Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Old Grumpy is Back

Yep. There he is. Old grumpy is back. I wondered where he had gone. I don't think he ever left me really. He was just lurking in the wings waiting for a good mood to pounce on and tear to shreds. I wish I could sustain my ups, without having to feel like this - flat, snippy, a little bit dead inside.

I don't want to paint this as anything other than the normal ups and downs in mood we all experience. I'm just trying to work out what the hell happened to my élan and enthusiasm. Where does it go and why can't I just flick a switch and get it back. I've had trouble publishing this post because my internet has been down this morning. Now there's the perfect metaphor for how I feel at the moment!

I had an incredible response to my previous post. A record number of page views (new readers is good)! A record number of comments, and such generous praise! Fellow blogger Mrs D left a humbling comment and shared my missive like a demon to the masses on social media and Living Sober. She found my tumbleweed Twitter handle and shared it (and me) on blimmin' Twitter, which dragged me back onto the site for the first time in years. I had to go in and update my stale profile from my previous life as a parenting blogger. I'm useless at social media. I'm not sure I fully understand or have tried to understand the point of it, or it's potential, which is a little immature of me I guess. I have 53 followers on Twitter (the self-putdown I am intending here will be lost on those of you who have fewer than this).

Maybe the fleeting success of the post has precipitated my fall. Success by most people's measure, but it never seems good enough for me. It was the first post to break 200 views, but would I be satisfied with 500? 1000? 10,000? 1,000,000? I'm not sure. Well maybe 1,000,000. Crazy! When did world domination ever become a part of this excercise? I write because I feel compelled to communicate something of this. How do you measure success of such an excercise anyway? In page views? In people who have said it has helped them not drink? In the satisfaction it gives the writer? In the doing of it? In the creative outlet that stringing 500 disparate words into a particular order to form a narrative provides? The making something from nothing? Not knowing where it will lead? The friends that are made along the way?

But whenever I achieve anything I always seem to sink into a low mood soon afterwards. It's the resting on the laurels, the pausing to soak it all in, the crippling inertia of it all.

I should be bloody thankful.
Since giving up drinking (110 days ago now!) I've been forced to address this part of me, to encourage myself to celebrate what I can do rather than tormenting myself over my limitations. I've become better at working on improving at things I enjoy (guitar/learning Māori language) rather than wishing I was at some unattainable elite level. For example, I can run a half marathon in 1 hour 31 minutes and 47 seconds but part of me wants to break 1 hour. That would be nudging the world record. This is never going to happen. I'm nearly 6 feet tall and if I didn't run so much would probably be more than 90kg. Running maestro Mo Farah is 5 foot 9 and weighs in at 60kg. Hell, if I can break 1 hour 30 minutes I will die happy. But regardless I know I should be happy with what I've been able to do because, again, by most people's measure it's a success. I've pushed my limits after all. I've tried my best.

Lately, I've been trying to run when I feel like it rather than forcing myself out the door. And I'm approaching my next half marathon in a far less obsessive way than in the past. I want to enjoy it. And I don't want to tear myself apart obsessing over breaking bloody 1: 30. If it happens, it happens. It all feels a bit defeatist, but I haven't given up. I'm just trying to keep myself in a healthy mindset. If it happens one day, great. If not, I want to have enjoyed the journey.

Yesterday morning, I wrote my first song for a couple of years (with all the guitar playing I've been doing I've been wondering when a song would spring forth). I pressed record on my iPhone as I developed the words and chord sequence. The initial excitement has this morning been replaced by feelings of disdain for how average it is, and how terrible my playing sounds. Yet I know how unproductive it is for me to wish I had the songwriting ability or musicianship of Glen Hansard, Marlon Williams, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen.

I'm tired of wishing I'm someone I'm not.

I think I'll shelve the song for a little bit and go back to it when my good mood returns.

I shouldn't give up.

I should keep working on it.

Life is a work on.

I haven't shared a song in a while: Here's one I like (but not sure it's the best choice to cheer me up - ha ha):  
Love Will Tear Us Apart          


  1. This resonates. I was discussing life with my son the other day. He's almost 19 and has had quite a checkered life so far. Despite making strides he's still very shameful for his behavior and beats himself up quite a bit. I told him "I just want you to give yourself a break and allow yourself some true happiness."

    My wife was listening and said, "Sounds like good advice, why don't YOU try it for once?"

    ouch. I'm enjoying your blog.

    1. Cheers wvlheel. Yeah, I'm a great one for giving out advice but I'm usually at the end of the queue in terms of my own strife. Things much better this morning. Snapped out of it yesterday arvo with an afternoon run while my wife took the kids to the museum! And a good sleep last night really helped. I've been struggling in the sleep department lately.

  2. This seems like a very enlightening revelation of you inner driven being - must be exhausting. Do you think drinking was an escape from this ruthless demander within?
    Even though a bit of a depressing topic/description, you express it so well it is kind of uplifting if you know what I mean. I hope you finish the song.

  3. Hi Kate, I think giving up drinking is definitely part of the solution. Perfectionism is productive and motivating but there is this bad side to it, where you lose perspective sometimes. Ruthless demander within. I like that a lot!