Coping Strategy

‘We all like to associate ourselves with products of distinction,’ I said brightly, to no one in particular. We all like to associate ourselves, we all like to associate ourselves. It is important for a man of my calibre to associate himself with products of distinction. Otherwise how would anyone know that I was a person of calibre? They certainly wouldn’t know by looking at me, I said to myself glumly. They certainly wouldn’t know by the cut of me. My higher self was fed up with the abysmal stupidity of my life and it had walked out on me. It given up on me in disgust. It was disappointed in me for being so weak. This was the thought that kept coming to me! That’s if there was such a thing as a higher self, of course. Maybe there wasn’t. Quite possibly there wasn’t. How was I to know anyway? We all like to associate ourselves with products of distinction, I reassured myself after a moment of reflection. I wasn’t a freak or anything like that. It’s not as if I am abnormal, I reassured myself, remembering the importance of self affirmation at moments of self-doubt. ‘I’m not a freak,’ I told myself, remembering the importance of coping skills. ‘Remember to use your coping skills’, my therapist told me in our final session. We have provided you with the tools and now it’s up to you to put them into practice, said my inner therapist, an evil smile spreading like a stain on his face. It’s important to remember, it’s important to remember. My evil inner therapist, my evil inner therapist. ‘It’s important to cope, it’s important to cope,’ I told myself. I was all at sea. I was like a drowning man. I couldn’t remember what the coping strategies were but I remembered that it was important to use them. I remembered that all right! I remembered that it was important to cope. That was all that was left to me. It’s important to cope, it’s important to cope, I told myself. That was all that was left to me, that was all I could come up with. It was my last-ditch affirmation – the one I would never forget. It’s important to cope, it’s important to cope, it’s important to cope I blabbered helplessly. I was a tool of vast impersonal forces. It’s important to cope, I tell myself, after a long period of silence. I could see the face of my evil inner therapist, his smile spreading like a stain, spreading like an oil slick. Slick Harry they call him – he’s got a face for every occasion! He’s in me, and I’m in him – I couldn’t survive without him.  It’s important to, it’s important to, I mumbled indistinctly. My last-ditch affirmation – the affirmation that I needed an affirmation. That was all that I had left to me! I was the helpless tool of my own dysfunctional coping strategies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gateway Drugs

I remember one time going to see my dealer and asking him if he had any gateway drugs that he could sell me. He laughed long and loud at my request and asked me what the fuck I thought I was on about. I told him that I’d heard a lot about gateway drugs and thought that they sounded cool. Something about the name that spoke to me, I guess. I had some kind of fantasy idea about what they were and that fantasy didn’t happen to match up with anything in reality, which is just the way things go sometimes I guess! Anyway I just thought I’d relate that story because it’s quite funny. We can all laugh about it now of course but at the time it was embarrassing enough. That’s the story of my life really – rather embarrassing at the time but something we can all laugh about it later on! Well, other people can laugh about it perhaps but I can’t. I’m still pretty hung up on all that stuff.

 

It’s funny the little mistakes we can make in life, isn’t it? The little misunderstandings that can occur. I was full of little misunderstandings about life now that I come to think about it – misunderstandings about the nature of reality, misunderstandings about the nature of identity and the self. Misunderstandings about what life was or was not supposed to be all about. What I was supposed to be doing or not doing, and so on. It’s fascinating to realise just how wrong we can be, isn’t it? Or rather it would be fascinating if it wasn’t all so embarrassing. It would be fascinating if I wasn’t still so hung up about it all. ‘If only I could just come right out and say what it is that I’m hung up about,’ I think miserably to myself, but I know I never will. I know I will never find the courage to do that.

 

I know I’ll never, say miserably to myself, I know I’ll never. I remember when I was still just a kid living in a housing estate in Gillingham in East Kent. I was into comics and superheroes – my favourite superhero was Moose Boy and I used to fantasise that one day I might develop some kind of obscure superpower just like Moose Boy did. My hold on reality had never been that firm and reading comic books all day long didn’t exactly help matters! Then after a few years of this I graduated to reading science fiction  – I graduated onto ‘the hard stuff’, you might say, and my attachment or affiliation with the banalities of everyday life in the UK of the 1980s got weakened even further. Then I got into street drugs and the West End pill-head scene and any chance that I might have had a normal life for myself disappeared entirely. That’s a joke of course – I know that ‘normal life’ is bullshit as well as you do. That’s just my sense of irony coming out. I have to make a point of saying that otherwise no one would know.

