A former life

My life has changed so abruptly that I desperately seek experiences or things that comes from what once was. Almost like a person involved in the paranormal, trying to find feelings, items or places that can be connected to a former life. Because that’s what it feels like. And, the joy and happiness if I am to find something that reminds me of the person I was once – and still are.

A few days ago I hung a photo on the wall in our home. Wait, let me correct that; her home. It’s really her home. I put the photo up and I stared at it with wonder. Like an artefact from days long gone. Like a rope that connects two lifelines together. I was happy.

Yesterday I went to soccer practice. It’s my team. I created this so many years ago. Together with a friend I’ve managed this club for nine years. Nine years. I haven’t been there playing with them for over a month. They greeted me back with open arms. It felt like I just stepped back into a previous life. Like meeting old friends, long gone and forgotten. And, suddenly they were all there. I was myself again. This is what I was – and still is. It felt like coming home.

I have so few things intact from my previous life. Just fractions. Sometimes not even my interests are intact. One of them, in all seriousness, have to be hushed up because she doesn’t want to know about it. She doesn’t know shit about it, but she doesn’t want to know. And so, as I usually does, I go on the offensive and dig into this forbidden subject even more than normal. Who knows, it might just end up being a book just to spite her.

My dogs. Another lifeline back into to the old days almost torn to pieces. I’ve lost most of my relationship to my eldest dog. She doesn’t fit in. The younger dog, my confidante above all. My lovely dog. I talk about her and my eyes swell up. I wasn’t that moved even when my daughter was born. I held my own then. But for my little dog I feel I have left behind. I have disappointed her in my vanishing. The little dog who gave me all this unconditional love, and I return her love by disappearing – only to appear from time to time. She screams of joy when I come see her. I feel so guilty of leaving her behind.

I fight for what I am. What I used to be. To bring my old self into my new self. Photos, football, dogs… To make people understand. The feeling of sadness when I’m surrounded by people who don’t really know me. Don’t know my story. The new me. My new life. Like I was just born.

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A Month Gone By

It’s been over a month now since my daughter was born. We have no name for her yet as her mother struggles to decide. This is symbolic of a difference between us. I would have decided on a name, and stuck with it – never regret the decision. The child and the personality forms around the name until it fits like a glove. Not the other way around. But her mother is more undecided. Lots more undecided. If I suggest one name, she suggest another. If I suggest that other name, she will revert back to the first one I suggested. So, if I say A, she says B. If I say B she will backpaddle to A. And off we go, and we can’t decide.

We have found a system that works as of now. I stay up with the baby until 2 or 3 in the morning, before I give her to her mother for feeding. Then I go to sleep. Usually not in the same room in order to give me a proper nights sleep before work. I am honestly not that tired. The breastfeeding makes her mother tired. I try to make her more comfortable by pressing orange juice or giving her massages.

I don’t often dwell or reflect on the past year or month and I often find my previous reflections to others as almost embaressing. However, there’s a few things I find to be a relief. First, it is so damn good to know that this girl doesn’t have any other father than me. I don’t have to relate to another father, and there’s no one referring to another father. It can be hard on step-fathers to have to deal with someone who will never step down from the throne as number 1. The father will always be the father. But for this girl, I am the father and I will always be the father. It’s a relief.

Humans would often like to fit in or feel at least on the same level as others. I more than before feel like this now. I feel like I am equal to other fathers. I am no less. I even dealt with birth better than many (I was completely calm and collected). The baby comes natural to me. I am a father, like many others and I’m currently doing it quite well. I like being a father as I expected I would. But there’s more to come. The baby is just a bit over a month old. When she starts talking, walking and relating to me – things will slowly become a tight relationship to my young daughter. It’s almost weird to say. My daughter.

 

So what the hell happened?

It is time to reflect a little. Well, “a little”. I’m sure it will be a lot. It is now October 2018. Two years since I moved into my own house after I purchased it. This after I moved out of my now ex-wifes house (it used to be our house) in September.

Two years. Two years since I slept alone in a big empty house for the first time. I missed by dogs that night, and I missed my old house. I had no idea what to expect when I went to bed that night. I was alone and confused. But I know one thing, I slept alone in that empty house for the first time that night in October 2016 because I really wanted a family, and I couldn’t get that with my ex-wife. But let’s make it clear; I did not leave her for it. It was a mutual agreement.

