What the f**k is wrong with me?

After years of avoidance, logical approaches, analytic systems to avoid this exact situation, IT happened:

I met someone.
Online.
In Second Life.
That I like.
A lot.
An awful lot.
And that I am falling for like a ton of bricks. *sigh*

Most people would be happy and enjoy this feeling. But apparently I am not most people. Sure, I am (kinda) happy and I (kinda) enjoy this feeling. Yet, experiences from the past have made me extremely… wary. The level of cynicism is very high in me. In every day situations, I take people at face value. But as soon as “matters of the heart” come into play… BOOM! Shields up! Load photon torpedoes! Damage reports! “She cannae take much mor’, Capt’n!”.

Every. Single. Time.

Each word said (or typed) is weighed for validity, inclination, hidden messages, warning signs and what not. Every gesture is scrutinised for sincerity, potential manipulation, purpose. In short, I turn into an analytical machine. Always checking for signs of bad intent. And at the slightest hint of perceived trouble, the shields are raised higher. And it is so very tiresome.

It never has anything to do with the other person. It is me trying to find fault or insincerity. Pick it apart until nothing is left but burned debris. And the other person thoroughly pushed away. And more opportunities missed.
Perhaps I am influenced by my RL last name, which translated to “vulture”. Maybe this causes me to peck at the flesh and bones of everything, until there is nothing left but a vague imprint in the dirt.

Granted, I have been in (RL) relationships that needed this kind of scrutiny and where I failed to see the signs. Some really bad things happened, which caused me to literally flee a country to escape in order to survive. And yes, the signs were there from the beginning, but I choose not to see them.
But not this time. Or any time since really. No bad omens, burning bushes or plagues of locusts. This time it is “just” a very nice, sweet and gentle man, who is showing an interest in me. Yet all lasers are aimed at him to strike if maybe potentially possibly he says a perceived bad thing.

Why? Just why do I do this? Is it because I am shy? Because of my low self-esteem? Perhaps my deep-seated insecurities? I suspect it is all of the above. A need to protect myself from any harm. A not understanding how anyone could in the slightest be interested in me as I really am. A fear of not living up to expectations. And above all, the fear of hurting someone.
Somehow, somewhen, I have taken it upon myself to protect other people from me. “Oh you like me, do you? Well, let me show you what damage I can do to you! En garde!” I have come to see it as a challenge to make someone dislike me in the shortest amount of time. And I have gotten too good at it over time.

This realisation is a very bitter pill to swallow. Because, like everyone else, I want to be happy too. Not just content, but happy. And the past days, I have been happy. I am re-discovering things, that I thought were lost in me. I have also been able to, so far, not slip too deep into my shields-up mode or taken up the challenge of The Massive Push-Away.

But secretly I am petrified that I will manage to fuck it all up again as usual…

Sunday

Yah, I know I know… it has been ages since I last posted anything. Three months. It is not that nothing has been happening in those 3 months, but I haven’t had the inspiration to write about it. Unlike today…

So what happened. I am a diabetic (type 1), so I have to take insulin, basically with every meal, snack, drink with calories etc, since my pancreas doesn’t produce enough on its own (due to chronic pancreatitis killing off a lot of the insulin producing cells).  So friday I started the ritual to inject the insulin before a meal and… the insulin pen didn’t work. I could set the dose, but it wouldn’t inject. Luckily I had another pen in the fridge so I got that and… the insulin pen didn’t work. Same thing, I could set the dose, but it just wouldn’t inject. I tried for half an hour or so to get the damned things to work, but alas… no go. Thinking it was thursday (duh), I decided to skip one injection and get new pens from the doctor the next day. But yah… “thursday” was followed by saturday (duh), so the doc was enjoying his weekend at home…

Needless to say *I* wasn’t enjoying my weekend at home. My blood sugar was through the roof (28.9 instead of 6…). The bad thing with high blood sugar levels, for me at least, is that it doesn’t give you any symptoms or warnings. But it does cause havoc in your body. So it needs to be addresses a.s.a.p.