 

I’m talking in circles really. I’m doing that because I’m trying to find the courage to explain about the embarrassing thing that I find so hard to talk about. You see the thing is that I was forced out of ignorance to identify with a sense of self that was quite frankly out of place in any conceivable situation, under any conceivable circumstances. This sense of self wasn’t me – I hasten to add – I just thought it was. I was convinced that it was and I felt compelled to go to extreme lengths to cover it up so that people wouldn’t be repelled by me. Not just repelled but rendered frankly incredulous and condemnatory. I suppose you could say that I was ‘a misfit’ but the point I’m making is that I was a misfit to myself as much as I was to others. I made myself as uncomfortable as I made everyone else and this was a significant burden for me to carry around. Life wasn’t exactly a bed of roses for me, as you can probably gather…

 

People always seem to fit in so effortlessly don’t they? They always seem to say exactly the right thing, not the freakish embarrassing type of things that make people look at you and then slowly edge away so they don’t have to talk to you any more. They never say the abnormal type of weird thing that makes other people so uncomfortable. So you see it was because I was involuntarily identified with this freakishly abnormal and extremely dysfunctional ego-construct (the type of ego-construct that didn’t belong in reality at all really) that I never knew what anything really was and that’s why I always had to make guesses about what the right thing to say was. I spent my whole life guessing and getting it wrong. Guessing what other people thought life should be about and guessing what  I thought life should be about. How was I to know, you see? How was I to know?

 

 

 

 

 

I Was Obsessed By The Ego-Mind

For some unaccountable reason I began my next treatise by repeating the nonsensical phrase ‘fantasies of the ego-mind upon which all things are based’. This was a phrase that I had in my head – it was something that had been going around and around in my head for a number of days now. I was obsessed with the ego-mind and all its activities and was tying myself into knots trying to think about them, trying to work out what they meant. The activities I mean. Fantasies of the ego-mind, fantasies of the ego-mind, I said to myself. There was a strange satisfaction to be had out of uttering these words. I was the ego-mind and everything I ever thought was a fantasy. That was a long and the short of it. At the heart of all these tainted fantasies lay the ego-mind which I envisaged as a squat, purple coloured spider about the size of a grapefruit with the face of an old man smoking a pipe. Out of the pipe comes white, white smoke which organises itself into a giant spider’s web. The web is like a hammock and we are all bouncing around in that hammock – we’re trying to get comfortable but there’s no comfort there. You can be sure that there’s no comfort there. When I say ‘we’ there’s only me of course, and when I say that ‘the spider has the head of an old man smoking a pipe’ I mean that it has my head! It’s always my head. I’m the spider and I always have been and this is the obsessive thought that I can’t rid myself of. Is there an actual condition where you can get morbidly obsessed with a picture of yourself as a grotesque ego-entity sitting there in its spider’s web spinning out its perverse fantasies nine to the dozen? Churning them out at breakneck speed? It’s like the evil empire, isn’t it – only it’s a very small empire and there’s only me in it. No one else only me. And even I’m not really in it, I just think I am. I think that I am, I think that I am, I think that I am. I had been sniffing the stuff again of course – the stuff that puts you spinning, the stuff that puts you whistling. ‘It’ll put you whistling’, my friend told me, warning me to watch my step. He had warned me to try to keep my act together this time, but I couldn’t help myself from sniffing the stuff and sure enough it put me spinning. It put me whistling. In one of the fantasies I was a small dog running through the streets. I was a dog with a human face – the face was not my own however but that of a wizened old man with gunky eyes. It was a face afflicted with unutterable sadness. I saw this face looking up at me from the puddles on the pavement and I barked and I barked at the image I saw in those puddles. I barked and I barked and I barked. Seagulls wheeled overhead, evil in their eyes. I knew nothing I saw was true – I’d been caught out in a lie.

 

 

 

 

