So I have to say, this Ramadan has been an unmitigated spiritual disaster for your humble neighbourhood Fawlty. I only fasted the first three days and even those were laced with such a poisonous and negative vibe, I fail to see how they could be viewed as something positive I took part in. I lash out at the drop of a hat, I feel panicky and exhausted all the time, I can't sleep at night (despite being on some very good, unfiltered local drugs) and when I do, I toss and turn and feel as if the room is filled with a thousand whispers, all baying at me with fragments of memories, regrets and hopeless resentment.
Not the way a holy month is supposed to play out.
At first, I thought that my ever-declining faith in anything bigger than myself had been eroded down to nothing, but that's not quite it. True, I have problems reconciling my state and the state of the world with any kind of omnipotent force (good or bad) but the crux of my problems are essentially man-made. And the man in question is me.
Moving here's been challenging. New country, new customs, new frame of reference etc. None of that is a big deal, I've done it all before with fewer resources and acquitted myself well. What's new is that I've realized that I'm alone, poor and doing something I hate.
Now lord knows Fawlty is not a greedy man. The proof is I would be perfectly content with any one of those three, and I have been, at any one time. But to find myself back at a stage where I lack companionship, cash and contentment (the professional kind) is...well, it's so 2003 and I thought I was beyond that.
Boo-hoo, Basil, count your blessings, be thankful, stop worrying/ whining and so on. Fine, I can accept that criticism as your opinion of how much harder I make things for myself. But you don't know me; you know my blog, but you don't know me. I'm not a moper and I'm not a lazy person or someone who becomes paralyzed by circumstances. All the misery and self-lacerating reflection is very personal and not something I exude when I'm with people. I can't stop talking about it here because I'm not really talking. I'm blogging. And what's more, I do it to clear my head.
I'm broke, I'm in debt, I'm alone, I despise my job, I'm 36, I sold out and have nothing to show for it, I'm out of shape, I'm miserable and I'm scared. I'm very, very scared.
I had an epiphany while having fitar (ok, dinner) with a friend of mine I hadn't seen in a few years, an Egyptologist who lives in London now. We were talking about our relative professional and personal lack of development, and I mentioned, rather casually, that from a young age, to combat the poisonous influence of the parents and the rest of Egyptian society's ills, I'd hardened myself and refused to let them or anyone else close to me. Now that most of these parental and societal problems have faded into the footnotes of personal history, my continued inability to open up and let the world in is still costing me many moments of happiness and even simple things like the ability to relax and connect with people.
And I'm not interested in dealing with my problems: forgiving anyone, forgiving myself, loving myself, dealing with feelings...all that stuff is simply not for me. Because it doesn't work. Everyone has problems and as a man, my solution is to be successful and let some of that success drive my failures into irrelevancy. It's the only way I can feel good about things.
I guess I can see some of you recoiling in horror at such an antiquated view of achieving a healthy psychological life. The fact is psychiatry/ psychology doesn't work and everyone knows it. Everyone is damaged in a multitude of unmentionable ways and just because you see the outside of someone who's been through therapy and is 'doing better', doesn't mean you'll ever know what goes inside. Psychoanalysis is something that makes everyone else feel better, except the person in therapy. And when that person is a man...well, psychoanalysis has its work cut out for it.
Ok, so maybe this blog is a form of therapy. But since I'm leading the session and not paying $200/ hour, I don't mind it as much.
Things are slow to happen. And I'm frustrated by this slowness and lonely and bitter and rudderless. The status quo isn't the answer anymore, so I'm making changes. If I go down, I'm going down on my own terms. And if you don't like my choices, good thing you don't have to make them. And if you're bored of this blog, don't come round here no more.
Life is simple in terms of knowing what to do. It's the execution I always have a problem with.