My Mom has diabetes as well, but type 2 (“Old age” diabetes), so she uses insulin as well, albeit a different kind which works differently. But I was kinda desperate, so I injected a conservative dose of her insulin in an effort to bring the glucose levels down. And it worked wonders! After 3 hours, my levels were down to 12. Still too high, but much better than before. So YAY, problem solved until monday.

But then I started thinking. Yes, I know… bad idea. So I called the hospital at 10PM to make sure it was OK to use my mom’s insulin. After letting the triage assistant calm down and blow in a paper bag from the shock of hearing that I had used my mom’s insulin (it is not a good idea I guess?), she could finally tell me that it was, indeed, a really bad idea to use mom’s insulin (ha, I was right). I tried to tell her that it had helped bring my glucose levels down, but she was adamant: “Do NOT do that again!”. Eesh, calm down lady. I won’t do it again.

She informed me that she was going to write a recipe for my own insulin and that I should pick it up a.s.a.p. Now, by this time it was 11PM. We don’t have a car and “normal” people are apparently already in their jammies or asleep at that time. So yah, no way of picking it up now, hon. She then offered to send a taxi with the medication, but it would be at my own expense (about 75 euro). Aww, how sweet, but how about nope. So finally she settled for me taking some extra pills and coming to pick it up first thing in the morning. OK, thanks for you help and um, sorry for giving you a hyperventilation attack. Just… keep breathing ok?

Bring on this morning. I woke up at 8am bright (blurry) eyed and bushy (matted and bedraggled) tailed, ready to go to the hospital to get the meds (not really… COFFEE! My Queendom for a COFFEE! NOW or heads will roll). Anyway, eventually I woke up enough to regain control of my moods, limbs and brain and looked up the best way to get to the hospital. Keep in mind that there is a direct service from our tiny hamlet to Purmerend, the city where the hospital is. 30 mins there and back, tops. But… this is sunday, so… who the heck needs a bus right? Especially to a hospital to, I don’t know, visit sick relatives or pick up meds? You guessed it, apparently no-one, because on sunday there is no bus service directly there… Joy! Rapture! Now what? Turned out I needed to go to Amsterdam (the other way), then take a bus there to Purmerend (where the hospital is), thereby going BACK 3/4 of the way and turn left to get there… *deep sigh*

So… I start my journey at about 8:30. Got my map, compass, sextant, tissues, cough drops, clean clothes in case of accidents. Basically, I am ready to move in with someone. Take the bus to Amsterdam to take the bus to Purmerend. Arrive in Amsterdam and watch the “connecting” bus drive off as I get out of the bus. Goody! Now I have to wait 30 mins… cos, well… sunday! I should be in church! SINNER! 30 mins pass and the “connecting” bus arrives. Frozen solid I get in. Watch the same scenery I had already seen 30 mins before roll by again, but in the other direction now. Then the left turn and yay… new scenery. Get out at the hospital, go to the back entrance which is closed. And… it is locked until 12:00, cos… sunday. Why art thou not at Church, Heathen! So, I have to walk around the hospital and by god is it HUGE. 15 minutes and 4 blisters later, I arrive at the front entrance which is… open. YAY. Get in, go to the apothecary, get my insulin within like 2 minutes.

Walk back out, walk around the hospital again. 15 mins and 3 blisters on my blisters later, I get near the bus stop and… see the bus drive off. FER FUCK SAKE! So, I wait 30 mins again, cos… still sunday. Eventually get in the bus to Amsterdam to get the bus home. Arrive in Amsterdam, get out and… (do I even have to say it?)… see the “connecting” bus drive off. I cried a little… big frozen tears, cos it is hella cold today. Now, Amsterdam has a very nifty new bus station. It looks amazing, has all kinds of little concession stands, very charming. Only they forgot something… seats. And windbreaks. For people who have been run ragged on an epic journey to get their medication on a sunday, the day all sinners go outside to play. Heck, I would have sat on a church pew if there had been one. But noooo. I could of course go into the adjacent train station, but what if I miss the not-so-connecting bus? So I stand there for 20 mins, in the freezing cold, in the wind, not feeling my face anymore, when a bus arrives. By this time I can’t see which bus it is, because my eyes are frozen. But yay… it was my bus. It wouldn’t leave for another 15 mins, cos… sunday, but at least it would be warm inside. Except that it wasn’t. The engine was off, so the heating was off as well. Eventually, after 15 centuries, the bus left and the heating was turned on. And eventually, I made it back home.

