Monday, August 25, 2008

Navel Gazing

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The problem with breaking is no matter how much glue, sticky tape and patches you use, the intact original has gone forever.

The choice now is whether to keep patching it up and trying to make it look like the original, or turn it into something else completely.

I distinctly remember the first time I broke. More accurately I distinctly remember the first time I realised I was broken, nearly 10 years ago.

Part of me never really accepted I broke. I think there’s a sort of phantom limb thing going on, where you leap out of bed only to remember you don’t have any legs to support you. I can still mentally charge headlong into things only to discover I don’t have the emotional capacity to cope any more.

OK, my intact original was a naïve fool who didn’t realise he wasn’t invincible, but his legacy haunts me.

I grew up reading about heroes - Batman, Conan the Barbarian, King Arthur etc – and knew I was going to be one when I grew up. And at the core of all heroes is that solid nugget of indestructibility; no matter how bad the situation gets, no matter how hopeless it all seems, part of them never truly gives up. Even if they die, they die knowing they were right.

I used to watch programmes on TV about people who faced impossible situations - physical, mental and emotional - yet survived. They refused to be beaten and just kept on going.

I knew I’d be like that.

So to reach a point where I realised if I was pushed to the limit I wouldn’t survive, I would lay down and die, with no dignity, this was what felt like the ultimate self betrayal.

At my core I am no hero.

At my core I am mush.

And I don’t think I’ve ever truly forgiven myself for that.
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19 comments:

Brave Astronaut said...

It is unfortunate that at some point in our lives we have to abandon our dreams of being Batman or Spiderman and embrace the dream of trying to be Peter Pan while living the reality of Don Quixote.

Anna van Schurman said...

But you're not made of mush. Mush doesn't get up every single day and carry on. Or you know, if you aren't carrying on you haven't taken the ultimate alternative.

problemchildbride said...

Pish-posh, you're not mush, Kim! None of us knows how we'll behave under extreme and acute circumstances. I like to think I would have been a resistance fighter in WWII had I been born in Europe at that time. But would I have had the courage? What if I had children? Might I not just have done the easy thing and tried to keep my head down as much as possible.

And I bet if you went and asked your two kids they'd tell you you were a hero.

It's not a matter of mush anyway, it's a matter of perception. You're feeling low, Kim, and that is colouring the way you see everything, especially yourself. Just becasue you think it, doesn't make it true. Perception is everything and mood is one of the worst fucker-arounders with perception. None of us has an entirely realistic sense of ourselves (I'm not sure what it means to have one anyway). Some of us think we are fabulous, some of us tend the other way. I'm afraid, dear Kim, you're tending the other way.

Take care. And go see how much your kids think you are their hero.

Eryl Shields said...

Just because you're not Batman doesn't mean you're mush. Good god, only Batman is Batman!

I'm tempted to tell you to stop talking bollocks but I talk bollocks all the time so...

debra said...

We take life, one step at a time. We evolve and change, sometimes rising to the occasion. I have read what you write, and I know that y-o-u a-r-e n-o-t m-u-s-h.

Kate said...

You have a daughter, you will always be a hero, no matter what! I know, I'm a daughter who has a dad.

And if you don't believe that, how about, if you were mush you'd go to bed and stay there, but you don't. Ergo, you are a hero.

C in DC said...

True courage is knowing that you are not invincible and carrying on anyway. You face down your demons every day. That's much more courageous and amazing than anything Batman et al ever did.

binty said...

You don't need to be super to be a hero... and as others have so rightly pointed out, you are already a hero to your young'uns!

Mary Witzl said...

I think all of us have it in us to be heroes AND cowards. At some point, we also begin to see that a hero might not be a muscle-bound man who sets the world right; it might be an exhausted parent who gets out of bed to make sure the door is locked. It might be a single mom who goes out to work every morning. Sam is right: circumstances often help make us what we are. And as someone who spends half her dreamy life tilting at windmills, I love what Brave Astronaut said.

As Anna says, you're not made of mush; you get up and carry on. Even if you're tired, you don't fizzle out because you can't be bothered. You've coped heroically even if you don't fly and can't leap buildings in a single bound.

Archivalist said...

Amen to what others have already said. For most of us, being a hero means just muddling through in this strange, awful, wonderful world we live in.

Fat Lazy Guy said...

You're all about changing perspective, so you'll understand how heroism can be defined in many different ways. You're a hero already mate.

PI said...

Sometimes just getting through the day is heroic.

Carole said...

Excellent post. I am pretty sure I broke a long time ago, but I keep pretending I'm not. And I wonder if the outside world says, "Look at Carole, isn't she pathetic. Always trying to look like she all together."

I don't know how to be broke (graciously) and I don't know where the glue is to make a patch job.

Kim Ayres said...

Brave Astronaut - well I've abandoned the idea of being an astronuat, a barbarian and a costumed crime fighter, but still want to be a guitar rock god...

Anna - the ultimate alternative has been known to be extremely tempting sometimes

Sam - you are the wisest of all people I know, and I love you for it

Eryl - well I wasn't actually wanting to dress up as Batman... It's more a case of disagreeing with Nietzsche's proposition of "That which does not kill you makes you stronger". I think that which does not kill us makes us wiser, but that's not the same thing.

Debra - ah, but you only see what I project to the outside world - ask Carole (above), she knows exactly what I mean

Kate - I have to take issue with the idea that getting out of bed necessarily makes us a hero, but I appreciate the sentiment

C in DC - I prefered it when I felt invincible...

Binty - until I refuse to let them stay up past their bedtime, then I'm a demon.

Mary - I know it's not about being muscle bound, it's about internal strength, and that's the bit that feels like mush. However, most of this is fallout from the recent health developments and I'm slowly crawling back out now. Probably be fine by Thursday

Archivalist - that's surviving, rather than necessarily being heroic, which to my mind is more about how you cope when faced with your demons

FLG - I appreciate your comment, although I beg to differ

Pat - sometimes, sometimes...

Carole - and you wonder why I understand you? It's because I recognise...

debra said...

I think, Kim, that we all share that feeling----we all project a persona to the outside world and have our own internal demons and shards. I know I do. But I keep chugging along, one step at a time---sometimes less, just like you. I will gladly send you a roll of duct tape or a pot of glue---as long as I'm not using it.

ruthie said...

You are not broken, i think, but whole and made from lots of fascinating and unique pieces.

Kim Ayres said...

Debra - they say the world can be fixed by either duct tape or WD40 - if it moves and shouldn't, use duct tape; if it doesn't move and should, use WD40. I wonder when these 2 wonder products will come in pill form...

Ruthie - welcome to my ramblings and thanks for taking the time to comment. I see you're from this corner of Scotland too - where abouts are you based?

cinderkeys said...

Batman can be Batman because he isn't real.

And no duct tape could make you the same as you were ten years ago, because for the most part you have a different body altogether: cells regenerate. Ten years from now it will all be different again. Dunno if that makes you feel better, but I've always found it interesting. :)

Kim Ayres said...

Cinderkeys - it's not being Batman in particular - I was never one for dressing up in costumes anyway - just an idea of a core with strength, but I know what you mean.