(though not necessarily in that order)

(though not necessarily in that order)

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Lonely. Driving. Rambling post type thing.

WARNING: This post rambles. I'm verbose today. Sorry.

It sucks. It really does.

Someone (who quite clearly thinks the sun shines out of my armpit) said when I told him I was grumpy as I was too hot "This is you grumpy? Man, I'd love to see you happy. Well, we do most weeks and we do enjoy you happy or grumpy."
My outward face is bubbly, perhaps too bubbly. It's draining. It's false.

*breathes deep breath before launching into this next section*

More is being made of me not driving. Just comments from various people - a snide "well, clearly you shouldn't always depend on other people to drive you" from a woman at orchestra, an inquisitive "are you ever going to learn to drive?" from my brother after driving me to a gig venue 20 minutes away (I paid for his petrol, and gave him cake as a thank you). I couldn't entertain the thought of driving the moment I turned 17, it was too scary. Living was too scary actually, let alone driving. Now, people are starting to question it more - as I had my Mum drive me to my concert venues and back over the weekend (5 hours worth of driving) and people think my Mum "shouldn't" do that. They think I've got a selfish mental block about it.
I'm petrified, in a way, of failing. Of being completely incompetent at driving. My concentration can be a bit lacking, what if I'm seen as a complete dunce? If I simply can't manage it, and this air of being highly intelligent gives way to the air of "unable to drive a car"?
I'm petrified, in a way, of being successful. On the darkest nights, knowing I could start a car and drive away probably isn't a particularly safe thing. Knowing that if I needed I could get myself to A&E on my own (the lack of good public transport to local A&Es has been a deciding factor in not hurting myself in the last few months) could lead to things. Knowing if I went completely unhinged and ended up stealing a car (I haven't in past periods of being unhinged, but logic is the first thing to give at such times...) I could drive it into a wall/tree/off a bridge/whatever even if I didn't own a car myself is definitely a bad thing.
Then there's the time issue - my self-assured confident eager-to-drive sister turns 17 in 8 months time, I couldn't face being "overtaken" in the learning to drive process by her. And with all the crap I've got going on with driving and the fact life is hectic as it is, am I really likely to pass within 8 months? Doubt it. Yes, it would (if I kept myself safe/didn't drive off to remotest western Scotland without telling anyone etc) change my independence levels hugely. I'd not be reliant on others for the things I am reliant on them for now. But, given that actually my life is a fine balance which sometimes feels a bit precarious anyway, adding in driving seems counter-intuitive. I'd love to snap my fingers, and be able to drive safely and keep myself safe and be independent. I'm just not yet convinced I can. It feels defeatist to be nearly 21 and still not have even ever sat in the driver's seat of the car, let alone tried to drive, and thus am unable to drive - practically everyone learns at 17 around here. I don't know. I feel like I'm fighting against people just because they think I should have (in a way, from how they react) been forced to learn several years ago.

*takes a few deep breathes*

I'm tired. That tiredness where yawns appear from dawn 'til dusk. It is draining being "public figure Hannah". Yesterday, I retreated to bed for the afternoon - got no uni work done at all. Today is too busy for uni work. Tomorrow I've got to do uni work, teach, choir and deal with the plumber (who cut the wrong pipe in my office today and had water flowing out into the room whilst he realised he didn't know where the mains pipe into the house was...). It just feels tiring. Tiring to keep up this appearance which means that everyone thinks the sun shines out of my armpit. I didn't plan this armpit/sun situation. It wasn't what being "recovered" *shudders at the word* was meant to be.

It is easy to say yes though. To allow the person who asked for the favour to feel relieved that what they needed doing will get done. That smile which spreads across faces when I say "I'll sort it" to people is worth the hassle of then actually doing it.
That face, if I have to say no, that "Oh, OK..." comment is horrible.
I like helping out. I'm aware that I can't always say yes, usually as a result of saying yes to something else before that which clashes.

I like people being happy or relieved or whatever I can do to help. I have a knack of stepping in and sorting things, I'm good in a crisis apparently - I swing into action and get things under control. If I can make other's lives easier somehow, why shouldn't I? So many times, as I sit surrounded in papers head in hands regularly, people say "you need to learn that two letter word starting with an N and ending in an O". Pleasing people helps me somehow reconcile myself with those teenage destructive years that everyone around me put up with.

I want to say "love me, somebody, anybody, love me for who I am". I'm at a point where actually loneliness is it a bit rife (more than a bit, actually. Turns out I don't want a solitary life.). Problem is, I've created this "superwoman-esque" pedestal. I used to say "it's lonely at the top" when I felt hugely more academic/bright compared my peers and like they couldn't comprehend me - I was this frighteningly smart kid so no-one wanted to be around me, now I've decided actually it is just lonely full stop. I'm not at the top anymore, the world is bigger than the 1000 strong group of students at a secondary school, but it is lonely nonetheless.

Frequenting groups where I'm the only woman, or the only person under 65, or both, or am in positions of responsibility which others feel uncomfortable with, means I have to prove myself. Prove myself to be worthy of being the accepted unusual one. The young woman amongst the set-in-stone (usually male) older community. Proving myself has made me, in a way, TOO efficient. Too brilliant.
Just would like, just occasionally if that's all that could be managed, people to see me, flaws and all. Would stop them admiring me. See past the superwoman fa├žade, realise I'm just human. And not anything more spectacular then they are.

