Start of a new ride

My life has begun a new chapter. I signed for my new flat today!

I am exhilarated and relieved. It has taken, what felt like, a long time to finally sign the contract … but, today, it happened. I don’t want to to dwell on the negative and the roller coaster that I’ve been on this week. I will say this: I have my own place now.

This is my place. It will become my sanctuary, my place of reflection. I want to go a step further and say something like: my place of rediscovery. I’m having fun thinking of which walls to paint which colour. I’ve had ideas, but being in this space is something different entirely!

Maybe I’ll do a couple of photo blogs … before/during/after.

A contented and yet sleepy Mr. VTO.

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Baseless defence

I’m into day four of living in a friend’s spare room; it is fair to say that my mood is taking a downward turn. I’m feeling in the way, ill at ease.

As you’ll know if you’ve been reading this blog, that this is a year on from the same situation I was in last year. This year, there are stark reminders of last May, not least of which is sleeping in my friend’s spare room. I’ve been contemplating leaving town for a few days. The relationship between myself and ex-wife (TLM’s mum) has taken a turn and a poorly thought, ill worded and sarcastic text message has put my guard up. A month ago, I was contemplating asking the question: would she take me back? I’ve put myself through the mill, running circles around myself with asking: why? Why am I asking?

When I think back to the six months, possibly even more, prior to last May, I am hit with the answer. I was angry, feeling put upon. It took a comment from a friend (the same one I am staying with) to make me realise my feelings, at that time, were valid. The flat we moved into was … less like a home than I envisaged living in. It was a positive move for her, in hindsight. No matter how I feel when that same question runs through my head, I remind myself of the anger, the seemingly unfounded anger, the frustration … and the arguments. While I know my situation is … shit … I am not allowing myself to entertain putting myself back into a situation that could end up in a similar outcome in months or year’s time. I loved my ex-wife. It was eaten away by poor treatment. It’s easy to lay blame at her door; I didn’t assert myself enough and allowed that mistreatment to happen and continue. My mental health is fragile, quite possibly one of the most fragile times I have gone through. It is with great balls that I’m saying to myself: you have to do this on your own.

Earlier this week, another reminder picked at the emotional scab of the past: there is a tourist Ferris wheel in town. That’s not such a big deal, is it? My ex-wife and I went on one on first date, then again on our wedding day. It held a significance for us, it was special. When I saw it earlier this week, it added another weight to my mood. Yes, I am an emotional scab picket, an emotional masochist.

My mood is low, but, as I have said in previous entries, there is hope on the horizon. It is the hope that keeps me going; counting hours, watching the housing listings and being cautiously optimistic about what might happen.

The cliche is: the darkest hour is before the dawn. We shall see.

Endings or beginnings

Today has been a tough one. Yesterday was running around like headless chicken, today was the realisation. Barring a few loose ends, the relationship is over. I’ve told my ex-partner that, one day, in time, I hope the friendship can be rekindled and we can talk again as friends. It is a friendship I have valued from the start; there was mutual understanding of mental health, knowledge of coping skills. But … as I’ve said before, any raking over the coals is not being done here.

I’ve been taking care of my … situation as it were. It’s demoralising. That is the word. My mood is low, but there is hope. It is the hope that is keeping me going. I didn’t sleep well; weight of the situation hitting me, sleeping in strange place. As my Dad has said: I have a roof over my head, albeit a temporary one, and a bed to sleep in. Gotta love my Dad: he gets that I have mental health problems (mental illness) but doesn’t quite know what to say, comes out as the ‘pull yer socks up’ but means far more.

The house is sorted. My (ex) partner cleared the furniture with frantic last minute actions, she did good on that one. It’s clean, in her words: cleaner than she’s ever seen it. Keys handed over.

I am now at the stage where I cannot decide between endings or beginnings; they are merging into one, much like the flow of chapters of a book. Subtle kick there: get back to writing, Mr. VTO!! Chapters seem a fitting analogy. Each chapter adds another detail into the larger picture, in my opinion at least. This relationship has been a chapter in my life, an important one. Now. The next chapter begins. As I said in a previous entry: life is not on hold. I am moving forward.

One day, dear reader, these entries will shift focus, for now, this is how I am dealing with the flow of my life. I hope you enjoy reading these entries. I do think about you, dear reader, sitting on the other side of a screen somewhere and reading these ramblings of mine.

