Humans are weird. I think I have always known this.
Even when I was small I had a feeling I could see more eccentricities in those around me than most of the grownups could. Although in many ways I think I was born as a 'little old man' and regressed to a more youthful condition 'Benjamin Button' style, as I grew in age and stature.
I remember one teacher who most would describe as 'scatty' she always seemed terribly distracted by everything had an utter inability to focus or concentrate, I feel like I always knew that she wasn't quite right.
Many years later in one on those nostalgic periods of life when we wonder whatever happened to so-and-so and looked up some old friends, I found out she left teaching a couple of years later and she died a few short years after that with early onset dementia.
I remember a disconnect in her eyes when I engaged with her almost as if she was there, but she wasn't quite there at the same time. What I haven't told you about this experience is my age... I was 7 or 8 at most. She was my teacher in what we call 'Infant school' in the UK.
I remember another teacher, around 4 years later, I almost feel like naming him here but that just wouldn't be the right thing to do. I never did take to him and he had a very senior position in the school so any interactions with him were usually serious in nature. Now when I tell you I didn't 'take to him' I don't just mean in the way people say things like that, you know those expressions, 'something's off' or lines like, 'I can't quite put my finger on it'.
I mean he always struck me as a very sinister, bad man. Maybe as a younger kid I may have described him as evil, that feels like maybe I am stretching it, but you know what I mean, right? Something was very off with him. He was often very 'pally' with the kids, saying things like "I'm not like the other teachers", painting himself as the cool teacher you could trust.
You've probably already guessed where this story ends... He made the local newspapers and also gained a little national press due to his position of trust and authority for being a cold, callous, manipulative abuser of the worst kind. I remember the thought back then, that even when he smiled something in the eyes just wasn't right.
I always realised this level of perception or picking up on strange emotional resonance or whatever the hell it was ((and still is)) was not common. You may have heard me say in previous posts that on some levels I just 'get people' this has helped me identify people who perhaps needed someone to know that something wasn't right. Other times it has been a curse when a friend has a new partner and I already know they are a wrong 'un.
Nobody wants to be the one to raise that subject, but a good friend must find a way to get the subject there somehow in as delicate a manner as possible, right?
Imagine a friend initially trusting your judgement and asking how you know, and you respond with, "I can't explain it, I just know?"
This has now spilled over in to my work life. We hire a lot of agency workers, 'temps' and they are guaranteed no permanent hours work, at all. In theory the good ones earn more shifts and regular work, the ones who make no effort, have a poor attitude or are not a good fit receive minimal work. I am all for equality of opportunity, I started this way, proved myself and gained a permanent job as I have done many times in my life.
When contracts are handed out to lift someone from agency to permanent worker, some of my colleagues claim that they had a hand in recommending so-and-so as he is a 'good lad' 'a great girl' or 'a grafter', they do this 'after the fact', of course! Often in response I make a non committal noise or one of my knowing eyebrow arches, and when questioned further I give my take on the person. I have had a few conversations with at least one manager responsible for hiring, to come and chat with a few people on the shop floor before making a decision.
The reason for this is that a lower level supervisor has noticed my impressive streak of predicting who will last under a year. Who will get lazy and complacent at the end of their training. Who is so cocky they will make big potentially dangerous or expensive mistakes.
I always have a quiet word with a superior about who may need a little mentorship or training even though they have been labelled as 'useless' or 'lazy' and we find after, that we have a fabulous, happier more confident colleague in our midst making everybody's life easier.
So now they ask me for the 'Ste seal of approval' before contracts are handed out. I have insisted that my word not be taking as gospel as I don't want 100% responsibility, I just want to have others take a step back and view the potential recruit with fresh eyes.
If I have highlighted something that I see as a potential 'red flag' they are monitored a little more closely before any offer of employment is discussed. When my theory is proven about the person I am asked how I know and I always say "people are my superpower."
