I have decided to compile 3 pre-drafted, historic entries into one post this week. Mainly because the content is pretty hard, some of you may be upset reading this. I need to get this out there, but I also need to draw a line under it and move past it. Hence I have moved the scheduled posts from the 22nd and the 29th into this single post. I don't wish to be starting a New Year in the wake of editing a post about suicidal thoughts. So here we go, It's a long one... Get a coffee, eh?
...Fortunately, the drive home was never more than 5 minutes from where my wife works.
But it was a long enough 5 minutes that when we got home, I needed to call upon my old friend, Petrol Station Pinot Grigio.
After one glass necked and another poured, my wife (ex wife) began to talk it out over cigarettes and wine.
The long and short of it, because I can't be fecked going over the whole dialogue, is;
-She had signed up for Tinder the night before.
She explained that it was because she needed the ego boost, being 32 and single for the first time since she was 20, she wanted to see if guys would still fancy her.
I accepted this.
Who wouldn't want to know if they still had something/someone to look forward to in the future? Her reasons for joining and when, were irrelevant now anyway. I no-longer had a say in her life and her choices... But I digress...
Now I didn't know this, but tinder works on proximity, the closer two people are, the more likely they are to see each other's profile. Turns out, as she was swiping, one of our friends turned up in her feed, he only lived around the corner from us - Couldn't be much closer really.
She knew that because she had seen him on there, that there was every chance he may have seen her.
Now, I hadn't spoken to this friend yet, about the separation or my gender issues, and my Ex was worried about him coming to me/worrying over telling me;
"Dude, I saw your wife on Tinder last night".
I mean, it's not that I wasn't going to tell my friend. He was on my 'to-tell' list. but I just hadn't had the time or energy - Like I said, in my last blog post, I was totally drained after the 7 days of non-stop 'doing shit'.
So that was thursdays plans outlined for me before I even sat down after cigarettes.
I was strangely calm about learning my wife was on a dating app. In hindsight, I'm not sure I processed it fully. Maybe the Pinot had taken effect on my completely empty stomach. The last 'proper' meal I ate was the take-out on Sunday. The rest was cheese and biscuits, crisps and large amounts of caffeine and nicotine.
Surprisingly, she went on to say, "I think you should sign up too... as Samantha. It'll make you feel better if someone else fancies you" It was so alien, hearing these words from a woman who had fought so many personal, emotional battles to keep me in her life. It only furthered the impression in my heart that the woman I loved, who loved me, was gone.
So, later that night, I signed up for Tinder.
After about an hour on my sofa bed in the spare room, swiping left on women with 6 kids, one woman with 5 cats and an immeasurable number of suspected catfish...
I deleted my Tinder profile.
This wasn't me. I didn't want someone else to fancy me. I wanted my wife to fancy me.
And she was in the next room. Probably talking to guys on Tinder.
Crying myself to sleep has never been my favourite thing in the world.
(As an aside to the above, to remain fair to my Ex. She was dealing with this better than I was. Because she had already been through what I was going through. But she did it a year earlier when I first told her I believed my issues ran deeper. She had mourned me for a year. In her head, David was dead and some impostor called Samantha had taken his place. I was too wrapped up in life and my own bullshit to realise it was happening. I doubt that knowing any of this would have changed the final outcome, it is what it is.)
I began to lean on cheap wine pretty heavily around this time.
I was drinking way more than is healthy on a 'usually' empty stomach.
But without it, I would not have slept at all. I knew it was bad when I was throwing empty bottles over the garden wall so I didn't arouse suspicion about how much I was drinking.
Day times were fuelled my caffeine and and anxiety as I travelled to friends near and far to tell them everything. Night times were fuelled by intoxicants to switch my brain off and get it to sleep. I knew it was not a long term solution, but for now at least, it was helping.
On the morning of Friday 15th, I regretted the booze induced sleep.
Up at 06:30 to take delivery of her new bed and get it assembled.
Sleep deprived and hung over, at 07:45 that morning I was roped into moving my sofa bed out of the spare (my) room, our (my) bed into the spare room and then assembling her new bed with her. I wanted it done though, I didn't want this job on the list for days on days, and she was due on night shifts over the weekend.
It started out simply enough. But as the pieces came together, so did the realisation that I would never sleep with my wife in this bed. I grew more angry with every dowel and screw.
By the time we were finished building it, the bed was the embodiment of my resentment. That pretty bit of flat-pack was the totem of my failed relationship.
I hated that bed and all who would sleep in it.
I had to get out of the house, but I also couldn't drag myself out of the door. I longed to just do nothing, to hide in my room. Trying to rest, because my body needed it. Trying to keep busy because my brain needed it.