Four hours. FOUR fucking hours it took me to get the insulin. My feet are still frozen. My nose won’t stop running. And did I mention that it took me FOUR FUCKING HOURS to get the medication? Which on any other day but sunday would have probably taken me 45 mins? For no other reason but… sunday? In Europe’s LEAST religious country? Every thing just stops on sunday. Except life of course, but yah… sunday.

Now pardon me while I go hug a radiator for a few hours and cross your fingers that feeling will eventually come back to my extremities.

Pixel relations

Due to my health, my social life mainly takes place online. Despite my hatred for it, I have a Facebook profile, which is a mixed blessing I guess. But most of my social life takes place in Second Life. Over the (8) years, I have made some really awesome friends there from all over the world and met a lot of interesting people.

Being part of Second Life also has other benefits for me. Despite my carrying on and my, lets call it, acerbic sense of humor, I am actually very shy and introverted. Most people who know me from the interwebz don’t believe me when I tell them this. But that doesn’t make it any less true.

In “real life” situations I generally don’t know how to react to the goings on and I get overwhelmed quite easily by, what I call, Information Overload. Too many conversations, too many other stimuli will cause me to basically shut down. Also, I find it hard to start conversations with people. I generally dislike so-called small talk and don’t know what to say. It takes me quite a long time to open up to new people. But then when I do, you basically get Butch Diavolo (my name in Second Life): loud, obnoxious, sarcastic and moderately funny.

Despite living with my parents (again), I can go whole days without not speaking. I have always felt that words should have meaning. That there has to be a reason to speak. Being able to interact online put a sort of filter on everything, making it easier for me to connect with people. Make it more on my terms so to speak. If I don’t want to interact, I simply don’t log on.

Being able to open up more easily online has its draw backs as well though. It makes it easier to get hurt or get involved in situations I would normally not get into. On such situations is Second Life families. I never saw the point in them and always was rather vocal about that. A Second Life family is basically a group of friends, who, for whatever reason, give each other familial relationships (mother, father, son, brother etc). While I can understand that some people may feel this adds to the whole experience, it doesn’t really do much for me. Maybe I am just too literal for it? I mean, you are not my family, you are my friend.

Anyway, quite some time ago, I did join a Second Life family. In the rather weird capacity of Mother/ Grandmother. So suddenly I was the mother/ grandmother to a whole group of lovely and amazing people. And the fact that I, as a male, was suddenly called mother and granny did give me a good chuckle (still does really). And for a while, it was quite nice. But after a while it began to kinda chafe. If you claim to be a family, I would expect a more intense interaction, like in real life where (most) people have a deeper relationship with relatives than with friends. And I started to notice that this was just not the case. I found that more often than not I would have to start a conversation or just wouldn’t hear from “relatives”. Sometimes weeks would go by without any contact. And even then, when there would be contact, it would be a few words and then silence. Being part of a family creates expectations.

Now, I am fully aware that everyone’s SL is different from mine. People live full lives and have a plethora of interests and problems. So it is logical that sometimes time will pass between conversations. But weeks or even months? That really started to chafe. Why call me a relative if you don’t put any effort in or, worse, shrug me off when I do talk to you? That doesn’t make sense to me. So I stopped contacting people to see how long it would take before I heard anything. After I think 6 months, when nothing happened, I left the family (a month ago now). No-one seems to have noticed as of yet.

I know this was/ is a very passive-aggressive way of dealing with the situation, but I was genuinely interested in finding out. And of course I am speaking in general, I am not pointing at anyone specific person. I still think most in the family are amazing and awesome people, that hasn’t changed at all. But it has left me feeling quite disappointed. And it basically confirmed for me that Second Life families add nothing worthwhile to a friendship.

So, thank you to the people who invited me into the family. I did have a lot of fun for a while and I do still love you a lot. But I think it is better if we move on as simply friends. As a final note: I am not blaming or calling out anyone. Sometimes things just don’t work out and this is simply one of those cases for me.

