The guy who I was talking to described me as "sad and vulnerable". He observed that I do not love myself. Zakir, the guy from Cock the Tavern? Yes. Well, I wonder if he loves himself. He says that I seem "lost, without purpose or direction". He says that he wants to help me. But I listen to people's actions, not their words. And he says that I need a new hobby. I must be vigilant. It felt like he was hitting on me. I did not mind, of course, but it was a bit intense. I did not feel attracted to him. Well, he should have shared his life purpose with me. True. He says that I need to talk with someone on a regular basis.
It is true that lately, I have been feeling lost, without purpose or direction. I am pretty good at knowing what I want. And what triggers me. Outwardly, I seem driven and focused. But maybe that is because I put my energies into looking in the wrong places? It felt quite moving to hear that insight of me being "lost, without purpose or direction" from a complete stranger.
I talked to Zakir about my hang-ups with clothes. On Sunday, I went out to breakfast with Rob. I spent 5 minutes trying to decide which bag to bring and another 5 minutes trying to decide which buff (bandana) to wear. And then several minutes debating over which pair of sunglasses (even though the sun had not come out yet) and whether or not I should put on my earrings. We were just going for breakfast! Who cares? Although I recognise that no-one cares what I am wearing, it is important to me in terms of my self-perception. My clothes and accessories are my identity. They are an extension of my personality. They are an important part of who I am and how I perceive myself. And how I perceive myself is more important than how others perceive me. Rob is different in his dress style. His is more toned down and minimalist. I have a pair of Inaayayi joggers that I ordered from China that I ordered in Asian size (L) and are way too big. Fortunately the seller sent me the smaller size (S) at no extra cost. I have tried to flog the size L on Vinted but not managed to. Since I did not get Rob a birthday present, I offered him the joggers. He said that they were too "loud" for him. Although he likes me, he does not like me for my clothes. He likes me because he respects my colourful style and the way in which I feel about myself.
I showed Zakir a couple of other OCD traits that I have such as the fitness watch / VeryFitPro / MyFitnessPal calorie and nutrient tracking. The colour-coded ring binders where the colour logic matches the colour-coding of my band costumes. Even my socks are co-ordinated with whatever I am wearing. On blogs, I justify my text. When I was at school, I used to justify my handwriting! My mind is extremely structured and compartmentalised. Most people find it tiring. My thought processes are detailed, methodical, convoluted and drawn out. They cannot cope with it.
I explained that I am ASD. Zakir asked if I had considered the possibility that I have ADHD. This seemed like an odd question, since no-one has asked it to me before. His rationale for asking was that I seemed to be distracted all of the time. He asked me if I find it difficult to concentrate. Well, he got that wrong. Quite the opposite! I am shuttered. I can only concentrate on only one thing at a time. I eat the same meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, every day of the week. Monday-Thursday is porridge for breakfast. Friday-Sunday is eggs on toast for breakfast. I have omelette lunches on my porridge days. And on the weekends, I have Linda McCartney sausages, half a tin of baked beans and instant mash. Every week. For my dinner, I will make a big pot, divide up my calories and freeze it in plastic tubs. In comparison to my dress sense, my eating and drinking habits are surprisingly bland and regimented. I do not consider myself a great cook. In 2018, I made a food blog, which you can view here. But I made the conscious choice not to continue it beyond 2018, since the screen shooting, editing and publishing takes time. Anyway, the food blog was part of my previous recovery plan from my 1st stint on anti-depressants. Although it helped me to look and feel better physically, did not really address what was going on mentally and emotionally. It was only in 2019 that I started this journal to help me regulate myself in those aspects.
Self control and regulation are important to me. The reason why I was crying on Wednesday was because I felt compromised and pushed into a state of mind where I felt out of control. Someone (Lily) overstepped my boundaries. Took advantage of me. Maybe I overstepped her boundaries by using her as a pawn on Meetup. Using a digital platform to make it look like she was scheduling in those events. Karma. Payback. We ended up hurting one another. I would not be surprised if she had been crying over the weekend. Like I assured Jenny, I would take the consequences for my actions. I certainly did. On Tuesday night, I sat there petrified, watching the whole conversation unfold in a WhatsApp group of 217 people. A conversation about me. Rather than respond instantly, I set myself a rule to withhold myself until I felt comfortable and ready to respond. One of the lesbians who knows me observed this and made it known to everyone.
[21:10, 03/08/2021] CW: @Rory Duffy is a nice guy. He doesn't always respond quickly because he likes to take time to respond to messages correctly. He probably isn't ignoring you
Patiently and resolutely, I set myself a rule to not respond until the following morning. However, I had already made Lily a co-organiser of the Meetup page on which I set up the group. She took advantage of my trust. I ought not to have been surprised. She took advantage of Jenny's trust by posting screenshots of the organisers chat onto the main group chat. She logged into the Meetup page, changed the branding back to how it was previously, moved the events and attendees over to her new page, even messaged the 2000+ members on my mailing list signposting them to her new page and posted the links on the WhatsApp group. Before I had the chance to respond. I was not expecting her to do that. It completely caught me off guard. It triggered me into betraying my own rules about not responding straight away. Betraying a part of myself. It forced me into a place where I felt out of control and out of my comfort zone. I felt the need to respond instantaneously. I had a message drafted for the following morning. Her actions provoked me into reacting impulsively. I reverted the branding, rescheduled in the event listings and posted the following message on the WhatsApp group.
Through this provocation, I felt like I had revealed more about myself in my actions than my words. This notion challenged the core of my thinking. It dented my confidence. It took my mind into a place where I was not intending for it to go. The reason why I was crying was because I felt like I had been pushed into losing control for a moment. I found myself in an environment where my trust was taken advantage of and that if I did not respond immediately, people would judge, make accusations about me and automatically think the worst of me. Lily did not give me time or space. This was the ultimate problem. Everything that happened that night was out of my control. All that I could do was sit and watch helplessly as I was first removed as an admin and second removed from the group entirely. I have never felt so powerless in my whole life. To be degraded like that in front of 217 people on a WhatsApp group.
It was no wonder that I felt suicidal on Wednesday. I felt like my actions had turned inwards on me, destroyed trust in me and that I would never recover from it.
It is true that I do feel lost, without purpose or direction. I do need a new hobby. I am conscious that I have been putting so much time, energy, thought and emotion into projects and people who do not value me. But l look back at my other projects e.g., Red & Black Music and Diáspora. Even though I have not pursued those projects for over a year, I still feel tired and exhausted. From having to manage musicians. From having to work out non-pressurising messages in the hope that this might convince them to do my recording project (he says bending over backwards). It is draining. In the past, I resorted to send standard messages all of the time to help me preserve my energy. Until people said that I was cold and impersonal. That it was supposed to be a band. Not a bank job. This has changed my relationship with music. Maybe this is the complex that I need to work on. In my head, music and managing people has become inextricable. I no longer have the confidence to sit down at the piano and play without judging myself or wondering whether or not it is worth it. I can listen to music and enjoy it but I cannot replicate or sustain that pleasure without agonising over how to overcome the obstacle of people and conflicting interests. Such is my relationship with music. Maybe this is a relationship that I need to heal. Because music should be an important part of me and who I am. Yet I feel like I cannot engage with it anymore because I am constantly thinking about other people. How they might respond. How invested they might be. Whether or not they would be down for recording or performing with me despite their honourable assurances that they will. Whether I listen or play for pleasure, my mind drifts into these anxiety-provoking thought cycles.
Thus, I have put my energies into other projects. The Meetup groups. I have come up against the same problem. Dealing with people. Managing people. Navigating their hidden agendas. Conflicts of interest. My school psych assessments always said that I was not good at working with others. Fair enough. Yet in this instance, I tried to work with Lily and the others. And I felt like my attempts were foiled. Maybe the tone of that message sent last Saturday was not quite right. A little too commanding and authoritative.
[18:37, 31/07/2021] Rory Duffy:
I took this approach because I felt like they had not respected Jenny. Someone needed to step up and show strength, leadership and decisiveness. This is the way that things are going to be. Since no-one else was doing that, I thought that this was the right thing to do! The other 4 admins seemed out of control. I did not wish to control them. But I felt that by emanating self-control in my words, I could inspire control and empowerment in them. Instilling trust while laying down the ground rules. Maybe this is not what they needed? I was not to know. They did not keep in the loop, despite me being still listed as an "admin". They came to their own conclusions. Without my input.
People constantly tell me that I am too kind and that I need to "grow some balls" or "show some spine". This was me attempting to do that. Jenny came onto the chat afterwards and testified that I am a "nice guy" and a "people pleaser". Maybe this helped others to understand the motives behind my words and actions.
[15:38, 04/08/2021] Jenny: Rory didn't steal anything. He's the kind of guy who wants to please everyone and doesn't like feuds or disagreements (read 'nice guy, people please').
