Dear Diary: 19th July 17, At The Head of the Valley

Back from a weekend in Wales.

For many, this is a simple thing, for my Mouse this was a weekend of overcoming fears. Fear of the unknown, a trip to a new and unfamiliar place via new roads, to the countryside. No urban landscape, no hospital, no backup plan, no safety net, the very darkest of unknowns.

However, it was great. I walked up hills, found peace and solitude, walked in the woods and listened to the river whisper.

I cooked in a little cabin kitchen and connected back to myself.

The urban expanse brings neither comfort nor security, it feeds my fears and imprisons my minds, plays tricks on me and convinces me that outside is the enemy. It is people I fear, people are the cruel, random, violent, betrayers of trust.

Nature has no favourites, it is not cruel, nor kind, it is, it does not change, it seasons have always been and will always be, it is not capricious of malevolent, it does not plot or betray, it has no skeletons, no secret past, nature has not lied, nature does not rewrite the past.

Mr Mouse keeps on Moving, keeps in doing, good one Mr Mouse!

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Monday Night Reflection: Back to Normal

That is a lie, of course, there is no back to normal. Not in a bad way, but I am not going back. I had decided to move on before any of this dropped on me, I had changed direction, and normal was a fluid state of moving forward towards something new and different.

Normal was not a set routine or structure, I was developing a new business venture, I was practicing my skills, I was growing myself and exploring directions and possibilities to see what and what not plausible or possible, what could be developed for money and what was best left as artistic endeavour for artistic endeavour’s sake. My business was being grown, not pushed, I was learning from past mistakes, and the pace was consciously, in fact very deliberately slow. Each step was small, and consolidated, assessed and embedded, decisions taken carefully, investments very circumspectly undertaken indeed. I was very keen to be in absolutely no rush to spend money, time, or unnecessary effort in a fruitless endeavour. I was keenly aware that every resource I had was very limited and that my project was one I wanted to grow properly, healthily and strong in that organic way of a business finding its rightful place.

None of that has really changed. I have, I have made no secret that my skills and abilities have been affected, and I am relearning things. The timetable has been set back, and along with that, my blog has had to change from what I really wanted to be doing at this point in time and is not really what I wanted to be sharing either. However, my business, my blog, and my personal life are still there, still being developed and I am still working on each of my goals.

I have had a setback, and in the real sense of that, I am working from behind where I was, however, I am still working slowly, and that, ultimately is all that matters.

So while, there may never be, a back to normal, there is a normal service, and that is coming back.

Monday Night Reflection – Ray Lewis

Many people won’t know who Ray Lewis is, they can Google and see he was an American Footballer playing Linebacker for the Baltimore Raven’s, and the story ends there.

However, for many Ray Lewis is a familiar name. For some the story of Ray Lewis ends outside a night club with a fatal shooting, pop pop pop, he flees the scene. Eventually handing himself into be charged with double homicide. To many that man is Ray Lewis, Ray Lewis if not the man who pulled the trigger, he is the man who while he may have walked free from the courtroom is guilty of letting the culprit escape justice and therefore as guilty, if not more guilty than that man himself.

For some that will always be Ray Lewis, the man accused of murder. I was not there, all I know is he was there and he saw something. I have no idea if he told the police everything he saw, and told them everything he did completely truthfully. I can never know. The people judging Ray, like me were not there, and they too, will never know, some painfully as it was their loved ones who died on that pavement for no reason that night. Angry and without justice, Ray will never be anything but guilty to these people.

Others see Ray Lewis, the man with two Superbowl Rings, who played his whole Career at the Baltimore Ravens, became a General on the Pitch, a motivator and inspirational figure of it, and arguably one of the best proponents of his position ever to play the game. An almost superhuman player who not only talked of sacrifice for his team and for the purpose, but lived it playing 2 games including his last Superbowl with a detached tricep and a career littered with injury and comeback. They see the Ray Lewis foundation, and his work to make Baltimore a better place, the hospital visits he tries to keep secret, his benefit work and even how he reconciled with his father when many would have chosen to stay bitter.

For these people Ray Lewis is an inspiration, a motivator, a philanthropist and leader, a man who like his words lives his life to leave a legacy.

