Posted by: docdenbow | May 13, 2013

What Do You Want To Be?


Throughout my life. I’ve never really wanted to be anything, anything at all. All I have ever wanted is to be happy. If that sounds selfish, it’s not meant to. I have always felt that I could derive happiness from the happiness of those around me and those close to me. Sometimes, I have failed spectacularly. I’ve had people both near and dear to me that I have infected and corrupted with my sullen, negative and nihilistic view of life.

My life was full of enemies with ulterior motives conspiring to wreck what joy I had in life. If I was teased, it was never a sign of good natured affection, it was always malicious ridicule. I was unpopular with no redeeming features, a figure of fun, someone to practise cruel humour upon. No one liked me, I was merely tolerated. Ostracized for being an Englishman in Wales, never accepted, never part of the gang, the in-crowd. With the taunts came a bitterness deep within me and over time I became sharp tempered, bad tempered even.

I’d go to the pub every night and drink 5 or 6 pints which was enough to make me happy for the moment, but made me unbearably boorish and tired and lethargic the next day. I turned into the very person that I never wanted to be. In retrospect I offered no support to my wife with our two girls, I really don’t think that I was much of a father as I always had the contents of several beer glasses sloshing around my system.

I had, or should have had, everything that could man a man happy. A loving wife and two beautiful little girls. So, we didn’t have much money, in fact we were dirt poor, lived in borderline poverty, but that shouldn’t have mattered, should it? It shouldn’t, but I had a huge monkey on my back and that was my job. From 20 to 25 I had managed record shops for two different chains and was a very confident, “full of it” type of youngster. On both occasions the jobs came to a sticky end and with a redundancy sandwiched in between my self belief was gone, like the air popping from a pricked from a balloon.

We came back to Swansea from our record retailing adventures in Gloucester, Cheltenham and Hereford, potless, skint .My wife found a job pretty quickly in a china shop via a close friend. Me? I didn’t have any friends so I had to strike out alone. There were a few desultory visits to the Job Centre and a few application forms filled in, but even after just a couple of weeks I was disheartened, depressed and probably not exactly sparkling company for my wife. After all, this was no picnic for her either. Her job in Gloucester went when mine did in Hereford because we worked for the same company.

I had resolved to give record shops the widest of berths, even though I was a good manager it had ended in tears on two occasions, both times leaving me emotionally shattered. One day I wandered into a record shop in Swansea Market and within a few weeks I was working there. The owner leaned on me heavily for advice and ideas, ultimately rejecting most that would have seen his business grow and I spent fifteen years of my life being underpaid and trapped in an existence that I hated when he was around. My bitterness increased exponentially as I knew I could make a better job of this little shop, but it wasn’t mine, and that was that. I’ve no doubt that he thought that I was his friend and he mine, but friends don’t pay the derisory wage that I was on, so much so that we received more in Family Credit than my wages. Caught in the poverty trap with no way out. I suppose there was a way out, but I was too scared to walk away, which is just what I should done.

Looking back to those years, despite my home life, I was depressed. I had no pride in saying where I worked what I did and when I heard of lads with a “trade” earning hundreds of pounds a week, I’d could feel jealous tears of rage. It just wasn’t fair. I wasn’t a bad person, so why was my life turning out so unhappily? Like I said I had no friends and perhaps more importantly no desire to make any. When I stepped outside the cocoon of the front door I felt utterly alone.

Then things began to change. I started, as Jeremy Kyle would say, to grow some. Making use of our poverty I signed up to do a Foundation Course with the Open University. To use a cliche, that was a game changer. for the first time in years my brain was switched on and stimulated and when it came to the summer school at Bath University I attended every lecture that was available, hungry for knowledge. I had great results at the end of the course and signed up to begin a full degree in psychology. My confidence and ambition was coming back at a rate of knots and at that time i could even envisage myself working as a Social Worker or in Social Services in general. I even had this notion of keeping going on and on with the OU until I got a Phd, just a joke really, a pointless impractical idea, but you know know what I mean?

That of course came to an end when the bastard I worked for refused to let me take two hours on a Saturday morning to go to the tutorial. I tried to struggle on alone, but found it difficult without direct face to face support. Reluctantly I was forced to quit. For me that was a real turning point. I could finally see that the little bastard I worked for was just that. A little bastard, selfish, manipulative and in his own specific way jealous. Jealous of me because he was too thick to even contemplate studying for a degree in psychology.

A year or so later, he told me that he was going to cut my hours because of a downturn in the business. I’d been there nearly fifteen years and that was not going to happen. He said he could and I told him he was ignorant if he thought that. I told him straight that if he wanted me to work part time then I would have to agree, and I didn’t or he could make me redundant and re employ me if he saw fit. Anyway in the ended I was offered a much better job, and walked out. I’m not bitter about the time I spent working there, just a little wistful that those years could have been better spent on a proper job or “building a career.”

That was in June 2000 and fast forwarding to today things have changed. The  main thing that has changed is my own outlook on life and my own happiness. I truly believe that has been accelerated in the past couple of years especially, by my stopping drinking (okay 3 pints a week now no more drink dependancy) and by my new anticonvulsant treatment. The drug that is new to me is called Lamotrogine and is used to stop, not only seizures, but also the cyclic highs and lows of those with bi polar disorder. Perhaps it’s having a placebo effect on me, perhaps I am bi polar? Maybe not but I feel “more at one” with things now than I ever have done in my life.

What I do realize now is that having levelled myself out I have now, for the first time in my life, tried to decide what I want to be. I want to be happy, that’s true. Yet , although that is a fine ambition and desire, I want more. I want to make some small mark on the world even if it’s by being a psychotically prolific blogger and boring everyone to death with my meanderings.

One day I may finish my novel, one day I may not. Tell you what though, I really need to finish something and see it through to the end.

Ciao For Now,

Denbow

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