The Black and Blue Ghost: Part 1

  • Continued from this previous installment
  • As well, it is recommended to read Part 1 of Workshy Joe’s series ‘Men Who Go Ghost’, which inspired this series

As I mentioned in my introduction to this series, I have already been living Ghost-like for most of my life.

This has been partly through conscious decision, and partly influenced by my depression and OCD.

And like most people’s stories, this one began in my childhood.

*

Like many other Australian kids in the 1970s and early 1980s, I had a relatively normal suburban childhood.

By the age of 10, however, some worrying signs had begun to appear.

At my worst as a kid, I had been a timid crybaby who had been frightened of pretty much everything. I eventually learned to stop crying so much and screw up a bit more courage, but I also became very self-conscious, which in turn encouraged me to withdraw a lot into myself and not want to get involved in group activities – especially sports, which I mostly found boring anyway – but in turn that led to developing less and less physical and social skills, and gaining weight.

For most of my childhood I lived in a part of town far from most of my peers, and at school I was often in other classes from most of my closest friends. I did have other friends in those classes and my immediate neighbourhood – but often friends in one group clashed badly with friends from another. I varied between being trying to be a diplomat between both groups, taking one side and pissing off the other, or just getting tired of the whole fucking thing and keeping more to myself.

At home, life wasn’t bad and we never lacked for anything – but both of my parents could be short-tempered (as I’ve always been myself) and at times very intimidating. They were both in their twenties at the time and raising three young children on one low income, and when I later experienced my own twenties I appreciated what a crappy decade of a person’s life those years can be – but at the time, and coupled with what I’ve described in the previous two paragraphs, life became even more nerve-wracking. The idea of experiencing family life all over again as an adult didn’t seem all that appealing – and so, I decided that I didn’t want to go through it again when I grew up.

And last but certainly not least, there was the very strange behaviour I had developed.

I had somehow gotten it into my head that odd numbers were ‘wrong’ and even numbers were ‘right’. That meant I couldn’t do simple actions like walking through a doorway or patting my dog an odd-numbered amount of times – I always had to do them an even-numbered amount of times. As well, when my family and I went places I became worried that, for example, I may never get the chance to once more stand in the corner of a room of the place we were holidaying in – so I’d step out, step back in, and step back out (but always an even-numbered amount of times, of course).

I knew that this mad shit I was doing didn’t make sense – but at the same time, I couldn’t not do it.

This mad shit was frightening and frustrating, and it made me feel very ashamed – especially when my eldest sister caught me doing it, asked me why the heck I was doing it, thought I was just being silly, and then told my parents (or maybe they caught me as well; I can’t recall).

My parents weren’t angry about what I was doing – but they did find it very funny. Which I took very personally as ridicule, so I began to shame myself into not doing that stupid mad shit. Which in turn made me feel even more angry and upset at myself and the world.

I just couldn’t win, so I adopted the dangerous mindsets that:
(a) I was an idiot
(b) the world was against me

And then came 1983, my first year of junior high school.

*

I think it was Stephen King who once commented that high school is one of the most brutal and unforgiving social orders on Earth.

Years before I read that or anything else by Stephen King, I discovered that he was right.

I tried too hard to both fit in and be a comedian. Unfortunately, I bombed, took it very personally, withdrew even further into myself and became more of a social outcast.

The new way of doing school was intimidating – and early on, I made the bad mistake of getting on the wrong side of my even more intimidating maths teacher, who would also become my first sports teacher. I was dead meat.

For a while, I had the bad habit of forgetting to do some of my homework, which got me into trouble with more of my teachers. I was even deader meat.

And to try and prevent my parents from finding out about those fails, I started lying more and more – but unsuccessfully. I was utter dead meat.

*

in all seriousness, by mid-1983 I had decided that when I grew up, I wanted to become a hermit because I felt that I just couldn’t handle life and dealing with people.

In fact, I even once said to my mother that as an adult I wanted to become an ‘urban hermit’, which meant living in a flat somewhere near the centre of Sydney and entirely keeping to myself.