Blah. It sucks. It really does. And this conflict goes on and on and on. Loneliness. A hug would be good and not one from my clingy 16 year old sister who likes me being the shape I am now as I "feel nice" to hug (I was "too fat to hug" before, of course she wasn't fully grown then, but that's besides the point).
Blah. Now I have to leave my room and do 2 hours of 'cello playing. 'Cello playing means 'cello hugging. Hugging my 'cello is one thing but it isn't quite what I'm looking for at the moment.

*puts on my smiley bubbly head and goes out*


  1. I'm thirty and I don't drive. It can be done. I'm spoilt for public transport options in London, and I don't play instruments that I can't take on public transport (save piano and organ, but I'm not generally expected to take those anywhere), but I grew up in Canada and had very little parental help with transport after my mid-teens -- they were trying to convince me to learn to drive by showing me how difficult it would be to be a non-driver. It backfired. I do cycle as it's actually easier on my joints than walking is, and that helps me with not feeling stuck, but I only got my bicycle in October and I managed well enough before then.

    I don't know enough of your mother's situation to know whether she "should" drive for a total of five hours over the course of a weekend. If she's a competent grown-up then it's really her responsibility to tell you if this is a serious problem. Whether she will or not is another matter, of course! But it may be that being able to drive her daughter to places is something that makes her feel more independent and useful, rather than this hideous burden others are making it out to be.

    My mother didn't learn to drive until she was 26, and a dear friend of mine -- old enough to be my mother (and very, very bright, PhD from Cambridge before very many women went sort of bright) -- never learned, having failed the exam three times and given up. My partner is in his 40s and doesn't drive. I know of others who learned later on because they had kids or for some other reason found it expedient. So I think you have plenty of time. Perhaps when others bring it up, it would be useful to focus on other reasons you aren't learning to drive at the moment. Between uni work and music you are actually incredibly busy, and both the maths and the music require you to be learning all the time. Maybe there is a limit to how much you can learn at once. Perhaps tell people you will think about it after your maths degree is done.

    I think that as you get more confident with dealing with mental health issues, the safety net of not driving might become less important. Stealing a car is a different skillset to driving one, though if you are living with a bunch of people who drive then it's not exactly beyond your faculties.

    I think that people can start to get resentful if they feel they have no choice but to drive you places, and I don't know enough of your situation to know whether there are other practical options.

  2. Learning to say "no" is important. Yes, it's wonderful and worthwhile to see people smile when they know you're going to sort something out, but there is more to who you are than running around fixing other people's problems for them. I'm still learning balance in terms of time off and overcommitment. I have a few rules and try to follow them; sometimes this means I have to actually block time off into my diary and then say to people "I'm sorry, I have another commitment then" when the "other commitment" is my day off, or three hours I've put aside for doing laundry, or something similar. Sometimes I break the rules, but usually only for an extraordinary set of previous commitments (so I won't have a proper day off in Holy Week, because I'll need the first few days to practise so I can play at services Thursday-Sunday, but if someone asks me to do a one-off on my day off I usually say no). Making a commitment to myself ahead of time seems to work better for me than trying to abstractly prioritize requests before they happen! I can write a bit more about what my rules are if you like, but yours will need to be different anyway.

    If you want people to love you for who you really are, they need some way of being able to see who you really are. Some of that is down to you: you have to show them who you are, not who you think they would like you to be just at the moment. That's terrifying, of course, and learning to do that while avoiding social disaster is a life-long process. Some of it is not down to you at all: you can be as honest and up front as you like, but some people will still only see in you a reflection of their own ideas, the possibility that you might do as they like or meet some need of theirs. That sucks, but it's the world we live in. I also tend toward putting on a smiley happy face around others. Sometimes it actually helps me feel better and sometimes it's just draining.

    Loneliness is hard and in some ways I'm not able to comment meaningfully as I am now in a position of having hugs available pretty much on demand when my partner is home (most evenings). Let's just say I'm not a complete stranger to it and I don't know what the answer is. These days, I tend to feel a sort of professional loneliness quite sharply at times; the chamber group I was in fell apart due to logistical problems, I'm not a good enough pianist to be in any demand at all as an accompanist, and so I do very little collaborative work (church music is collaborative but as I am doing the directing it's a bit different). I really, really miss it.

    If I ever meet you I'll hug you if you like.

  3. Mental illness means loneliness. Nobody can ever feel the same way that you do. Even if they understand it is still a very personal thing. The best we can do is accept the affection whenever it is offered, Don't get hung up on driving, when it is the right time for you to learn then you will. It sounds like you have many other achievements to focus on relish that fact.
    Hugs xx

  4. It's amazing what strong emotions not driving can stir up in some people. I don't drive, through choice, and almost complete strangers - who have nothing to do with giving me lifts anywhere, as I mainly get the bus and walk anyway - have been quite insistent that this is unacceptable and I need to learn!

    There are advantages to being able to drive, but I think it needs to be your decision, not anyone else's, and I agree with Kathryn about your mother's role in giving you lifts.

    I hear you on the loneliness, and on putting on a cheerful face and not being able to say "no" to people. Those are issues I struggle with too. *hugs*

    Moon Tree x