Stuff was painful, and little did I know that it would be even more painful in the months that would come.

I started this blog in April 2017. I was on the mend.

And, so I sit here now with my laptop in a completely different house in a different town. The house I bought in 2016 is already sold. Five meters away from me is my girlfriend with our daughter in her arms having a visitor over. My daughter just turned two weeks old. Two weeks old. My own daughter. People greet me, say congratulations and telling me I’m a daddy. Excuse me, but what? I am?

I got one simple question;

What. The. Hell. Happened?

How did I manage to fullfill a dream of mine in that short amount of time? Did I do all this myself by simply making the right decisions? Decisions are quite something when it comes to these serious matters. They were so hard that it drove me insane. It was so difficult to make the right decisions that one night in February 2017 I simply opened up a bottle of wine and drank it all within fifteen minutes. It didn’t help, but I was desperate. I tore my brains out trying to do the right things. Perhaps I actually did? Maybe I was just lucky? And I know that this is not end of hard decisions. It is simply one hurdle overcome and onto the next.

If I only could send myself a message back to December 2016 and tell myself I was doing the right things and just keep going. But, hey, that’s exactly what I did. I knew what I had to do, and I had to work towards that goal. And I did. I kept going.

There were small and larger elements to my depressive state of mind back then, but the feeling of loneliness and not having children on my own was a large part of it. Feelings of failure and guilt as well. Of simply being a failure as a man. I constantly talked myself down. But when it comes to the feeling of loss of children or missing a child, it was a like a hole in my body constantly bleeding.

Suddenly, now, the bleeding have completely stopped.

Completely.

But I still miss my dogs. I feel like I have let them down. I think about my ex-wife and mourn the fact she is no longer my dearest friend. I don’t miss her as my lover, but I miss her terribly as my friend and confidant. It hurts. I am still filled with sadness and shame when I think about that terrible phone call I had to make to inform my mother about what was going on in my life back in June 2016. However, I am so happy to see that she is over the moon with being a grandmother.

Think about that; my mom is now a grandmother. And that is the most important part of it all, the happiness I see in her eyes. I made my mom so happy.

My grandmothers coffee set

I inherited an old coffee set from my grandparents several years back. I always kept it in a closet, not being used. I never even washed them. Just stored them. I doubt it’s any sort of fancy, expensive coffee set. The value lies in the heritage. It’s made in Bavaria, Germany in what I suspect was the 1950s. It has light coloured flower decorations and “gold” around the edges. It is light of weight and it automatically makes you touch it very carefully. I say it’s my grandmothers because I am convinced she was the one cleaning it and taking care of it. Not my grandfather.

I recently moved in with my girlfriend, and obviously brought all my belongings. However, there’s almost no room for anything here so most of my books, items and memorabilia are packed away in boxes. I’ve touched upon this subject before.

I don’t know if it’s my daughter coming along that made me unpack my grandmothers coffee set or the deep desire to have something in this household that is mine. And so I brought it forward. My girlfriend wanted me to wash it before finding room for it – if there is room at all.

So I carefully unwrap the coffee cups and the plates from the newspaper wrapping and start to clean them. It dawns on me that these coffee cups have been held in my grandmothers hands so many times through the years. So many of my family members drinking from them. When looking at them, cleaning them – I was filled with a sense of deep nostalgia and a longing for my grandmother that died when I was barely into my teens. Longing for a time that is no more.

I remember times at my grandparents house, and especially extraordinary evenings when so many of my family on my mothers side were gathered together. Birthdays, jubilees, anniversaries. My grandparents had five daughters which made for relatively large gatherings of aunts, uncles and children of all ages.

I imagine my uncles and my father sitting in my grandparents living room only used for special occations drinking coffee from these cups and talking about society or politics. My grandfather pouring coffee into his cup, and slowly drinking the hot wonder liquid often not saying much. I pick up one cup and study it. I wonder how many people have touched it, been drinking from this very cup, and how many of them that are still alive. My grandfathers sibblings? Now all gone. My grandparents friends which I do not know the names of? How many? These cups have passed through the hands of so many people through so many decades.