I remember thinking at some point, that depression and dysphoria are similar in many ways, but specifically that the body and the mind are entirely at odds with each other. Trying to rest, because my body needed it.
Trying to keep busy because my brain needed it.
Body wants me to be a man.
Brain wants to be/is a woman.
The dysphoria was as real as it's ever been. Trying to balance my life between the me the world got to see and the me that I want to be. I dressed appropriately as much as I could, as much as my face could tolerate shaving... even on days when I couldn't - Was better to just avoid mirrors. Mirrors are fucking cruel sometimes, usually on the days where shaving is painful, so you don't bother with makeup, and you then still see your stupid fucking hairy face staring back at you in a wig....
...Best to just avoid that.
I just kind of drifted through the next week or so by drinking, sleeping, caffeinating, smoking.
Sharing a house with a ghost and 3 cats.
I couldn't escape my head.
All I could see when I closed my eyes, was a vision of her in that new bed with a faceless man that wasn't me. It mocked me. Gripped me.
It would still be over a week until I told my parents that me and the Mrs were over.
They were away on holiday, and I couldn't ruin that for them.
I'd have to wait for them to get home before I could tell them how my life had been completely fucked over.
Distraction - That was the answer.
To pass some time and occupy myself while not in work, I looked at flats on Zoopla.
I tried to write entries to my blog (evidently without success)
I began to learn to cook.
I updated my social media profiles.
Tidied up the house.
Played some games on the PC.
Did the washing and dishes.
I took old and knackered things to the tip and charity shops if usable.
I took pictures for a friend's new business website.
I did anything to not let the bad stuff in.
Futile really. Because the bad stuff always found a way in. A crack in the walls or a window left slightly ajar.
The bad stuff always found a way to get inside the safety of my head.
But soon, my parents were home. I remember it being the friday after Bed-gate/Bed Hate.
My parents would learn that my relationship was over.
That the woman I loved, that they treated like their own would not be part of my life for very much longer.
That the only life I'd known for a decade would soon be vastly different.
We all fucking cried.
What a jolly old time we had.
Being a good mum and dad, they offered me the spare room in their house, just until I could find my feet again. I declined.
Mainly out of stupid pride. I'd always seen moving back to your parents house to be a mark of failure. It's exactly how it's said... Moving back to your parents house.
But there were many other issues putting me off the idea, physical space and my reliance on booze to get me to sleep were inclusive.
I explained that we intended to stay in the house together and get all our debts settled up, save our own deposits for new places, then move on separately.
They accepted this but I could see it in their expression they saw this to be a mistake of sorts.
Pride... It'll get ya.
I spent that weekend trying to relax.
I was due back in work on Monday for the night shift, and I was determined to get myself occupied and take my mind off misery and focus on work.
On the Saturday, I began to set my body clock for nights, so by the time I woke up the house was empty - My wife was at work, so I decided to make myself look pretty and get pissed one last time before work on Monday in the hope I would feel better.
And I did. I went online, video chatted with some friends, generally just socialised via some servers.
When my wife... sorry, ex wife got home, we had a chat over a cig or two at the back door, "How was your day..." yada-yada. "My interview for the promotion at work is on tuesday morning..." Bla-bla...
All lovely, friendly, easy.
Until she asked me,
"You're on a night shift next Sunday aren't you?"
"Yeah, why?" as I exhaled the smoke,
"Oh, just cause I'm going out, and didn't know if you would be in when I got home is all...". I could tell she was holding back on something, it was thick in the air, I could almost chew it.
I probed at her statement,
"Oh cool, who are you out with?", desperate for her to say the name of her friend, any friend would do...
"...Someone..." she said reservedly.
I knew what this meant. This wasn't 'Going Out', this was a date.
It was a date and she was enquiring if I would be home that night. I felt physically sick.
"Not someone from Tinder by any chance?" I kept my cool. Mainly because I'm a sloppy drunk, but I kept it all the same.
"Err, yeah." then silence.
I neared the end of that cigarette and lit another from it.
So now I've gone from vape, to smoking, to chain smoking. Fantastic.
I dragged hard and deep, I couldn't drive anywhere, I was far too pissed for that, I had to just breathe and pray for the nicotine bump.
"Sunday is the 24th... That's the day before my birthday..." I said as the realisation came to me, painful and fast. But I swallowed it.
I paused, stunned by her apparent lack of empathy...
I stood in silence fighting back tears. I felt by blood boil. I wanted to scream in fury.
But for some reason I still don't fully grasp, I said
"Okay... This has to happen at some point. You want to meet people and move on. You want to know that you are attractive to people. I want you to be happy, that's all I've ever wanted."
And I meant it. I self edited the rest of what I wanted to say to her. It just wouldn't have been productive.
