Virtual fantasies and online realities

Years ago I watched a documentary on TV. This is it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POE0nBKFo9Y Entitled Virtual Adultery and Cyberspace Love it explored the addictive nature of Second Life, an online venue I’ve never visited and probably never will, but the programme itself contained some fascinating insights into the human tendency to fall into an imaginary world and fail to attend to the ‘real’ one. The woman in question had a husband and several children, all of whom she ignored in favour of spending 16 hours a day online playing fantasy games with her online lover. I won’t say more, but it’s a fascinating watch. But I’d like to extrapolate, mainly because someone replied to my three year old comment there today, a case in point of sorts in itself. What we put out there in the virtual world can return to us at any time because time doesn’t pass in the same way.

I should probably make a video on this because it’s a massive and complex subject, but for now I don’t want to quite throw it open, just throw it out there. There are so many psychological potholes to fall down in cyberspace. On the one hand we can forge powerful and real connections, some of which then end up translating into flesh, but on the other we can seriously delude ourselves based on little information, projections are rife, the playing out of the interior of peoples heads into some kind of believed solid reality is far easier to do in this virtual world because we can project our fears and beliefs straight onto them. Sure, that happens to an extent in RL, but by no means to the same degree. We can also avoid life by spending our free time staring at a screen doing all sorts of things which appear to be purposeful, and in part I’m sure they are, but quite possibly nowhere near as much as we’d like to think.

One of the things I’ve found quite fascinating from the start some 12 years ago is just how profoundly one can be affected by others you’ve never met, a mixed blessing in all sorts of ways. But I won’t ramble on endlessly, this may just be the start of something I take onto YT, not sure yet, but any feedback in terms of experiences, thoughts, feelings would be welcome.

Pressing buttons

There are times when we press each others buttons. Some have lots of buttons to press, those we’re close to get far further in. That of course means the public face of us has one set and our private one quite another, though they may overlap to quite a significant degree. One of the reasons I’m generally relatively calm most of the time is due to having seen these being pressed in me as an opportunity to potentially relinquish them if I can see they don’t actually pertain to what’s going on, which frequently they don’t. I’ve done this because I know they don’t actually make me powerful or pertain to reality, alongside the fact they can (unnecessarily) cause a lot of anguish. When allowed free rein they can be like placing a cardboard cutout of whoever put the wounding there in the first place and once that’s happened (in a certain scenario anyway) whatever you do you see the old wounding rather than what’s actually taking place. At that point, whoevers doing it, me or them (or you and anyone) you may as well walk away because there’s a mirage in the room grabbing all the attention.

It can be quite hard to let go of these things because they seem like a protection, even though they end up being anything but, because they prevent us from seeing reality, and to change them it also requires us to turn the lens of observation on ourselves rather than outwardly, and it takes a lot of strength to do that.

I’m going to offer one of the ones I still seem to contain in order to make this more tangible. My father, who died when I was in my twenties, had a terrible temper. He never once aimed it at me, in fact I was the only person on the planet who could silence him with a sentence. But if angered he shouted uncontrollably at whoever had annoyed him. Of course this meant that from birth I heard him shouting at my mother. He’d sometimes throw things about but never did anyone any physical harm. As a child, until my parents separated when I was 7, every time he did it I would go to my room and cry. There were all sorts of reasons why but that doesn’t matter now. After he’d left every time it was quiet I could hear shouting, literally. No words, just the sound of a shouting voice. It took years for that to stop.

It hasn’t left me with a fear of anger. I’m slowly riled but once I am I can be quite deadly, and I’m not afraid of conflict. I’m happy to battle through any disagreement, in fact I think it’s important. However, the one thing I seem unable to stop is the inability to hear someone when they’re shouting at me. It doesn’t make me afraid, or angry, or even upset. It just won’t go in. I can’t hear the content at all. I imagine it’s because I was hearing it from birth, and it never had any real substance in the present with my father. I know where it came from but it had no connection with whoever he was shouting at. Logically I can say I need to hear when people shout, but on the other hand it seems to generally pertain to something other than me, some past insecurity or wounding I have no power to change. Someone raging incoherently rarely achieves anything other than potential damage to the relationship of whoever they’re raging at. So the only thing I can find to do is walk away, temporarily at least, until the situation has calmed and communication can recommence. It’s not perhaps the best solution nor a resolution of my mental block but at least it allows time and space for both parties to see more clearly, and I will not own someone’s past, be anyone’s whipping boy, nor be cast or labelled as someone I’m not, or of thinking, doing and being things I simply don’t. If anything can be defined as a complete waste of time that’s it.

Expect the unexpected

So, life picks you up, twists you round, throws you off the edge of a cliff, at which point you realise a lot of your perceptions were coming from a rather more time and reality limited place than you imagined. You respond accordingly, initally screaming as you fall, the doppler effect in play as the sounds of your own internal workings distort in passing through. Reaching out, your fingers clawing thin air yet finding more arms holding you than you imagined. Then you find yourself doing things you didn’t think you would and failing to comprehend what seemed entirely logical only moments earlier.