Time bleeds

We move through time in one direction. Despite what science fiction may tell us, the best way to travel through time is to travel with it, at its pace and accept that time moves forwards. It is only in the imagination that we can resist time’s progression.

In our minds, time is not linear. time becomes something else: a lake, a river, an interconnected wheel of patterns that only our mind can see or make sense of. I’m seeing my time bleed into itself. This month has a feeling that I have been here before, a sense of tangible déjà vu. As of this morning, my possessions are now in storage. One storage locker of 100 square foot.

The timing of events this month is not lost on me, the irony of it all. It is one since my life changed. Being serving notice to quit on the present house happened one year and one day since my relationship had started with my ex-partner. Moving out of here happens in the same month that, a year ago I was moving my stuff into a locker in the same building. I will find myself sleeping in the same place that I slept in a year ago.

I had thought to myself that my life is on hold: that all I can do is hold on until the housing situation is resolved. Nothing in life is on hold, except when you are sitting waiting in a phone call queue. Lennon said, in a cliche, life is what happens to you when you’re making other plans. To say that my life is on hold is to denigrate from the events, knowledge that is to come over the next few weeks. I will not be looking at a static picture or waiting for the video to buffer. Life is going to happen; good or bad, it will happen. I doubt life can get much worse.

I met with my good friend yesterday who said that I am looking more organised than she has ever seen me, this is the friend who has known more for … well over ten years, has seen me go through at least five house moves. I’ve made lists of what I need to be doing over the next few days, into about a week ahead of myself. Now that the furniture is in storage, I am feeling better. I know that is a matter of hours until I can lock the door on this house, close the chapter and begin writing the next chapter.

I spoke with another friend who has said something similar: she has no idea of how I am coping with what is happening at the moment. I have been running on adrenaline for the past few days, there is at least one blog entry that has come out of the past few days. I know that it will be Friday or the weekend that I will crash, even saying that I know that might not be the case as I will be seeing my son and that will lift me above the crash. Maybe that crash will come in the next few days, I know for certain that it will come once everything is settled and that, dear reader, is a time that I am not looking forward to.

On a closing note: I have realised what being an adult is about. It’s the ability to have your shit together. It’s about walking around shops and getting a little excited about furnishings, paint … and looking at those inspirational wall hangings with a sense of: really?!

 

The sound of inevitability

Agent Smith that the sound of inevitability was a train fast approaching; he was wrong. There is no sound of inevitability, other than silence. That moment when someone pauses at a question, the pause that says ‘this is bad news’, that is the sound of inevitability.

It has been an intense past couple of days. I was ‘nominated’ for a property, and was told that the housing association would be in touch with me to confirm this and go through with the offer of a viewing. At present, dear reader, I am lost as to how much detail is in previous posts. Rather than attempt to explain … I’ll revisit posts later.

Yesterday, I phoned the housing association back and said that yes, I am interested in the property but asked if a viewing, acceptance and signing could be done quickly due to the situation I am in. Dear reader, this is the moment that the sound of inevitability hit. Without going into the minutiae … I was left waiting on phone calls for five hours. At three yesterday afternoon: the HA had rescinded the nomination due to my circumstances and had informed the next person in line. The best advice I was given was: wait until Thursday.

Everyone I have spoken to about this is outraged. Again, without going into the minutiae … it was an offer that did not suit my immediate needs. I had visited the area twice, to see what the neighbourhood was like and get a feel for it; check public transport. Shops up the road, in between two tram stops. To have that pulled from under me and not be told about it directly from the HA was a kick in the teeth.

How has it left me? I don’t know. I’ve spent yesterday and today making sure I have as much done as possible. Removal guys: sorted. Storage space: sorted. I’m running on adrenaline at the moment. A friend said that she doesn’t know how I am managing to keep going and get through this mess. To be honest: I don’t either. I can lose myself, fall prey to the demons knocking on the door … or I can pull my shit together.

I will update once the situation improves. I’ll update in a couple of days.

Descending to the bottom

Dear reader,

I never thought I would broadcast something like this on this blog, presently, I know of no other way to process this. One song says it best.  As always, if you are not of the HM persuasion, lyrics here.

Yesterday, the day before my birthday, I have come the closest to a suicide attempt. When talking about mental health, especially at this extreme, it is important to make the distinction between the actual events and the perception.