I remember thetre was once a jubilee of some sor at my grandparents hosue. My mother and her siblings had composed a song to their parents. Most of them singing out of tune to my fathers rythm guitar. I remember buffets of cold cuts of food that evening. My older cousins laughing at me when I only went to pick up a piece of tomato from the lush table of food. I remember one of my uncles loud, but warm laugh between his soft southern accent – different from the rest of us. I remember looking up to one of my cousings about seven years older than me. I was very myuch influenced by his taste in music or interest in RC model cars. He was tall, cool and knew everything.

By simply touching the coffee cups I could almost hear my uncles and aunts talking, see my grandfather drinking his coffee and see myself as a child running around being asked silly auntie-type questions about school.

After everyone had gone home that evening,  I am sure my grandmother washed the dishes by hand. She had no dishwasher. It is a poignant feeling to know that she’s been touching and cleaning this coffee set through so many decades.

Now I was doing the same thing.

These days are long gone now. There are no more gatherings at my grandparents house. While most of the people involved are still alive, some are not and others are now at the very end of their lives. Time has moved on.

Birth from a mans experience

I didn’t really know what to expect from childbirth. People giving me information about what to expect was all over the place. Everyone from my girlfriend to co-workers to friends and family. Not one story was the same, and not one attitude towards it was alike. Some women almost hostile to the idea, and being vocal about the hell they went through. Other women being more relaxed saying they “have had worse” than child birth coming to them. And what was more annoying was how everyone kept asking me about it. “What do you think? What do you expect? Are you excited? Are you scared? You haven’t done this before, have you.”

What am I supposed to answer these questions with? I can’t say I’m excited because my girlfriends friend had just been on a 20 minute long rant about the hell she went through. I can’t say I’m scared either because another friend said childbirth was not all it was hyped up to be. I didn’t know what to say if I was asked what I expected. Once, I said I didn’t really expect anything because it was impossible to get a clear cut view of the matter from anyone. Once I said; “well, the baby have to come out one way or another” and my girlfriend ripped me a new asshole for it. Still don’t get why though, as a month later she said the same thing repeatadly to me and her family.

So, all in all, very confusing stuff. So I thought, for those dads-to-be that have not yet been through this – I will give you the real deal. The truth. This is what you can expect to happen. As a man. Not as a woman. As a man.

Here’s the deal; it’s all individual. There’s three people in the room. Mother, father and child (we don’t count those midwives), Everyone of those three will experience this differently, but it is the mother who is in charge of the event. If the mother is in pain or scared out of her mind, it won’t be very pleasing and the father will be dragged through a process of watching a loved one in desperate pain. She might scream her lungs out. It will all be like a nightmare. Or, it could be the complete opposite. A woman in control of her pain and focused towards her task with no hellish screams. Make no mistake, the task is very tough, but women deals with it differently. How your loved one will react to this if she haven’t been through it already is anyones guess (and births can be very different). All you have to do is come along for the ride and try to help out in any way you can (and those options are few). If you as a man does not like a bit of blood or the look of a placenta coming out you might want to look the other way. Some guys might feel a sense of panick. Other may find themselves in calm and focused control of themselves. There’s just no way of knowing. It’s even about you as well. Are you uncomfortable in hospitals you might be in for a troubling time!

So, if people ask you about this matter. Try to answer as proper as possible, but the key is this; “individuality”. You can’t expect this or that. There’s no way. You simply have to roll with the punches and see how things unfold. If you’re overly excited and happy, you might get a shock of how serious birth can be. If you expect World War One to happen, you might feel that it wasn’t such a big deal after all. But if you’re gonna speak of your experience afterwords, make sure you speak only for you and recognize your girlfriends pain and what she went through.

And as for me, I honesly expected more of the bad stuff. Everything was done so quickly I had no time to think (individuality once again). We got to the hospital about 1645, and the baby arrived 17:37. My girlfriend was in deep pain, but instead of screaming or cursing the midwife out, she went some place deep inside herself and just focused on the task. There wasn’t really much I could do, but I am pleased to know that I calmed down and felt focused during the process. I expected World War One I guess, and was pleased to find out it was not a situation I couldn’t handle. The blood and gore was fine. It felt more natural than I expected. There wasn’t much of anything from my point in the room.

And, then she arrived. This little creature with eyes scared shitless of the process she had just been through.

