And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place

Last weekend I went to a birthday party. He turned 31 years old – quickly becoming a very grown man. I went alongside my brother and a mutual friend the same age as the birthday boy. I’m some years older than them. My brother just turned 30.

I had not spoken much to this mutual friend for a while, and I noticed his subjects had changed from somewhat childish anecdotes and memories of past drunken adventures to subjects such as starting a family, children, and pregnancies. Apperantly, his current girlfiend wants two children before she turns thirty which means he have to be up for the task within four years. He was obviously up for it from how he spoke about it. He also mentioned briefly he had spoken to the birthday boy about children just a few weeks ago, and told us that the birthday boy had admitted to him that it wouldn’t be too long until his girlfriend would be pregnant. I got the feeling from that (and from later on that same evening) that they were trying for a baby. One of the other guys in the group going to the birthday party had just become a father himself.

It is moment like these I have to fight my own mental state. I have to fight back that I feel down because I am older than them. I have to fight back all dark thoughts of failure and a feeling of loneliness which I cannot really explain. I have to keep fighting back feelings of disappointing my mother for not having been able to start a family and give her grandchildren. It can be hard to deal with.

I consider the birthday boy one of my best friends, and I remember the therapist I saw asking me last spring about what would “tip me back to where I was mentally last winter.” I immediately replied that if the birthday boy would become a father, that would be devastating to me. I am not sure if this is the case now, but I am very scared of how I will feel, act or even respond when or if this happens.

I am a competitive guy. I like to compete, and I like to win. The birthday boy had invited us all (a group of six or seven guys) to go Go-Karting for the day. I had not done that for about 17 years, but I have a bit of simulation experience which gave me the upper hand in the past at least.

On the way to visit birthday-boy, I had been fighting my demons for the past hour or so, and could not shake the feeling of being a failure or “less” than many of them due to all this new information and all the talk about children which took my by surprise.

I can’t really explain why, but I took my fight to that silly Go-kart track instead. My failures (or my feelings of failure), feelings of being a loser, someone at 36 who cant even start a family, disappointing my mother, and just feeling down and out. And you know what, I took the worst side of my personality onto the track as well – jealousy. Because I am angry, sad and jealous that they are planning, creating and looking forward to having children and a family. I was jealous and sad.

Now, the birthday boy has a bit of experience Go-Karting. He had been doing a bit of research beforehand – studying the track and reading a bit on the subject. He was ready and rumour said he was  a natural at it.

The Go-Karting we did was all time-trial. All about getting in that fastest lap. The birthday boy won the first 10 minute stint. He was about 0.300 seconds in front me. After a quick break,  I got back onto the track for the second 10 minute stint. And I wasn’t going to let him win this one.

I drove like a madman. I pushed that damn Kart so hard the wheels were screaming in pain around every bend and turn. I might end up on the loosing side of not fulfilling my biggest dream of becoming a father, but I would sure as hell end up as number one on this damn track. I wasn’t gonna let them get me down here. I had to win at something, and it had to be here. There was no other choice.

After I was done, I could hardly pull myself out of the small Go-Kart. My arms were numb. I struggled heavily pulling off my drivers suit. I could hardly take the helmet off my head. My hair was completely soaked in sweat. My mouth felt like a cotton ball. I desperately craved for a water. I was dizzy, and I could hardly stand up. I looked at the others. They seemed fine. Everyone was a bit tired, but I was completely worn out. All this after 20 minute of Go-karting and I consider myself in pretty good shape. All my jealousy, anger, frustrations and anxiety was left there on the track.

We looked at the track times. I did it. I was first. An inner sigh of relief. I was quickest. I had beaten the kart-researching-most-likely-father-to-be birthday-boy. I had beaten them all. I felt fucking good. Its not a side to my personality I am very proud of, but it made me feel better. I had thrown out of all my demons and insecurities for the evening. They were left on the track. I was first. I won. The old guy won.

Outside, I overheard one of the guys saying I had been driving like a person possessed.

Afterwards, in the evening, I had a headache and felt sleepy. I didn’t feel better until I had had considerable water to drink. I was dehydrated.

Two days later and my arms are still sore.

 

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What goes up….

My ex-wife had a poster in her bedroom that said exactly that. A picture of a hand drowning in pills. What goes up, must come down. It’s funny how something sticks to you. That poster stuck to me, and I still remember it vividly. I often picture it, and those excact words. 