I see both versions of Ray Lewis, he inspires me because he is both men. He is the man outside the nightclub who will never be forgiven, and he is the motivational speaker and inspirational leader who walks the walk he talks. He stated, “if you are bold enough to challenge my reputation, then I am bold enough to defend it”. To Ray, his innocence is enough, the doubts are thrown at him but he refuses to wear them, to accept those definitions of who is and he has been bold, and now he is on TV as a pundit, still bold, still Ray – and they are still throwing those rocks.

Ray is no Mr Mouse. Ray, like the logo of his foundation is a Lion. I cannot know whether Ray Lewis is any more or les culpable than he is, but I know he is one bold man, stepping out and being so open a target, getting shot at and taking those shots and not being destroyed by them.  Mr Mouse admires Ray, his boldness, his stepping out to greatness, the way he didn’t let the fear of what was definitely going to happen stop him being great, leading, motivating, saying what he had to say and being who he had to be. And when they tried to destroy Ray, he stood strong, and he did what he did on the field and he took the criticisms and his spoke with actions off the field too. He made his mark, and has left his legacy, the Mouse wonders how he can be more of a Lion like Ray

Monday Night Reflection – Success and Failure

I planned to take a week off after competing and it ended up being a very good idea. The competition when exceptionally well and I secured my qualification for the British Finals as I set out to do, came back healthy and am now on course to go from the British Finals to the World Championships and be considered a contender.

That is the success, and I am not going to down play that success, I am still stunned to have this amazing opportunity at all, let alone after all that has happened so far this year. The weekend was successful with many improvements in self-management and performance management across the whole time which point towards a successful British performance and importantly that this will open up not just the opportunity to represent Britain at world level but also to be a legitimate podium contender. It is impossible to convey how surreal and odd it feels to be writing that about myself, and how I am proud of what I have done, but at the same time it really does not feel very real so I am not really that proud because I don’t feel I have done that much. Although, as I am told pretty regularly, to have the opportunity only 6 weeks after lying in a hospital with paralysis, its one hell of a comeback.

However, when I got home it had been 8 days without an attack, and while I made it through the weekend out the house when I got in I sat on the sofa and I went out. The full monty, this was a high register attack, lasting well over half an hour with the loss of speech, tone, and with paralysis. This would have been a hospital admission if we did not already know nothing would happen. I was devastated. I knew what was coming and it did, the hangover effects, this time it included the slightly hilarious not being able remember how to write a question mark.

By Wednesday most of the glitchyness was gone, most of my understanding and cognition was back, my emotional fragility was on the way out, and my motor skills were returning, left behind were a headache and dizziness. Its now 8 days later, and several smaller attacks later as well and I am at best 80% back to where I was 6pm on that Sunday night.

That was the failure. It probably feels like a bigger set back than it really is, but it is a real setback. I did have plans for the week after half term and so far to day I have lost most of the morning because I passed out, and I cant drive till we are sure I am safe which along with my motor skills and paralysis changes the athletic endeavour part of my life significantly. But I am still embarking on this part of my personal, professional and life journey back from where I really wanted to be. Even this reflection is not the reflection I would have wanted to be writing.

This is Monday, last week pushed me back, but I have achievement locked, and I have plans to grow my business project slowly but surely, I have another small scale little income project running and that can run its life and earn its little bit while it burns too, and I am busy taking the steps I can to get from where I am to where I want to be accepting they are smaller than I may have wanted or anticipated but that a step is a step nonetheless and I can build from where I am.

My plans have not changed, they may just take a little longer and happen a little more slowly.

Monday Night Reflection: Slow Boat or Express Train

I do make a point of writing my Monday Night Reflection as close to real time as possible and today is a case in point. Today I got news that following my twenty minute EEG, which was, of course, a downgrade from the ambulatory EEG originally ordered, I have after an administrative delay, being booked for a three-day ambulatory EEG after all. This suggests that the short EEG was not good enough to show me the door.

This is significant because I have felt that my recovery has been very much more slow boat than express train and that I have significant skills deficits that are not really coming back in the area of motor skills, something showing up in my typing error statistics which are up over 500%, if ever there was a measure that a skill was a bit affected. Although thanks to Grammarly, it would appear my writing vocabulary is largely unaffected, those who know me have noted that I still lisp, slur, stammer and have vocal issues previously not present and that my memory defects are noticeable, especially when I get tired.