Then I asked to see his picture. I'm not sure why. I could have been trying too hard to show her that "This is fine". Maybe I needed a face for the faceless man who sleeps with my wife in my nightmares.
Whatever it was, I did myself no favours by looking.
I woke very late on Sunday and rested proper for the night shift the next day.
Sunday's details are not important to the tale. There was lots of YouTube videos and Netflix.
Actually, that sums Sunday up quite well.
Woke up, feeling... Good, actually. 10 hours sleep will do that to you, I guess.
I got myself showered and smartened up and off to work smelling fresh and trying, with everything I had, to be positive and productive. As I walk into the office for report, I hear a conversation some of my colleagues were having,
"...Yeah, I know what you're saying, but it's only when you get to the divorce that you find out how much of a nasty psycho they really are! ...Oh hiya David! Are you feeling better?"
It's not her fault, she didn't know. I did my best to ignore it.
We started work at 19:30, and by the time midnight came round, I'd even told my colleagues on shift with me that me and my wife were parting, I thought, "Yeah, I've got this".
At about 2:30am Tuesday morning, I went to the office for a coffee and sat down for a sec to look at my phone messages and... I just started to cry.
Through tears I told the shift leader I was popping out for a vape for 5 minutes.
I returned 20 mins later still sobbing and ran to the office followed by the shift leader who couldn't apologise enough for the conversation she was having when I walked in at the start of the shift. She comforted me, sat and talked with me,
"Just have a time out in here come back out when you're ready" - Lovely girl. Fantastic.
After another 30 minutes of crying, she had to send me home.
I was totally incapable of work.
But I couldn't go home, my Ex would want to know why I'd gone home at 03:30 and me being so upset could ruin her interview composure. I couldn't do that to her.
It was 3:30am and I had nowhere to go, nobody to turn to.
I mean - 3:30am! Where on earth do I go in Wigan at 3:30am on a Tuesday?
Get tee fuck!
So I just drove. Nowhere to go, nobody to talk to, just me, a large, slow Nissan and the pot-holed roads of a small town that was very much asleep.
I drove to our old houses, of which we had shared four. I drove past her parent's house to check for lights on - nope. I drove past my parents house to check for lights on.
Nada. Ziltch. Nothing.
So I drove some more...
And then, without really paying much attention to where I ended up, I stopped in a lay-by.
I needed a drink and a proper cigarette. I'd look at my social media sites, a bit of YouTube, hoping that would help to kill a few hours until I could go home at the 'usual' time.
But as I sat there in the lonely warmth of my car, staring at my beautiful wife's face on my phone screen, looking back through every captured memory we shared on Facebook, of holidays, parties... our wedding... I could only feel dread and pain. Tears fell off my face and onto the screen of my phone. I took off my glasses to dry my eyes, and when I put them back on the first thing I focused on was a truck's lights on the motorway beneath me.
Without really paying much attention, I'd stopped in a lay-by on a motorway bridge.
I'd never given much thought to ending my own life.
Even through my own professional knowledge and my personal life that had been touched by suicide, I'd always viewed the act as a selfish, "A permanent solution to a temporary problem".
And yet, there I was, giving more than enough thought to ending myself. Calculating the time it would take me to fall from the bridge to the tarmac below, how to time it to meet with a HGV as I landed. It felt like a solution. If I don't do it, I have nothing left. If I do it, I have nothing left. I can't function as a human, let alone do my job. Take me out of the equation, let people get on without me, let them be happy without me to fuck things up for them. I was to blame for every wrong in my life. This was my time. This was when I would find peace.
I didn't consider that I might ruin other lives by taking my own, I was only concerned with not feeling this pain anymore. I just wanted to make it all stop.
As I was about to leave my car for a closer look at the fall to the motorway below, when my phone lit up with a text message...
From my mum?
What the f......Turns out she was awake with worry.
Worry I would do something stupid. Damn.
"Make me a brew, I'll be there in 5", I replied.
I drove the one and a half miles to my mum and dad's house, all the way thinking
"So was that just coincidence, or do I believe in destiny now?
As I was about to leave the car, perhaps for the last time, and my mum texts me because she's worried. As far as she knew, I was still at work... I can't even...".
I got to their house, my dad was out on a night shift, my mum was alone.
I walked in the door and began to ball my eyes out, gripping my mum like a drowning person grips a floatation ring.
There was weight pressing me down, closer to my mum, I couldn't let go. My mum got upset as I held her sobbing, but I didn't have the heart to tell her what I'd just been through.
"Just been sat reading stuff on my phone" I told her.
When I finally got a grip of myself, we sat and talked for hours.
I hadn't talked to my mum like that for years... if ever.
I rehashed the events of the last few years that had led me here, and being a good mum, she sat and listened. Handing me the occasional tissue, making coffee and giving me cigarettes.
