As a small child I loved writing stories. I remember a class in infant school, being asked to write about a day in the life of a postage stamp and feeling like I was in story heaven. I even had stories in the school magazine. By the age of 7 I had stopped writing, all thanks to one teacher who brutalised and punished me for reasons that no one understood. A year with her as my form teacher and the job was done. She set the tone for the rest of my school days, reinforced by one violent and hate filled teacher in Junior school who picked on and bullied me daily. It is incredible how two lousy people can make you an outcast from all the other children, except one or two other oddities, misfits and outcasts.
Not only did I have no self esteem, in order to survive I buried myself inside and didn’t re-emerge until I had my first meaningful independent thought at 33. That was the start of a pain filled journey of rediscovery of life. It was also the age when I became a Christian, in which I quickly discovered that meant being one of God’s reprobates. I knew it at the time, but I didn’t really know what it meant until I’d been in the church for many years. Nothing could have made me more miserable than the sin obsessed, watch what you do and say, never be yourself, scare people into heaven, church. So I chose to become a very relieved, self liberated outcast and the last church I was involved in held a service to hand me over to the devil, as if that meant a single damned thing. When faith meets religion, religion will do it’s damnedest to kick the shit out of your faith and persuade you to stay in the hell hole of religion or God will forsake you. Horse shit!
The beginning of self respect is when you stand up for yourself. Whatever you may or may not think about Jesus, he was not a wimp and nor was he afraid of dealing with the bullshit of the establishment and standing up to it. There are worse role models and if you think Jesus is fake, take a look at the fakes and frauds that dominate the world, whose god is money, adored and revered by many, some elevated to the highest positions in the land.
In order to regain self respect you have to believe in something. I care not what it is, as long as it’s about living and loving life and wanting a better world in which we can all thrive, end war, end poverty, feed the hungry and generally do something good in the world. But if you do that, you’ll discover that you’re not mainstream, you’ll be at odds with the destructive flow of the world, you’ll live on the fringes of so called society, and you’ll find yourself having to move on from anger, indignation and daily wallowing in the trough of misery that is the daily news and politics, and find something else, something to live for and something to do that’s going in the direction of travel that will build you up and make you strong.
Make no mistake, whatever you’re looking for will never come from above, it will never be given to you, it will never be taught you within mainstream society, you’ll have to look for it, search hard, suffer heartbreak and pain, deal with despair, and determine to survive.
So much of that for me is about misbehaving, letting the mischievous child inside free to play, talk, interact, and taking pleasure in nature only to discover, for the first time, that nature is the whole deal. Side with nature, which is what we are anyway, and the world is transformed inside. Being alienated from nature made me sick and I didn’t even know it. It horrifies me to look back and see how sick I was simply because I had no idea I was first and foremost a creature of nature, a natural being.
The entire experience of profound depression I lived with most of my life was about alienation and being a stranger to myself and a stranger in a sick world. I spent many years on antidepressants getting sicker and sicker and addicted into the bargain. I ended up on Prozak (Fluoxetine) and beta blockers until I finally realised that I needed to dump medication once and for all and start dealing with life. So I got off antidepressants and self medicated instead and became an alcoholic for about 20 years. Smart move Keith. But all the time, something was working out inside, never think that it isn’t no matter how much abuse you throw at yourself. If you survive, because, let’s face it, any addiction eventually turns into a life or death issue, that’s if it wasn’t a secret death wish all along. Stopping running away from life is a truly monumental task, and it comes down to a decision that only you can make, to say, ‘yes I want to live,’ and face the demons, or stay with the addiction that’s seduced you and completely taken over your life and which will eventually kill you.
It was my birthday, January 27 2017, when I decided I’d had enough of addiction and wanted to break free. I knew I couldn’t do it alone so I sought out a person-centred counsellor and within a year I also gave up recreational drugs and smoking and faced life butt naked and have been loving it ever since, getting more and more excited about this amazing thing we so take for granted and few seem to really get or understand, life. It only took me 66 years, but all that matters is that you get there alive and then determine to make the most of it. As long as there’s breath going in and out of your body, it is never too late to live and learn to be fully alive, perhaps for the very first time.
I have to say that if there is an easy way and a hard way, I chose the hard way every time, though I am unsure how much choice comes into it as I am certainly no believer in free will, which is pure fantasy in a world that is predicated on social conditioning in a multitude of ways. No, I chose the hard way because I could not see an easy way, at least none that presented themselves to my wearied from looking eyes, even with hindsight.
Learning to respect your own life in a world that is all about kicking you down, dog eats dog bullshit and money grubbing for pennies, is a big deal and it’s tough. I know of no one who’s had an easy ride, or they’ve never revealed that to me. Learning to accept, fully, that it’s tough is the secret of survival and, in fact, at least half way to finding peace with life. The old expression of the road to self discovery takes you all around the world and back inside, is just true and there are no shortcuts, everyone has to make their own journey and that means a lot of heartache on the way. There are no road maps and anyone who offers you one is a fraud and usually trying to flog you a book. Using books in the process of enquiry is one thing, telling you what to do it quite another. In fact, tell me to do something and I’ll do the other, because if I haven’t asked for the advice, then there’s an agenda and that is a huge red flag. In fact doing what I am told has never served me in any useful way, other than in a practical sense, like learning how to read a river and kayaking on white water.
Self respect means believing in yourself, going your own way, discovering life for yourself, trusting your own judgement and choosing your own path. No one can do that for you and they sure as hell shouldn’t try. Not even God tells you what to do (though I accept that some believe they do hear a divine word), he’d never be that crass, even if you curse him for being so bloody silent when the going gets tough. If you’re merely obeying orders that doesn’t require the courage or effort it takes to navigate this crazy thing called life. Being responsible for your own actions is fundamental to self respect and developing strength of character and self confidence. That’s what the end of childhood is all about, when we become responsible for ourselves, but that’s not easy in a fucked up world.
Believing in yourself, learning self respect and choosing your path is big deal and no amount of effort to achieve that is ever wasted. We are children of the universe and made of the same stuff, once we grasp that then we grasp that life is amazing, which is not dependent on feeling good or having a good time, it’s just a truth to hold on to, especially when the going gets tough.
So go well, wherever your feet take you.
Keith Lindsay-Cameron aka KOG. 30 September 2020.