A previous blog post of mine was intended to be about the labelling of children's clothing, but it accidentally strayed into rather more touchy areas such as stereotyping in society, and prejudice.
I found the experience particularly uncomfortable because, privately, I have recently been troubled by growing doubts about myself. I have never really spoken openly of this before, and I find it hard to write about. Obviously, one has to maintain appearances; one's career and standing in society depend very much on being accepted, and there are clear implications for the interests of our families, but one also has to be at peace with oneself. It is very hard to live a lie.
Let's cut to the chase: I am becoming more convinced that I am not as I may seem to others - in my heart I am - well, to be blunt about it, a wardrobe. I realise this may give rise to some incredulity, but it is true; I am now almost sure that the real me, the me that the everyday world does not get to see, is a fine, handsome wardrobe.
There, I've said it. It wasn't as hard as I expected. I'm not sure that a blog is a good place to discuss this, but I have previously raised the topic with a couple of close friends and their reaction was disappointing, though maybe predictable - exactly the sort of unreasoning, stereotyping behaviour that we have to expect, that so-called social norms instill in people. It was pointed out to me that I do not make it as a wardrobe on a number of counts - organically, materially and functionally. Not even the most devout follower of Thomas Stahlberg could dispute that I fail on one of the key facets of being a wardrobe - i.e. no-one can keep clothes in me, at least not to any useful extent. I am not discouraged; I feel I have to stick to my guns, to follow this through.
This self-doubt thing is not entirely new. For years, to all outward appearances, I was an actuary working for an insurance company, but there were many occasions when I seriously thought that I would rather be almost anything else. Once, on a flight to Frankfurt, having drunk too much Lucozade, I woke up convinced I was an Eccles cake, but that is a story in itself.
Naturally, I have looked around on the internet to see if there are others who feel like this, and I have been reassured to find that supellism, as it is called, apparently, is surprisingly common, especially in the USA, though most of the people affected there seem to regard themselves as sofas. I have avoided the self-help fora thus far - too easy to get sucked in (or plumped up), and too many tales of tragedy for my taste. This has to be a positive change, or I'm not going to proceed with it.
I was genuinely flabbergasted to learn that my local County Council - here in rural, unsophisticated Scotland - has a trained, specialist counsellor in exactly this field. That does seem a remarkably long shot, doesn't it? As it happens, she has been on holiday in the Farne Islands for four years, but the message on her voicemail service assures me that she will be in touch as soon as she gets back.
You can have an operation. I don't know too much about this yet, but it seems that it is carried out in stages. The first step is to get yourself veneered - I thought a nice, traditional, satin-finish, light oak would complement my personality best, though I am still thinking about it. I have written off for a leaflet.
|A nice, burred oak - tasteful, restrained, dignified|
I have also been warned that a number of people and institutions, Her Majesty's Department of Work and Pensions being one, may react unfavourably to my coming out as a wardrobe. No-one suggested this was going to be easy.
I am not going to bombard anyone with this topic, or give daily updates, or become evangelical about it. I shall pursue it quietly, in my own way. I felt that airing the matter like this would give me a further opportunity to examine my own feelings about it, and maybe bring comfort to others who might share my situation.
If you find that you gain great solace from extended visits to the furniture departments of large retail stores during your lunch-breaks from work (in my case, coincidentally, it was usually John Lewis), that might be a clue. If, like me, you are mystified that the bar staff cannot actually see you waiting to be served, that might be a clue. If, again like me, you find that standing motionless in a corner of the bedroom for hours is surprisingly liberating, that might definitely be a clue. And - finally - if you have already looked for Thomas Stahlberg on Google then you should try to get help as soon as you can.
One more thing. If you find any element of this post tasteless or offensive, go and have a big drink of water, look at yourself in the mirror and breathe deeply a few times before you send me a flamer.
I feel better now - still troubled, but better.