I decided to leave at around 8am so that I would get home at the usual time that I would on a night shift and my wife would have no idea anything was wrong when she went to interview. I called my GP to make an appointment to renew my sick note and then left my mums house.
I got home just as my wife (ex wife) was leaving, I wished her luck and sat down on the couch.
My mum text me to let me know my brother had taken the day off work because he was worried too... Are my family psychic?
A little while later when my wife (ex) returned home I told her everything, and as I expected, she got upset. Some nasty words were spoken and it was left that way until later that day...
I shall not be going into detail here because it is not my place to talk about someone else's health situations, let alone my mum's.
All I will say is that my mum received some bad news that day.
I'm proud to say that myself and my wife (ex wife) were there with her when she was being given the news, and despite the gravity of the situation with my mum, we managed to get our act together and bury the bullshit nasty words from earlier.
We rallied the family round to my mum and dads house, and told everyone the story to get us all on the same page. It was a bad day. Not the worst day I'd had this month, but it was sure close.
It's funny how life helps you find purpose and meaning in the absolute worst of shitty situations. Only 12 hours ago I was looking at suicide as an option, and yet now it was the furthest thing from my mind. Someone else's misery putting my own misery into context.
The rest of this week was spent in much the same way as the last week.
Seeing friends, talking to people, trying to keep my head above water.
Spending days alone at home, getting to feel like 'the me I want to be'.
Until the Saturday.
On Saturday I conceded, I could not be around when my wife went out on a date.
I certainly couldn't be around when she got home... Just in case.
On Saturday morning I swallowed my pride...
I called a familiar number that I didn't even need to check in my phone...
"Hiya mum, is it okay if I come home? I can't stay here anymore"... I began to cry.
It was all too much. I was faced with a world I did not recognise anymore.
My wife had become another person, a living ghost that my heart did not recognise.
My mums health issue had become serious and absolutely uncertain (at least at that time).
I was more depressed than I have ever been in my life.
I had no sense of self or worth.
I needed to be somewhere that there were people around me, I needed my family.
I needed home.
My mum said that I was welcome and that they would clear out the spare room and sort out some cupboard space for me.
So on the afternoon of Saturday the 23rd, I began to pack. It was a long and drawn out affair, picking through memories and the possessions tied to them. I managed a couple of suitcases of clothes and some bits and pieces. As I write this, most of the large stuff I own is still in our house, (my Ex's house) because I have nowhere for it.
That night I got drunk again. And I mean drunk.
I went to bed late. Tearful and late.
Sunday. The day before my birthday. The day of my wife's (Ex's) date with a stranger.
I woke up at 10am, procrastinated, drank water, procrastinated some more and decided around noon to carry on packing the rest of what I couldnt live without.
But as I went to my room to do so, I sat on the bed and was frozen with fear and heartache.
I couldn't do it. I stared at a wall for an hour, thinking, wondering if this would ever be okay...
Then, snapping me out of my vacancy, my old friend, Pete messages me,
"Yo dude, you okay? I need someone to talk to if you're not busy"
I've never been so happy to read a cry for help,
"By all means, come over, you can give me a hand".
He arrived and told me the tale of how him and a colleague stopped a woman from being raped in the early hours of the morning. In full public view just off a main road and how so many people could see but did nothing, and how the would-be rapist ran like a coward when he saw the size of Pete and his colleagues (security workers). And how they even took the girl home (One colleague was female, so it seemed appropriate to taxi her to safety)
He did not accept my accolade of 'Hero'.
He didn't help me to pack either.
He was just there and to be honest... that was all I needed.
Someone to talk to, someone to keep me focused on the task and stop me from getting bogged down in,
"She bought me this chair for Xmas" or "Here's us at the Grand Canyon".
I packed my PC, clothes, makeup, toiletries and some paperwork and not a lot else.
We got finished up just as my wife (ex wife) got home from her morning shift.
So at least I didn't have to be around to see her dolling up for another man.
|The face of misery|
Pete, if you read this, you saved me that day, and that girl too. You are a hero! xoxo
We took the boxes to my parents house, dumped them in the hall. Had a brew and then he left as I tried to unpack my old life to fit my new one.
This was it, the day my world changed, the day my old life ended. But it did not feel like the start of my new life. My new life should be as happy as my old one to even be considered a life. What I felt then wasn't life, it was limbo.
I got drunk that night too... And messaged my wife (ex wife) some embarrassing, regrettable stuff I am not entirely proud of... and yet here I am telling you lot about it!
I don't know why, but I snapped a photo of my drunk, miserable fucking face in the bathroom before bed. I think I intended it as a posterity measure... I mean if this is my baseline measurement, things can only improve, Right?
I drifted off to sleep in a vodka induced haze...
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