If I meet a man with a pregnant girlfriend and he asks me for what I think, I won’t say this or that. I will simply say it’s all individual. Expect the unexpected. There’s nothing really I can say either way.

That was birth. Then there’s the rest. More on that later.

Normandie

I’m sitting here waiting for my life to change. In one way or another. I’m off work now, taking the rest of my holidays, the mandatory ten days for fathers after birth and another two weeks worth of overtime. It will be one and a half month of free time.

The baby is not born yet. She’s on overtime. She should have been born yesterday, but it’s all theory and calculations. No one can really say when she will be born.

We’re sitting on the sofa watching daytime TV. I massage her neck, her feet, her legs. The house is quiet. Very quiet. Just the sound the tiny canary bird flying around the house being his happy self can be heard. The TV is on, but the sound is almost mute.

“This must be how the soldiers felt before Normandie”, I tell her. I don’t really know if she actually knows what Normandie and 1944 means, but I tell her anyway. How the soldiers waited in ships, landing vessels, in aircraft and in large barracks. All ready to go. They knew that once they were given the order, they were off to Normandie. Their lives would change forever, Of course, their situation was much more serious. Their own lives depended on luck, strategy and their own abilities. But, nevertheless, they were there – waiting for their life to change. Forever. So am I.

At any point now, we will have to go the hospital. My life will change. Nothing will ever be the same. Cross fingers the change will bring joy and happiness. A new person will arrive. My daughter. My parents granddaughter. We’re all waiting. My aunts are waiting. My friends are waiting. My co-workers are waiting. It feels like we’re all just waiting. And so we’re just sitting in front of the TV waiting. Waiting for our lives to change into something else.

And to you, my dear daughter. I don’t know your name yet. I haven’t met you yet. Just be very careful. You are so close to being born now. Arrive when you feel like arriving, but don’t wait too long. Stay safe through your journey. It will be tough for you just as it is for your mother. Myself too. I don’t know what to expect now. I’m here, like a soldier before D-Day knowing damn well that once the order comes through – my life will change.

Travel into this world safely, and I will take care of you from then on. See you soon.

A bleak, February visit to Edinburgh

I remember giving her the airline tickets as a Christmas present. It was her first Christmas with me and my family, and only four months since she moved in with me (and for her – to another country). The start had been a bit rough, but I expected as much. We were slowly coming to terms with living together, and living in the same country together. And, so I decided to buy two tickets to Edinburgh, Scotland as a proper Christmas present. We would spend five days in the Scottish capital in mid-February 2010. Couldn’t have been more off-season if we had tried. I wanted it like that, besides, it was also cheaper.

The look on her face was priceless when she opened the present. She didn’t really know what to expect from a Christmas Eve and what presents she would get. For once she was at loss for words. It’s the best gift I have ever given anyone.

I feel that Edinburgh in February of 2010 was almost a peak in our relationship. Everything was still very fresh. There were no IVF, no issues with finding work, no immediate money problems. No focus on depression, anxiety or OCD either. Just two people going on a trip to abroad to a country we both loved. The weather at home was bitterly cold. In Edinburgh there were no snow, no sub-zero temperatures. Just a mild winter. It just felt good.

There were tourists, but not many. The weather was bleak with heavy clouds, but we loved it. No sunshine, no heat. Just a regular winter in Britain. We walked around the streets of Edinburgh being happy. Just happy. «If only more people knew!» she said while we climbed up some steep stairs towards the castle. She was thinking of the lack of tourism. But, hey, it was February. It was like we were all alone in this magnificent city.

We walked up the Scott Monument, visited her university (she had started an online degree there), visited pubs and ate unhealthy English food. She bought herself fudge and claimed that any time of the day was «fudge o’clock». She was almost like a child in a an amusement park. We didn’t really do selfies back then, but I had my video camera, and she had her handheld Sony camera. I videotaped, and we both took photos. Photos of us on Princess Street, besides the statue of Hume, at the castle or around some high point look-out spots in the city. On almost every photo, we are smiling. She’s smiling. In some photos I see that she has taken off her glasses before the photo – something she often did. I may not always smile in the photos, but I am happy down to the very core of myself. I can tell. There’s not a single worry in my eyes and posture.