My desperation, outright frustration and utter sense of desolation is because of the situation I am facing. With each passing day, I am facing one simple truth that, unless a miracle happens, I will be homeless. No, I will not be rough sleeping, there are plans in place for me to have somewhere to sleep, but I will be homeless. It is a fact that I have tried to change. The wheels of bureaucracy do not turn fast enough when you want them to and the upgrade to priority in housing puts me at the top of a queue, but still in a queue: I still have to wait my turn. I am doing everything I can, performing damage limitation on the, what is now becoming, inevitable.

On March 12, a notice to quit was issued: we have to vacate the property by May 17. See previous blogs for insight into this: Going through changesFrantic acceptance, and Endings. I’m leaving the personal side to this story alone, it is told and any further deliberation on it will be done behind closed doors; I have to grieve for the end of that relationship and my ex-partner deserves better than to have her name blackened on a blog. Since the split, I have done my best to get myself in a position where I will have somewhere affordable to live and that has taken a great deal of time and effort.

I have done my utmost to get the house packed up as possible; it is now in a position that all there is to pack is out in the open: kitchen cupboards have been cleared, drawers have been emptied. Barring odd bits of rammel (detritus, oddments), there are books in the living room to pack and clothes. The next big task is to get the furniture that is not moving with me to a house clearance place. After that, I will have to move my stuff into storage.

It is thoroughly disheartening to know that while I have the status that puts me at the top of the list, I still have to watch the numbers sliding down. Without moving away from the point of this blog (yes, dear reader, my blog posts do, sometimes, on occasions, have a point), I had placed a bid on one property after having gone to look at the immediate area and decided that it would be worth trying for, I placed my bid on Friday and went to look on Sunday. Until Sunday night, I was at number one; the top spot. Until the close of the bidding period, being number one halfway through means nothing. When I slipped down the numbers on Monday, it hit me hard. Hard is an understatement. It’s not the first time this has happened: I start in a high position early in the bidding period, only to have other people come in and take priority over me. Dear reader, the sad fact of this is that there are others who have held a priority status longer than me and in the eyes of the machine, those people get the higher positions. Despite my situation, no matter how desperate, I have to wait my turn.

Tuesday morning. I checked the listings again. Each place I had bid on, I was slipping down the numbers. I felt broken. I can use superlatives, adverbs, any kind of word to express how hard it hit me, but that hits the note: broken. I cracked. In the living room, I broke down. Tears, sobbing, as hard as I did in the early days/weeks of the divorce proceedings with my ex-wife. I could not see. I was hysterical. All of that crying, feeling of helplessness I could deal with, what hit me in those moments scared the living shit out of me. In my head, I knew where I have kept paracetamol, I could see the tablets and was ready to take the overdose. Broken. I have been told that what happened next is psychosis. A voice, not mine, said: look at you, you’re pathetic. Words alone, manageable. It was when the voice laughed … mocking me. Could not take any more. I phoned my worker at mental health services, he told me to go and see him the following day (this morning). He calmed me, told me what I could do if I dipped again to keep myself safe.

Knowing that what I experienced is a psychotic episode, has made me realise that yesterday’s incident was not an isolated one: it has happened before. My worker told me that what happens, in the case of auditory hallucinations, is that the brain can no longer deal with what is happening; it is under distress to process, so presents a split. Inner criticism, inner monologue takes on a different voice that is not recognisable as your own. In every sense, that separation feels real. I felt, in those few minutes of hearing that voice, that someone was standing over me.

It is very distressing to know that for however long that psychosis was happening, I was fighting myself. Fighting for control. Fighting to keep myself sat down and not act on impulse.

Dear reader, I live to fight another day. Against the odds, I am here to accept that what is happening is inevitable. For how long the inevitable will happen is down to me, down to the choices I make. I have chosen to live.

Endings

I know that a friendship will end in a matter of days. That friendship is with my ex-partner. I know that I will have a very limited time to say what I want to say, what I need to say. What I want to say is simple: despite everything that has happened, the hand of friendship will be there when she needs, or wants it.

I should add here, that I have tried to find a song to accompany this blog, I cannot find one that fits with the sentiment of it. Queen’s “Friends Will Be Friends” comes close …

The friendship will end once the house is sorted and the keys returned to the letting agent, once that has happened her husband has said that contact is to be blocked. This may sound harsh, maybe understandable under the circumstance, but I can see his reasons. What hurts, what I find hardest, but with the handing back of keys, sixteen months of good friendship will come to a close. You could almost think of it as fitting: a door being locked and the memories locked inside a house.

