too (not only in this job). Why my manager is trying to rein me in. She says that I am "airing my dirty laundry in public". I will stop 😔
It is OK if I need to let off steam. I am writing about it. To try and keep it in. I am apologetic to Rob if I get a bit too intense and talkative sometimes. It is making our team look unprofessional and what we need to do is discuss everything on Tuesday & Wednesday and start from ground zero.
Do I fancy going to Park Lane? Highgate? Afterwards Central Station? Yeah that sounds good. Sunday? Tomorrow might be better for me if we are out late. No it will be too dark. Is that a problem? Sorry. Just asking. Didn't mean to sound confrontational. 😉 😌
We could meet for drinks tomorrow. And then meet for lunch on Sunday. I feel more up for meeting tomorrow. Sunday is more of a chill, stay at home day. But maybe if he preferred Sunday. I could do a group social tomorrow and then meet him separately Sunday. If he wanted to invite others on Sunday, we could do that too.
I am learning how to compromise. That is a good thing, right? Being transparent. Laying out all of my options / cards on the table. But what is the difference between that and putting out too much information? That is something that I must work out for myself. Impacted by my ASD.
My MH Champion points out that it is a 2-way process. I often feel like I say stupid, tactless, insensitive things to the head of department. Last Thursday, had a bereavement. Yesterday, I was surprised to see her in the office. I said all of the correct things to her in the morning. She even acknowledged that she hates it when someone who she knows has had a recent bereavement. She never knows what to say to them. Now she is on the receiving end. I can see that she understands. At the end of the day, I decided to check in on her, to say goodbye (as she does not come into the office much). I asked her if she got much done today, which was fine. I jokingly said: "I am going to cycle home now, and hopefully not get run over". She said "yes, that would be ideal". Afterwards, I was kicking myself because I felt like I had said something insensitive, making a lighthearted comment after what she has been through. That is possibly because it was playing on my mind. I felt nervous. I could not control / felt consumed by my thoughts.
Compare this to a similar situation with my previous manager after work.
My MH Champion said we are all different. Our minds work in different ways. She said that the head of department has worked with her fair share of "crazy" people over the years. I perceived that the head of department might be "immune" or desensitised to my wacky proclamations. She possibly did not make the connection in her mind.
We catastrophise. Our brains are programmed to be self-critical. That is how some of us are wired as human beings. Ideally, I would like to sit down with my head of department and have an informal chat. Much like I am doing now with my MH Champion. Perhaps over an intoxicating drink. Let her get to know me on that level.
My MH Champion says that as long as my intention is not to deliberately upset or offend people then that is fine. Equally, my head of department would probably say something if it did upset or offend her. We learn from one another. We deal with situations differently. It is a 2-way process of learning about:
Sometimes the 2 become confused. Especially when there are issues or insecurities on the table.
With Rob, I feel like I am "throwing around my weight". I feel confident and fired up by the chat that we had this evening. It has helped me feel better about myself and understand that things are OK. My mental health will not affect my work like it did last year (I had to take many days off). I am taking ownership of my mental health.
It makes for a higher precipice from which to fall. At least I am tracking everything.
I have started to feel like my previous issues are getting in the way of my relationship with Rob. And that I should break things off with him or at least go on a temporary break for fear of hurting him. I feel like I am telling him too much. And that I am bringing my issues into our relationship.
3 improvements on those thoughts.
The line to address here might be whether or not the way I am is hurting him. I should carry on and let things continue naturally. After all, I do not define myself as going on a "temporary break" with friends. So why should I do so with partners if I believe that the rules are similar?
In March, before the 1st lockdown, one of my Meetup group members said to me:
People might back off or disappear from my life because they are scared of me. My confidence, openness and honesty is too much for them to handle. That is not my problem. That is something that they cannot cope with in their lives.
[08/03/2019, 16:52:39] Avi: I just like to be honest and frank about things
I have insecurities and anxieties about Avi & I crossing paths in real life, either through a Meetup group or on the street. I have played out this scenario multiple times in my head:
We are at a social. He is there. I walk up to him and said "oh hi, funny you should pop up again. You do exist after all?" For some, that might be too much. I might not stop there. I might introduce myself to the friend / flame who he was with and outright tell them in a one-liner that Avi & I used to be involved. I told him that I loved him and he ghosted me. Like I did with Lalo in front of this then boyfriend (who then split up with him as an indirect result of this). I am even more prone to embarrassing myself and others after a couple of drinks (like I did with the guy whose name I cannot even remember at the social - oh wow, I cannot even remember his name now there is a revelation*).
This was my anxiety talking.
Avi might know that I would do that. Since I am open in sharing our relationship. With the proviso that whatever he claims to have meant before ("I meant everything that I said or did back then") is qualified by his discomfort about having our relationship out in the open. His discomfort suggested to me before that he did not mean those things at all. Or that if he did, he only meant it in the short term.
[07/01/2020, 21:44:24] Rory Duffy: Consider these words also… Was this genuinely your intention, to make me smile? Is this what you wanted, but only for a short time? Or was there another purpose behind it?
[12/01/2020, 12:26:07] Avi: I meant every word I said or wrote, i was expressing what I was feeling at the moment back then.
[16/01/2020, 16:22:07] Rory Duffy: If you do back everything you said or wrote because you meant it then why express the need for privacy? It’s clear that, even if your feelings did change at some point, the dates/time stamps are all there so what’s there to be ashamed about? Your discomfort almost suggests you’re in denial of what you said or wrote, and - by extension - didn’t really mean it at all.
A friend is not just for Christmas. Neither is a partner. Or a pet. I have shown him honesty. He might feel as disconcerted about coming across me as I am about coming across him in real life. The possibility that I might openly share. The truth would set me free.
