forward (for a book that doesn’t exist)

When I first began this back at the end of 2013, I began it with a Christmas-time tale of my mother’s outrage.

It has evolved since then to become what has essentially become my fortnightly online confessional therapy; one that other people occasionally get or choose to read. I have chartered, as I’ve gone, the mess of 2014, my time in intensive care and rehabilitation, my scattered realisations across both and my increasingly desperate attempts to pick up the pieces of me that have hit the ground, shattered, splattered, and stayed there. To be honest, I forget, mostly, that people do bother to read this in the first place – I simply vomit out a collection of feelings or incidents; whatever’s been playing on my mind, then hit “publish” and forget about it. This has been an egotistical “experiment” that has continued to last a year and a half (minus a chunk in the middle where I was stuck in hospital, away from working internet or a working brain). In keeping this up, I have learnt a substantial amount about myself; or at least interrogated a substantial amount of myself.

In a sense, I’ve stumbled upon a new addiction – not alcohol or vitriol or anything else, but simply that of forcing myself to let shit go. (In fact, if this had a subtitle, it would be: “Letting Shit Go” – and the sub-subtitle would be “No, Seriously, Fucking Let It Go, Ya Dickhead.”). As the work has evolved, my relationship to it, too, has evolved – in late 2013 and early 2014 all I cared about was how many “likes” I could get; how much laughter I could receive. Though I would be lying if I said I didn’t care at all: even something as small as a singular Facebook like has the innate ability to put a spring in your step, and to say otherwise is an untruth. Now, however, I’m much less concerned with either of these responses and much more concerned with how much I can unburden from myself; how much I can pull out of me, hold up to the light and confront.

I think, in a sense, I’m a sadder individual than I first thought. Reading over a lot of this writing, I’m struck by how often I downplay my work, my goals and myself; by how much and how often fear rules so many aspects of my life. By how many times I’ve declared that this time – this, this time here, right now – I’ll sort myself out, stop caring about idiotic insecurities, stop beating myself up.

If I could point to a defining moment of the past few years, it would be – as much as I don’t want it to be – the events of the night of August 28, 2014. As much as I didn’t want to accept it, then, there were a lot of problems running deep and thick throughout countless aspects of my life. The manner in which I dealt with them up until that point was simple: I didn’t. Or, I drank. But knowing how close I came to death has been, for lack of a better term, a real kick up the arse. It’s forced me to stand up, on my own two feet, and confront those aspects about myself that I don’t like. My feeling, then, was simple: it’s not a huge problem YET. I’ll deal with it when it is. Well, almost dying tends to put things into perspective, and truth told, I’ve had enough. I can be better. I will be better. And I’m not there yet, but this is just a pitstop – a place I can stand, strong and proud (and scared, yes – I’m still working on that one) and take stock of where I started off, and where I am now.

Put simply? I’m not glad that the car accident happened, but I am glad for the majority of things that have come out of it. In terms of obstacles, this was a huge one – sitting ominous and leering and dark on the road in front of me, and I could have either fallen down and cried and given up, or scaled the fucking thing. And scale it I did. I am now much more secure and confident in myself and my abilities (even with the intense post-crash anxiety I’ve developed – I suppose that says more about my belief in myself beforehand then it does now). I’ve fixed my relationship, reconnected with friends that I love and laid out a plan for myself. I’ve written some several thousand words, a bit each week, completed a great many applications (the majority of which have been unsuccessful, but that’s the way it goes) and tried my hardest to at least begin transforming myself into someone that I want to be. I’ve treated getting hit by a car like a grant: blessed or cursed with the inability to work, I’ve found myself quite pleased with the way in which I’ve used my time; the amount I’ve gotten done.

When I boil it down in my own mind, at least, this book is about love. Not love for anyone else, or the desire to be loved – simply about pulling myself apart, looking myself in the eye and making the choice to love myself. Making the declaration: these bits are mine, and whatever else? I love them.

I think it’s fair to say that I haven’t figured out who Christopher Bryant is or the specifics of who he wants to be; but I’m still trying, for better or worse, and I want you to know that: I’m trying really hard. Harder than ever before. If you think you can come closer to figuring me out, please do – not that I believe I’m a particularly complex individual; no more than anyone reading this right now, or any of the other billion people currently populating this earth. Hopefully this’ll help you (or me) to figure it out.

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