It was those words that stuck to me when I was walking down one of England most historic airfields, minutes away from reaching another personal pinnacle I never thought would happen to me. I somehow had managed to manouver myself in a position to fly for free in a P-51 Mustang from the second World War. Something every historic aviation enthusiast dream of, but for most people can never be achieved. My father had spoken of trying to be given such a chance for three decades. He never got close. Suddenly, before even being 35 years old, I was about to go on that ride. And I would be doing it over the English countryside pulling 5 G’s in the backseat of one of the most famous aircraft ever made. It was at that moment I thought; “when will I ever come down?”

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In all honesty, looking back, it feels like anything I wanted between 2005 and 2015 came true. I always wanted to travel the world. Suddenly I had racked up 24 trips to England, three trips to the USA, 11 to Israel as well as all of Scandinavia, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland and more. I finally got to see my fave football playing live, I wrote books and published them with ease. Further; I befriended a childhood rockstar-hero of mine, signed books in England sitting beside WWII veterans, held lectures on historic aviation, got tenure and married a knock-out dark haired exotic girl. I turned 30 and didn’t think one bit about it. I felt at ease with it. I wasn’t an insecure 20 year old. I was reaching beyond anything I could have imagined within my hobbies and interests. All this may not sound much, but for me it meant the world. Everything I hoped when I was growing up was coming true. If this was getting older, I had no problem with it.

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With my head slightly banging on the canopy, upside down over Duxford Airfield, the thought of coming down came creeping to me again. Reaching this level of what I considered personal success; what will come next? Could I possibly continue on like this with what I felt was never-ending success?

Fact is, coming down again was creeping up on me. I just didn’t know it yet. A year later down the road, and my world would look very different.

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Lonely Nights

In my field of work I meet a lot of lonely people. The state of loneliness is something I care much about as it got much to do with the fact I’ve seen what it’s about. I’ve been there, and experienced it.

Loneliness comes in many different ways. I can honestly admit I am lonely as I write this. I am lonely in the sense I do not have my own family. I do not have a wife or a girlfriend, and I do not have my own children. But I am not lonely in the sense of having friends or family or being busy socially. I am. I have always had a family for example. I know many people who do not even have that. What I do know is how it feels like not to have any friends. If you feel lonely, and an increasing amount of people do, I hope there is some comfort in this little break from my usual chapters.

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If you find yourself lonely, it’s up to you to get out of it. How to get out of your state of loneliness is up to you. I ended up lonely because of a poor mix of education, shyness, low confidence and other unfortunate choices. It can happen. If you have friends and ignore them for whatever reason, they will in the end forget about you and move on. If they are not to your liking, that is fine, but then you need to find someone else. Otherwise, you might end up lonely.

I realized I was terribly lonely at some point. At first I didn’t know what to do with it. But I knew why it happened. Not being accessible to friends and pushing them away, not taking the same path as them, not going to the same school or taking the same course. Moving away to work in a heavily female oriented choice of work. Using the internet way too much, spending long hours in front of the screen. The reasons were many.

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I blamed the internet first and foremost. But in a moment of clarity I decided that it could also be the internet that would get me out of the mess. So, I started to hang on out in chat rooms specifically for my home town – daily striking up conversations with locals. Up until that point I had kept my chats worldwide, focusing on finding people with the same interests – which I could only find in other countries. I lay that to rest. It was through these (now) vintage social media channels I developed friendships. I soon got invited to parties. I had never really been to any parties before, but I decided to suck it up and go. From there on I met my first girlfriend and made friends I still have to this day, 15 years later.

Creating a social network from scratch takes time, but it’s doable. In 2016 you can use Facebook to connect with old friends. I’ve done that too. Many friendships have blossomed due to my usage of social media. One of them was a childhood friend which I had not spoken to for almost 20 years when we started to hang out again. Friendships can be created at your work as well, if you let yourself be accesible to it. One of my best and trusted friends is a co-worker. And let it be know that friends online you have never met but know and trust are also your friends. Why don’t you buy a ticket and go see them? You don’t need anyone to take you there – you can take yourself.

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Even if you can’t seem to make friends right away, don’t let that stop you from doing things you want. Like travelling, going to the cinema, or seeing your favorite band on stage. I’ve done all that alone several times. Not because I am lonely, but simply because I want to live and experience stuff. If no one wants to go and see a rock band with me, I will simply go alone. Do not let anything stop you from doing what you want. Dare to put yourself in a situation you may at first find awkward. If you feel uncomfortable, bring a book. I’ve done several trips alone – foreign and domestic. When I told a previous girlfriend that I’ve been going abroad alone she was shocked. She would never have dared to do it. Why? Screw it! Just do it! You won’t regret it. Some of the best travel experiences I’ve had – I’ve done on my own. It doesn’t mean I’m lonely, it simply means I do not need others support or companionship to have a good time.