No One Ever Escapes From The Ego-Mind

My mind was babbling non-stop. My mind was full of fear and it would not stop babbling. ‘You’d better hope and pray, you’d better hope and pray’, said the words in my head. My mind had picked them up from the song that it had heard on the radio. It had latched onto them. It latched on to a lot of things. The words were like an audio loop that had got stuck in my head – they had become ‘the soundtrack to my life,’ as people say. ‘You better hope and pray, you’d better hope and pray’, said the soundtrack in my head. I was in the ego-mind and there was no help for me. I was in the ego-mind and I was never going to get out! No one ever escapes from the ego-mind, do you realise that? No one ever escaped and no one ever will. What fuels the ego-mind is our attempt to escape from it and we never can. How can we escape the ego-mind when it is our attempt to escape that fuels it and keeps it going? How can anyone ever escape from a thing like this? How can anyone ever escape from their own escaping? ‘I escaped from my own escaping, ‘you might tell me, in all seriousness, ‘I did it – I’m free!’ ‘Of course you did, ‘I will reply, ‘of course you did. Now fuck off and leave me alone.’ It’s the fantasy realm isn’t it? It’s all the fantasy realm. It’s the fantasy realm of what we will do when we escape from the ego-mind that no one ever escapes from. What fun we will have! What a great time we’ll have! Can’t you just taste it?’ We can’t wait to be there, we can’t wait to be reaping the fruits of our endeavours. Reaping the fruit, reaping the fruit. It’s all about reaping the old fruit isn’t it? Reaping the fruit of our endeavours. Reaping the fruits of our rich and oh-so-poignant fantasies. We can’t wait for it. We are hoping and praying that we get there soon. The sooner the better, right? The sooner the better. Don’t worry, it’ll happen soon. Keep telling yourself that. And then the next thing is that the fear kicks in – the fear that you won’t ever make it. You don’t need to tell me about that fear because it’s the constant backdrop to everything I do. Everything is played out against that constant backdrop. ‘You better hope and pray’, says the fear in my head. The fear in my head. It’s the only radio station I can find these days; I don’t seem to be able to tune into anything else. ‘Radio Fear,’ I call it. The Fear Station. The Fear Show. ‘Tune in for more fear the same time tomorrow!’ says the fear in my head. Says the fear in my head. Tune in for another dose of what you least want to hear! It’s the ultimate unwanted message, isn’t it? The Fear Message. Ignore it if you can! Pretend it’s not there! Pretend you can’t hear it. Pretend you haven’t tuned into the fear channel. You tuned in and you can’t tune out. You tuned in and you can’t tune out. My mind was babbling. My mind was full of fear. My mind was babbling non-stop. No one ever escapes from the ego-mind, do you realise that? No one has ever escaped and no one ever will. No one ever will…

 

 

 

 

 

When You’re In A Bit Of A Hurry

We are always going somewhere good, isn’t that the thing? We’re constantly on the way to a better place. Isn’t that the way? That’s why we’re always impatient, that’s why we are always in such a damn hurry. We’re always in a hurry because we just can’t wait to get to the good place, because we just can’t wait to catch up with the good thing that’s just about to happen. Look at the man in the queue in the supermarket checkout who is so impatient to get on his way – he knows he’s on his way to somewhere better and that’s why he’s in a rush. That’s why he’s so damn impatient. You might say that it’s just because he hates queues and that might be true but it’s still also true that he can’t wait to get to the good place, which is where the queue isn’t. If we are in a shit place than anywhere else is the good place, isn’t that right? Isn’t that the way? It’s always the improvement we’re looking for. So is that it then, you ask? And your point was what exactly? That’s if you’ve even bothered reading this far, which I doubt. Hop on board lads, we’re going somewhere good. Isn’t that what they always say? And if we ever get excited about something then isn’t that because we’ve just thought of some new ‘good place’ that we are going to, or because we’ve thought of some new improvement that we can make to our situation? The point is of course that this is a clever lie we tell ourselves so that we don’t freak out completely! Imagine if there was no good place to be going to, no improvement that can be made, how bad would that be? Can you imagine if there was no point in rushing because there was no place worth rushing to? Imagine if there was no point in being impatient, in that stupid bloody way people have of being impatient, because where you are about to go to is just as fucked up as the place where you are right now? So there’s no point rushing. Imagine the expression on the guy’s face when he realises that there’s nothing in store for him in life that’s any better than the queue he’s in right now? Can you imagine the look on his face if he were to suddenly realise this? That would be priceless, in my book. It would totally fucking priceless, I can tell you. I’d love that. I often wish that there could be a drug that could do that, a psychoactive type of a drug that would knock out that little part of the brain that conveniently lies to us all the time and tells us that there is somewhere better that you can be, that there is a better place just around the corner that you are going to get to. Like all those dumb preachers always say when they tell us about the good place that’s to come. Then when someone spikes you with the drug it would be like, ‘No, there isn’t any better place for you to go to, buddy; that’s just a comforting hallucination’. What kind of drug would that be, I wonder? What would you call it? Would you be able to make any money selling it? Could you synthesize it in the garden shed or in your kitchen out of commonly available materials?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honeypot Lane

They were specialists, they were specialists at making the Filth Universe, the Garbage Universe, the Cheap and Trashy Universe. ‘Keep on manufacturing the Trash Universe boys’, I told them and as I said this I laughed. I laughed because I knew that they had to obey me. They had no choice. I laughed because I knew that they were going to obey me. I was part of the Trash Universe too. I couldn’t ever get out of it.

