Tag Archives: Anxiety

Bark n’ Bite

Silence, oh silence, detox or prison? With no mobile phone, pen, paper or words around my hospital room felt like the latter. As I waited for my operation in this big barren establishment, my mind sought solace from the solar flares of anxiety.

I was only having four teeth out under general anaesthetic, nothing major. A routine operation by all accounts, yet thoughts of it all going wrong and not waking up had played a 3 day concert in my mind. Despite having an enjoyable day 24 hours earlier watching ice hockey live, memories were non-existent.

I wondered, what if I was in this situation again, not so much as in a hospital but isolated from technology or a canvas, away from connections to people I care about, what would keep me going? I’m entertained but what knowledge have I taken on recently? I’ve ridden the storms of instability in my professional life for the last 2 years through a mix of outlets but what have I learned that doesn’t have emotions attached?

“You only live what you’ve learned”, screamed Chester Bennington of Linkin Park on the song Points of Authority. He was right. In that moment I was transported to core beliefs I held as indisputable, things that no amount of hell could shake me from.  As the plethora of medical staff entered, asked questions and left, I momentarily breathed easier. I took facts from them while regaining a sense of resilience through humour.

The last thing I said to the operating team before I fell asleep was “I trust you”. I woke up 2 or so hours later, glad to be alive glad that this was completed. Immediately thanking the staff for what they’ve done.

According the operating professional, my wisdom teeth had roots like spades” and made it a longer and more challenging operation than expected. I feel more pain in this recovery phase than my wisdom teeth ever caused. Yet I am grateful that things have been done this way.

Anxiety may flare again at some point with another situation, yet in the silence, without my preferred weapons of distraction, I recognised my true tool must be sharper. Entertainment can dull pain for some time but knowledge may be the higher dosage that kills it.

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Squatting in Space

Railing from missteps

Time slips through my fingers

I can’t catch breaths

With every blink, I beat my breasts and suckle solar flares

Somehow I’m running from my right to be bare

Yeah!

I wash in polarising pools of platitudes and curses

What’s love if they only say patience is a virtue?

My life ain’t chapters they’re verses

I hammer definitions like a wordsmith.

Flattered by my flaws there’s no iron in my steel.

I’m arrested by bars but.

Somehow I am the keys I can’t feel.

How can I drive my life if everything else takes the wheel?

You tell me

What’s the formula one needs?

Is it bleed, heal and repeat?

Is it greet, grope and retreat?

Is it please, police, preach and never teach?

When you’re aiming for the stars….

You don’t lighten the darkness reaching for bleach!

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Filed under Random Poetics

Fear? Oh!

As a male who is happy to adapt to any city, I’m generally comfortable wherever. I’ve been to London enough times to know you have to be savvy with the way you carry things due to the sheer number of people around you at any one time. I’m privileged as a male to (rightly or wrongly) believe, that I am at a lower risk of crime against me than a female may be.

However, after my colleague’s purse was taken on the first day of our company induction in London, my awareness of my safety was heightened. I found myself holding my bag tighter, I didn’t want any bulges that told you where things were on me. I was wary of anyone in sports or casual clothing that wasn’t in line with particular looks. Wary of being in confined spaces (lifts, tube etc) with them

At the top of my suspicion list were people that looked like me, followed by other ethnicities, those who spoke English and those that didn’t. At the bottom of the list lay predominantly white professionals.

As I returned from dinner during the middle of the week it dawned on me that, I was possibly projecting. Projecting fears that never manifested themselves. Those people didn’t (and still don’t) need my stereotyping, they don’t deserve to be looked at as potential thieves or muggers who might injure me for saying no their intentions.

I recognise that I was once a young black male who was seeking to avoid being seen that way. The overall majority of people are law-abiding folk looking to get from A to B. Who am I to think the way I did? I questioned my automatic suspicion of black males as being the perpetrators. Why didn’t I think that it was simply an opportunist? Why did I think that they, along with non-English speakers to be the biggest threat to my safety?

In truth, humans will do terrible things by choice or by accident at any given point. Not everyone can afford to hire security to protect them from what may never happen. We can only take a limited number of actions to protect ourselves. Beyond that, we are at risk of damaging our own mental health by living in fear. Fear that causes anxiety by magnifying the smallest possibility of negativity. Fears that lead to words and actions that could cause harm to those we are fearful of.

Pre-emptive strikes against someone who has no intention to hurt you is your problem, not theirs.

 

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Gremlins and molehills

My home is the stage, or so I thought. Nobody wants to hear me, besides, I’m not allowed to say what I think.

This was me, aged 21 after discovering that performance poetry was the one place where I couldn’t be shot down. The one place where I wasn’t being told that I wasn’t good enough. The one place I wasn’t compared to someone my family or peers knew. The only place where I could speak my mind and people had to listen.

