Dear April 2018 Me

The future leeringly dangles hopes and fears in our faces.

Right now, in the week the UK tip-toes towards the Brexit activation button like a manic young child who has been specifically told not to do something, it feels like I am staring down a long dark barrel.

Now feels really hard, properly hard. I really hope Future Me who glances back at this sometime in the next few months or years is feeling better than I am right now, that they’re in an improved state of mind, that they don’t feel like crumbling and crying or screaming at the dreadful unfairness of it all every twenty minutes or so.

If they feel worse, which they may well, things must be terrible.

Is April 2018 Me back home in the village living with my parents? Did we have to give up this house because we couldn’t handle the mortgage payments, and bills, and general cost of living?  (Everyone speaks of how tough it is getting on the housing ladder but there’s less coverage about the humiliation of falling off it after climbing one rung). More to the point because couldn’t handle the mortgage. My wife was always comfortably doing her bit, employed in a serious job. But I let the side down, as I had been doing for months. Despite trying hard, doing everything I could think of, nothing was working. All that constant talk of things being financially unsustainable actually had a conclusion, a sad ending. As it turned out, I could not stumble along indefinitely.

This came after the point of no longer being able to bail myself out with savings from the dedicated tax account. It came after I finally, painfully swallowed hard and was forced to accept bailouts from my wife. It came after the even harder, sickening acceptance of accepting help from my parents. Have I, April 2018 Me, felt sick with guilt and shame and inadequacy for well over a year? Even after all the charity payments I shamefully accepted, am I still unemployable, still fucking useless, still of no professional value to anyone?

Maybe it’s not as bad as all that. Maybe April 2018 Us are still the house and getting by. Maybe I swallowed my pride and went back to an office, a call centre, a factory or a supermarket: anywhere I could get a job of some kind and regular money and they wouldn’t care that much about my qualifications. (Or is even that too much of a fantasy?) Did we have to give up our beloved dog though, because we’d both be out of the house for too long? Or sort of give her up? Give her to my parents? She’d have a decent life there, I suppose. All the same, I bet it broke my heart to leave her there and go spend my days in a workplace with idiots I probably hate.

Maybe I’m dead? Maybe she’s dead? We’re both dead? We’re ALL dead? Big nuclear war. BOOM. No more United Kingdom. Brexit-shmexit. All sorted.

Or, am I just about solvent now, Future Me, paying the bills and mortgage but miserable as fuck on a daily basis? Is my hatred of my work, my misery and bitterness and resentment, is all that badly straining my marriage?

*

A contract on which I was waiting and hoping would have offered considerable financial comfort. In December 2016 I was told it was not competitive and should begin around late January. Then it became competitive. Then they lost it. No contract.

Other things are not happening. Nothing is encouraging. The general economic outlook appears decidedly turbulent. There is an income of sorts but it comes in dribs and drabs and is nowhere near enough. Unsustainable.

Yes I look at jobs occasionally, feeling crushingly underqualified and out of touch for most, overtaken or even lapped by bright-faced smiley people ten years my junior. No, I can’t do that. No, I have no idea what that is. What have I done lately that’s anywhere near as impressive as that? Fucksake.

Now feels really hard, stressful, anxious. But tell me, buddy, Future Me, pal, April 2018 Me, mate: we get through it all ok, right? Don’t we? It’s not worth worrying quite this much about, is it? Is it?

Lots of love,

March 2017 Me.

Advertisements

dream dying

It’s like a slow and heartbreaking kind of a death, feeling like giving up on a dream, relinquishing a long-held hope.

You sense things aren’t working and won’t ever work, it’s just not happening. The stubborn hope begins to wobble, teeter and ebb away together with the dim belief, even while you still sustain the work-rate.

Your bank balance, like a football league table, doesn’t lie. It brutally doesn’t tell the sob stories of bad luck and industriousness and how much you care.  And its power to suddenly influence mood is never dimmed. The sharp injection of panic and fear thanks to another retainer lost, income stream dented again, squeezed down now to almost nothing.

Read more of this post

swallowing pride

There has been significant swallowing of pride in recent weeks.  None of it has tasted nice.

I am quite a proud person.  Fiercely independent from quite a young age, I am more disposed to instinctively decline all offers of help than to accept them.  I can manage fine, thank you.  I have always been like a belligerent old person and find it difficult to accept help.  Everybody is essentially on their own.  I have been on my own a lot; I spent the majority of my twenties alone and largely miserable; I should be able to cope.

This is a ‘young person’ thing to think, I am growing to believe – although possibly in an attempt to defend myself.  Everybody needs help.  Success is usually promoted by help, support, nepotism, or somebody helping somebody out, somebody influential believing.

Following a short break away with them and charitably paid for by them (already awkward), I finally accepted the offer of a sizable loan from my wonderful parents.  The Bank of Middle Class Mum and Dad helped me out, which is brilliant but means I am no better than the posh little rich kids upon whom I sneer.

At the weekend, Girlfriend and I took a long road trip to south Devon and a small town in which, my extensive research revealed, there was a store with the best available deal on camera equipment.  It was still harrowingly expensive (multi thousands; you could buy an ok car).  It not being my money but briefly being my money (a flicker of something reckless, a tempting disappearance around the world); that sort of made it worse.   Still, deep breath..  and it was done.  Now I must try to work doubly hard in order to make it worth something, to achieve something I really badly want to achieve.  Although that won’t happen immediately.

Money is still a huge and stressful issue, with that impending big December celebration and all its connotations of stupid expense.  Money is still not being generated in any significant amount and this is deeply worrying.  I sit at my desk and do things and am vaguely productive, but no money comes in and so I worry.  Everything is scary and hard.

It often surprises me how things and people in life can come back around when you think they are gone forever.  In the summers between years studying at university I had two stints in a marketing call centre doing telephone market research surveys.  It was reasonable student work.  I’d certainly had worse (steelworks factory, door-to-door double glazing, selling vacuum cleaners).

This company is still going, doing roughly the same sort of thing.  It’s within walking distance from my flat.  It offers flexible shift patterns.  I am quite desperate for money.  I went up there for a brief chat with a nervous, whispy woman and it seems that next week I could resume there after a hiatus of about twelve years.

This is another borderline indigestible ball of pride to swallow.  It brutally underlines how my career path has not developed.  I will try to act cool and like I don’t care.  ‘Means to an end…’ and just weep quietly in the toilets.

Or…

Or is it a steep, brave, noble, courageous step down, in the hope of taking another back up?

Yes, let’s take that view.  I am SO not a total loser.  Let’s hope, and try to worry less, and try to squeeze every last hour out of the day so I can buy more ephemeral plastic for my already grossly over-toyed niece and nephew at Christmas.

More than that, let’s try to achieve something I really badly want to achieve: working on my own terms and actually enjoying it.  That’s worth a fight, difficulty, some nasty balls of pride to swallow.  Let’s hope.