Coming across intense
I had a weird dream the other night. In it I was friends with two women I don’t recognize, throughout the course of the dream one of the women expressed her desire not to be friends with me anymore. She explained this using an Excel spreadsheet (it was a dream, what do you want me to say?), and when she did I cringed a bit and said “Ah of course, I come across too intense, argh.” as if I knew what she was going to say. I did know she was going to say it, because this is something that has been weighing on me a bit. Your conscience will do that sometimes, put something in a dream to quietly remind you of it.
Someone told me recently that another (I suppose former) friend had conveyed to her that I come across really intense. The friend who said this has broken away from myself and some others in the past several months. When I heard this I knew exactly what it meant. The reason I know what it means is because of therapy. One of the key things therapy showed me is that I need to have my thinking flaws exposed. If a therapist asks me the right questions and keeps following them up to the point that I prove my own thoughts about myself wrong, I have to smile because my flawed thinking has been categorically proved wrong. This is what I enjoyed about therapy, the therapist knowing me well enough to do the thinking that I have neither the energy or desire to do. Ultimately therapy is just another teacher-student dynamic, they are there to teach you to manage your own thoughts, and to give you the tools to survive, by yourself. Back to the original point, I come across intense. I know it’s true because I think I sometimes try to emulate the position of the therapist, keep asking questions until no answer can be given. However I understand that not everyone appreciates that, and if they are feeling worried or upset about something, being drilled about it probably isn’t that helpful. I regret that the way I acted almost certainly lead to this friend being driven away. I hope in future we can reconnect. I am trying to be more empathetic and just listen to people now, without telling them what to do or anything like that. Questions are better when they are an either-or type situation, rather than a deep exploration.
One example of a great question I landed recently was to a friend, she said she was feeling guilty because she hadn’t done much work that day. She had however been working really hard before that, and over the previous weekend. I said to her “Is the guilt more important than you feeling able to relax?” and I know it was good because she smiled because she knew I got her! It was an open ended way of asking her if out of all the feelings she could feel, why was feeling guilty the most important, and the answer is that it isn’t. I know when I feel that same guilt, it is an example of zooming in on a tiny thing and applying it to everything else, as if it is the one universal truth. But it’s not, it’s just our minds focussing on the negative.
Last Saturday I came back to Nottingham after spending Christmas at home with family. I’ve done the trip a lot of times and I quite enjoy it. I take a Chelmsford to London Liverpool Street train, take the tube to King’s Cross and from there to Nottingham. I like entering the fringes of London and seeing the train get deeper into the heart of the city. A novelty I enjoy because I don’t live there. This Saturday was different because on the tube I was attacked by a man because I wouldn’t pay him for a poem.
The man strolled up as I sat down on the Metropolitan line from Liverpool Street and asked me and the couple sat across from me if we had any spare change. The man was carrying a dirty blanket and looked homeless. I said I didn’t have any change but I had some food he could have. He then said he had already eaten. He went on to ask if I would like to hear a poem (the couple had disengaged from him at this point, and he focussed on me), and if I like it, I could tip him. The man recited a pretty nice poem actually, and then he talked about being an ex-Navy man. I lamented that it’s a shame that they weren’t taking care of him. After this he asked if I would give him his money. I said again that I didn’t have any, but that he could have my food for later if he wanted. This is when he turned. He stood up and started to tower over me and said “I’ve explained it 5 times now so you can understand. I asked you if you’d give me money and you said yes! Now give me my fucking money!”. At this point I’m just surprised. I said again that I didn’t have any. After this he said “I don’t care if you think I’m gonna use the money for drugs or whatever, just give me the money!” I think I just looked puzzled. He then said “Give me my fucking money or I’ll smash your head through the window!” then he got in real close and bared his teeth and spat. He backed off and then I said “I don’t know what to say, am I supposed to feel bad?” and then he launched at me, grabbed my neck with one hand and thrust me back so my head hit the window. At this point I’m staring him dead in the eye, refusing to be intimidated. The woman sat across from me (incredibly bravely) immediately intervened and shouted for him to leave me alone. At that point I thrust his arm off me and stood up, still staring him dead in the face. At some point he had tried to grab my bag, but I can’t remember if this was before or after he tried to strangle me.
At that point I was waiting for him to try something, anything, again, I was considering what to do, whether I would have to punch him or what. He was now arguing with the woman, and then a man from further down the train shouted “Oi! Leave him alone!” and came over to try and diffuse him as well. I appreciated people stepping up for me when I would not step up for myself. At this point he did move off but continuted arguing with people. It happened so quickly that I barely had time to even react. It went from talking to a man who seemed nice, to thrusting his arm away from choking me. The woman turned to me and said “Are you ok?” and I said “Yeah I’m ok.” she then said “Are you sure?” and I nodded. She then said “I also know you need a hug” and she gave me a hug, and at that point I felt quite teary. I said thank you and that I had to get off (the trip from Liverpool Street to King’s Cross is quite short, 5-7 minutes perhaps). I went to find the closest station staff I could to tell them I had just been strangled. They almost didn’t seem concerned, they said they had another incident ongoing. I said I was worried he might try and corner a woman who was alone. After this I tweeted the British Transport Police, and within 20 mins I was speaking to an officer. The BTP have been really good so far, I gave them an initial statement over the phone, and I will go into Nottingham to give a full statement tomorrow and they will submit this to the Officer in Charge in London. I am happy to push for the man to be prosecuted. I don’t know if he lied about being ex-Navy or if he really is and has PTSD, but I don’t really care. What he did was pretty damn awful, and I didn’t deserve it.
The past few days I don’t quite know how I’ve been feeling about the whole ordeal. I have of course replayed it over and over in my head, but I can’t decide if I am really bothered by it or not. I feel… sad, in the sense that I didn’t stand up for myself. Why wouldn’t I stand up for myself? Is this another expression of how low my self-worth is? Or did I genuinely just freeze out of surprise? I had a productive day on Monday, but today was hopeless. Tomorrow might be different. It is tempting to feel bad about this, but I seem to be in a phase where I am good at turning my thoughts around from negative to positive. After all I can only go one day at a time.
The closest thing I have to a New Year’s Resolution is that I want to take my mind to the next level. Did you ever see the film Limitless? Or the Netflix series that is a sequal to it? I am fascinated by the concept, that you can unlock this great potential in your mind. I know that we can do things to improve the way we learn. Nowhere is this shown better than by “Memory Champions” or people who participate in contests of memory, they are shown some information and must remember as much of it as possible in a certain time. Everyone has different ways of doing it, but it boils down to how a person learns things, and you can learn things incredibly quickly. I am interested in doing things to boost my own abilities in this regard. I have gotten myself access to some courses by some world renowned super-learners on how to improve things like speedreading and committing things to memory. I plan to work on these courses a small amount every day and make it routine. I look forward to seeing how it pans out.
This was a post I felt I really needed to write, I think the two major topics have been weighing on me quite a lot so it’s good to get them out. It got to 10pm and I decided I would go to bed, except I then decided to go for a walk because my back hurts. My back hurts because I put on weight and my body hasn’t adjusted… I texted some people and bought a coffee and some rubbish. I came back, chatted and played games with some friends, and then I wrote this. Maybe next time I can skip the crap and get right to some healthy writing as a decent outlet. This quote about discipline springs to mind…