Off the grid

I grew up into a person who believed very strongly in self-sufficiency. In every sense. It was not only what I sought to achieve, but also something I believed was necessary for me to achieve in order to become worthy.

I don’t think it was just an unreasonable ideal I was chasing to validate myself. I think it was also, maybe mostly, a defence mechanism.

In more recent years, I have been more ideologically inclined toward interdependence. Being off the grid started to seem selfish and short sighted. The easy way out and the road to nowhere. True self-sufficiency started to look not only illusory, but also just theoretically suboptimal. Being part of a bigger, better whole now seems, for me, to be the only logical route to a good life.

The problem is I am bad at interdependence. I am constantly, unintentionally, dropping off the grid. If I could keep believing that was where I am supposed to be, things would be easier for me. But I don’t. So they’re not.

If I didn’t need anyone, I wouldn’t need them to forgive me. If nobody needed me, I wouldn’t let them down. I wasn’t just chasing self-sufficiency to become worthy; I was running away from my inherent unworthiness. But it’s not until you face these things that you realise they were never really true to begin with. The only way I’m going to accept my actual worth is to keep doing stuff badly and being forgiven.

Which is not my preference, quite frankly – I prefer to be flawless.

Rust bucket

When I sold my old Golf to a breaker for fifty quid, we met at a junction in the middle of nowhere, and he drove it away illegally through the narrow Welsh backroads. It all felt terribly sudden.

I got a message half an hour later saying ‘I have no idea why but I absolutely love driving this car’. That car had a lot of fucking problems, and it was also my favourite place to be, so my heart soared at seeing him share this. My Golf was instilled with hours of carefree meandering over winding mountain roads, windows down, singing along to Jason Mraz. It was nights parked up in the Brecon Beacons, backseats down, halfway home from a gig in Cardiff. It was the illusion of power and competence I felt when changing gears, accelerating out of a bend, or reversing a whole mile down a country lane. And it was also the nagging worry of everything wrong with it that I couldn’t afford to fix. And all the really stupid low-speed collisions with inanimate objects. And the bad judgement calls that got me stuck in ditches for no good reason whatsoever.

It was an extension of me. It was tied to my identity. And it was also unfortunately tied to my self-worth, which was why I ended up selling it to a breaker for fifty quid. I have no doubt that, despite being such a joy to drive, my old Golf still got ripped apart. It could have had a better ending than that. The breaker himself admitted he was surprised I accepted his offer. But I couldn’t see it at the time. So instead of advocating for it, I folded.

There are too many times in my life, looking back, that I folded. Because I couldn’t see the value of what I brought to the table.

Don’t step in the manure

I have a deeply ingrained belief that I am a liability.

I have fiercely internalised the idea that the world would be better off if I just didn’t get involved. Which conflicts greatly with my burning desire to just get involved with, kind of, everything in the whole entire Universe. But it also conflicts greatly with my other fiercely internalised idea that if I’m not getting involved, then I don’t actually deserve to exist.

Apparently, you see, in my head, my responsibility is to get involved, but in a very precise way that only ever contributes unambiguous benefit, and never inadvertantly hurts, inconveniences or remotely troubles another human being in the process. And I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. And, to be honest, even if I did figure it out, I’d never be, like, one hundred percent, totally sure that my involvement didn’t, at some point, make someone uncomfortable, so it’s probably just better that I don’t take the risk and instead just sit over here apologetically trying to take up as little space or attention as possible.

And that’s obviously bullshit.