The Long, Twilight Struggle

You accused me of being grumpy when I came into work.

I replied I wasn’t grumpy or annoyed or even mad.

Sometimes I have a lot to think about; I am disappointed with the choice I made of who to love and be with, and I am frightened about doing them again. I am worried that I will not feel or be fulfilled, and that I will constantly, for the rest of my life, walk around with a feeling that I can only describe as a heartache that will never end for as long as I live. You know I read that one time? That having no children and wishing you had children feels like a never-ending heartbreak? Like when your 17 and your boyfriend dumps you and you think you will never get over it? Only that for me, due to what happened, it will never go away? It scares me. And I often wonder where all this came from? It wasn’t something of an issue that occupied me at all when I was younger. It was only when it was taken away from it dawned on me. When did I become like this?

But hey, I have control now. I am not pouring my heart out to my girlfriend about it. I shy away from it. I do not feel like escaping life by looking up B&Bs somewhere along  the British southern coastline, go down there alone and lock myself in that room and hide from society. But even if I keep myself in order, I have periods of feeling worried and sad. That’s what you see when I come into work with a strict face, few words and a couple of deep sighs. I am not grumpy. I am just worried about life. Disappointed with the past, and scared about the future. Maybe this is how it is when you grow old and more than before look back at your life and judge your actions? Suddenly I have a whole decade to look back upon as an adult. No wonder I am worried.

I am not grumpy. I am frightened, disappointed and worried.

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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.

 

A View From the Gallery

This post just came to me while I was out walking the dogs, so I’ll get this down at once (just need a beer from the fridge first – right – done!).

My past year and a half of downright torture can be summed up into phases. A psychologist would most likely go “yeah, of course you daft idiot”, but sometimes I can have a personal ephipany and I need to put it down. Like this one.

Phase 1: Deal with the break up. Deal with anger. February 2016 – May 2016

From that moment when she said those first words of breaking up, I had to deal with it. I had to deal with the fact that we wouldn’t be together. I had to deal with the fact that my life was about to change into something I wasn’t prepared for at all. I reacted with anger. I was angry. I was angry at her. Pissed off. I ofen called her a few profanities and then ten minutes later apologised to her. After a while I retracted into my shell and distanced myself from her. We went to councelling, and when the woman we had said “looks like you two are done”, I thought “finally, just get this done with”. Not once did I try to save anything about the marriage. Not once did I ask my ex if there was anything we could do to hang on and try. I didn’t care. She couldn’t give me the family I wanted. I had just been waiting for the right signal to get away. I almost feel evil by writing this. I was disappointed, and I was angry at her. Angry that she was just being herself. Angry at her sicknesses, angry at her mental state. Angry that she never bothered to help me one bit with anything. Angry that I wasted so many years with her. Angry at myself for picking the wrong girl. And so I used the next months to distance myself. I guess it went relatively easy because she had already distanced herself from me without me noticing. We decided I would continue to live there until I had found good house option and a proper way to move out. She was always decent like that. Very professional if you may. Nothing childish. I sometimes do wonder what happened though. Perhaps out relationship just died out? Did I do something wrong, somewhere? I never really believed her when she told the counsellor I deserved someone better than her. I’m not that daft. But I didn’t care. I just wanted a family, and she could A) not give it to me and B) not deal with it if that had happened.

Phase 2: Untangle myself, move out, move in. Deal with everyone else. May 2016 – October 2016

One of the hardest part of it all was to tell my mother. Like most sons, I care deeply for my mother and I would never want to hurt her. Others do get involved when there are break-ups involved. I told her the situation via many, many words. She understood and she said she supported me no matter what. I told her my desire for children and the entire affair. We’ve never spoken about it again. And so I was ready to move out. I tried waiting for the right moment and the right house. Friends told me to move out at once. I didn’t listen. I waited until I was pleased with my opions, and I was right in the end. I found the right house. During that summer I spent many hours on my bike. Just biking around the countryside. I had to get away. In June I exchanged lots of messages with a girl. We never got anywhere except talking on SMS, but it helped. Thank you. It put my mind on something else. I sent out a message to everyone else on Facebook with “breaking news”. I think I told a very good friend at work the last. I didn’t want to upset her. This period was more about bureaucracy than anything else. It takes time to untangle everything. Some couples never do, and so you get all these weird constellations with women living in houses owned by their ex-husbands and what not. Not a good idea by the way. Well, we had meetings with the bank, splitting up accounts and all of that stuff. All down to the electricity bills. It’s not mentally challenging, but it takes time and it needs to be done right. Plenty of people doesn’t. And so with the first phase being about dealing with the relationship ending, this phase was all about logistics and like I said, bureaucracy.