So while I am no fan of a reflection heavily medical in focus, it is difficult because I am two people. The person I can talk about and the person I can not talk about too much; and at this present moment the person I can not talk about a lot is driving and in charge, it is a very important week, it is probably the most important week of my year in that life. This upcoming weekend being the most important weekend of the year for that life; without melodrama what happens will determine the rest of my year, where I go, what I do. So, rather unsurprisingly, the combination of my motor skill issues which massively impact that life, my problems writing, which are my other life, and my recovery which is all my life have given me what is, in the day to day, a very quiet life as I have had an extraordinary narrow focus as we as a team, been focussed on this one goal and getting through it.

It is partly frustrating that I have to separate lives, but it is a necessity, after all, I lost the battle for public identity to my abuser and this blog is for all those who like me lost that battle and have to find their voice. Because, I made it back, in that life although I am a long way from where I was, I am still on course to make my year-end goal, and I am still processing that. It is hard to reflect on anything else, it is dominating my physical and mental landscape that I left hospital first week in April will partial paralysis and speech issues not knowing when the next attack would be, the longest I have gone is 6 days without any sort of attack, yet despite all the issues and challenges, I am 6 days from being a competitive athlete again; taking my first step on the road to a World Championships where I am likely to be considered a legitimate contender.

How do you think about anything else, whatever challenges I face today, and I hurt, and I ache and my motor skills are awful, my coordination is woeful, the fact that is a sentence that is possible does not seem like it is real life. Yet, it’s my life, and I could very possibly be writing a Hollywood ending in my own little life.

So apologies, it’s not about Mr Mouse, it’s about Me, but not about me because my abuser is out there and she would ruin everything with her lies, so I don’t want fame or to be famous, so it’s not a big sport that gets into newspapers or internet headlines. The Mouse and I will tell our story together because it is our journey together, from the abuse of childhood and being held back for years by first an abusive parent and then abusive wife who would both sabotage or make me give up my dreams, telling me I was selfish to the wife who did more than just give permission, but who did what it took to put their wrong right.

Success may be a slow boat, it can be an express train, but it is never our own story, it takes people to help us, support us, open doors, believe in us and hold us up; every cliche about teamwork making the dream work is made real every time we come together and help someone even just a little bit.

After this week I am taking some time off everything, and I have been working on some poems to publish, I have to photography trips planned and my car will hopefully be fixed soon so I can make those, so gradually I am getting back to my normal. While hopefully, I can draw my line and Mr Mouse can create again; Mr Mouse is committed to a book called Squeeking At the Top of My Voice sometime late in 2018, I am really excited at what he has planned.

Monday Night Reflection: Nothing To See Here

It is difficult to reflect on a week, where, to my mind, very little of what happened is Mouse related. Mr Mouse, it would appear has not been busy. Where Mr Mouse was once busy sorting out and tidying around making sense of my world and doing a great job in the background of getting things done for me there is now space. Worse, a slightly sticky space bar is hindering my efforts, which is perhaps the problem.

At the moment all my sense are turned way up, sounds hurt, touches, tastes, they all cause physical pain at very low intensities, on a certain level, I am guessing this is what autism must feel like because input, is generally, not a pleasant thing. And life is all about input, sleep isn’t restful and tired, sick, nausea and generally feeling in pain in some way is what it’s all about. Creatively everything is dry, projects are dry, work is gone, nothing to do, no inclination to do it, and recovery has hit a wall with even physical progress coming and going. It has been another tough week after a tough week. So while the stats people could say the trend on the graph is positive, it is positive trend on trend, its a very slow trend and the negatives are big, the downs are big, the relapses are huge and the experience is anything but what someone would call fun.

It would be accurate to say, at least some, if not some large chunks of the time, I have started to feel more than just a little sorry for myself. Because, I am not going anywhere or getting anything done, and if I am making a little progress, one I can’t share it and two it is only back to a level far below the level I was at anyway before all of this started back in March. Imagine playing in an orchestra and then having to back and start grade levels, that is the equivalent. At the same time, the physical pain is intense and debilitating, my mind is working at a physically tiring level, so writing this is the mental equivalent of a workout when once it was easy to write and introspect. In fact, not only was it easy, it was a fun and helpful, now just writing an email to a friend is taxing and difficult as a task.