I had considered putting a post on Facebook about this, but I couldn’t put what I in that public forum. Public forum? I can already hear you saying: you’re blogging on the internet! If I were to post it on Facebook, it would be seen by people I know, who know, or have an idea, of what has happened. I do not want that.

I said in previous blog entry, Frantic acceptance, that we had eighteen months of friendship, that was a ballpark estimate, it’s around sixteen months. Sixteen months of talking to someone every day, while there may have been a day lapse here and there, but we have been in contact for … sixteen months, I was going to break it down into days, but it hurt my head! Dear reader, there is one exception to that pattern, we tried to have a week’s separation and have no contact; no messages, no seeing each other, nothing, nada. We lasted two days.

Back on track.

Sixteen months of talking to one of my closest friends: every mood swing, every random thought, intimate details of life. It’s a lot of conversation. A lot of learning about each other. Dear reader, there is a lot that I am typing out and deleting. While there are details that I want to put down on digital paper, at the moment they are superfluous to what I am trying to convey to you. Not talking to one of my closest friends is going to be hard. We’ve been each other’s support; she propped me up during a very tough time through my divorce, I hope that I was able to support her during her tough times.

We had good times. I cherish those good times. I have learned a lot from our friendship, learned a lot more about the person I can grow into, the person I have become and the person I want to be.

While I fully understand why the friendship is coming to an end, it doesn’t make it easy to know that the final curtain is about to be drawn. It will come with a sadness. She is a good person and I am pleased to have been a part in her life, pleased that I have a catalyst in helping her grow.

 

Frantic acceptance

Before you read this post, have a listen to Frantic. If you are not of the HM persuasion, dear reader, here’s lyrics.

I’m in a state of flux, moving towards acceptance. If you’ve read the previous blog, you’ll know the situation I am in and have gone through. Going through changes. I’m not going to run people down, this is how I am thinking.

I spent time today at parks, talking myself through what has happened and how I need to accept the situation to keep myself healthy. There is something helpful, therapeutic about looking out over the city.

The past four weeks have been hard going. I’m at a stage where the final process of moving on is coming ever closer. However, I am holding myself back; asking myself questions, getting lost in spirals that have left me in tears, picking myself up and holding my head high in order to get done what I have needed to get done.

So, dear reader, what does this apply to a Metallica track? Well, it’s been in my head for the past couple of days. For a long time, the thought has been in my head that no time is wasted. Think about this: you stand in the line at the checkout to buy food, yes, you are losing time but it is for a reason. You made the choice to buy the food at a specific shop, whether that for reasons of convenience or range of produce, you made the choice to join that particular queue … you get the gist: that time is not wasted. You’ve spent the time to buy food, a basic human necessity. You’ve probably spent the time thinking of all the things you have to do, want to do. You could be spending the time getting yourself worked up about how slow people can be … You get the general gist. It’s not wasted time. You spend time working on a project, personal or for work, that doesn’t work out the way you wanted or has to be scrapped; you’ve spent time developing skills, problem solving, research or you could have be indulging yourself, having fun.

I have spent the past nine months in a relationship that has folded. We split. Call it what you want, the relationship has ended. Now, I am in the space that is starting to unpack what has happened over that period. I should point out that I’m talking about a year, not just to easier relate to the time period of having lived with my ex-partner but the period of the relationship.

I have learned about myself, more than I thought.

Strength: I am stronger. I have had to fight during the divorce period, going through mediation to get a suitable arrangement to see my son. I had to fight to maintain calm when dealing with my (now) ex-wife, there was some pretty heavy stuff going on that tested me. I have fought back from a depressive episode, when my ex-partner sat in the doctor’s appointment the first time, I could hardly string a sentence together. The Doctor has said on several occasions that I have significant resilience.

Confidence: I feel a greater sense of my worth in the world, remember dear reader, I am not criticising anyone. I had a partner who was very supportive, not only in creative endeavour but in handling mental health. Knowing that someone is aware of my coping strategies reinforces my knowledge of them and hence confidence.

Knowledge: I have learned about myself. I am a better person than I was a year ago. I have learned about what is important in my life: my values and interests. I already knew that I loved music, in particular heavy metal, but over this period, that love has grown. I passed on my love of HM to my partner, to the point that she is (was) listening to bands like Slipknot. I now know that I have to have music around me, now that the house is just me … the stereo is on most of the time. I tell you, dear reader, Bluetooth stereos are for the win. I can now play iPod through the stereo … srsly, it’s for the freakin’ win.

