There I was this time last week writing about how I felt like Clint Eastwood and a part of me sighed. I felt sour afterwards, and in the days after it weighed on me. What I felt was symptomatic of the times I’m living, but it’s not what I want to feel, and it’s not how I want to live.
It’s lucky I’ve got this pig-headed streak, but unhealthy if it’s what comes to define me. I would have gone under if I was less stubborn and defiant. Those attributes have saved me, but they are wartime attributes, and I want to live and enjoy the peace – and I don’t seem able to.
A large part of that is that a quiet war still rages. I have a home, but I’m not where I need to be. Things are better than what they were, but I’m still bleeding, and certainly not in a sustainable position long-term. I don’t have the job I want, nor the money I need, and I still have a mountain of debt. And there’s still a need for a defiant and often aggressive counter to the debt collectors and solicitors and even job prospects. I don’t document it here, but I’m fighting every week, fending them off and biting back at them. In a little while I go back to court. That’s my life.
I don’t like it, but it’s what I have to deal with. Wearily I take up the cudgel again, no less stubborn, but jaded by it. I have no choice, but find it infects my persona. I am by nature competitive and ambitious, but this way of living adds an unwanted edge to that. Gentle as I can be, I sometimes feel as if I’m at war with the world. That’s unhealthy. I feel a man alone.
I’ve known this for a while and accepted it as a necessary evil. I’ve had regrets occasionally thinking that events robbed from me the years that I might otherwise used to progress into a higher state of being. Part of that is the (mythical?) concept of settling down – in hindsight, at least, I was ripe for that, until I was forced to battle for my survival. These days I sometimes wonder if the battle has permanently changed me.
You see, I don’t want to have to fight. People see me as a warrior, as if it fulfils me. I don’t mind a stoush, but I’d be much happier if I didn’t need to. I’ve thought about this a lot this last week and I realised what I’m searching for is acceptance. I don’t mean the acceptance of others, I mean self-acceptance. Acceptance of my life as it is. Don’t fight it, live it.
Now of course I can’t do that, not now. I’ve stabilised, but unless things change I will go under again. I’ve just bought time. That means I need to make it count, which is what I’m trying to do. On a purely practical level that means more income, which means a better job. I’m capable of that and so I have hope and belief, as well as dire frustration. It’s other things though too.
The ineptitude by HR at work meant my application for a role I should have got was never considered. It feels like the writing is on the wall there, but time will tell. I had another job come up, a recommendation that was very promising. I had discussions and it sounded interesting, but with tough logistics. Ultimately I had to say no – I have no car now, the job is on the other side of town in the sticks, and one day a week in Colac. I just can’t do it.
Frustrating as that is, something will give eventually. But there’s more to that.
I’ve decided to take the week off after the grand final. I was saving my annual leave thinking I could cash it in when I got another job, but I need the time. I need it for my mental health, but I also need to do things. I’ll spend the week looking for work. I’ll finish off the book. And I’ll take some time to enjoy life. Plus I want to reset.
I’m wary of plans. As one girlfriend would say to me, men make plans, and god laughs. I think that’s true enough, but I think it’s fair that I can set a direction.
You get so caught up in life that you think this is it, but really it goes a long time and it changes often. I need to figure out what I want to be and how I want to live. I want to live with an easy mind, with acceptance: what does that look like?
I need help. There are so many circumstantial constraints upon me that it’s difficult to shift momentum. I’ve fought these battles alone, but I now crave someone to be there with me. That’s difficult. I’ve tried to be honest with people, and the result – as I reported last week – is that I’ve been seen as too big a challenge to take on. I hardly go out anymore. I don’t have money, and now I don’t have a car I can drive, so I’m isolated. I hardly ever meet new people. On any level that’s trying, particularly for someone as social as me. It makes meeting new women very challenging.
I’m not the basketcase my story might suggest, but until they set eyes on me and hear me speak how will they know? For the first time in my life I feel as if I need to go to my friends and ask for their help. You know me. Speak for me. Cast your nets. Help me out. It’s not a conversation I’ve had yet, and when it happens I’ll be deeply embarrassed. But maybe that’s something I should be more often.
I don’t want to be the person I am. I hate that I’ve become so hard. There’ll be plenty who’ll say I’m a lovely man, that I’m kind and sensitive. That’ll be true too. But then there’s the other part of me ruthless and uncompromising that not everyone sees. It’s what I’ve had to be, but it’s what I want to be saved from too.
I need to find a way ahead, and peace. That can only come with acceptance. It means I need to change some of my circumstances, but hand in hand with that are those other aspects I need to come to terms with. I want to be humble and grateful and accepting. I want to be content in myself, and in my life, and sharing it with the people that matter to me. I can’t expect it to just happen, I need to make it so.
This is not new. It’s been a recurring theme throughout this struggle. Every few months there’s a reaction against what I’ve had to endure. I gnash my teeth and wail and then go back to what I was doing before. Each time though it goes a level deeper. This time I know I have to do something to make my life worthwhile. I need to move beyond survival. It’s my soul that needs repair as much as my bank balance. I need to live again.