I wasn’t really prepared for phase 3. It hit me like a brick wall.

Phase 3: Deal with being alone.  Deal with sorrow and pain. November 2016 – April 2017

Up until the fall of 2016 I had been doing alright. The hardest part had been telling my mother and the initial shock I had of the break-up. I had been very clear on what I wanted; a family. My ex wife couldn’t provide one. I felt I had plenty to offer girls – I am decent looking chap, nothing majorly horrible physically. Good education, nice job and I could always pull the author card if all else failed (and I confess I did a few times).

And so I met my now ex-girlfriend. I told her about my intentions of wanting children, and she agreed to the deal. I was pleased, but yet I wasn’t happy. I couldn’t really understand why. I was simply blue. Anything could throw me off and I would start sobbing. I remember one night walking the dogs, looking up at the crisp, clear sky with thousands of stars and feeling like the loneliest person in the world. I was looking in jealousy at parents taking their children to kindergarten every day. I was not able to deal with my job. I did not understand what I did wrong to deserve all this. I lost my hobby of writing – I was not able to write any longer. I felt horrible for my mother who so badly wanted grandchildren and all I did was fuck everything up. I screamed at myself inside my own head. I called myself names. Telling myself I was a disgusting, useless piece of shit (yeah, over and over again). I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I went back to counselling, but this time not because of a relationship, but because of me. The counsellor said to me once “you want a family” and I could do nothing else but nod with tears in my eyes. It was so unlike me. I wasn’t myself. In January my ex girlfriend thought she was pregnant for a few days. I suddenly felt happy,  but she was scared. And then she had a change of heart. I sometimes wonder if we simply pulled both of ourselves downwards. I guess she had a mental breakdown of sort because she had a change of heart about children and didn’t know how to handle it. Like I told a good friend “I did not deserve that”. She must have thought I was one of the most emotional guys she had ever met. And I most likely was. I wasn’t feeling well. I was grieving over the IVF and not having children or a family, and she didn’t really understand. I confessed to her how I felt bad for my mother – like I let her down. My ex just went into defence mode and told me I shouldn’t get children just for my own mothers sake. I should have said; “Jesus fucking Christ, it’s not about THAT!”. In the end I felt she used my grief against me – telling me I was not alright in my own head. Going on the defensive and arguing against everything I said. Like there was something terribly wrong with me. I don’t think I will forgive her for that. But it made my decision easier. Not to say it was easy. I even tried downing a bottle of wine in an hour to see if that would help, but it didn’t. Worth a shot though! But I will say this; she only wants to be loved too. To have stability and a functioning family. I sometimes feel awfully sorry for her. Sorry for her past experiences with men, and sorry for not being the right person for her. Maybe she was right all along, we should have met 10 years ago. I think it would have worked out great if we had.

Phase 4: Rise from the ashes. Look back and accept it. May 2017 – present

A trip to England in March did me well. I was slowly coming back to life. I finished the counselling in May. I started to feel better again. The counsellor said I looked better. Maybe I did? I owe her my deepest thanks for how she helped me. I can still think of certain things and feel very sad, but I’m almost back to my normal self again. I can write (like this) again. I don’t have horrible periods where I want to hide away in my own bedroom any longer. And so I am able to look back at everything and get a better perspective of things. Sometimes I am extremely scared of ending back where I was in January, but I don’t think I will. I don’t live the life I truly want, but I have a good shot at getting it right. One can always hope. I think it’s gonna be alright in the end. 🙂 If not, at least I did my absolute best. There’s shit I can’t control, and sometimes it just happens to rain on someone. It could be me, but I will try my best to run away from it.

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