Now, I come back to acceptance. I have spent time talking to thin air, trying to come to terms with what has happened. I found a pin on Pinterest that kinda sums up: the hardest part is not speaking to someone I used to speak to every day. I’m not talking about a year, I’d known my ex-partner for six months before things happened between us. Eighteen months of talking to her on a daily basis has made the split harder. Now, I have to accept that the split has happened, choices have been made and things have to move forward.

Going through changes

I’ve been quiet for a couple of weeks because life has change. It’s hard to write this entry as I know it may be read by the person who it is about.

It has come about because it’s now 03:17 and I’ve had a dream about the situation. As always, here is the dream. I’m walking down West Street, the street in town where most of the bars are, across the road from me is a bar with window doors open. A waiter is playing Happy Birthday to someone on a cello, however it’s being played like you would a violin. Dream cuts to a busy church, I’m stretched out or standing in the aisle, my partner comes from behind and asks me to move aside so she can get through. During the rest of the service, she constantly turns her head to look at me, her facial expression seems to be a mix of fondness and accusation.

My partner has left. While this may engender some sympathy, hold on to it. The situation we were put in forced a question over our heads: is there a future for us? Our landlord has issued a notice on the property; we have to leave by a certain date. The question had been hanging over us for a couple of weeks, I as always, shied away from it and didn’t want to address it.

My relationship with son had deteriorated and I’d reached the point where I became unable to have him stay over at the house. I’d had a conversation with him about how he was feeling with our relationship; he said that he felt sad about being with me, here at the house. It hit me hard.

Thursday morning was my usual doctor’s appointment, I’m not sure if I have said that I’ve been seeing my GP each week over a period of about nine months. Maundy Thursday. In the hour before I had to leave the house, my partner and I had “the conversation” that the question of our future had posed. She asked the question: did I want to live with her? I told her that I’d had a conversation with my son about the same question, his answer and that I had to put him first. Those are the words I used. I talked about how I’d been feeling and went on about the different housing options we had, especially considering social housing. I set out options for us: our spouses could take us back, we move into different houses but carry on seeing each other, or we move into different houses and go our separate ways.

When I left for my appointment, I explained that I’d go and get the paperwork for us to be on the social housing list, and that I would be back by 12. I did just that and came back a little after. She had gone. On the table, she had written a number of houses to view. It was after a short while, that I realised or come to the conclusion that she had gone back to her husband. I went around and the pieces fell into place: her bag had gone, duvet had gone. I knew what was coming. Two hours later, I got the text message saying what had happened, that they saw no point in waiting.

I’ve tried to write this entry before but could not do it until now. It has been painful to still be in the house that we shared, the house that we tried to make a home for us and respective children.

I will write another entry about this in time, but I needed to put something out there. There is more to this than I can say without making this entry twice or three times as long. While I’ve talked about it with people, I’ve not been able to write about it. As I said earlier, hold on to your sympathy.

I shall end this entry with what I have said to my partner: I hope that what she has taken from me, from our relationship, and that it will enrich her marriage. I wish her happiness.

Visiting a stone

While I was away at my parents, I’d asked my Dad if he could take me to see my Nan’s grave.

My Nan died in ’95 and my Grandad in ’00. I’ve not been back to see them in eighteen years. When I knelt down by the stone, thinking about that eighteen year period blew my mind. I’m not religious. I have been interested in the possibility of after life; ghosts, paranormal stuff. What I felt when I knelt by that stone was solace.

Two names on a stone, the only link to the people I love who gone from my life. That’s all I could feel, think about. No grandiose feeling that my Nan was still there, that she’d been waiting to see me.

It’s a physical reminder more than anything; a stone. I went there to be reminded of my grandparents. I could have easily gone to their old house, which is still in the family, but houses change. I’ve not been inside that house for eighteen years. I doubt that much will have changed.

It’s linked to my love of story. Seeing a name, being inspired, but those two names are too raw, too loaded with sentiment to grow a story. That stone is personal. What struck me was that there were no dates on the stone. I had to rely on my memory of roughly when they died. My Grandad’s is easy to remember: 4th January 2000. It feels like an insult to say he lost the fight. He decided it was time. His body decided it was time.

I’m going off in different directions with this train of thought.

I will say this: it’s humbling to see names of people you have loved. Carved in stone. Faces in a crowd. I felt loss, to what comparable level I don’t know. I felt sadness. I felt connected to somewhere, connected by name to a stone, reminded of who I came from.

In memory: F.M.G and W.G.J.G.

Thank you.