In one photo there’s just a bunch of KFC food. Not understanding the Indian accent added in with the Scottish dialect, we didn’t understand a single word of what she asked when we ordered, and we ended up with a huge meal we couldn’t finish. We laughed. It’s funny what you remember and what you forget from a trip like this.

We went to St. Andrews in the rain. We saw the ruins – completely alone. I videotaped while we were walking around studying buildings and architecture. Looking at the North sea and holding hands. It started to rain even more heavily. We only had one umbrella, and we both tried to get room under it for cover while we crossed an ancient church yard. In the distance, an RAF Typhoon did circuits at RAF Leuchars. There was no one else about. The photos clearly shows it; not a single soul. Just us, a couple of sea gulls and the sound of a jet fighter somewhere in the background. And the rain. Heavy rain.  My video camera stopped working due to the heavy rainfall. I didn’t really care. The trip was almost over anyway. It stopped raining shortly afterwords.

I write this because I was just asked what my favorite vacation was. There was no hesitation when I answered. It’s not my trips New York, San Fransisco or Texas. It’s not Cambridge, Munich, Prague or Krakow either. No, it’s Edinburgh during a bleak and rainy February 2010.

It all felt like it was just us (sometimes it actually was just us!). We were in love, we were together, we were still fairly young, and we were out exploring the world. It was exactly as we had envisioned the start of our lives together.

Sometimes I truly wish I could go back and do that trip with her once more.

 

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Looking for my shoes

My football (soccer) shoes broke last Monday. My thoughts immediately go to that new pair I bought two years ago I still haven’t used. Now is a perfect time to throw away the old and start using the new ones.

Only thing is, I can’t find them. Just where did I put them? I know I took them with me from my old house (and from then house before that), but where I placed them in this house I don’t know. I look in the closet where there’s shoes stored but I can’t find them there. I look through some closets, but I can’t see anything.

I honestly don’t know where to look. I walk into a small room full of stored things (including my computer that I wrote seven books on). I have yet to unpack three large boxes of things. Things wrapped in newspaper. Most likely

fragile things. Stuff I bought, stuff I got as gifts through the years. Lots of things that have a certain meaning to me, but a lot that doesn’t as well. I start to dig through the first box. I reach the bottom of it, and discover photo albums that I made. I open one of them and look at the photos. 2009 maybe. Pictures of travel. Prague, Israel, Munich. Happy times. So many photos of my ex wife. Our dogs. Our home. I stare at a photo of myself in Israel in front of a desert colored wall. Most likely in Nasaret in 2009. My hair is long, my brown sunglasses looks rather out of fashion in 2018, but I don’t really get why  think so. My sense of fashion have changed as well. A t-shirt that says «I’d rather be watching Stargate SG-1». A bit childish.

A somber feeling of nostalgia and melancholy grips me almost instantly as I look through it. So this is where my past life ended up. In boxes. I know there’s more of my photo albums up in the attic. This new home isn’t really my home. It’s hers. My stuff have no place here, altough I am sure that if I told her I feel this way she would make a bit of room for it. But I also know that no woman would ever accept that her things would be stuffed away in this matter. Intentionally or unintentionally. I look further on at my photos. It’s like the guy I’m looking at is dead.  A life project that went south – a failure. A video game campaign that just ended because the choices were poor. To no fault of my own. My past life, all of it, now stuffed away wherever there’s room. That’s how much value it has. Her photo albums are in the living room. Photos of her daughter. Her time in Africa. Tons of photos of her ex-boyfriend – the father of her child. Why wouldn’t there be? He’s the father after all. An intregral part of the household even if he never sets his foot in it. But he’s there – in the photo albums. I am not. I’m stuffed away in the attic and at the bottom of boxes. And it’s gonna be like this for a long time.

I decide to forget about those damn football shoes, and attempt to fix the old ones.

The one that never existed

There are moments and certain feelings that these moments generate that I find peculiar. The thing is, I thought I was done with them, and I struggle to understand why they are still there. Especially with a pregnancy at week 36 when I’m preparing for a new lifestyle.

I attended a birthday yesterday. When things had settled down a bit, her mother and my girlfriend started to look at old pictures of her 8 year old son. There were photos in there with this 8 year old together with my girlfriends 8 year old. They were talking about the past; the baby days. Both with a certain nostalgic feel and wonder. I had a hard time adapting because my girlfriend had just replied with negativity about her current pregnancy and how she dreaded «starting all over». And, suddenly she’s talking about the past with such wonders in her voice. I can’t really say I understand any of it. It’s for another story I guess.