Despite nailing it on Saturday evening, I took the repercussions for it on Tuesday night. It was humiliating enough being removed as an admin in front of all those people. Even more humiliating being kicked off the group entirely. I think that people recognised this. They branded it as "bullying". Despite the support that I have received, the experience has put a huge dent in my confidence. Once again, I have retreated into my shell. I have reverted to my meek, docile, doormat self. Until the next person comes along and tells me that I need to step up and "grab the bull by the horns". And the whole cycle starts all over again.
Why do I feel lost, without a sense of purpose or direction? Because the relationship that I have with myself is not one of self compassion or self love. I have tried to work on it. But I always seem to break whatever I touch since I am broken inside. Whatever project or direction I choose to take, something inside of me manifests and destroys whatever it is that I am trying to create or support. I do not know if this is a subconscious process. Zakir observed that I do not love myself. He said that I am outwardly confident, articulate and transparent, like an open book. But I lack Self Esteem. He could not understand why. I need to have more confidence in myself. He said that I am handsome, intelligent, talented and kind. He said that I have everything going for me. Why do I have such a low opinion of myself? I cannot remember ever saying to him that I did. It was something that he "read" through my words and body language. He said that I seemed unhappy in my demeanour. I explained to him that yesterday, I had been practically planning my own funeral. He recoiled at that and frowned. Maybe he was catching the end vibes of me coming out of that dip? Maybe I have repaired my mental state to some extent but physically and emotionally, I am still worn out from it? It is ironic that I wrote on Tuesday how I had never felt more confident ever before in my life and that same night, I experienced a knock to my confidence; a fall from a great height. It is true that I took a massive risk on Saturday. I took my confidence outside of its usual comfort zone. And I put myself in a vulnerable position through the act of doing so.
A memory sticks out. When I was at university, I spent Valentine's night drinking myself into an emotional wreck while listening to the James Blunt "Back To Bedlam" album. When the irony occurred of my loved up housemate returned with her loved up partner, I took off into the night and went to a house party. When I was at the house party, I tried to escape by climbing over the garden fence. Mary brought me into the house and put me in her bed. Her words were "I have always thought of you as a happy person, Rory, But you are not happy, really, are you?"
On the surface, I seem to be motivated, driven and incredibly organised. Decisive, career minded, planning ahead and sure of what I want. But deep down, am I really? Is this nothing more than a façade? Do I distract myself through my administration? Like many people, I long to be loved, valued and appreciated. And although there are probably several people who love, value and appreciate me, I do not seem to be allowing myself to see this. It is like there is a glass shell preventing any of that love from reaching me. I am so afraid of getting hurt. LV observed that my fear is in suffering and my suffering is in fear. I live my fear.
[23:04, 21/10/2019] LV: You need to live, Rory
Where did this originate? Why is it that my care coordinator sat me down in that room with my mum and asked me to write down 10 things that I like about myself, and how much I struggled? My mum kept making suggestions and I kept batting them back at her.
Read More: 28/10/2019
Whenever something goes wrong, I turn the blame and anguish inwards on myself. I want to find out how this process began. At work, I have a MH Champion. But I feel shy because I keep sending her long messages and she does not reply. Maybe I need more substantial care?
I put my happiness in external sources. Whether it is clothes or men. I invest my energies in my fixations on those things. People often misinterpret me. They say that I need to focus on myself more. Which I do agree with. But life is a reflective surface. Sometimes, in order to focus on ourselves, we need to focus on the responses that we have to the stimuli in our environments. Which is why I fixate on guys and drafting perfect messages to them. Or performing complicated manoeuvres with online shops, coupons, points and discount sales. I have a high attention to detail. I am hyper-sensitive. Some people do not understand that and they think that I am harming myself through my hyper-awareness and sensitivity to detail. They do not understand that it is not the guy who I am working on. It is myself. What am I going to say next time that I am in a similar situation with another guy? What am I going to do to ensure that I am getting what I want out of a relationship? These are the bigger questions that I am trying to address by working on these messages and interactions at a microcosmic level. The bigger questions are important. But it is impossible to work on them without breaking them down into granular particles (for me anyway). Is this taken to mean that I put all of my happiness into external sources? When I came out of hospital in April 2019, my family and friends were advising me to do little things to make me feel good. Find somewhere nice to live. By myself some nice summer clothes. Join Meetup. This is what I have been encouraged to do to make small enhancements to my life and make me feel happy. Maybe the mistake is that I have let those things dominate my life. Should I give up my material possessions and live a hermit life, one of more mental clarity, emotional stability and peace? Should I concentrate on helping others who are less fortunate than myself? Rather than my self-serving needs and interests? Would this be for the right reasons? People always tell me that I need to take care of myself. But how can I take care of myself if I am not taking care of others around me? It is a two-way process. If I live selfishly, is this not going to alienate me and jeopardise my relationships with others? My dad misunderstands me. He always catches me on the opposite side of whichever sine wave of mental discourse that I happen to be on. Like in June, for example, after my cousin's wedding picnic, I felt anxious about not knowing what to say to people because I did not know what questions to ask. To which my dad responded "it is important to ask people about themselves rather than only taking about yourself". This is what I was thinking anyway!!! Why did he feel the need to patronise me into thinking that I was not? Within the context of people telling me that I need to take care of myself and take back my life? It is confusing and contradictory.
Zakir says that I am "too much" of a relativist. In our conversation about ASD and ADHD, he was asking me if I was assessed. I confirmed yes. He asked me if I was diagnosed. I told him that I was assessed and that I have a clinical report. This is enough for me! He asked me again if the doctors qualified me for the diagnosis. I shot back "with all due respect, that is a personal question". Yes, I feel comfortable to have it in my journal, published openly. But I felt less comfortable having the question put to me by a stranger. I only tell those who I know and trust about my journal - this is key! I might have come across a little abrupt and over-assertive. My depression is part of who I am and I feel confident enough to talk about it openly. Maybe less so with my autism assessment (due to the way in which people interpret it). Immediately, the stranger backtracked and apologised. I clarified that I did not mind him asking. But that it was my choice of whether or not I choose to answer. And that I would not allow myself to feel pressurised by him. That said, I did feel the need to explain myself a little more. I used to say "I have autism". But now, I cannot be bothered. I simply say "I am autistic". Because people might not question otherwise. What is the whole point of having that lengthy conversation about my clinical report when people might not remember or care? By this point, Zakir seemed to twig that I had not qualified for the diagnosis. My response was, "if that is what you believe, you must believe it". We define our realities through what we believe. Seeing is not believing. Believing is seeing. Zakir cited that clinical reports are empirical. I responded by highlighting that clinical criteria evolves. It is not set in stone. It is not written in the stars. Zakir said that I am "too much of a relativist". My response was "on which spectrum"? Why would it be "too much". He said that it makes it difficult for me to articulate myself in a social context if there is no common ground. And we are back to labels. In recent months, I have been thinking a lot about labels and how we identify ourselves. I do not think that labels are completely wrong or bad. We must become masters of them and not slaves to them. They must be means to ends rather than ends in themselves. We can define ourselves through labels but we must not let labels define who we are. It is a paradox. I explained that I am a Ravenclaw. Harry Potter house. What is it about Ravenclaw that I identify with? We are outspoken. We are not afraid to be different. We fall just outside the box labelled "other". We think outside the box. We march to our own beat. We are individuals in every sense of the word.
I told him that I had studied existentialism. At school, I had read Kierkegaard and Sartre. We are the sum total of our actions, our reactions. We are the products of our experience. This is a philosophy that I buy into completely. We cannot simply "be" something that is "out there". We are gelatinous beings that absorb life through osmosis. Like chameleons, we evolve, morph and adapt to the environments (people, places and situations) that we find ourselves in. Zakir suggested that someone who might class themselves as "disabled" might not be "disabled" in clinical terms. My response was "so be it". In the eyes of other people and society. But does that matter? Is the most important factor not how we see ourselves? We are islands. We are on our own individual journeys through life. There is no true collective spirit. We are born alone. We die alone. Everything else in life simply comes and goes. Life happens. People come in and out of our lives and change it in some way. My response to someone who perceives themselves as disabled is to show compassion for their thoughts. Who are we to judge? We cannot see what is going on inside someone else's head. We do not know their life story. What they have been through. What they have experienced. I keep thinking of what happened with CL the other day and how one of the admins advised everyone to "avoid" her for their own safety. And how the admins advocated a "safe space" for the queer circuit through their toxic positivity and lack of integrity. Creating an environment that felt unsafe. One that ostracises people on the basis of what they believe. That is not a nice way to treat people. It is divisive and uncaring. It ironically goes against my whole notion of "queer". And against the "inclusive" nature on which they portray themselves and their group (see their Instagram: "Community ran inclusive LGBT+ meet up"). How can they call themselves "queer" and "inclusive" when they exclude people on the basis of social norms? Zakir told me about a man who underwent racial transition. He was born white and caucasian. But inside, he was Asian. My response to the transition was that this was something "beautiful and brilliant". The world needs more people who are individual and unique. How many people can say that they have been through a racial transition? It is an amazing story. It is unusual and different. It makes us question ourselves. It raises questions. To me, this is true progression.
