This is a story about music...
The only things that seem to be capable of making me cry at the moment are Disney movies and a 90-second passage from The Tempest, which is about dreams and sleep. I quote it now for your interest, and as I write this big salty tears are rolling down my cheeks:
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
It seems remarkable to me that I'm not able to resist the mawkish and emotionally manipulative thrust of the Disney movies, and I blub in all the right places and even some of the wrong ones. To accuse me of being emotionally unstable or having a tendency towards inappropriate emotional responses to situations, is grossly inaccurate and untrue. I would agree that I'm unguarded; trusting... a little vulnerable and certainly quite naïve, although I would argue that I prefer to be naïve than cynical and guarded.
In terms of protecting myself from whimsically falling in love and getting hurt, I would say that I don't protect myself at all. My emotions go where they want to go and I let them. I use the "L" word very sparingly and tend to distrust strong emotions, viewing them as transient; fleeting. I favour loyalty above everything else. I've got no time for game playing and wimpy wusses who are afraid of getting hurt.
Under a railway arch in Vauxhall, I experienced what the children of doting parents must experience their whole lives - to be loved, cared for; adored. I felt a sense of contentment and security that had been absent throughout my bullied childhood. I felt the warm embrace - the hug, if you like - that had been absent in my life and had turned me into an insecure person who completely lacked self-confidence and a sense of identity. I'd been through 8 schools and lost countless friends due to my druggie alkie loser parents not giving a shit about the damage they were doing. The experience of clubbing under the railway arches was curative - this was the love that had been sorely absent in my life. The catalyst? MDMA.
Fifteen years later, my marriage was collapsing. I needed to go to hospital. I was admitted to The Priory thanks to my private health insurance.
It's actually unremarkable that I grew out of a brief period where I dabbled with recreational drugs - ecstasy - and went on to have a 15-year blemish-free career, before the stress of a toxic and abusive relationship tipped me back into the very state I was in when I was a child: in desperate need of some unconditional love. It seems obvious that depriving a person of their identity and security, and bullying them, would result in trauma and psychological damage. It seems obvious that the same negative stimuli would elicit the same negative response.
While I was in The Priory, I handed in my iPod after a couple of weeks. I had decided that I was using music as a way of manipulating my moods, in a similar manner to people drinking, smoking and using drugs, in response to stress and other negative situations. I decided that if I was going to take treatment seriously, I would have to avoid things which I could use and abuse to alter my mood.
Presently, we seem to think it's virtuous to deny ourselves all the things we enjoy. Cream cakes (too fatty), fizzy drinks (too much sugar), beer and wine (alcoholic), masturbation ("wanker", "tosser" etc.), spending money (too fun) and all the other things that make life mildly bearable are given up for January, while we run on a treadmill in a gym, or lash ourselves with a bunch of nettles or whatever the f**k it is that 'virtuous' people do these days.
When I was seized with the notion that pure devotion to a 'natural' life would lead to happier, healthier times, it became as obsessive as anything else that might be characterised as an addiction. I became addicted to making every single tiny health tweak in my life that I could. I cut out dairy and gluten. I washed out my sinuses with saline. I probably would have done colonic irrigation if I'd thought about it at the time. The whole thing was dumb - pure superstition and pseudoscience.
Today, I take dietary supplements - 5-HTP, tyrosine and magnesium - which are supposed to provide my brain with the building blocks it needs to restore normal mood and improve my sleep. However, I've also abused simple amino acids and even pure dopamine - in the form of L-DOPA - to put my brain into a completely unnatural state, with the intention of achieving an otherwise unattainable euphoria or level of performance.
I've abused stimulants to stay awake and give me the energy to dance all night. I've used prolactin-suppressing medications to allow me to have multiple orgasms. I've used erectile dysfunction medications to allow me to sustain an erection for priapic lengths of time. I've used drugs to move my mood up, down and sideways - attempting to 'play god' if you like.
How many drugs and medications have I tried? Two hundred? Three hundred? More? This is not hyperbole - I had the time, the money, the determination and the means.
If you think I'm an idiot who makes bad choices, I ask you to look again. Imagine what my upbringing was like before I discovered that there was this chemical - MDMA - that unlocked me from that miserable prison. Of course I was going to mistakenly believe that it was a trick that could be repeated. In my desperation to escape a toxic abusive relationship 15 years later, I tried heroin, crack and crystal meth - amongst innumerable others - and none of them grabbed me. I methodically worked my way through everything I could get my hands on - illegal drugs, legal highs and black-market prescription medications.
The net result was not a predictable one. Instead of being dead in a ditch due to poly-substance abuse, I'm now quite averse to any psychoactive substances. I'm one of the few people you know who doesn't drink caffeinated beverages. That I'm unmedicated for my mental health problems is not because I think I'm "well" but because I know that I prefer to suffer the symptoms - very few people you know are prepared to tolerate depression and anxiety, but I do so on a daily basis without medication to assist me.
There's a part of me that wants to quit carbs, quit booze and join a gym, but frankly I've got enough shit on my plate just trying to get up in the mornings and not kill myself.
I loosened the purse strings and bought a few new clothes at the weekend. I went on a couple of dates. I'm listening to euphoric dance music, eating what I want to eat and drinking quite a lot. Fuck it. Life's too short to be miserable.
Last night, a woman ran up behind me as I was crossing the road and started asking for money. I said "sorry". She launched into an escalating level of abuse, accusing me of saying "no" and for toying her when she was "begging [for my] help". She was too busy yelling and screaming horrible names at me to be interested in the fact that I would've helped her, absolutely. In fact I still would. Fuck it, even if she was just rattling for "B and white" (heroin and crack, also known as "dark and light") and she was short for the score, I'd have helped. You've got to acknowledge the complexities of life and human nature if you want to help anybody. Expecting everybody to be gym-going, kale-eating, alcohol and drug free totally fucking ridiculously 'virtuous' people is absurd. Most of us have a vice.
When I think about how long I lived without my cat to stroke, and without the pleasure of snuggling with a girl I'm really into, I'm surprised I made it this far. What's the point of life without a good healthy dose of oxytocin? Is life even liveable without the bonding hormone? I really don't think it is.
So, as we approach the end of Jinxed January, I'm throwing caution to the wind little by little. I'm buying myself new clothes and having a haircut, because it's great for my self-esteem. I'm dating and having sex because it's fucking awesome. I'm letting myself do a million little things that just make my day a little bit more bearable, because that's what life's all about if you don't want it to be suicidal misery.
There's a chance that all the little changes in my life will destabilise me. It's all quite stressful, even if it's also fun. I'm quite well aware that something as simple as a late night can throw my world into quite a lot of chaos, but sod it, life's too short and I've waited and been sensible for long enough.
I don't think I'm going to go clubbing and take any MDMA any time soon though.