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Dear Reader

I showed Allan what I had written about him, partly to gauge the accuracy of my perception, and partly to give him the right of reply.  I have placed it here and only edited it in terms of linking to related pages, and single footnote.

PART ONE

In the two years since my diagnosis, I have experienced a growing arrogance (which Webber graciously notes as ‘confidence’ and ‘pride’), especially in regard to my perspective on others. When I sought a diagnosis, the first question I was asked was, “Do you feel different from others?” Yes, I do, and proudly so.

I am fortunate in that I do not struggle to attract new friends or partners, but I often struggle to reciprocate others’ admiration and especially affection. I am half-seriously, half-jokingly referred to by friends as ‘cold’, ‘heartless’ and ’emotionally dead’. These comments affect me – perhaps I believe them to be true – and I don’t know how to respond to them, aside from to beg, “I’m not, am I?”

As a necessary consolation, I promise myself that I can use my interactions with others as material for my music or writing. As long as transient social events remain material for critique or future artistic distortions, I may not feel fulfilled but I am somewhat assured. Nevertheless, I rarely write of falling victim to ‘real-life’ disappointments, upsets or torments – things tainted with an inescapable ordinariness. No matter how intense my emotional investment, relationship misfortunes must be endured and overcome as quickly as possible. Brooding over others’ actions, slights and deceptions is a crippling process, and while my suffering may be pitiable, it is also banal.

Despite my general contempt and mistrust of others, I still have a very strong appetite for fraternity, and I am occasionally touched by other peoples’ warmth and love of life. Whenever I meet someone I don’t feel so isolated from, I tend to manipulate my time with them to excuse me from spending time with others. Rather than ‘running scared’, I’m happy playing this little game, particularly if I am successful and see those – and only those – whom I wish to see. Without exception, the people I enjoy spending time with are gifted, intelligent and discerning – people I can converse with about work-related matters (i.e. music and theatre projects) or more generally about music, film and poetry.

Naturally, I risk becoming isolated, but I strongly believe that I can work through my problems relating to others by writing music. In day-to-day life, as soon as I draft my lines of conversation, I am the one forced to spontaneously enact them; and I am acutely aware that I am a poor actor. With music, however, I can rehearse and direct trained performers to be as sensitive and expressive as I wish to be, yet sadly cannot.

Colin’s note: Allan’s experiences mirror my own to a surprising degree.  He finds great satisfaction in providing music for theatre, and seeing the meaning-making process evolve.

PART TWO

Today I have the opportunity to say something different; though I’m happy to repeat myself. Webber says that music is his ‘saviour’. I sympathise, but I prefer to think of music as a necessary distraction. While I don’t believe in its redemptive qualities, I do believe in its capacity to calm me down and to give me something pleasurable to think about and to look forward to working on.

I am most anxious when surrounded by people I have little in common with; I am most depressed when my imagination ceases to generate new music, leaving me to experience the day rather than to dream! Those are terrifying moments: “What if ‘it’ one day leaves me? What if I’m left with nothing but the company of friends I don’t trust, or a partner who doesn’t love me and/or whom I don’t love?”

I struggle on holidays (I realise this sounds funny). I desperately latch on to future music projects and imaginary deadlines. I refuse to surrender myself to ‘the moment’ or to the company of idle friends. Ironically, I need to work in order to maintain a sociable persona. Without work, I quickly become anxious, frustrated and judgemental, and I too easily succumb to doubts, especially regarding my relationships with women. (I prefer not to dwell on those things: they make me sad.)

If love comes to compensate for the lack of a sexual connection, again, I am lucky to love music. (Sublimate thy love; love thy sublimation.) I’m not a backward beggar offering free drinks to strangers; I don’t sacrifice my time to baked goods; I don’t rely on small talk to inflate my ego. Perhaps I do believe in Webber’s saviour.

I suspect Allan’s fear of holidays may be the underload that I also experience, in a different form.

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