I am working on myself. Lately, I have felt on my own in that. I am not receiving enough support. I have been concentrating my energies on helping other people, like Jenny. Because I have been in a similar position to her and I know how hard it feels. Empathy. That is a nice quality. Maybe I am giving too much to other people and not taking back enough for myself? Life is a confusing, complex and convoluted mirror maze of two-way projections. I told Zakir about Avi Taler. How our relationship seemed to break down in this complicated two-way projection. I told him that I loved him. He might not have been ready to hear that. Because (as suggested by a stranger at a Meetup on 07/12/2019 who did not know Avi Taler): he might not have loved himself. But in the act of telling him that I loved him, that, too, might have been evidence that I do not love myself. Because I find myself fixated on men who I am attracted to yet do not provide what I need emotionally or mentally? I told Avi Taler that I wanted to make him happy. His response was true. In order to make him happy, I must first make myself happy. It touched a nerve. The hardest challenge was hearing these words come from the one person who I wanted to make happy. Who ironically was happy with or without me.
I joined Meetup to find another Avi Taler! If he comes back, I might interpret this as the Universe wanting me to work on my relationship with him. 01/10/21
I do not buy into the "it is not you, it is the other person" philosophy. This is akin to playground bullying: "you started it. No, you started it!" It is not that simple. Projection (like that mirror maze) works in multiple directions. We cannot always control what happens to us. But we can control our responses to it. I keep repeating this mantra to myself. Yes, I might have thought that Avi Taler "played me" or "led me on". But I only think that he did because I allowed myself to be "played" and "led on" by him.
[12/01/2020, 12:26:07] Avi: I never meant to trick you, to play you, there was no plan or agenda or secret motives.
I cannot entirely blame Avi Taler. I was in a weak place. I was not fully in control of myself. I let myself become carried away. I had strong feelings for him. But they were feelings that sent me off balance. This is why I tried to take my life 3x that year. I was not able to master myself. I felt like all of these circumstances were happening to me for a specific reason (out of my control) and that I was being tested by external forces. Now I realise that this was a projection of my inner self onto the outer world. Avi Taler was worried about hurting me to the extent that he ended up hurting me. I was worried about get hurt to the extent that I allowed myself to get hurt by him. Both of us were in this love cycle where we were driven by our fears. At the time, I tried to change that. By drafting him a letter. A letter that I never sent. People told me to concentrate on myself. Sending that letter might have helped me to concentrate on myself. But I did not let myself realise this at the time due to the advice that was given to me by the people surrounding me. And in the end, Avi Taler wondered why I never enquired to him for answers and why I left it 7 months to attain closure. He had a point.
The way I'm understanding things (correct me if I'm wrong) is you're afraid of hurting me and I'm afraid of being hurt.
[12/01/2020, 12:26:07] Avi: I think it would be unfair on my behalf to put myself on your spot or judging you because there are probably many things I don't know, but I must say I can relate to the bad feeling you have had when you were waiting to hear from me and didn't, and blamed yourself for blowing it all up. I would suffer too, and I might have the thought of hurting myself as well, but I wouldn't help my urge to write the other person back and inquire for answers. What did stop you? What were you afraid of? Did you really think I'd be that rude that I'd ignore you or not respect your position and my obligation to clarify myself or explain? Why did you have to wait for 9 months to demand this closure? Was it worth it? All those moments were you giving up on your life, would they be worth it?
I am told that self compassion is a positive method. That we are part of a human race and share common human experience of pain and suffering. Self compassion is important. But it needs to be taught and learned. This is the paradox. No-one can teach it to you, but yourself. But you find yourself through other people and experiences (chameleon effect described above). And your responses teach you something about yourself in terms of where you find yourself in those experiences. And how you cultivate love, happiness and self compassion. Maybe it is not something taught and only something learned. I do not know. Just thinking out loud!
I need a lie in. I have had too many late nights stressing about stuff that is not important. I will turn off my alarm. I am out a lot. Only tonight. Last night, I met with Megan. We had a pizza and a chat. Megan is depressed. She is giving up on life. Did I manage to talk her around? Not really. I tried. I have been feeling the same this week. So, it is hard to do anything else but relate. At least she had company for that one evening.
I should not do anything silly. I am not going to yet. In 6 years. What is in 6 years? When I am 40. Then it will happen. It is nothing to be afraid of.
I have been triggered. I will come around in the morning. It has been several mornings. I understand why this has come about. Why? Lack of trust. In who? Myself. To do what? To do the right thing.
Rob says that I do. My heart is clean. I am one of the nicest people that he has known. That is why I worry. I feel so bad about what happened. With the Meet & Mingle. But I feel worse that I tried to do something, but timed it wrong. 😑
Rob says that is why I am a lovely person. This shows why.
I tried to do the right thing for Jenny. In a way that would not alienate me. My timing sucked. I worry that I have done something wrong.
Rob thinks that I should cancel Sunday. Take a break from it. It shows that I have a high moral compass. I am sensitive. And that is a nice quality.
I am not cancelling Sunday. It means a lot to me. Saturday, I wish that I could be there. Could be where? Little Ku.
Jenny has made an £800 loss off her Meetup group. The other "admins" are spreading hurtful allegations against her. It is toxic and upsetting. Well, there is no action going on in the WhatsApp group. I was going to ask Rob a favour. If he could export the chat. And email it to me. It is my OCD. I want to see everything. It is OK if it is too much to ask. Do I think that is a good idea? I want to see everything that is said about me and about Jenny. Yesterday, I messaged Lily. She has not yet replied. But I said pretty much all that I needed to say.
Just leave it. Let it go. I wish that I could. I should not get involved in it. Do people hate me? No. What is the general atmosphere? It is quiet. And, so far, the chat has been nice. I tried to boss them. But it did not work. I nailed it last Saturday. But the only thing that did not work was Tuesday. I left it too long. And they took advantage of my pause. What happened on Tuesday? The WhatsApp takedown. This shows that I care about the group so much. It was the biggest humiliation of my life. I have never felt so powerless. From admin to general member to kicked. It happened too quickly. Quicker than I could process, let alone respond to. Rob seems to think that I left. I was not kicked out. No, Lily kicked me. I sent her this (tabbed).
How is Jenny doing? She is OK. A bit stressed. Not sure which one of us is more stressed. Me or her. She has been hurt and taken advantage of. It is disgusting. Anyway, she is a strong person. She is taking it in her stride.
The four of them are on a power trip. Lily is one of the four of them. One of those "admins". She is the one who kicked me. Take no notice. They probably have issues, too. They have inflated egos. They are dictators. They think that they are in control. Anna, the one who kicked Rob, started it all. She undermined Jenny. Sam L is the only one out of them who has shown me the least empathy. Claire (Mitchell) has a bigger stick up her arse than the other 3 put together ("respect the admins"). Anna basically came out of nowhere and took over the group. Jenny bowed to her pressurising. Anna kicked Jenny.
Just leave them to their little clique. Not worth it.
[14:05, 05/08/2021] Rory Duffy: Hi Lily
I tried to take control. It did not work. Tabbed is that bomb dish message. The one that I sent to all of them (including Jenny) last Saturday. Boss move. It did not work. What happened on Tuesday night was the consequence of that. I knew that it would happen. I was prepared for it. But I did not expect it to happen so quickly. I felt caught off guard.
They have their own issues. I am invested in the original group. I do not want the new group to take over. They did not deserve it. It should not have been a coup. It should have been separate. It is disrespectful and a breach of trust. I could not believe it. I was in shock for 1.5 weeks. Jenny trusted us. And for them to do that, it is disgraceful. To her. To everything that she has built up. It is callous. It is mean. It is nasty. I tried to gift them a 2K member group on Meetup (for free) to quell things. To shut them up. But they slapped it back in my face. I wanted to support both sides, despite the circumstances. But they made it impossible for me. So now, I am with Jenny / LGBT 20s & 30s / Meet & Mingle. 💯
It is her concept and her vision quest. I want to support it.
Just forget them. I have my own group, which is doing great. Rob's group which he came up with. That was his idea. Rob says that I have built his group into something great, which he thanks me greatly for. I thank him. For coming up with the idea. Which I relate to. He has done a great deed, planting that seed. I hope that I can do it honour and justice. In his vision. He is a true Meetup hero. That needs to be recognised. 🤩
[18:37, 31/07/2021] Rory Duffy: @Claire just getting back to you on what is my take on all of this. My take is as follows:
[22/03/2019, 10:08:30] Avi: So happy I got to know you
[22:47, 26/01/2020] Avi: Therefore, I hate to say that this will be my very last message I am sending. It was important for me not to ignore you or to ghost you again.
