All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


Ruminations on friendship from a lonely, forgotten soul

As per usual, my weekend has been subdued, quiet and uneventful. In fact, the only thing to happen of note was my date with Meadhbh on Saturday afternoon. After my Lego Batman fueled conversation with Audrey on Friday, Meadhbh opted to hunt fantastical creatures in Monster Hunter Tri, a Wii game that sees you play the part of a hunter tasked with ridding the environment of marauding creatures. We used to play it extensively back in 2013, and it is a game that marked a turning point in our relationship, as it symbolized the rebuilding of trust and friendship after Meadhbh’s abusive  phase. This came up in conversation on Saturday, with Meadhbh lamenting her years spent attacking me, though never once providing an explanation for why she had done it. She never has. It is just something I have to deal with, another complication in an already complicated relationship.

What my date with Meadhbh proved was twofold. Firstly, it proved to me that Meadhbh knows me better than anyone else. Audrey and Vanessa would disagree, of course, but Meadhbh can make my heart sing in ways they could only dream of. She has been part of my life for over twenty years, and as we talked on Saturday, we reminisced about various events and incidents that had defined our relationship. From the SNES gaming, self harming and school bullying teenage years, through to the supportive confident Meadhbh has become today. Secondly, my date with Meadhbh proved once and for all how lonely I have become. And although she says she understands, I don’t think even Meadhbh can grasp just how painful my isolation is.

For eight years now, save for a six month period in 2008, my only company has been my voices. I spend each and every day alone, isolated and ostracized from the world, and the people who populate it. Sure, there are people online who comment on my blog and extend friendship via the interwebs, and I love each and every one of them, but it doesn’t alter the fact that I am eternally alone. I miss having people text me. I miss having people phone me up just to see how I am. I miss meeting my friends at the pub for a lively trivia night. And I miss having someone to turn to when life gets me down. There is only so much my voices can do. Sure, they can offer a friendly ear and a supportive comment, but they cannot wrap their arms around my trembling body and hug the pain away. They cannot brush their hand over mine and whisper that everything will be alright. And they cannot slap me in the face and tell me to stop acting like a moron.

I miss my friends.

I miss Grace. I miss Samantha.

I miss Annie, Deborah and Rachel.

I even miss Kathy; before she became the emotionally abusive sociopathic narcissist she became.

Hostel Takeover (Impressionist Painting)

Myself, Grace, Kathy and others; proof that my friends did exist, once upon a time.

We had so many good times together. Times that, today, feel like distant long-ago dreams. Visions of serenity amidst a fog of chaos and pain. Annie and I spent so many wonderful days together in Canada; swimming in snake infested lakes, hiking mountainous regions and playing silly games whilst laying under a canvas roof. Deborah and I traveled Scotland together; exploring Stornoway, falling in love with Berneray and enacting movies amidst the Callanish Standing Stones. We used to stay up for hours, Deborah and I, just talking and smoking into oblivion. It was beautiful. And yet all these times; of Rachel slapping me in the face as we supped on whisky; of Grace and I performing an impromptu karaoke of Elephant Love Medley; of Samantha and I doing naughty (wonderful) things in a Glaswegian hotel, they are all but dreams now. Events that never happened. Events I have fabricated from the desolation of my own isolated imagination. The rampant fantasies of a lonely man lost to the world. Deep down I know they happened. Deep down I know I playfully spanked Samantha in an Adelaidian park, I know I used to sit in pubs and talk bollocks with Grace, I know Kathy and I would flirt our collective asses off with each other as we bent over a pool table. But those times, those moments and memories that make up my life, feel distant, deserted and wrong. They don’t feel like my memories. They feel like anything but.

It’s almost as if I need human contact to validate my life. To prove to myself that things actually happened. I need people around me to confirm that I do indeed exist. That things do happen to me. Because without that validation, without that confirmation, my life feels sterile, empty and hollow. I know the damage isolation has caused me. I know the devastation it has wrought on my life only too well. It has careened through everything, smashing its way through my existence with scant abandon, and now my isolation, my punishment, is slowly eating away at my memories. Turning them to dust. Turning them to dream. And I don’t know what to do about it. I know I need to make new friends. I know that would halt the chaos and be a profound turning point in my life. But how? How do I open myself up to other people? How do I trust again after the agony Kathy inflicted on me? After she turned our wonderful, unique friendship into her own manipulative, deceit filled lie?