Much love to all involved

Betrayal, part deux

After I had called in sick that day I was ordered to go to a “bedrijfsarts”. Apparently there is no term for this in English. It is a physician, that is hired by the employer, to basically see if an employee is really sick. Since they are hired by the employer they can’t exactly be called a neutral party, because “who pays, decides”. I had to reschedule my appointment with the bedrijfsarts a few times because of further testing in hospital. Luckily it turned out that after 3 months, my pancreatitis was “cured” enough that my enzyme levels were more or less normal, but the bowel problems remained and were getting worse. So yet more testing was needed to find out what the problem was.

Eventually, I met with the “doctor” to discuss my illness. Of course I brought along all the evidence from my physician and internist, including an appointment card which stated all the appointments I would have in the coming month(s). He glanced at it and asked about my diet. Now, I may not be the healthiest eater in the world, but I do take great care in what I eat, among which is a reduced intake of processed sugar. At that time I still used Candarel as sweetner in coffee. He then started a diatribe about fructose and how it was the cause of all evil in the world and it was in everything and dear god, we are all gonna die soon! Then ended the meeting by basically saying I had 2 weeks to get back to work or else. Nothing medical was ever discussed… Needless to say I was rather , lets say, confused about the meeting.

Unsurprisingly I was not able to go back to work after those 2 weeks. I had tried a few times to make it to the office, only to be treated to a repeat performance of the prior bus scenario. It wasn’t fun. And of course the reaction from work wasn’t fun either.

Then about a month later, I had to get bloodwork done for a checkup. The next day I was, again, called by my physician that I needed to come in immediately. So I figured the enzyme levels were off again. Wrong! This time my bloodsugar levels were through the roof. It was 32 mmol/L (576mg/dl), while a healthy level is about 6 mmol/L (108 mg/dl). So I had to start taking anti-diabetic pills immediately. I had never had problems with blood sugar before. Ever. I had checked “for fun” on my mother’s glucose meter and was consistently below or on 6 mmol. I had apparently developed diabetes overnight. So, more fun to be had.

Meanwhile I was getting tested, pricked, prodded and poked in hospital to find out what was causing the diarrhea, which was by this time constant. No amount of antidiarrheals was able to stop it. I had (multiple) gastro- and endoscopies (during which it was discovered via biopts that the pancreatitis had destroyed quite a few insuline-producing cells, hence the sudden diabetes), biopsies, cultures and lord knows what else taken, all of which showed no explanation for the bowel problems. Allergy tests where done (nothing), medication tests where done (ziltch), fructose- (OMG! WE ARE GONNA DIE!) malabsorbtion, lactose intolerance, coeliakie (gluten allergy) (nada). In short, ever test thinkable was done and nothing showed up.

In the meantime, I occassionally had good periods, in which I was able to go to work. For me it was nice to be able to do something again and get out of the house. But my employers (and now former friends) were extremely horrible and hostile. For weeks they wouldn’t speak to me, except when absolutely neccessary. If I had been ill and came back to work, they would ask how my vacation was. It was all very ridiculous and low. And extremely depressing. I was just going to work to make sure our clients didn’t suffer under my illness. Then in november 2012, during another bad period and barrage of snarky remarks, I had had enough and called in sick for the last time.

So the next step was of course another meeting with Dr. Fructose. I went there with my complete patient file, signed reports from my (by now 3) internists and physician. He didn’t even look at them. He merely asked when I planned to return to work. Explaining what the issues were, he replied “Then wear diapers, take a taxi and return to work”… Excuse me? I was too dumbfounded to even react. 2 minutes later I was outside, wondering what the hell just happened. So he made his report and I was expected to come to work, on a therapeutic basis (part-time), by taxi a week later. After my employers got the report, they informed me, by registered letter, that I was expected at work the next monday. If you don’t show up, they would dock your pay. Oh and you have to pay for the taxi yourself… EXCUSE ME?