These messages were from Avi Taler, a postgraduate conductor from the Royal College of Music who I was dating in early 2019. One minute, he was saying how lucky he felt to get to know me. The next minute, he not only acknowledged that he had ghosted me and how sorry he was for it, but he proposed to do exactly the same thing again. How long were we dating for? About a month. Why did we break up? Because I told him that I loved him. He was not ready to hear that. He was pursuing me to begin with!
Initially, I was resistant towards Avi Taler. In the past, I had been hurt too many times. Although I might have subconsciously sensed that I was on the road to getting hurt again, I was not equipped with the tools to prevent that from happening to me. I found myself in a vulnerable position. I allowed someone (who I barely knew) to permeate my layers and get to the soft, squidgy inner part of me. Without learning how to protect myself.
And so, I tried to maintain my barriers. But Avi Taler kept pushing and pushing.
[26/03/2019, 09:23:22] Avi: Good morning!
It even led to the point where he let me think that it was official.
[28/03/2019, 13:53:37] Avi: Have you discussed me?
Avi Taler lulled me into a false sense of security. He lured me into thinking that this time, things might be different. That I would not get hurt again. That this guy genuinely loved me. At the last moment, I dropped my guard ("OK, I love you"). And he ghosted me.
He had me on a thread. When the time felt right, he casually snipped the thread. I fell from a great height.
The rest of 2019 was a crazy blur. I continued experiencing problems trusting others, trusting myself. Why? Because I had not learned how to protect myself. I overdosed 3x. I was hospitalised 5x.
Why? Because I took people's advice. I was told to "let it go". To "look after myself". I took that advice and tried to "move on".
The paradox being that "looking after myself" was precisely addressing this internal pain that was released from the experience of meeting Avi Taler. And that "moving on" was doing precisely the opposite of addressing my internal pain. By not feeling allowed to focus on him. And feeling pressurised to continue with my life as if nothing had happened. Not feeling able or empowered to process the emotional / psychological residue that remained despite "moving on" from the fact. Encouraging an avoidance mentality. Which would only serve to compound and recapitulate the same negative cycles in the future.
It’s really too much and is having a go, at him. If he doesn’t seem to want to see you take it as a message that he’s not that into you, and don’t send confrontational messages. Just let it go if he doesn’t seem to want to be in touch. People generally try to drop us lightly if they are not interested. Is hard to drop someone heavily and there is no point in trying to control him.
It was easy enough for other people to tell me to "let it go" or "move on". They had not met him. They were not experiencing MY PAIN for themselves. How could they?
Those 2019 experiences were triggered from the experience of meeting Avi Taler and feeling rejection (which, in turn, was the perfectly ironic recapitulation of old wounds). The double whammy aspect: despite the fact that the whole relationship with Avi Taler seemed to be on his terms (his initiative / instigation) to begin with.
The reality that I had tried to protect myself throughout the entire relationship. And that in the act of protecting myself, I ended up damaging myself even further.
Protecting myself? Maintaining my barriers.
It took me 7 months to seek answers. All that I wanted to do was make him aware of how it had affected me. Did he respond? Yes, he did. Subsequently, he imposed a no contact rule on 26/01/2020. Which he then broke a few weeks later on 08/03/2020. This was in March 2020. I wished him happy birthday on 30/10/2020. He deleted me off Facebook in February 2021.
The same guy (Avi Taler) who expressed how happy he was to know me on certain occasions.
[22/03/2019, 10:08:30] Avi: So happy I got to know you
[07/01/2020, 21:46:47] Rory Duffy: I need to look after that little part of myself who was crying for so many weeks, trying to make sense of it all, what it was all about, address that part of my life so I can finally be at peace with it. I’m sure you understand…
[16/01/2020, 16:22:07] Rory Duffy: Why say you’d like to continue getting to know me and that we were “building something” if you never intended to contact me ever again? Why say you’d like to continue meeting me “but we must take it slower” if you never intended to meet me ever again?
No-one taught me how to protect myself. I knew that I had to do it. But no-one taught me. I had to find that out from within myself. I received help from the CMHT on how to address that relationship. I learned how to speak out. How to stand up for myself. How to practise assertiveness. Recognise that point at which someone's actions / behaviour diverges from their words. And do / say something about it.
Finding the ability to do that was empowering in itself. Regardless of how Avi Taler responded. I made him aware.
Now I know why I find it difficult to trust other people. Even more so than I did pre-2019. And pre-2016.
[16/01/2020, 16:22:07] Rory Duffy: I’m being incredibly careful what I say nowadays…I no longer have the confidence in my own words in case I say something wrong. How can I trust anyone anymore?
Early on, Avi Taler expressed his wish to hide. My concern transformed from hiding my emotions to not let him hide. He cannot stop me. From saying his name in public. From expressing myself. Even though he has disappeared, he has become a part of me. Whether we (he or I) like it or not. Reluctantly, I chose to accept and embrace that part of me. Without shying away from it. I needed to feel the pain in order to heal it. I needed to connect with the source of the pain. In order to diagnose and cure it.
I have a Last Message strategy. It is a contingency plan for if I never hear from the other guy again. No matter how much they might have made out that they liked or wanted me. There will always be that 1% possibility that they might disappear, For no apparent reason. I must prepare myself for that 1% possibility. Not go so far as to act as if it is a certainty. But a possibility. No matter how much I am "in love with" a guy. No matter how well things seem to be going (on the surface). I feel like I can never truly draw 100% enjoyment out of "being in love". Because it is like a drunken craziness. I must hold onto and maintain some semblance of reality and grounding. I must keep it in the back of my mind that things might not be all as they seem. That this might be an illusion (a projection). The Last Message strategy enables me to practise showing the best version of myself. It is about taking this opportunity to show that best part of me required for the immediate moment without expecting anything in return. So that I am not left wanting. It gives me temporary closure and peace. Even if a situation comes back again. It is about prioritising my own safety, wellbeing and happiness. As Avi Taler recommended.
[22:47, 26/01/2020] Avi: So, as I said before, I will not reply any other texts you will send, and I hope you can accept it. I do care about your well being and hope you'll be able to take the right choices and prioritise your safety and health.
Avi Taler might come back in future. Who knows? Who cares?
The important fact is that I have had the Last Message. Reading back over what I said, I am satisfied in myself that I said all that I needed to say.
Would I take him back? My answer: never say never. My first instinct: I would. But this time, I would be much more careful. We only live once in our current incarnate bodies and minds. He is still alive. He is still walking this planet. Who is to say that this person will not come back in years or decades from now at the end of my journey and that I might learn something from this experience? I am not saying that this will happen. But I cannot disregard it as a possibility.
I have had many different relationships with many different people. We are born alone. We die alone. Everything else that happens in between is contingent, ephemeral and transient. Relationships are a test of life to see how I might respond to what happens. Regardless of the other person. So, yes, I continue my life, with my head held high. I have nothing to doubt or worry about. I have said my peace. And if he does come back, I can cross that bridge when I come to it. But what is the point of spending my life speculating the future without making sense of or being allowed to process my past? Sometimes, we must take a step back into our past to make sense of our present and future. "Moving On" alone is not enough. No matter how easy it sounds. Or how easy people make it out to be. While there may be limited room for speculation, there is always room for rumination. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Fortune-telling is not.
In the meantime, life is there to be enjoyed.
My depreciated trust in other people has led me to be more guarded and held back in the way in which I relate to other people. Perhaps this was precisely the issue that Sam had with me when describing me as "cold" and "self-involved". Because I was protecting myself? Did he see my self-protection as a weakness? Did he feel threatened by it? Did he perceive my detachment (despite telling him about my ASD) as a "lack of interest" in him?
For a 2nd time, Sam has blocked me. This time on BOTH WhatsApp AND Facebook. His loss! Perhaps he feels under pressure to "move on"? Either by himself? Or from society? Maybe he is simply afraid that I might message him back? It is sad to see someone who feels afraid and out of control in himself. Driven by his fears. I posed no threat to him. Yet in his dark, tormented world view, he painted me out to be one of those demons from which he might have been running. In his eyes, I was the "bad guy".
It is like looking into a dark mirror and seeing myself through a negative lens. This was not a relationship in which I could feel able to be myself.
I did not said that I could never date him. I said that I could not date him right now. Why? Because I felt unsafe around him. In the first place, I needed to protect myself from any harm. Who knows what he might have said or done? I only met him in person twice. I also felt that he needed to sort himself out before dating me or anyone.
[08/07/2021, 21:44:00] Rory Duffy: Hi Sam, I can’t date you right now. Thank you for your message. Stay safe. X
Sam could not see past his own fears and insecurities to clock the "right now" part of my message. He interpreted my message as an absolute rejection.
Even though it was not intended as such.
Even though he put himself in a position of potential rejection to begin with by asking me that pertinent, Black & White question: Do you want to date me? Yes or no?
I felt that he needed a temporary break and a bit of light relief. And that when he felt ready, he might come back.
There is nothing that I could do. I could control him. Any more than he could control himself.