I travelled around Norway last summer and decided to talk to a girl on the same sightseeing boat as me. I admit I was hesitant at first, but I did it and did not regret it. She was from Atlanta, Georgia, and we ended up having dinner together that evening as she was also travelling alone. You simply need to step out of your comfort zone. Many will think none of all of this, and talk to anyone. Others will be physically sick by only thinking of it. Instead of withdrawing, accept that you feel this way, and mentally prepare yourself to do it anyway. Take that step. Next time it won’t feel as bad. Then do it again, just don’t do it once a year. Being social takes practice and you just lack training. You may have that sort of shy personality, but remember; you can alter your personality traits – it just takes practice. I used to be quite afraid of talking in public until one day I decided to see if I could leave that behind and simply talk in public without being afraid. It took a few years and it took practice, but it was doable and it was far from my hardest project either. It pays off. I can speak in public with ease now.

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Stop comparing yourself to others. Show them the finger (mentally) and understand that they are just jerk offs like yourself in one way or another. Be up front with how you feel, and accept it. Decide what to do with it, and make a plan. Loneliness is common. Do not be a perfectionist – I know I’m falling into this trap many, many times myself. I demand much of myself. So do you. Don’t let it become something that pulls you down just because you haven’t reached to where you want to be yet.

Do what feels right for you. Do not be afraid to fuck up. Everyone does. So you speak to someone, and then they shy away from you? Not your fault. Try again. Accept a no and move on. Greet yourself with compassion. You fucking rock in your own way, and you know it. And if you suck at first, just try again. And again, and again.

Chapter 2: What can I say – I come from Tuborg and Sleaze Rock

Between early 2004 and the summer of 2006 I tried to be more traditional. That is, if binge drinking during weekends are traditional. I have a feeling it actually is in this country. I was never too keen on drinking when I was in my late teens or early 20’s. It was another thing where I deviated from my peers. After my girlfriend dumped me in January of 2004, I decided to re-think a couple of life choices. I felt my way of doing things wasn’t not working out.  So I decided to start drinking like the rest of the country. I was drinking to get over her, to get over myself and to change myself into something else. I was tired of being me.1280666-16

I was 23 and obviously had issues getting over her. I grew my hair long, tried to look “rock” and even sported the odd drunk eyeliner-look once I was wasted and started to feel inspired by Motley Crues book “The Dirt”. Heartbreak and drinking; what others experienced being a teenager, I was experiencing for the first time in my early to mid 20’s. I was catching up. Was it the raddest time I’ve had or was it the sadest? I am not sure. My best friend was 18. We went nuts, but usually never in danger of wrecking ourselves or anyone else. Perhaps just normal Norwegian weekends for young people. Except for the eyeliner and the hair. People had trouble understanding that part. I once entered a room full of countryside stereotypes in the middle of nowhere with my hair spiked up, and black eyeliner smeared across my face. The room went dead silent. I liked it.

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I started college August 2005, and drank more than I studied. Surprisingly, it didn’t really make my grades suffer. Considering the amount of time I invested in my field of study, the two-year course was either too liberal and easy or I was simply much smarter than I thought. I have a sneaky feeling it’s was the first, but I will pretend it’s the second.

Girls wasn’t going my way. I had a few offers, but I didn’t find them interesting. One had a boyfriend but had a strong interest in cheating on him. With me. I said no. I actually have morals. Another was, to be blunt, dumb. I was quickly done with my business there. Another one was so desperate for a boyfriend she could have picked anyone. I aborted that one too. In early 2005 I met a very cute girl from the other side of the country. She was a student in my home town. She sent all the right vibes and the more she drank, the more clingy she got. Up until specific physical contact. I should have smelt a rat when she pulled out when I tried to kiss her once. I had gathered up all confidence I could find up until that point and was 99% sure she would kiss me back. She didn’t. She was a new type of breed for me – a tease. I understood later that many female students around 20 years old have often gotten involved in serious relationships during their teen years and have no interest in doing that again now that they are free and off to college on their own. So they like the flirting, but pull out once you actually make a serious effort. That happened a few times those years.

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The more time went by with trying my luck and failing miserably, the more bitter I got. One of the more nasty mistakes you can make as a single guy. But who can blame them when I was so wasted I could hardly mutter a decent sentence when I met someone out on town. So, I gave up and went back to being untraditional. I went back online (but I was never really away). MySpace was cool and so was this foreign girl that got in touch with me. Considering my experience with American girls, this felt instantly right. She was foreign after all. Foreign meant foreign and not Norwegian. I was truly convinced I did not understand Norwegian girls or how to talk to them. And I was just as convinced they did not understand me either. We just didn’t get along. Nothing had changed since high school. If I was to go somewhere with girls, I had to go foreign again. And so I did.

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