I have established that sitting on my hands and letting someone or anyone else do that to me (in seeming contradiction to that they said or did before) is not my way of dealing with a situation. It will not make me feel any better about myself. I am not speaking out for myself.
One of my friends has had his Facebook account hacked. In recent weeks, I have seen this go around. Another one of my friends was affected, too. The best thing to do is advise anyone to click the 3 dots and select "Remove" rather than clicking on the link in the message. I hope that he is OK! He says that this is annoying. But the plus side is he is hearing from people! He saw that I launched a group on Facebook.
I believe that there is a reason for everything. I think that a lot of good will come out of a seemingly annoying and unnecessary experience. He has heard from some friends 😀 😀
I am OK. I had my 1st meeting with my new MH Champion. I am brimming with excitement and optimism. Full of positives. I need to let myself come down slowly and gently ground myself.
Talking of apps and social media, I have lost 3 kg in a month.
I am not going to bore people with posts regarding mental health by shoving it down their throats on Facebook. I know how annoying and ironic it is to see that from people. Sometimes, the exact qualifiers who affect my mental health (e.g., Victoria). I can keep that to myself. There is no harm in sharing a concrete, quantifiable achievement (3 kg).
Accurate prediction of what happened with Miz on 29/12/2020!
I am feeling better. I still need ongoing support. We talked about my exchanges with Avi. His 1st message was perfect, everything that I longed him to say and more. But his 2nd message made me angry. It was mixed up. At best, I interpreted it as a tissue of lies and excuses. My care coordinator suggests that he feels guilty. I suggested that he was only thinking of himself. My care coordinator sees that he is trying. If I give him the benefit of the doubt, there is nothing for me to lose. She agrees that everything was fine apart from the last paragraph. He was doing fine but then cancelled out everything he said before in the last paragraph. If he truly stands by and backs what he said and wrote, surely he would have no problem with his words being quoted in my journal? His expression of discomfort might suggest that he did not feel that way about me, after all.
What about my drafted message? She says it sounds positive. Positive and upbeat. The only word she would change is "used". Change it to "unsafe". It is a lot truer and gentler. I felt "unsafe" by the way he treated me. I read out the message to her out loud. She nodded. She said that it is honest. Direct. To the point. I was only worried that it sounded negative. She says no. It is fine. Send it. Send it now. I wanted to recall something that he said to me on 8th March about saying something that "put me off". She agrees that this helps the message hit home.
Done. Sent. ✅
I might add that I would have been OK with it had there been a light at the end of the tunnel, had he contacted me like he said he would. But he never did. Just left me to languish. I walked away from Hammersmith that Sunday night believing that I would be in pain but only for a short while until he contacted me again. I never thought that he never intended to contact me. What then? Why all this pain for no gain? That is the confusing and upsetting part in this. All might have been forgiven had he said "actually, I do not wish for us to be in contact ever again". Instead, he left me to go through that realisation, that thought process, all by myself. He would never come back. All of the time, I was doubting myself and receiving nothing from him apart from the occasional "Like" on my Facebook. Could I, should I have said something at this point? It was left all on me. People told me "stop putting it all on you". But by not contacting him (as advised), that is precisely what I was doing. He expressed the need for time. I thought that this was what he wanted. Time. I was willing to give him that if it meant him coming back. But he did not. All of my hope was unfounded. It was for nothing. What did I get out of it?
He went from one extreme to the other. From contacting me every day, sometimes more than once per day. To absolutely nothing. How could I process that in such a short space of time?
[08/03/2019, 16:46:45] Avi: Did I say something that put you off?
Hi Abi, how are you doing? Long time. Hope you are well. Just reflecting what happened back in 2010. I just realise that you were playing with my emotions with Dan, and that’s not healthy at all. One should not play with one’s emotions. I hope you haven’t done that to anyone else. I’m just trying to make amends and communicate with my old friends and keep the contact going. Apart from that, I’m well, happy new year - and decade!! Gosh, when did we get so old…?
I have made it clear to my care coordinator that I am not ready to be discharged in February. I am making a lot of progress. There is still a lot of work to be done. There is still a lot for me to learn. She says that she will have a meeting with her team at the end of the month and make this known to them. She will pass my notes onto my next care coordinator and ensure that I am put with someone who understands me. I highlighted that she understands me very well. A lot of people do not agree with my honesty.
I cited the "leave it, they are not worth it" narrative that I get from so many people. She says that this is because those people do not have friendships. From her point of view, she is happy to keep me on indefinitely. The way in which we are working is positive. We draft messages together. I send them each time. They reply, I run it past her. She helps me to understand how I might interpret it. This is not a problem for her. Much less than other patients.
There are 2 issues that I need to work through:
My care coordinator sees me getting stronger, and building my confidence each day. Her main concern is that I do not drop back down again. If it means meeting for an hour once a month, once every three months or even once a fortnight, to review and send some messages, it is no trouble at all. The main priority is that we keep building back my confidence and self esteem.
How are things with Rob? Good. Last Friday, We went to LL together. We had a dance together in Freedom Bar, Soho. He stayed overnight at mine. I cued him when it was time to leave. He is compliant. He is happy to go along with whatever. My care coordinator is pleased about that. I have to take the lead in terms of drawing the line. Which is OK. I think.
Last Saturday, I had some recording that I needed to get done. I am learning to value my own time. Learning that it is possible to be in a relationship and still have some "me" time. This is a massive improvement. This is what friendship is all about. It is a life about balance.
Rory spent the first few years of his life in an ice cave, carving out his palace of wonder. He's a bit of a love doll, but he who melts the ice shall have his reward.
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I have been recommended to acknowledge and process all that I have been though, where it all started from how it has affected me.