At this point I called the agency where Dr. Fructose came from and asked them what the deal was. I spoke to the case manager, who told me that he had been innundated by letters, text messages and emails from my employers. “And in fact, I just now received another email…”. He agreed with me, because it is actually the law, that if they wanted me to come to the office by taxi they would have to pay for it, because I was still in effect sick. Thank you, Mr. Manager. I asked him to inform them of this, because I was too livid to deal with them. Mind you, I worked for an Accountancy & PAYROLL company. So they should also have known this…

Comes monday, I felt well enough to go to work. By bus, because, silly me, I didn’t want to make extra expenses for the company. (yah, I know, shut up). I was already 2 hours at work when the bosses finally arrived. And was promptly called into a meeting. Oh joy. First thing that was said was “Every time you call in sick, D**** (lady boss) gets really upset and I won’t let that happen again, do you hear me?” Excuse the fuck out of me?! I got up, got my bag and coat, told them I was sick again and went home. By taxi. On their account.

Enter Dr. Fructose again for a 3rd meeting. I brought my patient file again, just in case. He didn’t look at it. Why change now, right? I can’t even remember what was said. Probably more fructose talk. Next thing I know, I get a letter from the agency that as of February 6th, I was considered healthy enough to work again. Yay! A miracle! I would be cured at midnight on February 6th! I don’t believe you exist, but um… thank you god! And thank you Dr. Fructose for your healing prowess!

Come february 6th, I did indeed feel well enough to go to work. Instantly I was called into the office and was fired with 3 months notice ( You can’t fire a sick employee here). Thank you “friend”. I am so touched by your compassion yet again. I did finish that day, simply because a tax report was due for my favorite client. The next day, I called in sick again, because I actually was. And they docked my pay, which is illegal, for the last 3 months. Then one day, 3 months later, after I was fired, I got a call. If I could please do the taxreport for my favorite client again. And I did. Because I didn’t want to get the client into trouble, not because of them. They said they would pay me for the hours. Surprisingly, they never did.

I hired a lawyer to sue them for the missed pay, not paid-out remaining vacation days and the hours I worked for that client. But by that time, I was so drained and ill, that I didn’t have the energy to go through with it. My dearest friends managed to fuck me over good one last time.

At the beginning of this year (2016), after even more tests, I finally got diagnosed. I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Dumping Syndrome (=food sometimes moves to fast through my stomach) and semi-chronic Pancreatitis. I am unable to travel, so I am basically homebound. If I MUST travel, I have to fast for 2 days to make sure my bowels are empty. Then take loads of antidiarrheals to basically flatline my bowels and hope for the best. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I also have to bring clean clothes with me at all times in case of “accidents”. My life is a barrel of laughs. But all this did teach me that betrayal comes in many, many disguises.

Betrayal

Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been 2 months since my last confession. Oh… wait. I am not in church. Nor am I religious. So yah, never mind.

It has indeed been a long time since I wrote anything here. Not for lack of want mind you, but I was contantly being betrayed. What is supposed to be my most trusted ally, caused me no end of misery and grief. Again.

I am talking about my body. Over the last 10 years, my body appears to slowly but steadily decline into a state of unbalance. It started out innocently enough. A few aches and pains here, a minor bout of diarrhea there. Nothing too much to worry about. Everyone ages. But over the years all these things started to be more common and pronounced. Especially the diarrhea and abdominal pain were getting worse and worse.

Then one wretched day, about 6 years ago, I was on my way to work. My gut had been feeling bad and crampy, but not to the point that I had to call in sick (again). So I was standing in the busy bus near the exit during morning rush hour, when suddenly I felt a fart coming on. I live in a rather rural area and it was spring, so the farmers where spreading manure on the fields. Hence, it already smelled rather bad, which made me feel confident enough to let one rip to relieve some pressure on my gut. And a whole flood of diarrhea came out… I had never felt such a feeling of pure shock, panic and humiliation in my entire life.

One moment you are standing there, kinda bored, still a tad zoned out from sleep. The next you are standing in a bus full of people, whom you don’t know but travel with every morning, and soiled yourself. To make matters worse, it was an express bus, so there were no stops until the final destination of Amsterdam Central Station. There is absolutely nothing you can do. You feel as if everyone saw what happened, though I doubt they could as I was wearing black pants and standing against the exit screen. The feeling of helplesness was beyond horrifying.