 

I was in a world of my own, thinking about all the things that I had to do, thinking about all the things I ought to do and thinking about all the things I knew I possibly could do. I was thinking about the things I might do and the things other people might do and the things other people mightn’t do and the things no one would ever do and if you walked by me in the street I wouldn’t even have noticed you go by! That’s how much in my head I was.

 

My own thoughts were creating the rubbish universe – each thought unpacking its cargo of fully-programmed nanobots, every one of which was capable of assembling a fully-automated factory unit for producing viral realities of the most appallingly degraded nature – viral realities that you and I would have to live in! I’d have to live in them anyway – I don’t know about you. I’d have to live in them forever…

 

I would laugh out loud ever so often because I had created the Garbage Universe, the Rubbish Universe and now everyone had to live in it! Astral bodies like translucent comb-jellies massed in the sky above my head. They could travel at incredible speeds and they could also hang all but motionless in the air, their flagella vibrating softly along their prismatic sides holding them them in place. They communicated telepathically, they communicated in the form of song, in the form of verses. That strange unearthly smell was in the air, that smell that I had never smelt before ever. It scared me and thrilled me at the same time. It was part of the Other World. I had created the garbage world I had created the garbage world. My thoughts were the decay products of an ancient evil planet – they will keep on decaying forever. No one would ever be able to count how long it would take…

 

Faces are so amazing, aren’t they? Some are good beyond compare, others are evil beyond belief. Only no one needs to be believing or not-believing anything of course – that’s just a figure of speech. Some faces are so alive – others are so dead. I’m frightened to see my own face because I know I’m one of the dead ones. I don’t want to see how dead I am, I’m frightened to witness that. I’m full of decay products at this point and no one wants to come near me. People avoid me on the street – they are tactful but firm because they don’t want to be contaminated. I know no one wants to see me. It’s bad luck to see me.

 

The coffee break’s over now and I know that I have to go back to work. I have to work through my client list. I’m working in the Honeypot Lane Community Mental Health Center. I’m a therapist working for the Highgate and Hillingdon Mental Health trust and my job is to try to talk to people about their problems. We have all got problems of course – I realise that. I recognise that. People may look as if they haven’t got problems but they have. We all do. We don’t all like to talk about them though. Some people think that they’re not real whilst others believe that they are evil. There are lots of different problems in the world – I realise that. I recognise that.

 

 

 

 

Demiurgic Powers

‘And when did you first discover that you had special powers?’ The interviewer asked me, leaning forward keenly in his chair. He was young and stupid, but I supposed that I could not blame him for that. I took my time in answering. ‘Well – let me see,’ I drawled, ‘I suppose it was that time when I was eight and a half years old and one day it came to me that I hated the world and everything in it and so, in a paroxysm of childish rage, I instantly destroyed it and then recreated it to run according to my own laws, according to my own secret plan, and no one knew the difference because the analogue universe which I had created didn’t permit them to!’ My interviewer stared back blankly at me, momentarily confused. ‘Is that telekinesis, then, would you say?’ He asked, in a somewhat faltering tone. I explained patiently that it was not. I explained that telekinesis really had very little to do with it. I explained that that is not what this power particular power is called. The interview went downhill after this and I don’t believe I was ever invited back on the show again. Well – it’s not so much a matter of belief is it? It’s more a statement of fact – I was never invited back on the show. It wasn’t a very good show anyway. It was only a crappy daytime TV chat show which I don’t believe (in hindsight at least) to be a suitable vehicle for a man of my intelligence and sophistication. I don’t believe in turning everything into facile mindless entertainment just for the sake of distracting people for a few moments. It’s all very degrading, isn’t it? It’s all very pointless. I realise now of course that I should never have agreed to appear on the show – it is what you might call cheap trash of the worst and most despicable kind. It’s pure garbage from beginning to end. Rather like the analogue universe that I created when I was only nine years old, in fact. The first of many such analogue universes, I may add. The first of a long line of such universes. The first of what you may call a reiterative sequence of false worlds. Which means that I was also the ultimate author of that dreadful trashy daytime TV show, as appalling as it was, I noted with dry amusement. A fitting testament to my demiurgic powers. A fitting testament to my demiurgic powers…