It is difficult because, I have to recognise that is, really, very early days. I don’t have a cast to see or a wound to see healing, which is a huge part of the problem, it is all happening in my head and inside where no one can see what is going on, and it is messing with my emotional and coping capacities as well as impacting on my personality. The impact is on how I see and feel about myself, there are suicidal thoughts and my self-talk is very negative, you could say I am depressed, but at the same time, I am not depressed in how I have experienced depression in my life previously. This is a complex awareness that I am two people existing in the same space at the same time failing to cope with the existence of each other. This is the stuff my Mouse used to handle for me, this is what I let my mind sort out in the background my focusing on positive goals and helping others. Those things do not work, I am tired, my concentration has gone and my memory awful, but of course I have not given up. The two, the depths of despair and abandonment alongside hope and optimism are together interwoven bound in single thoughts.

The past is the past, and this has happened, the future I thought I had, it is not the same, and where I had a plan, I do not even have a plan about how to plan anymore. I would say I am fighting, but I am, it feels, more trying to work out who the opponent is, before I start fighting back. So far it seems the opponent is me, or more precisely a me that has started to malfunction and is apparently going to start working again spontaneously. There is no fight, just waiting, which is perhaps, ultimately, why I cannot cope. Previously I have a process, a fight, something to do, and this time, all I can find is, wait and time does the job. Great, if you are on the express train, not so great for those on the slow boat. I think I didn’t get off the harbour here.

The purpose of reflection is to do, and that is where I am coming up blank each and every time, I have no do. So far, it’s do what I can still do, setbacks like getting food poisoning included, and keep looking for new opportunities and avenues to make progress, even if, so far, they have not opened up or become apparent.

Monday Night Reflection: Not Famous

I have tried to avoid deep introspection and life reassessment, it’s a bit cheesy, but I have been very low, and having discovered that on top of my existing medical journey I picked up a kidney infection (probably in my duplex kidney) I did manage to hit a very low and rather depressed point.

Thing is, I started noticing something, part of what had driven me to change my profession was that people in that field were asking what I had done. When I started it was all about technical ability, proficiency, results and knowledge, and now it is all about how famous you are and how famous the people you work with are. It is a fame game. More and more, I was thinking about contributing and the barrier to entry was how famous are you or how famous are the people you know.

It was last night, sat with my wife and stepson watching Disney Cars, my wife had not seen it and I am excited to see Disney Cars 3 in June, so we sat and were watching it together, he joined us and we had a really great evening and even grabbed a small takeaway tea for ease. It was a great end to what was a really enjoyable weekend. It was getting ready for bed that I had the light bulb moment, because like I do, and many of us do, I had a quick scroll through Instagram and I follow a few “successful” people, and they had worked. They seemed super happy that they had found time to be “productive”.

No knock on them, but that would not have made me happy, the thought of what they had done made me sad. My weekend I had sorted the exhaust on my car with a friend, trained, spoke with a couple of friends, one was a bit overdue and was really nice to catch up too, and watched a lot of MotoGP, spruced up the house as we have been doing for years and probably will be doing for years, and connected friendships. Most of my time was simply,  being, productivity and metrics were the furthest things from my mind, in fact, I remember my son and wife looking at me somewhat aghast as my phone vibrated through the film and I didn’t even flip it over despite having seen the film many times before. Why, I was enjoying the moment of being with them, nothing I do is that critical it can’t wait an hour or two despite what some people thing. And it is Sunday, and it’s a day none of us has to work so I make sure I keep it free to have with those I love.

I don’t want to be famous, and I don’t want that success. Travelling to do this and do that and the lifestyles that the successful have in what I am good at are just not for me. I guess I am good at the wrong things. You can take your adoring crowds, that’s cool, I will wake up to the eyes of the woman who loves me win or lose, succeed or fail, the woman who picked up and held my hand when I couldn’t move it myself, the woman who has seen me at rock bottom, and who chose to sit down next to me and just wait till I was ready.

It is not that I don’t want success, it’s that I won’t drop mine chasing someone else’s dream.