The peculiar thing though is that my heart just sank when they spoke about it. I have a hard time understanding why. Back then, when these kids were babies, I was contempt and felt I had a good life. Why does it in hinsight feel like a black hole? Just a dark abyss? Am I jealous? They are not my kids, so why should I be?

No, I think it’s more a feeling of missing someone that should have been there at the same time. The one that never existed. I honestly thought these feelings would go away once I came into this position of becoming a father, but no, they are still there. Just lurking in the background. Coming forward at times when I am not prepared and sometimes I even call upon them by playing certain songs that reminds me of something that never existed. I can’t find any other explenation for it. But, this is not same as «baby fever». There was a 6 month old baby at this birthday party as well, and my girlfriend asked me afterwards if, by looking at the baby, I caught a case of «baby-fever». I can honestly say I did not. I don’t think men function the same way as women with these things. No, there were no specific feelings when I looked at the baby or anything like that. I am not some crazed out baby fever individuall who has some sort of baby hype on his mind. My feelings came when they were talking about the times when their kids were babies. And the feelings were sad, dark, bottomless and lonely. And what is this really? Why?

I have come to the conclusion that this pregnancy won’t correct the past. It might fill a void, and my instincts and happiness will be there because of it and what it is. But it won’t fill the place of the other. There will always be two; the one that exist and will eventually smile at me and call me daddy – and yet there will be another. The one that never existed. The bottomless darkness of missing someone that should have been there. I think thats where it comes from, my feelings when they  reminisce of the old days.

She liked Babylon 5

I made a discovery yesterday. I managed to re-discover old websites from the late 90s/early 2000s that I made. There were things on those sites I wrote that I had forgotten a long time ago. Things I wrote, things I thought about. Things that upset me. Not so much what my simple, naive texts said, but how I remember I felt and thought when I wrote them. It came back to me. Sadly, most of my thoughts and writings have now all been lost. Thankfully, I found a few of them – kudos to the Internet Way Back Machine and a functioning website that still linked to my old, long-gone websites.

My website contained a whole list of things I hated, but also another list of things I liked. I had a lot of hate for this soap opera called Sunset Beach, while I simply loved a show called Babylon 5. I think my frustration and hate for that silly Sunset Beach show came out of the fact that girls in my class loved it, and did not at all understand a more complex show such as Babylon 5 which they considered stupid and uncool.  And for that I was looked upon as a nerd or a geek with weird interests. It frustrated me because I could not understand why they did not see the same as I did. And, in hinsight – of course I was right about it; Babylon 5 was lots better. I guess my main frustration and anger about it was simply because the girls did not care for me and those two TV shows became symbolic of our unsolvable differences.

On my “hate list” is also what I simply refered to as “fags” and my heart sunk when I first read this yesterday. However, I am fairly sure I simply meant cigarettes! I make no excuses on listing “fat people” as things I hate. I am truly sorry. Tounge in cheek I guess?

I also hated “drunk chicks”, “boyfriends” and “stupid people”. I doubt I had seen a “drunk chick” at 18 considering I did not party, but I had heard lots about it. Alcohol scared me, but it also annoyed me because it seemed to be the major talking point between my peers and I found it shallow. In hinsight, I should have not been so scared and I should have made an effort to fit in a bit better, but I just couldn’t get it in order. I was frustrated, scared and my confidence was so low.

The text that made the most impact on me yesterday was this;

“Dont you just hate it when you say something, and they wont even answer you back, even though youre sure they heard you? Idiots? My opinoion poll say yes!”

Several incidents from high school came back to me when I read this. Times when I tried to speak to people, sometimes girls, and they simply ignored me. Maybe because they wanted too, or because they just didn’t pay attention. I remember how little I felt when they did not answer me back, and how I retracted even more to my own world because of it. To be ignored is a horrible feeling. And my frustrations and anger towards them grew stronger. I understand why I basically gave it all up, retracted fully from my fellow classmates and locals, and started a three year old e-mail correspondance and strong friendship with an American girl I met online instead. She was more like myself.

She liked Babylon 5.