After what seemed like an eternity we finally arrived at Central Station and I was able to get off the bus. Now I had to decide what to do: do I go home immediately or do I go find a toilet. I decided to go find a toilet, which, of course, was at the other end of the station. Once finally there, I was able to clean up a bit. Then I went home, extremely self conscious, though thankfully there weren’t many people in the bus. Once home I called in sick and explained what happened to my boss/ best friend. She didn’t believe me and gave me a lecture about responsibility. Yah, thanks. I really needed that. Your compassion is heart warming.

Next I made an appointment with my physician and could come almost immediately. He ordered some bloodtests to see if there was some sort of bacterial infection. Thankfully, I could have the bloodtests done immediately as well.

The next day, the doctor called me and said I needed to come see him immediately. Which is never a good sign. He told me that there were extremely high levels of pancreatic enzymes in my blood and I needed to go to hospital immediately for further testing. Once there, I was rushed through many, many tests (more bloodwork, MRI, Ultrasound) and I had to be admitted. The next day the results came back and I was diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis. Which means that my pancreas is constantly inflamed. The high levels of pancreatic enzymes also indicated (and the MRI showed) that my pancreas was in effect digesting itself. Which is very painful and explained the abdominal pain. It also explained the diarrhea. So I had to stay in hospital until everything was under control. After 5 days I was released and told to take it easy for a while. And to take pancreatic enzymes with ever meal from now on, so the pancreas can be bypassed and, hopefully, calm down.

I called into work and explained the situation. They said they would come visit me at home to discuss the situation. I (and my parents) had known them for well over 25 years. So that evening both my bosses/ best friends came. They appeared shocked at what was going on and offered all the help they could give me. Like on bad days, I could work from home and if needed I could have meetings with clients at home as well. A perfect solution, since I had been very worried about losing my job over this, since as time progressed, I had to call in sick more often.

Taking the enzymes apparently helped a lot, because I felt much better and could basically function and go to the office without incident most of the time. On the few days that I couldn’t, I would call in and log in at work to work from home. Until about 2 months later, on my birthday, I had a piece of cake and all hell broke lose again. I wasn’t able to go to work, so I called in to say that I would be working from home, figuring that because what was discussed before, this would be possible.

Boy, was I wrong. I got a lecture about how I was always sabotaging their business and I never showed commitment to the company and how they could never count on me. It descended into a shouting match, until I had enough and hung up. I tried to log into my work computer and… the uplink had been blocked. This was followed by an email from work, informing me that I was no longer allowed to work or have meetings with clients from home. It also listed the times they had “helped me” and how I had continuously betrayed them. And that they had had enough. Completely disregarding the fact that I had been working from home while ill, which I had no obligation to do. Or the fact that I had offered to take a 2 day paycut per week, for the duration of my convalesence, which turned out to be illegal for them to accept, since I was ill. I replied to the email stating these facts, refuting their other complaints and stating that I would be on sick leave until I was completely healed.

And this started the worst 2 years of my life.

Pride?

This will probably kick against a few people’s shins. I am not going to apologize for airing MY opinion on the subject.

What is this delicate matter I am talking about? Gay Pride. My friend Marco posted a link to an editorial of the Financial Times called “The business of Gay Pride“. I must admit that I didn’t read it all, since it was a wall of text and only a few pictures. And I am only on my first coffee, so my attention span is that of a senile mosquito. Anyway, Marco’s link got me thinking. Yes, it did hurt.

So, Gay Pride. The yearly event, where thousands of people stand on the sidewalks/ canal banks to gawk at “the gay peoples” carrying on like divas on speed. In various states of undress preferably. Squirming orgastically to the beat of seriously bad house music. And recently with corporate endorsement. “HEY! It’s ok to be gay… Drink a Pepsi! (light preferably or you will get flabby and we can’t have that, “Ladies” haha)”. We have arrived! Twirl your rainbow-colored tiaras, girls!

It doesn’t make me proud.

It makes me very sad indeed. Don’t get me wrong. I am glad that it is even possible to have a Gay Pride event. Generations of LGBT people have fought very hard to get the rights we now have. And I am intensely grateful for that. In 1993, laws were (finally) passed in The Netherlands against discrimination based on, among other things, sexual preference. On April 1st, 2001 same-sex marriage became possible in The Netherlands. The first country in the world to do so. Our country is also very accepting of homosexuality, transgenders etc. These are things to be proud of.