Everything that Sam said about me might have been a self-projection. Cue the analogy of the mirror maze and the phantom. 😱
Read More: 20/06/2020
I had that conversation with Avi Taler on 28/03/2019. By professing my love to a stranger and wish to not be "taken advantage of", I was precisely putting myself in a position where I might experience rejection. When the same conversation was due with Rob, I chose to abdicate.
Last night, I told my friends that this is precisely why I chose not to have this "are we, are we not" conversation with anyone who I am dating. I can hug, kiss or sleep with anyone without having to have that conversation.
Nowadays, I might describe myself as polyamorous.
Now, people are warning me that others might want monogamy.
Oh, the irony! Is monogamy not the same thing that I wanted with Avi Taler? And what I wanted with Rob until my mental health care coordinator, family and friends advised me to not put all of my eggs in Rob's basket? And why Sam possibly felt that I was such a threat?
I simply cannot have this conversation right now. With any guy. Why? No one has taught me how to navigate it. No one has given me any guidance. Maybe this conversation is not as simple as following set steps written in a rule book? So, I choose to abdicate it altogether. I can still live a healthy life and have relationships with people. It is this experience with Avi Taler and with Rob ("do not put all of your eggs into Rob's basket") that has led me to where I am right now with Sam.
Existentialism. We are the sum total of our actions, our reactions. We are adaptable, like sponges. We are defined by our experiences. I am sick and tired of putting myself out on the line only to be hung one more time. I choose to not put myself in a position in which I experience rejection. To not judge a relationship. To free myself from labels. To enjoy life. To live out my life and be able to hug, kiss and sleep with whoever I wish without the psycho-emotional baggage that can come with it. What LV said was true. I need to live my life.
[23:00, 21/10/2019] LV: Everything you have is what you live
I feel the draw of age in my heart. I am alive. But I have not really been living. I have always been so careful. Making plans for the future. Without considering how I am in the present. Mechanisms such as the Last Message strategy have enabled me to break down what my personal happiness is and how to live it.
And what about HF? He is a guy. A stranger who I have met 2x. We seem to be getting along alright. But I am treating this as a process. To feel as happy as I can with someone without ascribing too much thought, emphasis or importance on expectation.
CR (who I met last night) observed that I have a tendency to overthink things. Another guy from the same Meetup had shown friendly criticism of the way in which I overthink messages before sending them. So true!
At this point, I felt ready to send a message without overthinking it. Despite how flirtatious and forward I might have judged my message to be.
The Last Message was a blow kiss (😘).
Since he did not give me much to go off, I thought, well, I can just send him this. It does not need to cost me anything. It is simply an expression of how I might feel about him. It is a form of mirroring.
This weekend, I might see him, I might not. Whatever happens, I will have a contingency plan to assure my personal comfort and happiness.
[19:10, 18/07/2021] Lilly 20s & 30s: Idea:
No need to say anything else. The seed has been planted. The main thing is that I got my kick out of planting it. And that is what I choose to continue doing. Like DV said to me on Tuesday, HF might be dating other people. Who knows? Who cares? It is nothing that I need to speculate about. Especially if I have been keeping my options open as a way of safeguarding my happiness. We strive to feel liked and wanted.
If nothing happens with HF this weekend, I might feel motivated to ensure that something happens next weekend. With whoever. If that is what I want right now. Let me cross that bridge when I come to it. Let me see what happens today, tomorrow and this weekend. Before I decide on a course of action for the following week. Abundance Mentality.
In light of what DV said (in terms of dating multiple people at the same time before committing to one): do I feel comfortable about going back on Tinder and picking things up with Sanjo if I am already dating HF? Last night, Megan said that she has boycotted Tinder because she keeps chatting to people and they keep disappearing. At this point, my insides writhed, knowing that there are a few guys on dating apps who are waiting to hear back from me yet do not know that I have had some tangible involvement with HF. Am I now one of those people who has disappeared? That is certainly not my intention. And even if I have inadvertently disappeared, it is a temporary state. It is only a matter of time before I am back again.
In theory, if I do not feel like I am getting enough from HF, I could log onto Tinder today and meet up with someone this evening (if they happen to be available this evening). I am available this evening. But should I? My instinct tells me "no". Wait. Why? Because this would go against my principle of patience: maintaining a positive attitude while waiting. It also reminds me of something that LA said to me on 12/07/2019, about JR, which I agreed with.
[14:34, 12/07/2019] LA: I mean, would you up and leave everything you’ve known for god knows how long for him at the drop of a hat especially with visa concerns...? This is something you’d need to talk about a lot
Manifestation. As above, so below. As inside, so outside. If I did that, it might be like giving the universe a cue to let HF know that he could do the same. And for what gain? To meet another stranger on a Thursday night? To begin again at square one?
Besides, how do I know that the person who I contact on Tinder would be available and up for meeting me this evening? Might I be setting myself up for disappointment? Or putting myself in a position where I might experience disappointment or even rejection from a complete stranger? No. There is nothing more that I need to do other than what I sent to HF last night. Relax. Patience. The ball is in his court. Maybe I could go out and enjoy a coffee and some sunshine if I have nothing better to do after work. Or play a game of ultimate frisbee.
Whatever I decide to do, it must be for the right reasons. And if I get my reasoning wrong, or feel like I have misjudged my instincts or a situation, it is perfectly OK. There is always next week. Maybe I might learn something new (like the lesson that there is nothing wrong with validation, as long as I am not harming other people). To act a bit less self-subjugating and consider what I want as my main priority above what someone who I have dated 2x wants. And continue the process of learning what to do in certain situations. Without trying to control those situations too much. Let them happen naturally. And decide what I want to do about them as and when they happen.
The main thing is: I am in control of myself.
[21:20, 21/07/2021] Rory Duffy: 😘
It turns out that I was right about waiting. My instincts proved that this was the correct thing to do.
Part of my mind was still on HF.
The last bit about getting there earlier is about ensuring that I can do everything in myself to remove ambiguity from a situation. It is OK that he can only get there a little later. I can compensate for that by getting there early and making that part of the decision. We complement one another.
Yes, I know it is potentially a little OCD of me. But I like getting places earlier because it gives me a head start. I am a slow processor. I like to have a plan. Even if that plan does not work out. Taking it upon myself to get there earlier helps me to feel more at ease and in control of myself.
Last Sunday (6th June), a friend helped me towards an insightful thought.
I want something / someone AFTER the fact has passed that this something / someone can never be mine.
This applies to both dating and shopping. The fact that I get so hooked on something / someone AFTER the ship has sailed (so to speak). I do not know how to put it in other terms. After I have received the job rejection, like I did with the Making Music job opportunity. After I told Avi Taler that I loved him. After that tie dye jumpsuit that I found in Shein went out of stock in my size.
As soon as the ship has sailed, I become obsessed with it.
Is this a form of Self Harm? The way in which I fixate more on something / someone that I cannot have? AFTER the point of loss? Or is that simply the way in which I am programmed?
I have not had a dream about Avi Taler in over a month. It does not mean that I do not cry over him. Tonight, I shed tears about him over drinks in front of my friends. Why? Maybe the recounting of what happened between us. I told him that I loved him. He said that he did not love me. That, I did not have a problem about. It was honest of him to say that, despite how much I felt that he "played" me up until that point. My issue was with what happened afterwards. After saying and doing all of the things to show me that he had feelings for me, he "ghosted" me. He became silent on me after I expressed fear that he might be taking advantage of me. But if I think about it in technical, clinical, face value terms, I "ghosted" him. I sent him a message to wish him well in his concert in the hope that it might rekindle a conversation. He said "thank you very much!". Nothing else. It did not lead to anything. I did not reply because my family and friends were telling me not to waste my energy on him. I took their advice. I tried to "move on". I thought that I had "moved on" until my birthday on May 27th, 2019. He said "happy birthday, may all of your hopes and dreams become true, take care and be happy". Given how I was feeling, his message was perfectly ironic. He was the exact manifestation of my hopes and dreams. And he was gone. But by coming back momentarily, he seemed to be teasing, tormenting and torturing me. Again, I did not find the strength to reply immediately. The truth that it took me 7 months to find the strength to reply suddenly felt raw again.
[12:37, 2/5/2019] Rory Duffy: Wishing you the very best of luck in tonight's concert,you'll be great 😌
The shame in the depth of emotion that I felt back then as if it were yesterday. I cried. I laughed as well, because it is something that I can talk about. But the emotion still felt extremely raw. My friends asked me if I am OK. I explained that it helped having feelings out in the open and feeling able to talk about them and express myself. Avi Taler was the door that needed to open beyond which I found so much more.
Avi Taler hoped that I would take the right choices and prioritise my safety and health (26/01/2020). I have tried my best to take his advice every day, not only in dating, but in other aspects of my life. This includes choosing who I tell about him.