This is not the point of the post though, in typical trademark 'me style' I am just rambling, while setting the stage for you to know that when I say I almost 100% of the time that I know people fast, you realise I am not being sensationalist.
I started this post with the sentence:
Humans are weird. I think I have always known this.
Part of this knowledge is based on the fact that I know me intimately and have noticed many odd traits about 'Mr Me' that I know are less than 'normal' whatever the hell that word even means. From being incredibly young I measured the habits, reactions and quirks that were in me to others and run a kind of scoreboard of pros and cons if you like.
Top Trumps style psychology from an odd kid.
This taught me so much about other people but the thing I most became aware of is that I have a kind of sixth sense for 'sad or bad' people more than anything else. Although occasionally I meet someone who radiates utter joy or happiness and take to then in 0.1 seconds, I've never been wrong with choosing close friends although there have not been all that many over the last 49 years.
One of the great joys of my life is noticing deep sadness when people believe they hide it well. This allows me time to work out how to approach the situation and find a way to get them to tell me something is very wrong and help them to see a way out of even the darkest forest without them even realising that I knew something was really wrong.
Maybe this should have been my vocation instead of working in crap jobs all these years but I always worried that if I had a job that was 'too' invested in people with problems, maybe I would find it hard to switch off at the end of the workday and maybe I would not be able to sleep...
Newsflash - This happens anyway!
Recently I missed all the signs in what you may call 'One of my own' and I am utterly devastated.
It's a little tender to tell too much of the story, so I'm gonna keep it kinda generic. Someone in what you may call my inner-circle of family and friends, has been struggling with their mental health. It has manifested in many other horrific ways in other areas of their life and me, 'Mr people are my fkn superpower' missed it!
I dropped the ball 'big time' the person in question knows that I would have picked up on this ordinarily so maybe they were ultra cautious when they were around me. Maybe they weren't ready to be analysed, maybe they wanted this private turmoil to be theirs alone, maybe they feel I was gonna patronise them, I hope to god that isn't the case.
The best way I can describe this is akin to a 'crisis of faith'.
This is certainly not intended to be a light and flippant image. I took it a few weeks back when I was practising with night time light and a new camera and I noticed it when looking for a generic, obligatory post image and knew it was what I wanted to use.
I know a relatively small number of people see my posts and even fewer make it this far down, in many ways that is a blessing and this post can be written down for cathartic reasons and a little processing in semi obscurity as the words and in turn, my scattered thoughts, arrange themselves on the page.
BUT if ya have made it this far, please, please don't tell me I can't blame myself or I mustn't feel guilty. I know this would be well meant and heartfelt and it is probably what I would say if the shoe was on the other foot but then 2 things would happen.
Firstly I would feel like this post was almost 'fishing for sympathy', right now that could not be further from the truth and at the moment I don't believe I deserve it. I know that sounds dumb and I will get beyond feeling like that, given a little time for reflection and perspective.
Secondly, I would feel like I was being let off the hook and as I am unable to do that for myself yet I don't want to believe it's true. At this moment in time I hate myself and I am heartbroken in equal measure.
That last sentence prompted the burning of the eyes and the wetness on my keyboard (I hope I don't bloody electrocute myself), Ah my faithful friend the humour defence mechanism is still here, what would I ever do without you, my oldest and most faithful, ever-present companion?
Tears are not a cause of shame for me, I don't feel like less of a man, tbh I don't think I was ever 'that kind of man' anyway, ya know, macho, mouthy and brash about emotion. Some perceive me that way, but a hedgehog has those spikes for a reason, right? Being on this planet for getting close to half a century, there are more spikes than I ever believed I would need for one lifetime.
Most of you will have some understanding of what I mean by that especially if you have been around the block a few times and the subtle art of losing people in our past never seems to become easier does it? I only mention that because oh man, does that give you a few spikes to add to the pin cushion!!! The fear that it could happen to someone you love enormously at anytime, we all hide that insecurity deep within, under layers and layers of other stuff.
Tears are not a cause of shame for me, I don't feel like less of a man...
