When I saw the title of this month's Create Challenge - Guilty Pleasures - I thought I would have a lot to write about, but then I thought about it a bit more, and found that most of what I thought were guilty pleasures of mine were actually more like pleasures that I just felt guilty about...
At school they taught me how to be, so pure in thought and word and deed - they didn't quite succeed...
- Pet Shop Boys, 'It's a sin'
As the song said, I learned things about how I should behave, but I somehow knew I wasn't the person that others thought I should be, and hence I learned guilt if I even thought about looking at someone in the 'wrong' way, or otherwise deviated from what was expected of little me.
Strangely, other people picked up on it somehow, and so I was often an easy target.
- The teacher was late and the class was noisy, but I sat at the front quietly revising - I got the blame for not telling people to keep the noise down
- My friends had a fight - I got the blame, and my friends wouldn't speak to me afterwards either
- The people who were paid to 'cure' my disability failed - I got the blame for not trying hard enough
So much so, I felt as though I had a speech bubble following me around, full of all the things I did wrong, that people could see and laugh at or something.
Ask me when - I'll say it started when I met you, and ever since then I knew that the past couldn't last...
- Pet Shop Boys, 'I wouldn't normally do this kind of thing'
For many years, I threw myself into academic study, and got guilt-free, albeit isolated, pleasure from mathematics, as well as other activities such as art and crafts, and writing stories for myself. However, it was only when I met my partner that I was able to start to unlearn the guilt about myself that I had picked up.
Even such simple pleasures as holding hands were initially accompanied by a commentary inside my head telling me I wasn't allowed to be that bold, but my partner reassured me and explained how happy I made her, so the commentary was muted and I could simply enjoy the happiness with her too, which was amazing.
Now that she is gone, her voice is in my head complementing my own inner commentary. My challenge is not to let go of that happiness and boldness that we learned together, and to continue finding pleasure in as much of a variety of things as I can, to honour the time my partner gave to me.
The feeling of guilt at putting my thoughts in black and white like this is strong, but nobody is obliged to read it if they don't like it, so hopefully nobody will mind...
These days I am enjoying much more pleasure in the company of people, as well as pleasure in my own company as usual. I realise I have a lot more friends than I dared to believe, and if they have seen what is in the speech bubble, it didn't faze them much at all. In particular I enjoy entertaining 'at home' and making trips around the country to meet people, including most recently the excellent h2g2 London Meet, so I am seizing the challenge.