The last time I opened myself up to someone was Diane, and she pissed it back in my face, flirting her way across Alice Springs, sleeping with random people on Christmas Day, embarking on dates whilst I sat alone in our unit. The time I opened myself up before that was Samantha, and although she didn’t turn it against me, although she loved me in her own unique way, she died, Samantha. She died. And I’ve never got over that betrayal. That loss. I don’t think I ever will. So how – how? – do I make new friends, how do I trust people again, after all the pain, heartache and betrayal I’ve experienced. How do I believe someone wants to be my friend. How do I know they’re not just pretending like Kathy was? Manipulating my emotions into believing I have someone who cares about me when all they want is for me to kill myself, as Kathy herself told me?

I want to make friends.

I want to part of something again.

I’ve just forgotten how.

And I don’t know what to do about it.

Meadhbh tells me I just need to put myself out there. That I need to embark on a series of random adventures that will see me come face to face with new people who will love me for who I am. I want to believe. But I don’t. I don’t see how anyone could like someone as broken, fucked up and worthless as me. Meadhbh tells me I’m not worthless, that I have a point, that I have a meaning, but I just don’t see it. The trauma of the abuse has crippled my ability to see myself as anything other than what Kathy informed me I was; useless, pathetic, selfish and worthless. The most unnecessary and repulsive human being to have ever lived. Meadhbh tells me I need to believe in myself, that no-one will ever love me until I love myself, and deep down I know she’s right. I’ve said the same things in the past. But how do I learn to love myself again when I cannot stand spending time with myself? When my day is a boring, monotonous routine of repetition? I try to shake it up. I try to do things differently. But it all feels wrong. It all feels pointless. I dunno. Maybe I’m just having a bad day. Maybe I’ve just been having one of those weekends where my brain runs away with itself; filling itself with all sorts of confusing, insecure flotsam and jetsam. Maybe spending time with Meadhbh made me miss my old friends so completely, so truly, that I’ve been unable to think of anything but their brilliant smiles, delightful wit and bizarre mentalities.

And now this post has descended into woe-is-me territory my mind is trying to convince me not to post it. People don’t want to read such navel gazing hyperbole, it says, people want to read inspiring motifs of wonderment and awesomeness! And it’s probably right, my mind, but I think it’s important to post this post all the same. It may not get much feedback. It may have no-one read it. But it would stand as testament to my current malaise. As proof that there was a time that I was loved; that I had friends; that I was someone people admired.

Like Audrey on Friday, I have agreed to date Meadhbh on a monthly basis. The third Saturday of every month, from 2pm-4pm, will be our time. We will do what she desires and talk about what she wants to talk about. I will spend time with my imaginary friend because I have no-one in reality to spend time with. For I am, as I will probably always be, a lonely, forgotten soul.

And on that note I will end for today, else I risk this post becoming even more bleak than it already is. Wishing you all a happy, friend-filled day! :)

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In which I go on a date…

Until 2pm my day followed the same boring, monotonous routine that it has followed for the last several months; wake up, turn on talk radio, surf the internet whilst listening to talk radio, shower at 12pm, mosey down the road, do my grocery shopping, return home. Etc. Etc. And yes. I’ve awarded myself bonus points for use of the word ‘mosey’! But at 2pm my routine was thrown well and truly out the window…and it was wonderful.

the banquet of cleopatra

The Banquet of Cleopatra; one of Audrey’s favourite paintings.

Now, about two years ago, when I threw myself into trying to understand my voices and build a better relationship with them, I stumbled upon a technique that I found worked wonders. My people like being paid attention to. They get off on it. When they talk to me they relish having my full and undivided attention. But if I didn’t show them my full and undivided attention, they grew grouchy, and attacked me verbally for neglecting them. In an effort to stop this. In an effort to make our ‘friendships’ more secure and loving, I started organizing “dates” with them. A special period of time that I would spend with only them, doing what they wanted to do, talking about what they wanted to talk about. For that allotted period of time I was theirs. Completely.

Now each of my voices like doing different things. They are, after all, their own unique personality. Meadhbh loves colouring in. She loves dragons and fantasy creatures. She loves playing Zelda; especially Twilight Princess, as she imagines herself to be Midna. Audrey, meanwhile, loves books and literature. She loves being read to. She loves painting. She loves Batman and anything Gotham City related; especially Harley Quinn, who she has a girl-crush on. Vanessa, on the other hand, loves musicals. She loves criticizing and abusing me. She loves Harry Potter, much to my annoyance. Shay, for his part, loves women; everything and anything to do with them. He’s misogynistic like that. So when I have a “date” with a voice, they often want to do something related to their interests. Don’t we all, when we go on a date? It is, after all, about having fun whilst getting to know someone.

