‘I just prefer the company of women. I’m a bit like Samantha in Sex and the City…but without the city….or the sex.’
‘…right – and you think that’s because you were raised by two women?’
‘Partly…but it’s mostly because I don’t mix well with other men. I find guys really two-dimensional. As soon as I get a hint of football or beer, I’m out. Give me women any day of the week: women have emotional intelligence and they can REALLY talk.’
‘That’s stereotyping, David.’
‘Maybe…but if five guys walked in here, I’m guessing I’d be bored of talking to four of them in the first minute. If five women walked in, I’d be here all day.’
‘That I don’t doubt. Can we get back to your job? The writing? You seemed to misunderstand my point there. Can I explain it to you?’
‘Look, I’m not stupid. You were saying that I chose a rejection profession and that’s why I’m always miserable. So writing books has ruined my life.’
My psychotherapist, who costs a fair portion of my income and is worth every penny, narrows her eyes.
‘No. I’m saying you SEEK rejection and seem to revel in it. You told me that you couldn’t make friends at school and that no girls you liked were interested in you…but that’s not actually true, is it? You walked AWAY from people who were interested in you and only pursued those who weren’t.’
‘No, hang on –‘
‘In fact, I’d venture to suggest that you determined FIRST whether or not you were likely to be rejected and only then showed an interest in people who reacted negatively to your presence. I would say, based on what you have told me, that you were impossibly difficult to reach. You also said that if you hadn’t been a writer you’d have pursued a career in acting – ANOTHER profession that guarantees a high level of rejection.’
‘Okay, but I was successful as a writer-‘
‘Hugely successful: you must have been secretly devastated.’
‘Don’t be ridiculous.’
‘You said you didn’t go out.’
‘What? When? No I didn’t!’
‘Yes you did. You said the week after you got the book deals, the week after the TV appearances, the week after Richard & Judy, you didn’t go out – and when you DID finally go out, you wore a baseball cap so nobody would recognize you.’
‘Yeah, well….I like my privacy.’
She smirks, consults her notes.
‘Really? And I quote: ‘I’m an attention seeker: I’m always trying to get people’s attention. I’ll do almost anything to stand out from the crowd. My Nan was the same: she used to climb on tables in pubs to get attention and she was always snatching the microphone if somebody else tried to sing.’
‘So when you DO finally start to stand out from the crowd, you choose to stay indoors.’
‘This is mental. You’re just twisting what I’m saying and throwing it back in my face.’
‘That’s my job. When you first walked in here, you described yourself as a torment junkie and you actually smiled: you wore it like a badge of honour. You told me you had a Book of Grudges and I thought you were joking. I don’t think so now: I think you’re constantly at war and not happy unless there’s a drama unfolding. You’ve admitted that you purposely start arguments between your friends in the hope that it all comes back to you and there’s some sort of confrontation.’
‘That’s because I get bored.’
‘YES. Yes, you certainly do. Now, that I believe one hundred percent. You’re highly intelligent and hugely under stimulated. You regularly seem to cause emotional dramas in your life purely because you can’t stand the monotony of the everyday. You’ve said that you love being a husband and a father but when you have time on your hands that’s purely time for you, there’s nothing that interests you outside books. Therefore, you CREATE social drama.’
She folds her arms.
‘In that sense, your blog is a way to exorcise demons without actually damaging anyone else.’
‘Well – yes! Precisely.’
She seems satisfied with this and turns a page in her notebook.
‘How did you get on with the audition for the Channel 4 show? The Spy series?’
I smile – it’s such a massive smile that I can’t contain it. ‘I didn’t make it.’
‘The audition was in three parts: intelligence, social observation and general observation. You had to pass all three to get through. I nailed the IQ test and remembered the name of every woman I met who worked for the studio. Sadly, I scored zero on the observation: I couldn’t remember if there was a bunch of flowers in the lobby or even what colour the front door was. I also couldn’t remember what floor we were on and I didn’t see the guy dressed as a banana on the stairs.’
‘Why do think that was?’
‘Well….to be honest, I don’t pay much attention to that stuff. It’s the same reason I didn’t notice you’d had your hair done.’
Another smile. ‘Brilliant.’
‘So – back to your social connections. I have in my notes here that your closest friends consist of a lot of women who you seem to have coffee with and two or three men who are – and again I quote – exactly like you.’
‘That’s right. They’re either all bored, depressed, suicidal or hiding from something.’
‘The men AND the women?’
‘Just the men. The women are okay, generally speaking….but they’re usually women who have been damaged by men who were either bored, depressed, suicidal or hiding from something.’
‘So men like you?’
‘Yeah….I guess so.’
‘And these women hang out with you because…?’
I pause, stare out of the window and try to think.
‘Maybe it’s because they think I’m actually more like a woman than a guy. As I said before, I see my She Dates as a lot like those lunches in Sex and the City.’
‘….but with you being the only man, naturally….’
‘Yeah. We’ve established that I hate other guys. They’re either bored, depressed-‘
‘…suicidal or hiding from something?’
‘So you hate other men who are exactly like you….with the exception of the two or three you’ve accepted.’
‘Yeah – I tend to make life very difficult for my male friends….just to see who manages to hang on. The people who stick with me are my REAL friends. I don’t give them a hard time any more: they’ve been through enough.’
‘Can’t you see the vicious circle you’re in?’
‘Of course! What do you think I’m doing here?’
‘We’re trying to work out the core, driving motivations for the behaviour that’s concerning you.’
Now it’s my turn to fold my arms.
‘I actually think I’ve worked it all out.’
I leap off the couch and move to sit in the chair opposite her, where I lean forward, barely able to contain my excitement.
‘FINAL DESTINATION SYNDROME.’
She frowns. ‘Final….what?’
‘Final Destination Syndrome! It’s a movie where the main character is supposed to die. Only, he doesn’t….so death comes after him and keeps trying to take him down and every time it just gets worse and worse.’
‘I see…and this relates to you HOW?’
‘Just hear me out. What if I actually died when my career ended and I’ve been doing stupid stuff ever since because I feel like I shouldn’t really be here? Almost like I’ve slipped down the wrong leg of the Trousers of Time? That’s how Terry Pratchett would have put it…’
She glances at her notes. ‘Yes,’ she says. ‘I think we’re going to need an entire session on Terry Pratchett…but I’m afraid that’s all we can cover for today.’
‘No worries – that was great! Thanks.’
I nod, finish my coffee and head for the door. On the way out, I grab my overcoat and slip on my shades.
When I glance back at her, she has a look of great concern on her face.
‘Drive carefully, please: you’re not in The Matrix.’
The Vicious Circle was written on 16th May, 2021 by Davey Stone, who is about to take an extended break from social media. If you liked The Vicious Circle, please follow the blog for more content. For more about the sort of psychotherapy mentioned in the The Vicious Circle, please click HERE.