Mind War

A friend asked me on FB Messenger the other day; “are you happy?”

It was a simple enough question. Am I happy? I can say I was happy. For several years actually. Very happy. But that was then. I replied with a simple “no, I am not happy”. 

This past winter was the toughest I’ve been through. I balanced on a knife edge of being happy about a new girlfriend and being depressed for the loss of a future. In the end, I think happiness gave in to depression. I went to England in March, and it was slowly another turning point towards feeling better. Slowly. Very slowly. But I am not happy.

I look around me when I write this. The rain is pouring down outside. I am living in a new house. There is no one else here. The TV is on, but I am not watching. I simply like the noise of it. There’s empty Coke bottles, all my books that I’ve written nicely presented on a large book shelf, a sofa I never sit in, in a cabinet there’s a bottle of wine I intended to share with a date that never managed to find the time, and an extremely empty fridge. It is simply empty. I am all alone. I am 36 years old. This is not supposed to be. It’s like I left my life and took over the situation of me in a parallel dimension. I do not belong here. 

Today, for the past four hours, after coming home for a sports event, I have had a mind war going on. One of the individuals taking part met up with her husband and two year old girl after the event was over. I caught myself staring at the family of three playing together, simply being happy. I wished I was him even though I do not know any of his personal struggles. I simply wanted to be him. To have his life. A pretty, athletic girlfriend and a blue-eyed two year old girl.

If this had been four months ago, I would have been in a very dark place by now. I would have lost the mind war hours ago already. At least I am capable of fighting it now and writing about it instead. But I am bitterly jealous of them. Everyone.

I do not want to be in this situation. I am not living the life I want for myself.

I am so jealous, sad and depressed about the lack of having my own family that I can no longer congratulate friends or family becoming parents. My cousin had his first baby a few months back, and I do not want to go visit him. I mustered a “congrats” on Snapchat. A couple me and my ex used to hang out with just had their first child, and I have not once given them my best wishes. No likes on Facebook or Instagram. Nothing. The list goes on. I stay clear of it. I hope you all can forgive me even if you haven’t noticed. Perhaps its not even jealousy, it’s just sadness. Deep sadness.

I am not happy, but I am trying to hang on. I am doing better,  but I am not happy – and I will not be happy until this “is fixed”. If it ever will. And I am terribly sorry to everyone who should have been getting my best wishes for their lucky circumstance. Please understand that I simply can’t manage myself to do it. It is a war with my mind I have yet to win.

 

Chapter 6: A Race Through Dark Places

07.12.2016 

“Can you tell me why you are here?”
I thought about it for a bit before I replied.
“I need to do my job properly.”

Such was my introduction to my problem to her. It was the short version. It was more than that, but I had to start somewhere. I had been advised by a good friend of mine to talk to someone about my challenges. I had been there before. With my now ex-wife. A place where people goes when they want to divorce in this country.  For free. Sometimes Norway can show itself from its absolute best side. Free professional assistance and guidance. A place where you can pour your heart out and no one can judge you for it. It was the kind of help Americans pay hundreds of dollars for.

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I didn’t really know they accepted individuals (thought it was just couples), but they did. She was a pshychologist, and about my age. She simply said her name was Mari. She was an attractive woman with a wonderful, welcoming smile. Her dialect suggested she came from Oslo. I wondered if it was work or romance who brought her up to these parts of the country. I bet it was the latter.

And so I told her my problem. I told her I’d been in meetings with young mothers or mothers-to-be at work where I simply did not function properly. How personal feelings got in the way of doing things right or simply paying attention. I assured her no one in any meetings noticed anything as I kept my cool – but after the meetings I was a mess. I was overflowing with jealousy, bitterness, and anger. Some of these babies were born when I should have become a father myself, but didn’t. I saw my own children in these babies (even though no one had ever existed). Poorly prepared fathers and mothers. Parents-to-be that were not prepared for what was to come. Inside I was the same as when I was a teenager and heard of friends going to England to see football. I was fuming on the inside then too; they didn’t know SHIT about England! They never studied maps of English cities! They didn’t know squat about English history! They didn’t even know which team played in which English league division! They didn’t DESERVE to be in England! I did! Not them!

I had to admit one thing. I was depressed, and I had not been depressed before. Not like this. Co-workers noticed a change in behaviour in me. I had a blank look in my eyes. I had to leave lunch when children came up as a subject. I was in tears every other day (at one point I kept count). I had never felt so alone ever before. I felt like a failure. I talked myself down. Everything I had buildt up the past 10 or so years came crashing down.

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All in all, it felt like a house of cards. I was just about to put that final card on top and declare victory when everything fell apart. My confidence, my life, my future, my hobbies. I wasn’t where I was supposed to be, and I couldn’t think of one step I had put wrong.

When I had finished that first conversation with her, I walked somberly back to my car and drove home. When I came back home it was all quiet. Not a soul in the big house. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I had a good job, a great, big house and all this care and love to give and there wasn’t a soul around I could give it to. I sat down for a moment and thought; “what the hell happened?”

The next day was my birthday. I would turn 36. I curled up under a blanket with my entire body and stayed there for half an hour. Fetal position.

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But anyway, I’m jumping ahead of myself. I need to backtrack a year or so. Perhaps this blog was just a way of avoiding to write about what happened between this and those first IVF visits.

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.