In the past my dates have revolved around many things. I’ve read The Broom of the System to Audrey. I’ve journeyed through Hyrule with Meadhbh. I’ve had a karaoke session with Vanessa. And I’ve embarked on a quest with Shay to discover as many naked female posteriors as possible. All had their moments. All were, in their own way, entertaining. But each date allowed me the opportunity to get to know each of my voices better. Like I said; they love the attention!

So at 2pm today, after many months of neglect and avoidance courtesy of my depressive episode and physical ailments, I had a date with Audrey. The last date we had involved watching Jane Eyre whilst sand-painting an Aboriginal image of a platypus. She loved the movie, as the story is one of her favourites, and she loved painting, as the texture of the sand thrilled her. So I didn’t know what to expect this afternoon until I sat down and waited for her to tell me what she wanted to do. After a few moments, she screamed two words at me: “Lego! Batman!

So I warmed up the Wii, inserted the disc and waited for Danny Elfman’s moody score to overwhelm us. When I brought the Wii back in 2013, courtesy of a friendly second-hand store, we purchased Lego Batman at Audrey’s request. Being a lover of all things Gotham, as well as all things Lego (you should hear her and Meadhbh when The Lego Movie is on; the excitement in their voices if palpable!) it was the perfect fit for Audrey. And we have played it many times in the past, usually at her request, and usually the levels that Harley Quinn features in. Today was no different. After loading up the game I was forced to choose Harley’s level and away we went; battling our way through Lego Gotham’s fun park on the way to a showdown with The Joker’s psychotic companion.

As we played, we talked. Open. Honest. And raw. We talked about Vanessa and her ongoing battle with Meadhbh (“I like Vanessa. But sometimes she can be a conniving bitch!“) We talked about whether or not I should return to the UK (“Ultimately it’s up to you. But I wouldn’t mind seeing Scotland again, I kinda liked it the last time we were there. All moody, icy and cold. Lovely.“) We talked about my kink (“When are you going to make it happen?“) And we talked about why I haven’t been reading much lately (“I miss it when you read to me. You haven’t done it for sooooooo long!“) In fact, we spent nearly an hour this afternoon reminiscing about books and reading, and debating why I haven’t been able to read fiction for over a year. The debate got so real, so honest, that it actually made me a little teary. Ultimately, during a pause in the game, I agreed to try to read fiction again. She could choose the book (“A Fringe of Leaves!“, she said immediately) and I would start reading it to her whenever she wished (“Tonight!” She barked.) Meadhbh didn’t take too kindly to this as she felt Audrey was unfairly monopolizing my time, but I placated her by agreeing to a date with her tomorrow afternoon, something she jumped at the chance to do!

All in all I felt the afternoon went well. It was lovely spending some time with Audrey again. Just chatting and being with each other. She helped me understand a number of problems that I’m currently having (“It’s not your fault you’re depressed. It’s the bipolar monster that’s causing it. So try not to blame yourself too much,“) and shared her opinion on topics as varied as ISIS (“Wankers!“) , my dreamed-of trip to Melbourne (“Promise me we’ll go to the NGV,“) and spaghetti on toast “Vom inducing.”) In fact, it had been so long since I last spent any time with Audrey without Meadhbh and Vanessa present, that I’d forgotten how witty, intelligent and down-to-earth she can be.

So if you hear voices, and they are amenable to it, I highly suggest organizing a date with them. It works wonders for me to keep them under control and dampen any abusive tendency they may have. I know that if I don’t have regular dates with them – as I have discovered with Audrey – they can act up and make life a living hell. Paying them attention, allowing their desires to be sated, is a wonderful way to keep everyone happy and contented. I know that I will be aiming to make my time with Audrey take place on a monthly basis (“YES, please,” she said when I suggested this today) and am already looking forward to our next date together.

It was also a wonderful way to break up my regular routine. Normally I would have watched a movie before listening to talk radio whilst surfing the internet. But this afternoon I had intelligent conversation and minion-spanking action to entertain myself with. Easily a far preferable option to the usual, boring, monotonous routine I have fallen into. Even now, as I type this, there is a song in my soul that has been missing of late. I think anything that shakes up my routine is a good thing, and I am more determined than ever to challenge my routine at every opportunity.

So all that is left is for me to begin cooking dinner (Agnolotti pasta with pesto and veggies tonight) before retiring to read A Fringe of Leaves with Audrey, and I’m sure Meadhbh, who never misses the chance to be read to. Wishing you all a wonderful, productive and peaceful day! :)

Note I: As Vanessa and Meadhbh had the chance last week, I’ve let Audrey choose the playlist for today. She hopes you enjoy!
Note II: All text highlighted orange are actual quotes from Audrey, republished with her kind permission.