Monday, 11 May 2015

Any. One. Not. Like. Me.

(photos taken earlier, mid outdoor reading sesh)

Recently, experiencing a lot of external change and a load more inner tumult, I've been advised to keep myself occupied. 
"Go out more" and "get out of" my head. In response to questions of "where, with whom and how?" I was told the internet is a good place to meet people, with - dependant on sites and applications - a readily adjustable sliding scale of ease, for a myriad of reasons and for varying degrees of amusement. 

Yes, you've probably heard this too.

When complaining that I don't know many people, am shy or need courage to go forth and meet new humans (for any reason, though, friendship seems especially difficult to "foster" purposefully. In my limited experience "friendships" surreptitiously grow and catch you off guard one day, you realise you've found a person you love and who mystifyingly doesn't mind you either... See here for one such (explicit) example) I was told to "work it"

You may or may not have also had this directed at you.

Recently, last week, on the eve of election day, I sent this to that particular (relatively new) advice-offering acquaintance (quite obviously new as any other person in my know probably thinks better than to offer suggestions to this recalcitrant wretch! I do appreciate his educative offers (in spite of their occasionally jarring, frank delivery, see previous post on what happens when people hold up a mirror to my excuses and I'm unhappy with the repercussions)and would, so much more, for some mystifying reason...). 
It delineates, rather crudely (I apologise), just what happens when I "work it".

Backstory: Just over a year ago I'd had a crappy long day working in a cafe.

A bus from Ystrad to Swansea, Swansea to Bridgend, Bridgend to Cowbridge. A first "proper" shift, lots to learn, plenty to do. 

Everyone ordering tricky iced drinks in the warm weather. 

Feet-swollen and soul-sighing.

A bus from Cowbridge to Bridgend, Bridgend to Swansea, a couple hours wait, either to be picked up by Tim to "do something", or, for the 90 minute bus home to Ystrad. 

To de-stress I got some vegan chocolate and date flapjacks (from big Tesco, Marina) and went to sit by the beach to enjoy a couple (5 in a pack) in the day's last light. 

Good light.

He was there, writing Farsi script in the sand. 

  • It's a harsh story. 
  • His girlfriend married someone else after he fled Iran as a political refugee. 
  • He was understandably sad. 
  • Alone. 
  • Missing home.
  • He'd spent some 3 months in France awaiting transport to the UK, and a few months elsewhere prior to that, also.
  • So, I was nice to him. 
  • Gave him some of my snacks.
  • Was it even nice? As I'm prone to binge-eating in times of stress or sadness (see here), giving away 3 bars of oat, sugar and fat was doing myself more of a service than anyone else.

A sympathetic ear.

Nothing more. 

Kindness maybe. 

I don't remember how he got my number exactly, I recall taking his to pass along to my Iranian friend (BJ, here), who was travelling back and forth between London and Swansea quite regularly back then due to distance learning the MA at Swans.

With the idea that he could help with translation should the need arise, and, maybe, offer advice borne of his own experiences as a political exile and immigrant in south Wales. It was likely then, while my phone was "out" and I was being humane.

I was sensitive that day and he was upset, I guess to him it means we're "soul mates"?!

I didn't hear from him for a whole year, then, last month, pre-Luxembourg, I downloaded Whatsapp that I'd be able to text Soph overseas, Wi-fi permitting. All of a sudden this number appears and starts contacting me, "my Helen is back".

I then bumped in to the fellow after returning from Bruxelles, just over a week ago, in Cardiff. He was seeing a solicitor, something to do with the Home Office, I was disorientated. He was clingy, inappropriate, creepy in short.

I didn't want to see him after that. My tone is quite curt and maybe even harsh in these screen-captured exchanges, but, I felt totally powerless and violated that day, just over a week ago. Someone encroaching on my space and consistently not hearing my requests that they "stop". 

In light of this, I shouldn't have to "always smile", indeed, the tone is actually impressively diplomatic.

In an attempt to understand this nauseating phenomenon of being unwelcomely "wanted" and concurrently "to blame" for that desire, I was asked; did you tell him your take on the story?

And this followed: "My take being? That it's all one-sided?"
What you just told me...
"Heck yeah I did! In as kind a way as possible... I take suicide threats seriously :-| "
And he replied with the above?
"And a whole load more. I went in the bath and on my return there were missed calls and voice messages too...That was last night. Should I call someone..?"

And I did, and that person, was my father, a psychiatric nurse based in a hospital, located in the city that this supposedly suicidal man also resides in. Big mistake.
I forgot that he is a father first and a professional second. 

He was incredibly disturbed. Alarmed even. He instructed me to visit the police station, to let my boss know, to delete my facebook account, to remove Whatsapp, to move back home...

I was devastated.

The torrent of guilt that washed over me that morning, on top of all the above "shit", well, to continue the metaphor I suppose floods and faecal matter do go... formless hand in hand, wave and wad...

As the day wore on I consumed more and more coffee in an attempt to focus on the huge amount of work I have to sort through, and not the vast amounts of mental work I need to sift through, too. 
My father seemed to come around, his pm text was a little less panicked at least. 
Even so, I couldn't counter the bitter sting of disappointment with the tannoid-tang of instant coffee. 

Ok, his profession has him privy to a lot of unpleasant, painful examples of what happens to vulnerable women when damaged men become obsessed with them, I understand the parental-leap to panic given that. 

Still, why did I have to give up my freedom to avoid being potentially harmed?

Wasn't that a short step away from the kind of rhetoric that leads to "If you don't want to be raped, don't leave the house"?

Moreover, his advice for avoiding potential future situations of a similar nature, was, in short, don't be nice. "People like you can't afford to be nice to strangers". 

People like me? What, young, sensitive women?

Fuck that.