Monday, 22 January 2018

The Moment That Never Came

Tonight I watched the first episode of SAS: Who Dares Wins, which is a show where various very fit guys get put through a condensed version of special forces training out in Morocco. The training is tough and on the first day alone, 4 guys dropped out from an intake of 25. By the end of the episode the number had risen to 6 or 7.

The thing that struck a chord wasn’t the beastings, the discipline or the physical exertion. It wasn’t the psychological evaluation and it wasn’t the fact that being just physically fit wasn’t enough.

It was that recruit number 4, one of the guys who voluntarily withdrew from the course, a boxer named Adam, was flagged as a potential risk even before he quit because he had written in his 500 word application essay that the most satisfying moment in his childhood was when he laid out a bully who had been tormenting him for years at school.

During a boxing match (the first tasks the recruits got) Adam picked the next biggest guy in the group as a partner. Only problem was that Adam is 6’ 8” and the other guy was 6’ 3”. Adam is a professional boxer and he made no bones about beating down his opponent. Drill staff stopped the fight after 2 minutes and later stated to each other that Adam appeared like he had something to prove, even though he is ranked 15th in the British Heavyweight leagues and should therefore have nothing to prove any more.

Calling Adam in for a chat, they ask him about his childhood and it turns out that he was bullied almost constantly from 11 to 17. When he punched his playground nemesis in the face the other lad lost 4 teeth, blood spurted and he was “stretchered off, job done”. Adam had stated to camera earlier on that he regarded this moment as “biblical” in its significance in his life and he then evolved into the huge, hulking fighter that he is now.

After a pause one of the drill staff says “sounds a bit excessive to me” and the other asked him if he believed revenge was the way forward.

As much as I wanted Adam to make it through, he quit later in the same episode and the drill staff who accepted his numbered arm band (the method of quitting is to take it off and hand it over) said “I think you’ll regret this and it isn’t physical, it’s lack of self belief”.

The thing that got to me though that, although Adam couldn’t make it through the special forces training due to having a lack of mental stamina, he was still bitter about his childhood experiences, even though he had a moment that I would have gleefully killed for.

To whit…he punched a bully so hard that the bully lost teeth and went to hospital.

To as recently as this morning I have spent my life feeling bitter, twisted and angry about the bullying I experienced as a child and later as a young man. I was specifically told at the age of 4 that hitting was wrong (after having been told 3 days before that hitting was just fine if it was in retaliation).

This mind fuck was enough to neuter any sense of self confidence around throwing punches and while I had from that day until the age of 46, an inbuilt reluctance and phobia of fighting, the rage and frustration remained constant as I grew up. 

I was also told that every bad thing that happened to me was my fault and that other people had been abusive because I had “made them do it”.

The list goes on. 

There was never that Eureka moment though, when I managed to finally summon the power of Greyskull to whup a bully’s arse and send them flying into a wall with their teeth rattling around. Never a Back To The Future (part 1) reckoning where McFly Sr. manages to thump Biff so hard that it completely changes the future and makes him the happy, confident businessman and Biff the guy who cleans his car…once Marty finally gets back to 1985.

I always imagined that, had this moment ever come, I would be at peace now. When Simon Tayler gleefully punched me around in class one day and bust my nose open in front of everyone…had I broken his neck then I would have either gone to prison or been committed but I would have hurt a bully.

If when Mark Allen used to let my tyres down on my bicycle (while smirking as I impotently screamed at him to stop) I had stabbed him in both eyes with a sharpened screwdriver, then maybe I would have had counselling for years but I would have caused my tormentor pain.

And if when, in later life, I got a job with a pice of shit company where my supervisor Barbara Bellis had nothing but contempt for me and bullied me in every way except physically…well maybe if I’d socked her in the jaw then I’d have a criminal record 23 years later that would prevent me working as a teacher…but it would have felt sooo good at the time.

My feelings of injustice and desire for revenge have festered and bubbled for decades. I realised a few years ago that it was mainly due to there never being any resolution to these stories. I got hurt, the people laughed and smirked, I never got justice. 

But what I had always imagined was that, if the situations had played out differently, and I had summoned the strength to do that massive, jaw breaking, rocketing uppercut to the bully’s chin then I would be absolved of all my negative feelings of resentment and vitriol.

Seeing Adam tonight I realised that wasn’t the case. On his application form to take special forces training (albeit for a TV show where the line “go and see the medic” is uttered after anything involving physical injury or when someone quit) Adam had put that his strongest childhood memory was hurting a bully so badly that he put the guy in both hospital and potentially a dental surgeon’s office. He clearly relished this memory and was still pained by the memories of what he’d gone through as a kid. 

I have not only fantasised about hurting bullies I’ve dreamed of killing and torturing them. I never actually wanted to do this but there was a time when I would have traded 10 years of my life for the chance to make a bully suffer the way Adam did. To do something that would make me realise I had the power to stand up for myself once more, and I’d see that glorious fear in the eyes of playground predators when they saw me

But it never came.

I genuinely believed until tonight that my ongoing war with my memories was due to the stories not playing out the way I wished they had. Problem is that, even if I HAD disfigured one of my tormentors…I would still have been bitter (and would probably still BE bitter) about the fact that these things happened in the first place.

Adam came across as a nice enough bloke but being hugely tall, hugely muscled, hugely scary and a competent fighter….he still wasn’t at peace with himself. His demons still haunted him and he hadn’t moved on.

I never got that moment of punching down a bully. Adam did. Now I realise that it probably wouldn’t have made that much of a difference anyway.

