So I have started writing this blog nearly three months ago now. It was then that I made a choice, inspired by a negative work situation to leave my life as I knew it and see if I could start afresh.
The three month conclusion? It was a bad decision.
And the job front is only half of this. I have successfully found alternative employment within the industry I know, only to find that I hated that incarnation of it and left before I got too bogged down. I have also been hit by static from employers and recruitment agencies alike in an attempt to re-enter the job market. It’s getting to desperation point now, and I don’t see and end in sight.
But the major issue has arisen in an unexpected, and far more concerning, change in my home life.
Now let me give background on this. I tend to commit long-term to most things I do. I was in my job for twenty years, I have followed the same bands and singers for 15 years plus, and my relationship also fell into this category. My partner and I are due to hit our twentieth anniversary in December of this year. We have been together for more years in our lives than we have been apart.
I say due to hit…as I’m honestly unsure if we will make it to that milestone date.
This is obviously distressing for me, as my change in work situation has fired this problem. My job in the pub trade came with the expected unsociable hours and fragmented work schedule, while my partner has been a 9-5 girl for much of our relationship. We made use of evenings, the occasional weekend and holidays as our partner time, but were comfortable in allowing each other to do their own thing for a portion of the time, too. It was balanced, gave us both freedom within the relationship and it was working.
Or at least, it was. Until I was suddenly not in work and my partner had a life-altering change of perspective. Almost overnight. The reason she gave was that she was concerned that I was at home all the time doing nothing and she was concerned I was getting into a rut. Perhaps I was, but I cheered myself up after hours of unsuccessful job searches by turning to writing.
Now writing is obviously a solo and largely solitary activity. But its my release, my medium. It didn’t occur to me that I was writing too much as my partner was usually busy baking cakes, which she is very talented at, or else involved withe the numerous activities she takes on in her own life. She is often overloaded by this but her life is driven by a need to do and see everything and she finds it hard to say ‘no’ to new things.
The first sign of problems I saw were when we cancelled a long-weekend break (over my natural financial concerns) and my partner made plans to do things with everyone she knew bar me. Now, after feeling like I’d been belittled and marginalised in my job, this snub sent my spirits to new lows. This was an alien situation for me; I’ve always been stubborn and fairly unruffled as a person, so dealing with encroaching depression was a new one for me. And things only got worse.
My partner took on new friends, and started filling her time more and more with them, not me. Loneliness hurts, in all forms. I felt it in my job, and now my relationship was going the same way. There were some tough conversations about things being broken and us being more like housemates than lovers. The words stung, they still do. And the criticisms have kept coming.
My partner made fun of my fan fiction writing hobby as well as criticising the fact that I was writing at all (despite it being therapy for me), she poured scorn on my television viewing choices and blamed me for not watching more things with her, even though our tastes differ and she is hardly ever home and free anyway. Most recently she suggested we have nothing in common at all and made the decision that we not going to have children, because she doesn’t want to share her life and time with one.
That was a tough one to take. We had always planned to have a family and one of my life goals was to be a father, as mine was spectacularly bad at the job and I always wanted to put that right. But at 37, with a twenty year relationship behind me, and not being the easiest person to get close to, I feel that door is very much closed. I can accept it, despite my disappointment. There is now way I’d force a child into the world if it wasn’t going to be what both parents wanted. But it is just another blow to confidence and self-worth in what has been a terrible three-month spell.
I suppose I’m sharing this to the world as mental health awareness in men is still very much a taboo thing. I’m struggling and suffering, I can’t deny that. And the therapy of my writing has even fallen away as any time spent at my laptop is time where I feel my angry partner looking over my shoulder in disapproval. Relationships are tricky and need work, but support should be a given and if your own partners are going through hard times supporting them makes all the world of difference. Of course, there are times when spurring someone along might be necessary, but criticising and distancing doesn’t help at all. Empathy is crucial, understanding that what might be easy for one person will be a whole world of difficulty for someone else. That’s true in my case, and being told how easy it is to find a job – when I’m finding it the opposite – serves only to enhance the sense of poor self-worth.
This blog was about a journey. I’m going through perhaps the choppiest waters of my life. Hopefully the next chapter will show sunnier shores.