The Prison of my mind

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, I clearly remember HMV Preston, stood a few feet from Bruce Dickenson. What stood out was Children of the Damned, performed live acoustic, a few feet from where I was stood. For the first time in my life, I was in awe, true awe of what just happened, and I was star struck.

As a Child I had played golf and been a fan, as a result I had been to tournaments, done a little autograph collecting. But golfers, immensely talented were just better at something I could do. I had a single digit handicap, which is pretty good at 14 and 15 when it is done off adult championship tees. Before I was 17, I when after a childhood, assuming tour pro would be what I did, I met tour professionals and realised they lived a life I never wanted, off the tee.

And so I was stood in HMV, Bruce doing something I could never do, with a life I could never live, a man I could never be. It may not have been a defining moment but it was certainly a memorable one. However, the euphoria did not last long. My now ex-wife and then girlfriend had given me a bunch of shit for going. The once in a lifetime nature of the experience was of no consequence, and despite the fact we had nothing planned, and I came straight back, the assault on me as a human being lasted.

This was my first lesson in, “it is not worth it”. Gradually I came to learn that only once in a lifetime experiences were even remotely worth the consequences. Looking back, I can see that this was not the first time I had been made to feel guilty for doing a very normal thing, and certainly not the last. Over time, bit by bit, I learned that things were not worth it, not worth the  backlash. As I learned this I subconsciously performed behaviour modification on myself  so that I would avoid the backlash. The irony is that as I modified my behaviour to avoid problems, the number of behaviours that could avoid a problem became increasingly restricted. Incrementally, the places I could go, people I could speak to, activities permitted were culled because each one became not worth the hassle. In tandem with this relationships became hard to sustain, and when you have had to choose wife or friend more than once or twice, you learn, if you make no friends, you have no choice to make, and so you avoid the pain and isolation that comes with the loss of friendship while knowing that you cannot show signs of loss or misgivings, because that is not worth it either.

And without knowing that you built it, there you find yourself in the most effective and secure prison, one made by your mind. There are no walls, no guards, nothing physical is required, no overt threat, instead history has taught you to fear the consequences of walking outside, or even close to the boundary, that to look and attempt to see what a different life could be is to plunge even more of the world into darkness, out of your reach.

That is abuse works, that is how control works, and that is why long after the abuser is gone, the situation is gone, the restraints and consequences are gone, you live in the same prison day after day. You follow the safe patterns and paths long after you can expand your horizons, you realise that even after the darkness lifted you never looked to see what was there.

The power of the fear is that there was once a real and present danger. It was the consequences of normal actions, the abnormal consequences of your normal actions that presented a danger, fear of that danger became how to safely navigate the world. The rules of your world, the map of the landscape was significantly changed and you have no points of reference. You walking next to a precipice in the dark, carefully feeling your way, trying to avoid a fall. The fear begins as a fear of real danger, emotional and psychological danger, attack on your very being as an individual both physically and mentally have been  precipitated by behaviour you could not have predicted ended that way. With no way to predict the future with any certainty, life becomes one of fear. The words “it’s not worth it” are sign post that says you are in a bad neighbourhood and this is no the place you want to settle down and live.

 

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