The stage is my home, I don’t get nervous, I come alive when I’m centre stage. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Having written and rewritten my piece for Man Up, my confidence level was always around 8 – 10 on any given day in practice mode. I’ll be just fine for the shows, do what I gotta do.

Somehow the closer I got to the shows, an old gremlin spoke up and asked, “What if I mess up?” Fear of failure, fear of not meeting expectations, fear of letting others down had all shackled me for most of my years. Despite my confidence in my ability to deliver, it caused me to practice even harder right up to the last minutes before I was to step into the limelight.

Despite controlled recovery from a few stumbles, I beat myself up for the rest of the first show. I told myself it was awful, that my part was the weakest out of the solos. I told myself that the crowd didn’t want to hear me talk about race and masculinity, they came for the stories from people like them. They didn’t want someone to rhyme at them with all those hand motions. I told myself a lot of things. Somehow the rest of the cast didn’t see it like I did. They told me they saw me come alive, they heard my passion, they told me they had to remember to hold their applause.

I arrive at the mid-point of a series of performances, so far two nights, two sold-out shows. I was better this time, not perfect but better in the second show. Self-awareness can be destructive at times, yet with 3 shows to go, I realise the importance of embracing the bright. Take the microphone away from the gremlin and make your voice count in a good way.

I’ve got two shows in one evening before the final performance a day later. What matters most? The simple truth is my story is being heard in a way that only I can tell it. At some point I’ll tell it again without the production values, I might even give you the extended version. Simple truths about the best of what I’m doing matter more than amplifying minor faults. Knowing the mountains from molehills will take you far.

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Filed under Non Poetic Blogs

Brothers in Season

If you listen to the movies, life happens when you don’t make plans. Materially successful people will sell you a book that tells you to make plans for your plans.

If I’d had my way I would have changed career and left this city long ago. It would all have been on my terms and conditions, there wouldn’t be any of this, beyond your control malarkey.

When the mist of Christmas cleared, I was thrust into a spiral that at times became a whirlwind of despair and frustration. There were days when I couldn’t face the mirror let alone the world, days where I didn’t want to hear my own thoughts or superficial well-wishing. Give me what I need or leave me alone was the sentiment. I believed I had to roll with the punches and keep the scars hidden. The blessing in the storm was that for my sanity, I wasn’t allowed to do that.

For me, the darkness that descended occupied 3 out 4 seasons this year. Despite the fears, the tears, the rants and the rejections I find myself grateful for the unexpected brotherhoods that have developed. Support networks of guys who somehow appeared when I’ve needed them to keep the light on for me.

I’m thankful for the school friend who introduced me to a global group of like-minded guys who were open about their struggles and gave each other support.

I’m thankful for the Man Up project which has given me a greater understanding of the journeys to and through masculinity. I’ve been able to drop a mask or two and find acceptance waiting for me. I have learned that masculinity cannot truly be taught from one-dimension.

I’m thankful for my brother CJ who has been the general on the ground who doesn’t use “how are you?” as a greeting.

By the end of August, I will have told my story to a few hundred strangers. At some point, I’ll have new colleagues to create new stories with. It may take time to recognise all the lessons that this season within seasons has taught me.

However, the one I resonate with the most is that life is a team effort. As we understand each other, we grow, we become ourselves, we fly higher and sew into new teams.

For this, I am thankful.

 

Photo credit: Rob Mcleod

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1434

Some days, the world closes in around me.

For minutes at a time, the earth shakes as though a thousand dormant volcanoes have erupted in unison.

I chase after my breaths like a 5-year-old with bubbles on a breezy afternoon.

I am deaf to the beat of my heart.

The sun orbits the earth before I come around to the understanding of my plight.

I am at war with my shadow.

Afraid of fading from view, I like stringing sentences like tennis rackets.

Mantras slip through my fingers like perfect ex’s.

Questioning supposed recklessness I break fast.

Peace is a stranger that refuses to converse.

I silence the alarm despite being raised by a nurse.

Always an episode instead of a series.

The script seems more powerful every time.

Maybe this is what I deserve.

Payback for the other side of me.

Maybe it’s the design for me

Anxiety.

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Filed under Just Living, Random Poetics

La La

Lost and alone

Dog with a bone

The reflection has shaken me

Stirring my mojo into a molotov

I burn with indecision

 

Happy moments stolen like penny sweets

What am I buying?

Finding fallacies in forever

Planning orchards, cursing thorns

Am I alive until the death of a rose?

 

Turbulence framed as trivial recruiting

Meteoric melancholia manifests

Poker handshakes and chess kisses

Clandestine hope in bloom resides

Indifference wrestling lasts another round

 

Lost and alone in deeper waters

The tide of good fortune is in

Chewing all that rests before me

Standing to ponder the scale of my win

 

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Filed under Just Living, Relationships