This week I was invited by the lovely nun-mums of Old Trunk to give a reading at another of their Tales & Ales events. The subject was ‘A Letter To…’ and performers had free reign to write a letter to whoever or whatever they saw fit. Here is mine.
Dear Self Confidence,
Hi, it’s me again. I know that’s a stupid way to start a letter but I need you around to even formulate something I could consider to be a good idea so instead you get this lacklustre and self-deprecating opener for which we only have ourselves to blame, like the gun culture in America that spawns another “troubled” high school killer in camo with a WalMart rifle aimed at his classmates.
I had another party and guess what, you were a no show. I had something I needed to get done and I thought we could get in on it together, co-write it, you know, it could have been a duet, like Elton John and Kiki Dee – “don’t go breaking my heart, you couldn’t if you tried.”
So it was just me and the usual subjects; Anxiety, Fear and Depression. How is it that the people who have the most they want to say are the ones struggling with their own personal demons? Or are we just struggling publicly? Or is there something that is supposed to be poetic or beautiful about feeling dead inside, not being able to relate, feeling like the eternal outsider and the butt of jokes. I look at the drunken louts on the train and wonder if I would be happier in my ignorance, if I didn’t try so hard constantly. If I just gave up and read The Sun and campaigned for Clarkson to get his job back after assaulting someone on top of the various other offences he has caused. When I was 14 years old they made us all take this multiple choice quiz that would tell us the jobs we were best suited to. I got fork-lift truck driver. I still think about that sometimes. I would look great in a fork-lift truck.
If I could just find someone to impregnate with my child so the whole miserable business can continue then maybe I would find the happiness everyone around me seems to have imbibed. I’ll slowly spread outwards and lose my hair and tell people how I used to want to do things but as John Lennon said, “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
Because you weren’t here, I got drunk on whiskey and rapid fired off a series of messages to ex-lovers, with the assistance of the usual suspects and then I sat and waited. For some reason I get the deluded sense that because these women cared for me once, they care for me now. That they understand me better than most because they let me kiss them on their mouths and vaginas. I figure I can coax you, Self Confidence, out to play via them, but it soon becomes apparent this was a bad idea and I’ve been guided into it under false pretences and with Jack Daniels on my breath.
I am trying to think of a time when we were together, some fun memory of the pair of us but it feels like you’ve never really been there, like God or a weekend dad. There’s always some vague promise of you, I’ll see a sunset and think, that’s God that is, but the thought, like the sunset, soon fades. The hole in my chest is entirely proportionate. It’s been there since I started to cry at the age of ten and I couldn’t explain why even when people got cross with me and I was taken to see a specialist. No amount of sugar pills can quell this though. The hole in my chest is entirely proportionate to my physical self.
Everyone else thinks we hang out all the time but I don’t know what leads them to this. “Oh, you and Self Confidence are old friends, you’re always getting up onstage and doing things.”
What they don’t see, these people, is the amount of time I have to spend with the usual suspects before I reach that point. Anxiety, Fear and Depression prancing around the room as I tear my hair out and my breathing shatters and I crawl into bed and I’m shaking and I start to cry and even that I see as forbidden fruit and I feel bad. If I’m crying then there has to be something tangible behind it? Am I thinking about Marley & Me? No, I haven’t seen Marley & Me. Am I crying because I’ve denied myself Marley & Me?
That’s when I worked out how to get you back. I have to get back on the stage. So I’m writing this letter and I’m tying up my black boots and throwing on a light jacket because the weather isn’t all that bad anymore and then I look at myself in the mirror until my shoulders aren’t sloped. They’re rigid and I’m standing to attention and I watch my weak chin get as strong as it can in the reflection and I stare and stare and stare until I’m sure I can accomplish anything and then I rush for the door before I can possibly start to deflate.
I hand delivered this letter Self Confidence. If I have to force interaction with you then that’s just what I’ll continue to do.