When Rob & I got together, my confidence was at rock bottom. It had been drawn out of me. Rob provided me with stability and security. Maybe not love. But care. I latched onto Rob. I was cradled like a baby in his arms. I was hurting. I did not tell Rob about Avi Taler. I might have mentioned it to him once while we were in the pub (in Crystal Palace). Rob knew that I was receiving mental health care. But I did not tell him what my struggles were about. I did not wish to bombard him with all of my personal grief especially as we were in a new relationship. The other week, I said to him that I did not wish to hide anything from him. He rightfully asked me what I am hiding from him. At that point, I fell asleep. There was nothing to say. Or at least nothing to say to Rob that might be remotely interesting to him.
Love has no limits, no boundaries and no rationality. Sometimes, we meet people in life who are there to pass on a certain message. It is how we choose to interpret it. In a way, it is not what happens or who we meet that is important. It is how we respond, interpret and deal with whatever or whoever happens. I know that I struggled to deal with this man. Like the angel who spoke to me through Maria (she likes it when I say that) said: Avi Taler touched a nerve within me. He came into my life, made me all of these (seemingly) false signals and disappeared, the epitome of every other man has done who I have felt for in that way. It was the typicalness of the situation that affected me. The knowledge that I let myself become beaten and run down by the same challenge that has repeatedly come into and trashed my life. And done nothing about it. Why is that? Now I realise that it is not that challenge which I need to focus on. It is how I respond to the challenge. It took me a while but I eventually found the words. I will only let grooming and ghosting happen to me if I admit that it is happening to me. I must find a way of keeping the door open without giving away too much of myself.
The same applies to Sam, too.
[26/05/2021, 09:32:22] Rory Duffy: I hope too ☺️ xx
It appears that Sam is not after real love, only my validation. Or is he? If I let myself believe that, it will become my reality. At the moment, I still do not feel comfortable responding to Sam. Or I have not found a way of responding to Sam which safeguards my personal comfort and happiness. The communication is ephemeral, foggy and ambiguous. It does not mean that I do not intend to respond, at all. There is no call to action. But the ball is technically in my court. I might choose to "move on" from Sam but will this forever seed a doubt in my mind in thinking that I should have responded? My main concern is not wishing to give away something (love) that I do not feel that I am going to receive back. It already feels like I have done so. Simply by uttering reciprocation of Sam's alleged feelings towards me. Box ticked. In a way, this is similar to the 7-month process that I went through with Avi Taler in wishing to gratify someone's feelings towards me but not in a way in which I am getting nothing back from the other person. Only serving as a tick box. Part of the other person's inventory / conquest.
I have thought about adding Sam on Facebook as my way of responding. It has been a few weeks now since our successful date, without any message from him. How could he say all of that and disappear? Are guys really that transient? Or is he waiting for me to respond? Did he mean anything at all? I cannot trust someone to honour their words. I must listen to their actions.
I might add Sam on Facebook. But maybe leave the decision-making (regarding that) until the morning. I have found him on Facebook. I only have not added him. Avi Taler took his own initiative to add me on Facebook. It is a curious reversal of roles if I choose to add Sam on Facebook. It puts me in a weaker position should Sam decide to delete me from Facebook 2 years later. That could easily happen. And where would that leave me?
I wish that I knew all of the answers. But I do not know where to find them.
Maybe this is why I find it so difficult moving forwards with anyone, romantically. Because I am so afraid of the same thing happening all over again. I am afraid of feeling the things that I might feel. And that I might find myself led on by someone only to be hung out to dry. But like I said to my friends last night: we are born alone, we die alone and everything that happens in between is up to our own deliberation. Stop defining it. Just live it. Focus on the positives. Find happiness in everything.
It is ironic that I was having these thoughts, particularly about Sam deleting me off Facebook and "dying alone" when it is precisely those things that happened with Sam. 12/08/2021
[23:02, 21/10/2019] LV: We born alone and we die alone
I have documented the dangers of WhatsApp groups and social media in relation to bullying and mental health. I have only recently discussed these with HZ. I also resolved that Rob is a great guy and that I would stick by him in anything. At some subconscious level, I had a premonition that he might find himself in trouble and that I would need to back him up. Sadly, in this situation, I had the group on mute and only read the messages after it was too late. So I did not have the opportunity to stand by him.
[09:15, 03/06/2021] Anna: Do you even realize what you are saying?
The vultures swarm in. There is an element of ganging up, Herd Mentality. Lea implicates that Rob knows what he is saying, even though this might not necessarily be the case. Alternatively, what Rob is saying is actually different from how everyone else is interpreting it. There is a process whereby something that Rob says is taken out of context and conflated into something "racist" or "offensive". Rob was asking neutral questions.
[09:16, 03/06/2021] Rob: What am I saying?
By asking "what am I saying", Rob inadvertently invites an attack. He does not give himself a chance to justify or explain himself. The emphasis is on how everyone else interprets it, not what he means by his comments.
[09:16, 03/06/2021] Rob: What am I saying?
Notably, Yasmin attests that it "says a lot" but does not stipulate explicitly what she means by this. However, Lea steps in and summarises the implications. Although it is positive that Lea has qualified Yasmin's comment, there is still an element of teamwork / ganging up.
[09:17, 03/06/2021] Rob: Well I wouldn't be surprised if they were ethnic minority
Yasmin makes a snap judgement on Rob's mindset based on a few comments. She calls it "fucked". However, she does not know Rob and she has not explored the basis or rationale behind his comments.
[09:22, 03/06/2021] Lea: I think we all VERY patiently gave him a chance to explain himself… thanks for removing him
Did they? I cannot say that the reception was patient at all. It was hostile. Rob might have felt too intimidated to explain himself.
[09:36, 03/06/2021] Anna: It's always the same people
Is this a fact? Has Rob ever acted racist before?
[09:38, 03/06/2021] Chloe Edwards: If “what colour are they” are his first thought, that’s a Him issue, not on anyone else tbh
A typical "it is not you, it is the other person" narrative that I come across so frequently in LGBTQ environments. The deflection and projection opens up an unhealthy pointing fingers / blame style conversation. Also, Chloe Edwards instantly labels what Rob said as "racism" without pausing to consider the reasons behind what Rob has said.
[10:07, 03/06/2021] Bill: Well, I'm glad I didn't wake up early enough to have the chance to reply to that guy. Racist people are definitely one of my triggers
The word "triggers" has been adopted from a clinical context. Informally, it is frequently used as a stick to beat with i.e., justify how something that someone said into creating poor mental health. Bullying creates poor mental health. There is a "Chinese whispers" style effect where the comments that Rob made were misconstrued as "racism", which, in turn, criminalised Rob as a "trigger".
[10:31, 03/06/2021] Seyi: We don't need Pancho for drama anymore
Within this WhatsApp group, there is a culture for capitalising on "drama". Certain statements on a WhatsApp group can be taken out of context and cause offence. There is a "keyboard warriors" syndrome whereby people behave differently on social media to how they would in person. "Drama" ties into the herd mentality aspect in that people capitalise and maximise on something small that someone says. Words are taken out of context and conflated into something completely different via means of other people's projection. The herd mentality creates a social barrier that intimidates the victim of bullying and prevents them from clarifying or explaining themselves. An inhospitable environment that wears the mask of being "hospitable" in which people are not open or receptive enough to listen.
[10:53, 03/06/2021] Clai: On a scale of all the drama we have had. Pancho was a Saint. Great comedic value
I cannot say that Pancho said or did anything wrong. He stated his truth quietly and clearly. Since there were certain contradictions between his viewpoints and his actions, people capitalised on those contradictions. However, the important point is that Pancho acknowledged those contradictions. He was trying to set an example through his mistakes so that others might learn through them. He was passing on knowledge and insight. People did not have the ears to listen. They interpreted it as a reflection on him. They judged him critically. They interpreted Pancho's words and actions as "hypocrisy". I have tremendous respect and admiration for someone who can show such courage and vulnerability in their openness, in their awareness of being judged. As Jesus said, "let he without sin cast the first stone".
[10:45, 03/06/2021] R: Not defending what Rob said (as I am a person of colour) but I believe he mentioned that he is on the spectrum. I have some autistic friends and they sometimes say inappropriate things.
An interesting side-foray into ASD. Anna has labelled people with autism and put them in a box. R has rightly highlighted 2 points:
[11:07, 03/06/2021] Anna: Is this not what happened?
Not quite. I have no visibility over what Anna said privately to Rob so I cannot comment. I can only speculate.
[11:17, 03/06/2021] Lea: just to clarify with the admins, was there any bullying or unnecessary drama this morning? Each group has different 'bars' for what they consider bullying (and for some groups, even one of us mentioning the word 'racist' is out of line), so I just want to check nothing I or anyone else said was a problem (except for the racist comments, obviously)
Lea rightfully questions the terminology "bullying" and "racism". However, she subsequently undermines her qualification by using the word "obviously" in her labelling of Rob's comments as "racist". She is making a universal statement.
