This week I’ve been at, if anything a lower ebb than the last one. Whatever mystery illness it was that came along and knocked me for six during the past fortnight, it’s breezed off on its merry way to wreak destruction in others. What it’s left behind is a washed-out, disoriented, frightened-for-my-sanity me wondering where to go and what to do next.
I’m sure pills aren’t the answer. My crisis is, I’m sure, more of the existential kind. I’m a reasonably intelligent, potentially attractive thirty-eight year old who seems to have hit a brick wall. I ought to feel lucky to have a job and a roof over my head plus a small but dedicated and kind circle of family, friends and acquaintances and, yeah, I can see that I’m lucky to have those things but right at the moment it just doesn’t feel like enough. I’ve been mostly single for the past few years and the occasional relationship I’ve been part of has tended to fizzle out round about the six month mark, just about when things ought to be getting serious. Getting serious frightens me somewhat, mostly because I’ve never been confident I actually have anything worthwhile to give, materially or emotionally. The job I’ve been holding down for the last eight years suddenly feels, frankly, like a millstone around my neck. Even though it’s superficially enjoyable and I know it’s worthwhile and adding to the sum of human good in a sometimes indifferent world, it’s just not doing it for me. I’ve stayed still far too long in a position, both professionally and personally, which is essentially a developmental dead-end.
This is my own fault. For years, I’ve been content to just get by, and when I see others doing rather more than getting by I feel – and these are not pretty things to ‘fess up to – envious and even a bit resentful. I want personal satisfaction, and this requires investment; the question being what to invest and where. Perusing both professional and personal ads is a disheartening experience. Never mind having the right qualifications – I don’t even understand the language most of the time. I may have exactly what they’re after and not even know it. I suspect though, and this may just be my downhearted and defeatist tendencies at play, that I’m hopelessly out of my depth. This is what happens when you let things slide.
Part of the trigger for this sudden realization stems from my background: I was adopted at a young age by my Mum and Dad, a lovely couple in their forties who couldn’t have done more for me. I was lucky: too many kids get stuck on the merry-go-round of care homes and temporary foster carers and never enjoy the kind of stability that I did. I now find myself closing in on forty myself, with parents now approaching eighty who deserve a bit of looking after themselves, yet far too often we find ourselves playing out familiar child-parent relations with me generally on the receiving end. I’m currently looking into purchasing a flat of my own, and though my pride has just about resigned itself to the fact I’m going to need their help raising a deposit, I still feel bad that I can’t be there for them more often. This Christmas I’m gonna struggle to buy them a decent gift. Although they’re far too kind as to suggest as much, I often feel like a lame excuse for a son and without wishing to become overly morbid I feel like the time to prove otherwise – to me and to them – is running out. In a previous relationship with a woman who had kids of her own, I struggled mightily to fit into any kind of father-like role with the daughters of the lady in question, too. It’s all about self-esteem and finding my place in the world and I’m none too certain of either.
I like to think of myself as a writer, yet for the last week or two I’ve struggled – that word again – to summon the energy to put – virtual – pen to paper, not to mention more fundamental stuff like living in the first place. Getting out of bed, dressing, eating and organising my time have been really hard. Just putting these words down has helped immensely, so I thank any of y’all who have had the patience to make it to the bottom of this page. I won’t leave it so long another time.