I just said it and now I am questioning if it's really true, like I said, humans are weird! The problem is that now the person is politely choosing to avoid close proximity, maybe more accurately they are declining to be around me.
As I mentioned, those who are allowed inside the inner circle know just how perceptive and empathetic I am and know that this will have to be talked out. Even though they know I absolutely love them and have their best interests at heart 100% no questions asked, EVER, they don't seem ready to approach it and I have no other option but to respect that even though I feel like backing off is potentially dangerous right now.
They shut me down instantly in a 'change the subject' kind of way. Almost as if to say, everything's fine, nothing to see here, even though we both know this is as far from the truth as one could possibly get.
This is incredibly painful to me as I desperately want to help, I want to say: OK listen, we don't have to have a heavy and emotional conversation, let's just choose some aspects that need to change and work out if any agency is needed to help and draft the first one or two action steps towards climbing outta the hole.
I have been in the 'dark place' several times over the years, and know exactly what happens when you pretend it isn't happening or try and fool those around you who you instinctively know, do not mind one bit, if you need to lean on them for a while until you are comfortable enough to move forward under your own power again.
I've been there so I am thinking just how foolish it is to not allow me inside to help... Then I remember just how stubborn I am and was. I am an honest guy, I pride myself on my authenticity and integrity BUT I am a fantastic liar when I don't want others to force their way in to my private cocoon. I remember that:
I can do it ALL myself.
Take a look below and you will see a flawed, sometimes weak and pathetic man who is not nearly as smart as he thinks. It's not that he is arrogant or bad, just more normal and ordinary than he would like to believe sometimes.
What a bloody moron, why do I have this narcissistic streak that tells me that when it's me in turmoil, 'I know better' and when it's them who face an uphill journey back to the light, 'I know better'. I swear to god, it all comes from love and all the very best intentions in the world but maybe that's what it is, an insidious form of narcissism, a god complex perhaps???
I made no hint of how serious this post ended up being in the title as I did not want to sow a seed of come join my pity party, I'm wallowing big time as this is one of those posts that is more a journaling of my thought that is perhaps only happening so that I can decide on a course of action by the end of it.
It won't be full of fancy images, it doesn't feel right to do that for some reason. I am not going to go back though and edit it apart from looking for red spell checker flags as I am not in the mood to edit my true emotions on the page out of existence right now. I don't want to take stuff out because I deem it too much or too far because it occurred to me in an emotional free write so it must have belonged there at the time, so it stays.
Sorry to have been so heavy. It was just meant to be a lightishpost asking what do you do when someone doesn't want to be helped?
It transpired that it was heavier than that as thoughts crept in. Sorry I am not coming across as the Steven you know and
love tolerate, tonight, I wanted to use my page to vent my feelings. In 30 minutes I think I will feel a lot better about things and have a plan of action in my head...
A plan of action...For someone else's life!!! Narcissistic, god complex and a control freak, what the hell's happening to me right now. Guilt is a horrendous mistress or master!
Twice in the last week or 2 I have put out deep, heavy, morose posts. I swear next time you drop by I will be more like the me you have come to know and
love put up with.
Take great care of you and yours and don't pay 'too much' attention to this ranting madman. I swear it is a cathartic process of ordering my thoughts, feelings and emotions on the page to form some semblance of order. You won't hear me say it often but I love you I don't even care right now, who you are or if that made you feel awkward or uncomfortable, I meant it. If one or two of you feel that I shouldn't feel that way as you are not an honest or great person I promise you can be better, just go do it, be better and realise you are worthy of love that is sent your way!
That was a freaky way for me to signoff wasn't it... Most unlike me. Tough! Like I said, - No editing...
Thank YOU for taking the time to read my post and if you're one of those amazing people who like to hit the comments section... Then I doubly thank YOU!
Either way I want you to know that you are appreciated!
Keep taking the time to connect with each-other both here and in the 'so-called' real world and try and look after each-other, because as you already know...