a professional hermit rambles

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On the art of not writing…

Every now and then I produce something that I’m almost proud of. I write well, I edit well and it gets a good reaction from other people yet when the afterglow has diminished I am convinced that I will never write as well again.

I have plenty to say but I can’t commit it to paper (I do my first draft in longhand) because I am convinced it will be inferior to the post I am most proud of at the time.

Friends who are both writers and readers tell me I’m a good and some of them tell me that they identify with my thoughts. I have written for the mainstream media as well as content for two websites. The websites were miles away from each other  in style and content and the articles I wrote were often praised. Yet I still convince myself that I’m never going to write anything excellent again or, come to think of it, anything that’s even vaguely good.

I am not intimating that I have Imposter Syndrome or am self-stigmatising as they are phrases that have been invented to medicalise self-doubt. Self-doubt is natural and it is what drives every person to strive to be better.

The way for me to move forward has to be to write anything and publish those pieces that I lack confidence in. Not every blog post I write can be a jewel to fill my rather bare crown.

My new mantra has to be, “Liza – polish a turd, publish a turd.”


I am going through a ‘disenchanted with the world’ phase. There is a build up to them, one thing will tip me over and I try sever my connection with the world. Please note that I am not talking about suicide, being disenchanted is not about depression.

Within bipolar disorder ultradian cycling is one or more mood swings within 24 hours and it is thought that there is a genetic factor that particularly effects women. The ultradian cycling I am experiencing is low to medium mood levels. 

The amount of refined sugar I’ve been eating – though inhaling may be a better term – hasn’t helped. Sugar rushes and crashes aid rapid cycling.

My social media presence is posting newspaper articles and photos I’ve taken. There are few people of late with whom I tweet with and those exchanges are becoming less frequent.

A few days ago I was at the bottom of a vicious celebrity pile-on and, despite the fact that I was polite and didn’t sling unnecessary insults, I was accused of exhibiting faux outrage and behaving like a troll. I gave up responding because it is too exhausting to reason with people who hear what they want to hear.

Yesterday was the start of five days of protest in Bristol by Extinction Rebellion. The main protest was on a bridge going in and out of the city and the police had to close surrounding streets and redirect traffic. The diverted routes took longer than the usual ones and caused  an increase in toxic emissions.

Some of them were handing out leaflets and one was putting stickers on street furniture.  Both the backing paper from the stickers and the leaflets will end up in landfill. Policing the protests and dealing with the people who are desperate to be arrested takes resources from elsewhere and the communities in and around Bristol suffer.

All of these things lend to my disenchantment with the world. It will pass and I will re-enter the world but in the meantime I feel as though I’m suffering from the consequences of other people’s actions.

On the pursuit of happiness

Is there such a thing as happiness or is it an illusion and does aiming for it leave us disillusioned? 

Almost all of us have had those flashing moments of joy that temporarily blind us; weddings, the birth of children, welcoming new friends into our lives, that holiday and the many things that remove us from our world for minutes, hours or days before the ordinariness of life steps in again.

Does happiness or unhappiness exist between these periods of brightness or is the absence of joy similar to shadows that are in reality the absence of light?

Unless there is a genuine reason for lack of contentment for example homelessness, poverty or discrimination discontentment is derived from a sense of entitlement. “I should have that.” “That should be mine.” It is a phenomena in a world that is overloaded with ‘celebrity’ lifestyles and the obnoxious amount of spending that seems to be compulsive by these so-called celebrities.

How are we supposed to be content when X has a mansion filled with objects that are tacky but also expensive and exclusive? We cannot live within their means but some people feel a need to try and max out credit cards by buying cheap and worthless imitations of expensive tat.

Contentment is a companion that wavers with the ups and downs of life and our moods and emotions. It is attainable and can be sustainable for some people and can exist whether it is punctuated by blinding flashes of joy or not..

We seem to have forgotten – or perhaps we have no memory – of simple and non-competitive lifestyles. We know that money doesn’t buy happiness but who hasn’t been tempted by the idea of shelling out some cash to rent some for a while?