Of course I understand the history behind Gay Pride. The Stonewall Raid and resulting Riots. The need to say “Enough is enough. We are people as well. We deserve the same rights as every other human being.” This is also something to be proud of.

But, in recent years, at least here in Amsterdam for “Canal Pride”, things have been… less proud making. It generally features boat after boat of (half) naked gym bunnies wiggling their tushes for the audience. I have nothing against gym bunnies. I also have nothing against nudity. What I do have a problem with is what this display conveys to the average on-looker. Apparently gays like to flaunt their assets in bejeweled hot pants. Apparently sex is the only thing on their mind. It is surprising that a giant orgy doesn’t erupt on the boats. “Look Ethel! That guy in his Nike mini-shorts with the huge bulge flexed his glutes at you! Too bad he is gay, eh?”. Gays are being portrayed as easy, vain and semi-prostitutes.

And THAT, for me, is a huge problem.

Of course there are also “serious” boats in the canal parade, representing different religions, the government, even the army. But the half-naked nymphomaniac boats are the ones that stay with people. My point is: If you want to grow acceptance for the LGBT community, prancing around like horny unicorns in my opinion is NOT the way to do it. It just creates more of a divide, because at least some people will go away from the event feeling validated in their beliefs that “gays are different from us”.

For example, I am about as gay as they come. Sometimes I am afraid a purse will fall out when I open my mouth. But I am not easy. Nor vain. And I am definitely not a prostitute. I don’t prance around in mini-shorts in my free time (and the world thanks me for that). I struggle through life like the rest of humanity. I am a middle-aged, “plump”, not so good-looking man. I am human. I just happen to like people of the same gender in a sexual way. What I do in my bedroom should be of no concern of anyone, same as what other do in their bedrooms is no concern of mine. It is pretty simple, really.

The Monkey-mind

Hey, you are fat! Wow, you look like absolute shit! Geez man, you really let yourself go, haven’t you? Guess what, NO-ONE likes you. Take a look at yourself: why on Earth would anyone want to be your friend? Yup, you are old and decrepid now.

These are just a few examples of my Monkey-mind chattering to me. Incessantly. Like a nervous monkey chattering at a predator, trying to scare them off. What this Monkey-mind is trying to do is preventing me from having a better opinion of myself. Unfortunately, it sometimes succeeds.

Now, I know how it works. As seen by the narrative, it is not really “Me” thinking those things. The narrative is in the “you” form, like someone else talking to me. But it does come from my mind. From a perceived or constructed second entity living within my mind. You could call it a parasite, since it lives in my mind and eats up energy while not really adding any benefit to the host (me). It is just there to breed and expand, trying to take over. In essence, I have been infected.

I also know what it is. It is this thing called ego. Now, ego is a rather complicated concept. Literally, it means just “I”, as in me. In psychology, the ego is seen as the “integrator”, the means to connect the inner world with the outer world through perception. From a Buddhist point of view, the ego is something made up by the mind. It is the sense of self — a flash of “I” or “me” that we believe in and cling to. It is the basis of our feeling of self-importance.

But, it is a story, a myth of self that we keep telling ourselves.[1]  And yes, I am fully aware that this just a story. As the psychological description says, it works through perception. And I think I have already quite firmly established that perception is a matter of opinion. And opinions are fluid. It can change from day-to-day, moment to moment. So one has to wonder if perception has any validity. Well, it does, but only if YOU give it validity.

Apparently I give validity to how my Monkey-mind perceives me. Somethings it chatters are indeed true, for example I AM fat. I also know why I am fat. It is a matter of medical and (perceived) protective consequences. And it matters very little to me. So yes, that much is true and rather redundant.

But I know I am a nice person, I am (can be) fun to be around, I am not stupid. So when the Monkey-mind chatters the opposite, I know it not to be true. However, this incessant chatter can wear you down. It sneakily invites you to listen and believe what it is saying. Usually when you are not feeling strong or well already. At those moments, the Monkey-mind wins. Then I do believe no-one likes me. Then I do believe no-one wants to be my friend. Then I quietly give up and slip in to a deeper stage of depression and shun the world. Until I am strong enough to withstand the seductive power of the Monkey-mind again.