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Spitting the Dummy

 

During my morning walk today I got thinking about how I’d spent my unemployment so far. As I was thinking about watching 7 seasons of Criminal Minds and 5 seasons of Bones it got me wondering “How old do you have to be, for it to stop being sexy blaming your parents for everything that has gone wrong in your life”?

See In Criminal Minds mostly there’s always an incident and it seems to almost alway trigger back to the murderer’s mother, or sister, or wife and occasionally father – but mostly not – and then twenty/thirty years later we have an episode of Criminal Minds and a bunch of day players covered in dead person make up lying sideways along a dirt track somewhere.

Now while Criminal Minds is most fiction – although I read somewhere once that they do base a lot of the episodes on actual serial killers in the US – if you watch enough of it in a row, you see a pattern emerge pretty damn quickly. Nothing wrong with that. I like patterns. I like routine and monotony, and knowing what I’m going to be doing day in and out.

Walking is a cathartic experience for me. Well I guess more Zen like than anything else. I walk, one foot in front of the other and in 25 minutes I’ve made it from my front door to the end of the foreshore reserve, then turn around and come back. It marries well with Body Trim too, which says a half hour walk a day is all you need to lose weight and keep it off.

Anyway, back to the walking. I often find myself zoning out when I walk. Almost like meditation. I look at the water, or snap a picture of a random bird or a collection of row boats or what have you, but I really don’t pay a huge amount of attention. It’s me time, but more me time inside my own head than walking along the water.

Today as I was hitting my stride, salty-air clearing away 20-odd years of cigarette smoke from my nasal bits, sweat beading on my forehead, instantly soothed by the breeze, my lower back aching just a little as the fish oil tablets do their job. I was breathing deeply, revelling in the sunshine, dodging the dog shit on the path – seriously people, bring a bag and pick it up, there are more people on earth than you and your dog – watching the cars on one side and a funny little yellow boat on the other when I heard it.  Inside my head, what at first I thought was chatter, noise, the stuff I try to get rid of during my walk.

But it wasn’t stuff I’ve ever heard before, it was a full blown tantrum. Childish. It actually sounded like a child was spitting the dummy over some slight or another. And I realised I was listening to my subconscious, listening to what I don’t  normally hear and it worried the shit out of me. See I’m 40, not 14 and sure as hell not 4. If this is the childish crap that goes on in the lower recesses of my brain it’s no wonder I’m not really winning in the life stakes so far.

Long story short, and without listing a variety of details what it boiled down to was how I don’t hold myself to completing anything. Weight loss, quit smoking, find a job, write a novel, write a play, write a damn shopping list. There are no consequences for me if I don’t do anything, because there never has been.

If I want to lie in bed all day, eating Doritos and drinking white wine I do it. If I want to sit online watching porn I do it. I have been known – shocking I know – to whinge ad nauseum about not having time, but it’s not  the time I lack. It’s the motivation. I don’t write because there are absolutely no consequences if I don’t. I don’t clean or shave or do anything I don’t want to do, simply because I don’t have to.

One of the things I heard this morning was “if I had kids I’d be the worse stage mom in the world”. I had to giggle at that. But I get the ranting weirdo’s point. I’ve never had to do anything I don’t want. I learnt as a kid that tears worked a treat. I also learnt as a kid that all it took was to say “but I don’t want to, they make fun of me” and I was wrapped up tight. Never to have to do it again.

Now, don’t get me wrong, that was not an excuse. My childhood was shit-horrific and the vile little turds I went to school with made it their mission to make everything hell, not just school. I even stopped going to Church when I was a teenager because I wasn’t even safe there. I used to hear abuse all the time, even in church as I was making my way to Holy Communion, even as I was walking back to the car. Didn’t matter where. And once they found out where I’d gone next – after school activity wise – one or more of them would turn up. And that would be done.

What brought all of this up was the latest attempt to quit smoking. I recognised last night that when I’m on my own, I’m fine. I don’t feel any tension or anger or anything. The minute someone speaks to be however I want to tear their heads off and hide. I don’t get why people feel the need to talk to you the minute you don’t want them too. I’ve been unemployed 7 weeks or there abouts and barely heard from anyone.

As I was walking today I realised it wasn’t so much the nicotine withdrawal that was allowing me the excuse to be a bitch. It was that I didn’t believe it. Any of it. I was walking along the foreshore, breathing deeply and all I could think was “meh, a week from now I’ll be sitting under the house, chain smoking again and drinking so what’s the point of this.”

I realised I’ve never held myself accountable, never made myself see anything through to the end.

I guess the point to all of this is that habits and patterns can settled in without conscious thought, but once you recognise them you need to do whatever it takes to over come them.

I have lost count of the amount of times I’ve “quit smoking” or “tried to lose 20 kilos”. Nothing ever eventuates, because I don’t expect it to. Under the talk and the walk is the doubt and the fear. Just like writing, just like job hunting. I need to drain away what lies beneath the surface. Only by doing that work will anything else ever eventuate.

You can’t built a future on a foundation poisoned by doubt or past experiences.

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43 year old Australian writer currently working on the first of a planned three book Epic Fantasy series. When he's not writing policy discussions, or tales of swords, Gods, and magic, he can be found making a mess in the kitchen, and turning perfectly good ingredients into crimes against humanity.

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