Not surprisingly, she wasn’t impressed.

*

Could things get even worse?

Of course, they could – because I was also entering puberty.

*

But that part of my story and how it would contribute to my Ghostliness will have to wait until Part 2 of this series.

Until next time, stay well and take care 🙂

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About blackandblueman

Black and Blue Man lives in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
This entry was posted in Anger, Depression, Life Challenges, Life Strategies, My Story. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The Black and Blue Ghost: Part 1

  1. Podsnap says:

    Very interesting to read about your ‘strange behaviour’.

    I did much the same when I was a kid up until about my mid teens. I had a huge belief in ‘luck’ and I was always afraid of losing my luck by doing something wrong – same sort of things as you – I didn’t like odd numbers and things being ‘out of order’. So if my left shoulder knocked a doorway then at some later point my right shoulder would have to knock a doorway to even things up. If I stepped on a line in the pavement with one foot then I needed to step on the next line in the pavement with my other foot. All sorts of crazy patterns, a lot of which I forget now. Like you I was very secretive and embarrased about it. Like you I knew it was silly but couldn’t not do it.

    When I was a kid I thought I was the only person to do this, but as I’ve got older I realise it is probably pretty common with neurotic, anxious kids who are trying to impose order on their surroundings.

    As I said I sort of got over this stuff in my mid teens. In my late teens my general anxiety took the form of something quite frightening and disturbing – being
    ‘”old hag’ dreams”
    . Pre-internet I thought I was the only person in the world to suffer this and again was surprised to find out that it is reasonably common around the world. Did you ever suffer from this ?

    I got over a lot of my anxiety etc but still have a lot of little quirks. To be honest I think a lot of people do these days, some people are just more successful at hiding it.

    Anyway your post makes interesting reading – best of luck with your demons.

  2. In my late teens my general anxiety took the form of something quite frightening and disturbing – being ”’old hag’ dreams”. Pre-internet I thought I was the only person in the world to suffer this and again was surprised to find out that it is reasonably common around the world. Did you ever suffer from this ?

    Fortunately, I’ve never suffered from old hag syndrome – but I’ve known several others who have. It sounds utterly awful.

    I have been a life-long insomniac, though, and in childhood I also (a) was terrified of the dark and (b) had a much-hated 7:30 bedtime. Therefore, trying to get a good night’s sleep as a kid was murder.

    I got over a lot of my anxiety etc but still have a lot of little quirks. To be honest I think a lot of people do these days, some people are just more successful at hiding it.

    When my doctor referred me to my psychiatrist, he told me that on average he referred three people a day because of OCD.

    That was amazing to hear – and much later, when I asked my psychiatrist how many people in Australia suffered from depression, I was even more amazed when he replied “One in four adults – but that’s only reported cases”. Why so many? Pressures of modern life – especially with technology outstripping society being able to keep up and adapt.

    Anyway your post makes interesting reading – best of luck with your demons.

    Thank you very much, and all the best to you as well 🙂

    • workshyjoe says:

      The interesting thing about depression is that it is so commonplace across very different times, places and cultures.

      My own theory on depression is that it seems to be an integral part of the human condition for those living in advanced agricultural and industrial societies.

      Personally, I doubt that our hunter-gatherer ancestors were afflicted in quite the same way.

      • I agree. Way back in hunter-gatherer days, life was much more straight-forward and most of the day’s focus was on physical activity – whereas in our high-tech age, most of our focus is on mental activity and ‘looking inwards’.

  3. Podsnap says:

    Insomnia is brutal too. I used to have a real problem with that – but that and old hag I cured with drinking a lot before I went to bed. I used to really put it away.

    By the way I went over your old posts today – really enjoyed the one on the Gong. I lived down there for a couple of years – right in the area you were talking about – on Stewart Street just a few doors down from Steelers Stadium.

  4. Pingback: Linkage is Good for You: _______ Edition

  5. Suzie says:

    When I was a kid I used to say that when I grew up I wanted to be a hermit and live in the bottom of a hollowed out tree and eat nuts and berries. I still feel that way sometimes…

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