Dispatches from the newly single – chapter 1

This is a hard one to write. In fact, I don’t know if, in the near or far future, I’ll come back and delete this one. So bear with me – I’m not in the habit of baring my soul on the blog, but my recent post about my life was a first try, and here’s a second. A lot of what’s to follow may seem like indulgent self-pity, and maybe it is – but writing it down is helping me to analyse how I’m feeling. And maybe it’ll be an insight into a headspace that, right now, isn’t great.

Before you start reading this, I want to emphasise that I don’t feel like this all the time. My mood has never swung so much as it does right now, and sometimes (less frequently, unfortunately) I feel more positive. But this is a post about the dark days. And sadly at the moment they seem to outnumber the good ones.

Two months into the single life (admittedly longer since my partner and I actually split), and I’m living alone, for the first time in my life. Objectively, I’m not doing too badly – I’ve got a nice little place in the same village I was before, it’s comfortable (bigger than I need in fact), I’ve got light, food, and enough to eat. I keep reminding myself, it could be a lot worse.

That’s the material side of things though, and my head is mostly not in a good place. I’m a really gregarious sort of person, and I’m not used to spending so much time in what, to me, feels like an empty house. No other voices apart from the TV. On the weekends, I can go for two whole days without speaking to, seeing or hearing another person. Sometimes it feels like I’m the main character of  I Am Legend.

I guess for a lot of people that might seem like paradise, and I wouldn’t want to put anyone down for feeling differently to me. But for me, the loneliness is so much it sometimes feels like it’s crushing me. I’ve always lived with other people – my family, then university with other students, then houseshares, then settling down with my partner. This is a whole new experience for me.

It doesn’t help that I suffer from diagnosed depression and anxiety. Yes, I could go back onto antidepressants, but they just make feel nothing at all. Like a zombie (albeit with less appetite for brains). Besides, I feel numb half the time anyway at the moment. Nothing I do feels like it has a point, or is in any way enjoyable. I do things (reading, watching movies, occasionally going to the pub) simply to fill the time, because I feel I should. It’s just going through the motions. I’m not living, I’m just existing.

It probably doesn’t help that I’ve just gone through my first Valentine’s Day as a single person since the turn of the century. We weren’t big on Valentine’s Day, but the ceaseless barrage of stuff about it on the TV, on the internet, and on the street this year just felt like repeated kicks in the teeth.

On top of all that, for another year I can’t afford to go to (or get time off work for) my beloved Gallifrey One convention in LA. Yes, I know a week in California is a BIG luxury, and it’s something I was always grateful that my former partner introduced me to and was able to provide. But I have a lot of friends I only see there, people from all over the world, and if ever there was a time I could have used that it was now. I do have a lot of people who care about me, and it’s a huge source of comfort – but they’re spread all over the world and comparatively few of them can easily visit me, or I them.

You may be thinking of my more positive post recently, on my future plans. That was a source of hope, yes. I’d even gone out and got a nice big van to start converting into a home, the project (and sense of purpose) I’d hoped to pour my heart into in the absence of anything else.

And then I got home one day to find that my landlord had forbidden me to keep it at my home (which really emphasised that it’s not my home at all). I stressed about that, but a good friend offered me the use of his drive – not ideal, being in a different village, but a return of hope.

Then I took it in to have the smoky engine checked out, and learned that the engine is in fact beyond economic repair (I won’t bore you with the details). Looks like I’ll have to sell it, and given the strictures about keeping one where I live, I’m not sure about the plan any more.

So it’s back, for now, to no purpose and no point. I did actually have a bit of good news – I had a cancer scare recently, with a lump appearing on my chest that the GP was worried enough about to send me to hospital very quickly. Thankfully, it turned out to be nothing more than a lipoma – some sort of fatty bruise. So, at least I’m not dying, though that seems like a pretty low bar for how good your life should be.

The few people I told about this (I didn’t want to worry many people until I knew if there was a cause for worry) kept asking me if anyone was going to the hospital with me. And I couldn’t think of anyone. I’m sure there were friends I could have asked; but in so many years of having a partner, he’s always the one you think of first. Someone who’s always got your back (and vice versa). I’d never felt that loss so keenly as I did then.

In the event, I blurted some of this out to another good friend who was recently back in the country from a job abroad, and he volunteered to hold my hand without being asked. That helped so much, and made me realise I shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to my friends. I just don’t want to become that needy friend you try and avoid – I’m pretty sure I have been in the past.

In the few days before I went for the test, I had a lot of time (alone, of course) to think about the possibility that I might die. It surprised me to find that, as far as I could tell, I didn’t care. Now, I’m not suicidal, or actively seeking death – no need to worry about that. It simply felt that, if I was on my way out, it wasn’t that big a loss any more. At least not to me – I know I have people who care and would be upset. But I used to value my own life more than that myself.

As I said at the beginning, I don’t feel like this all the time; though the upside is less ‘happiness’ and more ‘not actually depressed’. In my brighter moments, I’m trying to be constructive. I still want to carry on with my plan of selling as much needless stuff as I can on eBay (I reckon I can make a few grand at least).

I still want to try van life, though I’m going to have to rethink my plan. I might start with a smaller, ready built van like an old Citroen Romahome, to use while still living in a conventional house, try living in it when my tenancy ends and use the money I save from not paying rent to get the bigger, comfier van I wanted to build in the first place.

So there are positives. And when I’m in the dark, dark depths I described above, I cling to them like a drowning Kate Winslet to a floating plank. Rationally, I know things will get better, and I’ll start having good times again – it’s early days, still. And I’m well aware that, by anyone’s standards, these are not just “first world problems”, because plenty of people in the “first world” have it way worse than I do.

But sod it, I’m hurting right now, and writing about it helps. Publishing it for others to read may seem a bit weird, like public exhibitionism, but in one of my rare examples of egotism, I’m proud of my writing and I want it to be read. And maybe an insight into how my head works will help for others who have been, or are going through something similar. In the mean time, I’ll try my best at just existing, and wait for some kind of meaning to return.

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