Friday, 15 December 2017

The Rolf Reevaluation

Something that has recently realigned within me, in a very unexpected fashion, is feeling sympathy for criminals. I don’t mean along the lines of “Judge a society not by how it treats its poor but by how it treats its prisoners”, I mean a niggling sense of enforced empathy that I’ve had for many years.

This was always within me and extended from actual criminal activity to those who abuse or mistreat other people. I couldn’t understand why I had this nagging little voice in my head that was telling me to try and see it from the other person’s perspective….whatever they may have been.

I’ve started regularly meditating just before I go to bed and while I’m not too adept at it yet (my lotus position looks like a car wreck due to lower back issues, so the best I can assume is a “foetal daddy long legs”) it has cleared my head a little. One thing that has ALWAYS bugged me since I was a child is that I will procrastinate and regurgitate things that have happened to me in the past that I feel were unjust. Like biting my nails, I couldn’t stop and it got worse the more I did it. 

It turned out that my belief system was attuned to try and feel sympathy or even empathy for other people’s rotten behaviour. It had become so ingrained that the Little Voice that used to whisper that maybe they were having a hard day; I’d wound them up; they worked very hard in their job, etc, was now no longer whispering HOWEVER the belief that they deserved some sympathy was still there, hardwired into my psyche.

I would get stressed, unhappy and even aggressive remembering bad things and didn’t know why and finally I realised. The reality of the injustice was being counterattacked by a forced and false perspective of unnecessary empathy. 

To elaborate…

Rolf Harris recently went to prison for historical sexual abuse allegations. Looking through what he was convicted of I could see that he had sinned and was pleased that he’d been punished for it. But then I began looking a little deeper and a lot of things pissed me off…big time. For a start Rolfy was 80-something and had for decades helped charities and gone out of his way to be good to people. The “abuse” was relatively low level with his most serious conviction being for forming a relationship with an underage girl, that he continued when she was 18 and over (something Indiana Jones and Bill Wyman both did, without George Lucas or The Rolling Stones being vilified in the media for it). A LOT of what he was accused of was, in my opinion silly, such as grabbing a woman’s bottom or groping Berni (sp?) Nolan when she was 15 on a TV show. Rolf was also stripped of all of his honours, earned through a lifetime of charity work, plus all titles awarded by institutions, on a global scale (such as honorary degrees). I saw this as excessive and punishment way and beyond what Rolf had done. Especially when you consider that killers can be sentenced to 7 years for cold blooded murder.

Then I got the headspace cleared out and my perspective shifted.

For my entire life up until about 3 days ago, I was constantly told that anyone who did anything bad to me probably had their own stuff going on and, more likely than not, I had done something to piss them off to begin with. Conversely, whenever I lost my shit with someone else, it was a sign of me being moody, aggressive, unpleasant or sulky. I was  vile can of negativity, just waiting around to bring grey clouds into other people’s lives. Those people were, however, lovely and probably had completely justifiable reasons to excuse what they’d done. 

As I stated before, this used to be told to me by a little voice in my head but eventually the voice got bored and buggered off to talk to someone else. It left in its wake the unshakeable belief that there must be reasons why abusers, bullies and even killers did what they did to make other people suffer.

Which brings me on to the second point…

I could never understand why relatively inconsequential things would upset me sooo much, sometimes decades after the event had occurred. The reason was simply that the reality of what they were doing being wrong (a universal truth) was fighting with the belief that there must be a “reason” (a forced, false perspective). The fight would always end in stalemate, neither side giving ground and I would be left bitter, angry and confused but unaware of why these feelings were churning inside me because they were battles in my subconscious that I was, at that time unaware were going on.

Rolf Harris abused people. Those people undoubtedly wanted the same sense of justice as I’ve always wanted against the people who either abused me, or stood back and let it happen, or blamed me for it happening, or all three. By being told to have sympathy for abusers my entire life I was constantly trying to find ways to say “but this is too much as a punishment” while a conflict of interests was occurring between what was right and what I had been told to believe.

Rolf was punished and his honours and awards weren’t stripped away as a part of that punishment. They were taken away based on decisions made by the establishments that gave them to him. This initially caused me to splutter coffee and biscuits all over my Mac because, conversely, criminals such as the Krays, or loveable rogue “Mad” Frankie Fraser have made a LOT of money from writing about their criminal activities. That, however is society’s problem and the UK is in dire need of a Son of Sam law. Rolf was famous, projected a persona of being a guy above reproach and then, in the aftermath of Jimmy Saville, he found himself paying big time for transgressions he thought didn’t matter and would never come back to haunt him.

At the point anyone makes a decision to break the law they know that they are doing it and they accept that the decision is wrong but go ahead anyway. Unless motivated by coercion of a stronger person, desperation (e.g. stealing food while unable to buy any) or strong emotion (e.g. being taunted about a traumatic event and attacking who said it) there is fuck all excuse for being a cunt and thinking “It’s OK because I want to”.

I have seen people abuse others verbally, emotionally and physically and then blame either their own emotions or, more usually, the victim for “making” them do it. Point was and always will be, I could see their faces when they were doing it and it was obvious that they knew what they were doing and it wasn’t an act of passion. They did it because it gave them momentary pleasure and they thought there would be no consequences.

The belief system I had tattooed into my brain from childhood was that there must always be a reason…even if none were there to be found. This caused me frustration and anxiety and bitterness and a shit load of other emotions based on my inability to balance reality with fiction. I could see things were wrong but a major part of me was arguing that they weren't. That voice wasn't one I could hear but it's behaviour was what caused me ill feeling.

Now that I have identified and removed that piece of programming I can see things without pain.

Rolf Harris got what he fucking deserved.

Happy Christmas.