It takes you, places you in the arms of some medical angels who cradle you and soften the fall, not only showing you the worst case scenario was not, but carve you out a new place, remove the poison, treat you like a delicate model aeroplane and ready you again for flight, once the glue has set. They surround you with honest and well considered scientific love and send you on your way, bemused, twisted round again, reminded to appreciate what life you have before you have not.

On a more pragmatic and less metaphorical note, results Thursday, treated the following Monday in hospital extremely professionally, mainly for having the guts to phone and ask if they ever have cancellations (every day apparently). Two object lessons there. Firstly, for all various governments attempts to destroy the NHS they can sometimes be fantastic, and still second to none (I’ve never had such professional, considerate and well executed treatment), and secondly, never be afraid to advocate for yourself and to ask questions.

The true friend

Some of this is pretty obvious stuff but it still seems worth sharing my observations. Most of us have experienced ‘friends’ melting away when things are bad in one way or another, or when you need something and not the other way round, the ‘friend’ who is on the phone to you constantly, endlessly in need yet finds themselves unavailable when you ask them to put themselves out the tiniest bit.. When in extremis, when the chips are down as they say, you really get to see who cares and who doesn’t, and not only that but how they care.

In part I’m sure it’s to do with how well we relate to the other, how much genuine caring is actually there, and how well they either read us or are similar so know what’s needed. But there’s also the feel I’ve got in one or two instances that the offers aren’t really genuine, more a sense of wanting to look like a friend than actually being one if that makes any sense, either that or wanting to make it better for themselves so anything other than loveliness goes away. Even though I’ve shared little of the specifics I’ve had some really heartfelt offers from some and there’s absolutely no mistaking the authenticity. Others you kind of know you’d have to make really loud demands which would probably then be carried out but not in good grace even though help has been offered. And as any of you who know me or read me on a regular basis will be aware I only ever want authenticity. I mean if I told someone and they said something like ‘Oh dear, I’m sorry about that, but really I don’t give a shit, or if I do it’s only in a distant poor you kind of way and I really don’t want to be involved’ I’d respect them far more than the pat on the hand, and inauthentic offers.

The friend who is going with me to the hospital, who is in many ways quite unlike me, and dreadful at receiving herself (I relate, it can be a whole lot less challenging to give than to receive), when I said I was sorry for asking told me she’d have been offended if I hadn’t. I know realistically what I’m talking about here is more subtle than I’m making out, and the dynamics between people can be complex, sometimes confusing, often involving all sorts of elements, some unseen, but nonetheless it’s interesting to see how people do or don’t care, and who one wants to reach out to which is not always logical.

 Forgive the nauseatingly cute image but it seems to express some of what I feel, honouring the differences, appreciating the similarities.

As a complete irrelevance, why does wordpress feel I need to be congratulated for doing a certain number of posts, or to want to aim for a certain number, as if it has a meaning? I don’t get it…

Breaking more

Clearly there’s something quite significant going on for me. I now discover I have a health scare going on. I won’t know how serious it is for a little while, though I managed to hassle the hospital into giving me a cancellation, they’d have kept me waiting for up to a month. Such matters bring out a range of things in both me and those around me. Fear can have some odd effects and what people need when something unpredictable (and not in a pleasing way) is happening varies enormously. I tend to be pretty much like I am in everything else, straight, needing clarity, since I can cope with pretty much anything when I know what it is, feeling whatever I’m feeling, surrendering to the experience openly so I can see what I need to and be who I am. I can’t be doing with idle speculation and I certainly don’t want anyone telling me ‘it will be alright’ unless it’s a doctor with some results in his/her hand confirming it and even though one could say that in absolutely any situation in some respects.

Some are very good at offering support in that they seek to discover what the person in difficulty wants and needs whereas others seek to rescue or falsely reassure or to offer placebos of various kinds. I have to say when in these situations I can find myself rather intolerant of such things, however well meaning. In fact Pete this is what we were discussing on one of your blogs. Meaningless reassurance just grates, as do lunatic suggestions of cure alls.

Chances are even if it’s serious it won’t polish me off, but it’s curious that one seems to play with that idea when even the slightest possibility crops up. Is it my turn to go? How would I feel about that if it were? Because one thing’s for sure, it will be one day, and which of us knows the moment? It is the thief in the night. I’d rather it wasn’t yet, I’d like to do some more living first, and I can think of far better ways to go, but it’s a strange feeling and experience.

I have no idea how I’m going to feel as this goes on. I seem to be feeling the need to express myself all over right now, but I may go silent at some point. Only time will tell. But I know this, along with everything else in life, needs to be embraced and lived not shunned, avoided or with any pretence or self delusion, and there is something for me to gain from it irrespective of the outcome.