As for Anna:
There will be zero tolerance from this point forward to members who bully, cause drama or don't follow the key rules of the group - to be nice, supportive and respectful
[11:34, 03/06/2021] Sally: Thanks Anna and Jenny for keeping the space a safe place for us all 🥰 sounds like you’re v reasonable with allowing opportunity for learning or misunderstandings
Classic "inhospitable environment that wears the mask of being hospitable" statement. 👻 🎭
The WhatsApp group is not a safe place for Rob, me or anyone else to express their opinions and viewpoints. It regulates and suppresses freedom of speech and criminalises anyone who might step slightly outside the boundaries of what might be considered socially or politically acceptable. There is a culture of people taking offence at anything anyone says without fully exploring or understanding the reasons and rationale behind what is said. I am not assuming that what Rob said is correct but I do not feel that there was sufficient opportunity for him to clarify himself further because he was instantly criminalised, demonised and judged.
Reading this, there was no opportunity to clarify or establish what those misunderstandings were. Blocking culture is precisely what prevents this learning from happening.
In my view, there was nothing nice, supportive or respectful about the way in which Rob was confronted by the other members of the group.
At this point, I only caught up with these WhatsApp messages. So I missed out on the opportunity to defend Rob before he was removed. While I am not backing what he said, there was something that Chloe Edwards said which was out of order. I do not usually become involved in general discussion (I keep the WhatsApp group on mute, only catch up whenever I have a spare moment and use it purely for factual information, i.e., how we are meeting, where and when). However, I felt that I needed to interject and reprimand Chloe Edwards for the name calling.
[09:35, 03/06/2021] Chloe Edwards: What a dick
For over an hour, the WhatsApp group went quiet.
[11:45, 03/06/2021] Rory Duffy: That’s not nice
I was extra careful to not let my personal relationship with Rob bias my approach. Regardless of whether it was Rob, or anyone, calling someone a name behind their back is cowardice and mean. But no-one had asked for my opinion. There was a danger of me being removed from the WhatsApp group if it appeared (to others) that I might be defending "racism" (which I was not). Yet I felt that Chloe Edwards' response needed to be held to account. It was a tricky situation.
Fortunately, R stepped in and stated what I was thinking. Racism is not nice. But there is no need for name calling and bullying in this group.
Chloe Edwards attempted to justify her behaviour by highlighting that Rob was not present. This makes no difference. If anything, it is even more rude and disrespectful to slander / libel someone behind their back (which is effectively what she was doing). In front of 250 people. Would she say something like that to him directly?
Besides, is what Rob said anything worse than what Chloe Edwards said? Rob did not act mean, he did not call anyone a name, he did not brand any racial or ethnic group. If anything was offensive, it was made implicit (not explicit) by other people's response to it. So I do not understand how Chloe Edwards felt justified enough to equate what she said to what Rob said.
Worse still, Chloe Edwards tries to enforce "universal understanding" of the terms "dick" and "bigot". Her argument lacks grounds because it is attempting to objectify based on her own subjective understanding of those terms.
There is also the pre-disposition that Rob was acting "racist" as already discussed above.
[13:13, 03/06/2021] Anna: Guys let's move on please
An insistence on "moving on". Which only further prevents any learning or misunderstandings from being properly clarified and assessed. Clearly, the audience lacked cohesiveness / was too diverse in its opinions to bring about any semblance of order or rationality.
Notice how Chloe Edwards retreats and uses a heart emoji ( 🤎 ) to propagate a false toxic positivity after the venomous way in which she has spoken about Rob.
[08:36, 03/06/2021] Florent: That is terrible :/ I experienced an homophobic attack by two men about a year ago in Tottenham myself. Can’t believe it is still happening, especially in London
After saying "that's not nice" to Chloe Edwards, I immediately got in touch with Rob to check how he was feeling. It turns out that Rob is some kind of progressive genius. The whole debacle was merely a ploy to highlight the sensitivity of the and toxic positivity of the WhatsApp group. An overly socially / politically correct group that micro-regulates and suppresses freedom of speech and criminalises anyone whose viewpoints might be considered "inappropriate". A hostile environment in which the treatment of people expressing those viewpoints is more mercenary than the viewpoints themselves. Exactly what HZ & I were alluding to 2 days ago!
Interestingly, I seemed to be more upset about the situation than Rob.
[11:44, 03/06/2021] Rory Duffy: Rob are you ok?? Tight hug 🤗😢
[12:48, 03/06/2021] Rory Duffy: Who’s that?
[13:31, 03/06/2021] Rory Duffy: Lea seems to be juxtaposing political parties against perceptions of alleged “racism” and questions of acceptability 🤷♂️ 2 completely different discussions...oh I despair
A somewhat convoluted and multi-tasked exchange.
However, the key points are:
[00:41, 22/05/2021] Sam: Also you really are unique and so charming, I actually liked you and hope we can build a strong connection xx
Why have I not yet replied? I am worried that if I reciprocate, even the slightest bit, I might experience another rejection.
No matter what he said. I do not know Sam. Remember all of the sweet and lovely things that Avi Taler said and did? And how he accused me of "rushing", the moment that I reciprocated? When I was simply reciprocating his feelings towards me because I thought that I had not done so enough already? That (plus similar experiences) is now hindering my ability to reciprocate to someone else. I am right back to where I was in 2019, experiencing a taste of those dark shadows. I am finding it hard to trust someone with my feelings. It is a cycle.
Read More: Avi Taler
There is a possibility that Sam is going through a similar thought cycle of self-doubt. Believing that I do not feel the same way about him as he does about me. Ghosting perpetuates this cycle across multiple people and relationships.
I remember what JR said.
[20:32, 24/06/2019] Rory Duffy: I wanted to see you last night but wasn’t sure if you were up for it
I could risk it by responding to Sam's message. The difficulty with the Sam situation is that I have not sent the Last Message.
[00:41, 22/05/2021] Sam: Also you really are unique and so charming, I actually liked you and hope we can build a strong connection xx
There is a dilemma between protecting myself ("Letting Go") and throwing a harness out to Sam (dropping a hint) by returning his message. If I opt for the former, it would be like letting myself be driven by my fears. If I opt for the latter, it might be self-subjugating in the short term, i.e., putting Sam's feelings ahead of my own. But at least I will have sent the Last Message by showing him that I am interested.
It is true what my MH Champion said about letting someone penetrate my layers. Perhaps this is a test. A test in seeing if the guy is truly interested and not simply saying that he is. And willing to fight for me.
I need to send the Last Message and put my best foot forward. But in a way in which I am not putting myself at risk of rejection. The simplest way seems to be expressing reciprocation of his sentiment without reminding him that I am available this evening. At least it shows that I am thinking about him.
If I do not, and if I "let this one slide", I might never see or hear from him again. He might feel too uncertain in himself about contacting me. As a result, I might be left assuming that he was never truly interested in me - despite what he said. And the cycle would continue.
I should not allow myself to be driven by my fears.
I must play by my own rules and send that Last Message. Even if it does not necessarily lead to anything. At least I can be assured that I have done my best.
[00:41, 22/05/2021] Sam: Also you really are unique and so charming, I actually liked you and hope we can build a strong connection xx
There was a dilemma between
I went for option 2 because option 1 sounded too much like being driven by my fears. Also had I done option 1 (the "Letting Go" option), I might never know.
I wanted to do it in a way in which I was showing him that I am still interested but not putting myself in a position of potential rejection. The simplest way seemed to be reciprocate but not remind him that I am available today (tomorrow is my birthday and want to ensure that I am happy and not left wondering).
Do I think that by putting "I hope too", I have not said that I liked him and instead put all of the emphasis on the "hope"? I am worried that it sounds like him liking me should be a 'given' for no return and that it sounds needy 😕
I felt so nervous that I said as little as possible.
And actually not sure whether my message counts as a "reciprocation" at all 🤔 ... I felt so worried about saying something wrong.
[16/01/2020, 16:22:07] Rory Duffy: Why wouldn’t everything be as usual? 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? So what changed, Avi? Did anything change? At what point did your feelings change?
I have added:
[09:44, 26/05/2021] Rory Duffy: I like you too 🤗
And now I will leave it as I feel like I have said enough 😅😅
The important point is that I feel marginally better about myself for having done so. Even if he does not respond and is simply "playing" me.
[21/05/2021, 23:58:50] Sam: It was so lovely seeing and meeting you today, 5 kisses to you xx
[22/05/2021, 00:44:03] Sam: <attached: 00000060-VIDEO-2021-05-22-00-44-03.mp4>
When I was 7 & 11, I had a traumatic experience involving videos. In class, we were interviewed in groups of 3 to talk about our hobbies and interests. In the video, I talked about my soft toy collection "Sleepy School" and the fact that I had travelled to France, not once, not twice, but "thrice". This was when I was 7, at Wycliffe. I remember when we watched the video in class, I was crying because I felt so mortified and humiliated. I experienced feelings of shame even at the time of recording that video.
4-5 years later, I was attending Marling. Some of the students with whom I had attended Wycliffe transferred with me to Marling. During 1998-99, the video was leaked privately among friends who were meeting up at the house of someone who still owned the videotape. I was bullied for the content in it. Boys would walk up to me in school and do mock impressions of me saying "not once, not twice, but thrice". When I became upset, they would mock "are you going to get your teddies now?"