Skinny woman, fat woman

I stopped drinking when I was 32 and weighed about 91 lbs (41 kg); a dangerously low weight. I began to put on weight but my body looked odd to me. I couldn’t see my bones quite as well and my ribs were beginning to be covered up. This was distressing as all my life I defined myself by my weight and though I was beginning to find another self I was also losing myself.

I went to go to AA and I met Andrew. We began to date and at his instigation we split up several times before he decided that we could make a go of things. I took this as a compliment but I found out later that it was typical behaviour of someone who was emotionally abusive. I was made to feel lucky that I had been chosen.

Having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder I was taking lithium and weight gain is one of the side effects of it. Again, I felt as those my sense of self was disappearing and there was a person that I didn’t recognise taking her place.

Andrew decided that even though I was a size 12 by then I was dangerously thin and became a feeder. A feeder is someone who encourages someone to eat much more than is good for them and unhealthy things to boot. I would often find myself eating three bars of chocolate and being applauded by him because he though I should be a big woman not the slim person I wanted to be. He told me that he loved big women but stopped having sex with me because my size made me unattractive.

In the photo above is the woman that I became. Note the possessive way he is holding on to me and my clenched fist. I’m leaning into him because he had made me dependent upon him. I was also tired of and angry with him because I felt as though I couldn’t get away.

I rang him on New Years Eve 2007 and told him that I need some time alone to recharge my batteries. Six weeks later I wrote him to tell him he would never see me again.

I have lost weight now I am slightly overweight but not drastically so. I yearn to be a size 10 but I have accepted that it is not a healthy and that as long as I keep fit being a little overweight isn’t a bad thing.

The first thing that I did when I escaped him (and thankfully we had never lived together) was buy a camera as that was many of the things he let me know I was useless at. Six weeks after buying the camera I sold a photo to a travel magazine and the University of York used one of my photos to illustrate a book about stained glass. I am a good photographer and I am a free, if slightly fat, person.

A walk with sacred music…

The sacred music that I listened to as I walked didn’t deafen me to the sounds that were around me but it seemed to act as a shield.

* *

A group of people were doing a circular ‘harbour walk’ that starts and ends at the SS Great Britain. I wonder why they are talking so loudly instead of taking in their surroundings. Surely that’s the point of a group walk?

They move on. An elderly looking dog wanders by seemingly ownerless. There is no-one in sight with a lead so maybe he or she belongs to a loud walkers.

An overpriced and over-spiced pasty that seemed like a good idea is making me glad I bought a piece of rocky road. I need the sweetness to counteract the overdose of black pepper. Still the loud people, the quiet people, the runners, the people on their phones and the people looking glum pass by.

The rears of the houses on Cumberland Road have an arrangement of windows that seem to be faces displaying shock at the extent of gentrification around the docks. If they were human they’d be telling you that they could tell you some stories.

I am walking again in the vague direction of coffee. The music I’m listening to refuses to let me walk faster than a slow stroll. I pity the people who have no option but to move fast.

The place I am going to is closed. Because it’s closed it makes me feel safe. A kind of friend of another persuasion than me used to walk her dog when I walked mine sometimes and occasionally she to wanted to sit outside there for a cold drink. Her body language would tell people that I was her property. Control over another person by whatever means is abusive behaviour and so, no matter how beautiful her dog is, I have abandoned her as a walking companion.

I don’t know why but I expected to feel deep emotions and not to notice the world around me as I listened to the sacred music. I imagined that I would experience and internal monologue or a stream of consciousness or, to coin an outdated phrase that shows my age, find myself.

Instead of the smiles that I usually attract from strangers there hasn’t been one today. Has the music made me invisible, is my face unusually straight or is it because I’m wearing sunglass? Whatever the reason it makes me feel different and it feels as though I’ve become a less approachable person. I’ve grown used to being the person with the open face and I don’t want to stop being her.

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