Now, a DJ/promoter wants me to make a 20-30 second video of me free styling on sax along to the tune of Beyoncé "Crazy in Love". For a potential residency that would be paying me £50-£60 per night to play along to cheesy commercial pop tunes. I thought about Britney Spears and her residency in Las Vegas ("leave Britney alone!"). I know not quite on the same par but she experienced mental health issues and ending up exploiting herself. For quite a hefty pay check no doubt. More than £60.
Anyway, the point is, alarm bells are ringing because I already spent an hour recording and editing an audio version of me playing along to "Crazy in Love" and submitted it to the DJ/promoter who made the enquiry. It is not enough for him. He says:
[21:51, 25/05/2021] John DJ: Sounds great! I meant a video clip if possible for the visual element. With your hat 😂🤣
With my hat? If I comply with his request, how do I know that he will not ask for something else with no guaranteed return? I might feel like I am exploiting / under-valuing myself if I docilely comply with his requests. The video throws up issues for me due to the reasons disclosed above (not that he needs to know these reasons or that they are any of his business of course). Why should an audio sample not be enough?
I think that the best thing to do is use technology as an alibi for finding it difficult. I think that there might be an issue of self subjugation if I do comply and record the video without pushing back. How do I know that he will not pass around the video and exploit my reputation as a saxophonist who twerks like Beyoncé? Not unlike those school students did back at Marling? During the phone call, he asked me if I would walk around and serenade the guests. To which I responded "I have been performing at weddings for years and I am no stranger to making a fool out of myself". Which is one step closer to stating that I "whore myself out" to random strangers. Perhaps he picked up on my "easy to manipulate" vibes.
If the DJ/promoter is already making tall orders on the phone, it is likely that he might continue to do so if we end up working together. The relationship starts at the point of negotiation. If he truly values me and wishes to book me as a potential saxophonist, he will make allowances for me.
I remember what happened with the poorly-paid La Cubanita residency in Liverpool back in 2010. How uncomfortable the environment made me feel. Of course, my discomfort was perpetuated by what I was going through with Grant Russell. But I am sensitive. Sometimes, I have found myself crying in situations for no apparent reason (like that residency and during a big band rehearsal at RNCM) because I pick up on a negative energy and experience an emotional response to it. Even if I cannot pinpoint what is upsetting / triggering me.
I must consider the reasons why I am putting myself out there for this gig. Is it for the music? Possibly no. Although I love R&B, I get the impression that the DJ/promoter might dictate me to play the horn lines instead of improvising (like the DJ did at Epsom Racecourse). I felt restricted and not 100% comfortable. Is it for the money? Possibly yes. It might cover my online shopping addiction. But money comes and goes. If I am taking the first available residency that becomes available to me, without negotiating my own areas of comfort, it is potentially not good or healthy. I might be closing the door on something better. If nothing else, if I were playing every Friday and possibly some Saturdays, I might be forsaking my social life. My Meetup groups and possibly my THT residency. In order to whore myself out and pay off my debts. Like I did throughout my twenties. It is clear that they need someone who can commit. I have mentioned to him that I have a couple of booked dates over summer.
[11:23, 26/05/2021] Rory Duffy: Hi John I'm finding it a bit of a struggle to record a video, with the technology that I have at home, it is difficult to produce something high enough quality to present me in the best light. 😅
Let us see what he says. At least I am giving him some alternative options.
Abundance Mentality. I am learning to push back and negotiate without completely closing the door or potentially bombing my offer. Whilst being prepared to walk away at any moment.
Anyway. why did my whole conversation with the DJ/promoter have to take place on the phone? Twice I called him back and he did not pick up. We ended up in a game of phone tag. I did mention that I was out and in a zoom meeting 6-7:30. He might have simply messaged me the details. Date, times, location etc. What was the problem? He had my WhatsApp and my email. But no, we had to have a conversation about the specifics on the phone. And I still do not have his email 🙄
Another alarm bell.
On the phone call, I noticed that he did not reveal the identity of the venues where I would be performing. I asked him if he would be DJ'ing himself in person. He said sometimes, but sometimes I might be working with another DJ. I suggested to him that he might be offering a package to a few different venues. He said that he had 2 venues in mind but did not reveal the names of the venues. Perhaps he is acting as an agent making a commission?
The more that I think about this whole situation, the more dubious it sounds. Then again, I can still take him at his word 1) with negotiation and 2) without self subjugation. And everything will be fine from there.
The power is in the conversation. And how I choose to respond to it. I can still respond positively whilst showing that I value myself. If he does not return my positivity, I will eat my hat. 🤠
[12:02, 26/05/2021] John DJ: Hi Rory, not to worry, we will sort something out. I’m just a bit busy with something at the moment. Can I call you in a few hours later this afternoon if you’re free to chat then? Thanks.
I have had my callback with John. He says that recording a video in person is difficult because the venues are re-opening and their staff are on furlough so they are busy sorting all of that out. I used that upper hand to say"well, I am sure that they will not mind if you simply submit my audio and photos". At that point, I felt beyond caring and prepared to bomb my offer. John asked the pertinent question "do you not feel comfortable about recording a video?" Not wishing to disclose the personal reasons (discussed above), I re-iterated that my main concern was how it might come across in terms of quality for his client 😇 = professional = WIN.
Key point, he said "I want you to feel comfortable". That is positive. He suggested some alternatives. I record over a few other tunes. He listed the tunes. Willing to compromise, I jumped at the option. He also said that I might be booked for one evening, start off in central London and move to Clapham. He probed me how that sounds. I said that I would be up for giving it a trial run, it would be interesting to see how it goes. He asked me to confirm if the fee of £60 would be acceptable. He mentioned something about agent commission being £15 and that he would ensure that this would not be taken off my fee. At this point, I laughed and admitted that this might kill it for me as it is quarter of the fee! He hurriedly reassured me that this would not happen. At least I know that he (or someone) is making commission. Maybe I was sounding non-committal at this stage? Perhaps this is why he wishes to have this conversation on the phone? Because I inadvertently reveal more through my tone of voice? Talk about phone raping. We shall see what happens. He might conclude that I do not sound interested and back off completely. It might be a non-starter. It might be flag waving. Compare this situation to the Ed situation on 13/01/2016.
Today, I am feeling anxiety. I feel triggered by things more easily than I do on other days. Like emails and WhatsApp messages.
Why is it so bloody cold outside? Still??? ❄️
Things happen for a reason. I am sure that I will feel better tomorrow.
[15:42, 25/05/2021] Rory Duffy: Hi there, is this John? Happy to hear from you. If you could let me know the date, approx timings, location, approx budget, what styles/genre of music and whether I'd be playing along to DJ or supplying backing tracks that'd be fab :)
Why am I feeling upset? Is it because of Sam? Or is it because of what has happened in my past? My experiences of being ghosted? Probably a mixture of both. Am I being ghosted? Well, the guy has told me that he likes me and now no longer contacts me. Is the "non-contacting" something that I am perceiving or noticing or something that is actually happening? I never truly knew if he was into me in the first place. I mean, he says that he is interested in building a connection. But will he actually go through with it? Or is it simply something that someone says to fill the space?
Early on, he did say that he exaggerates. Exaggerating is something that Avi Taler did, too.
[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.
I need to talk to someone. I am afraid to talk to RQ because I feel like I might be spreading negative energy and that this might sabotage her attendance at my birthday party because she does not want to be around negativity.
I look through my WhatsApp conversations 3x. I do not know who to reach out to. In the end, I posted a Facebook status. Usually, my rule with Facebook is that it has to be either 1) positive or 2) professional (related to my music). I posted it and left it up for 5 minutes to see if anyone might notice before taking it down. Sure enough, RQ was the 1st person to react. Shortly afterwards, Rob got in touch (oh, the irony). At least I know who my friends are. I want to tell Rob exactly what happened because I feel like I have cheated on him. Or have I? It is not like we have spoken in over a month or seen one another since the beginning of December. Regardless, I need to know where I stand with him and some form of clarity about the parameters of our relationship. Because maybe he might not see it as "cheating on him". I do not want to put those words in his mouth.
I have decided to tell Rob what happened with Sam last Friday. At least that way, I would be acting honestly. Opening up a positive dialogue. Letting him help me. But I would prefer to have that conversation with him in person rather than via WhatsApp. I might feel like I am putting pressure on him to have this conversation in person. And somewhat hypocritical of me to put him in that position given what I was feeling about him on 26/10/2019. Still, I can find ways of helping him to feel safe, welcome and comfortable in that talking environment. I know myself well enough to know that I would never hurt him. He is safe with me. I will find a way of telling him that does not feel like a "dropping the bomb" scenario.
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.
332 Brixton Road
Samaritans, 24 hours, on 116123 or email:
I have been recommended to acknowledge and process all that I have been though, where it all started from how it has affected me.