Thursday, 15 March 2018

Fear Factory & Phobia

Hello me luvs.
Hope you're all well.
Today I managed to make a mess of my shift rota and turned in for work when I could have had a lie in. To be honest, I could have slept until noon, I'm absolutely knackered (No, it definitely has nothing to do with my acquisition of Metal Gear Solid - The Phantom Pain, honest).
 But I'm awake now and I haven't written in ages, so I thought... why not?

Just to say here, about where I left off last time... 

I won't be continuing that story in the same form. Mainly because the dredging through painful memory wasn't helping me to heal. Perhaps one day I can revisit it all with a different outlook, but for now, I need to stay up, and all of that was keeping me down. 
I'll be touching on points from that time period, and some parts that I still haven't discussed whenever they are relevant to whatever I'm writing about in future. However the continuity style that I adopted shall be dropped. At least for now.
Despite some of the things I discuss, I don't actually want this page to become a pity party.

With that said, let's talk about fear.

The Fear Factory. No, not that industrial metal band from the 90's, no, I mean the one that we all have somewhere in the grey matter. The fear that we harbour that breeds fear in others.
It can be nothing more than an anxious thought about leaving the iron switched on, or it can be something that controls every waking thought and steers us, making our decisions for us.
Fear is an evolutionary trait, an advantage in survival of the fittest. We feel it without conscious thought, and it's there to keep us alive. 
Throughout the course of our live's we are all taught to fear things; 
Fire, electricity, violence, wild or unusual animals, clowns...Wait what? Yep, some people are mortally afraid of clowns. Nice job there, Stephen King.
But thanks to News and tabloid media, our fear catalogues got pretty fucked up. 
Now, instead of things that pose an actual threat to our existence, we have been trained to fear, through repeated exposure to negative press about [insert perceived bad thing].
There's loads of them; Swine flu, the Y2K bug (yes, retro fears count), followers of Islam, North Korea, electric cars... the list goes on. But to all of these, there are some facts, however stretched, diluted, tainted and bastardised, that cause the fear to grow in too many of us.
Minimise the facts, maximise the fear, seize the control.
It's a historical tool that is massively effective, just look at what happened in Germany in the early 1940's. But it's sadly, this is not a technique that has stayed in the history books.
It still happens today and the propaganda is more subtle than ever.
I won't give you my "911 was an inside job" piece just now, that's a whole other blog LOL
But let's just accept that it's there. Always there, always controlling.

*I'll wait here for a sec so you can go and check your iron*

Now, what I don't understand, is that historically, you could only ever see transgender people (or gender non-conforming) in the media from the negative hype angle.

The shock and awe, the drama and scandal. The Jerry Springer episodes I saw as a kid who had just begun crossdressing, for reasons they didn't understand, teaching me that the transexual is an object of ridicule and disgrace. Prophecising my life as a pantomime of gender confusion, that's when the fear began for me. Yeah, I have my own transphobia that I deal with. (Again, that's a blog subject all of it's own, but for now we shall return to outward expression of fear.)
I'm glad to note that more recently, there has been a shift in what stories the press and media will publish about transgender people. Aside from the ongoing American myth of "Transgenders will rape women in bathrooms/toilets", most of the media these days is click-bait articles; 
"You won't believe these AMAZING transgender before and after pictures (number 37 is INCREDIBLE!!!!!)"...
5 exclamation points? Really? (Probably from Buzzfeed)
And if it's not this it's Caitlin Jenner talking about Bruce, or Laverne Cox talking about Netflix. And I love the more positive spin and exposure. Visibility breeds acceptance and normalisation. I am all for it. It's exactly what we need.


I remember the Nineties. It was a time of 50p mixes and rollerblades.

Bike rides and Sega. The hot new mobile handset was a Nokia with an dot matrix display, and the internet's best page was Yahoo. Any media that put transgenderism in a positive spin either did not exist, or was fenced off to LGBT news and media. 
Historically, transgender folk have been projected as the punchline, the gay man tricking a straight man into sex, the faggot, the drag queen.
The flamboyantly effeminate reject walking the streets in patent stilettos, or the headliner on Jerry Springer.
And people remember this. People retain the 'information' they get from the media because it helps them to develop their world view. And just because the 'information' now carries a new narrative, it doesn't mean those people forget the old 'information'.
They retain it because it created fear in the unknown or taboo. And fear protects us. It's like an alarm that keeps us alive.
And we like being alive.
The fight or flight response is what keeps us breathing.
We sense danger, then we either leg it as fast as possible, or we beat the shit out of it.
Why were transgender people targeted in the first place?
Couldn't tell you for certain. But I'm guessing any one or multiple of the usual, easily defeatable assets to maintenance of the status quo, for instance

"It goes against the teachings of the lord our God" or just for the same reasons people hate brown people/white people, poor people/rich people, men/women...
You know, good old fashioned xenophobia.

Why is it such a problem that people have been taught to fear the tranny?
Well 2015, 2016 and 2017 saw a year on year increase in the number of murders committed on transgender individuals in the United states.
And last year in the UK, the Office for National Statistics reported that one third of transgender people were the victims of a hate crime.
I won't press the point further just now, but if you want further reading, click here.

So we have ended up in this weird cycle of transphobia breeding androphobia / anthropophobia (Fear of men / fear of people).

And its 2018...
We have global warming, climate change, Donald Trump vs the World, disease, famine, population surplus, inequality, social caste, and there are people who still want to violate and persecute other people who weren't lucky enough to be content with the body they were born with.
And the cycle continues in the weight of fear. 
Trans people stay indoors because it's easier and safer. 
Keep it a secret because it's easier and safer. 
They isolate, withdraw and decline. Contributing to the highest suicide rate of any minority group, with an 84% lifetime prevalence of suicidal ideation and 48% who attempted suicide.

It's hard for me to look at stats like this. Because I can fucking well relate to it.

I know fear. I've been taught fear my whole life. Bullied at school. Harassed for being a 'sweddy' (that's a 'mosher' in Wiganese). News and media filling me with hate and fear when I reached 'adulthood' (I still think I'm a child). So how do you break the cycle?
(Here comes the tangent...)

Drive, my dears.

Or more specifically, Drive, by Incubus

Sometimes, I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear,
And I can't help but ask myself how much I'll let the fear take the wheel and steer
It's driven me before
And it seems to have a vague, haunting mass appeal
But lately I am beginning to find that I should be the one behind the wheel
Whatever tomorrow brings
I'll be there with open arms and open eyes
Whatever tomorrow brings,
I'll be there, I'll be there
So if I decide to waiver my chance to be one of the hive
Will I choose water over wine

And hold my own and drive?
It's driven me before and it seems to be the way that everyone else gets around,
But lately I am beginning to find that when I drive myself my light is found
So whatever tomorrow brings
I'll be there with open arms and open eyes

Whatever tomorrow brings

I'll be there, I'll be there
Would you choose water over wine?
Hold the wheel and drive?

Hold the wheel and drive?

Effectively, think for yourself.
So if something is on the news or in the media, heard as gossip in the pub or at work, or if you hold a belief or judgement that you realise you have no evidence for, I implore you, all of you...

Think again. Take the wheel and steer for yourself. Form your own opinion and don't judge.

That song has been in my life for the last 17 years, and I don't see it going away for the next 17 years either. It's a life lesson and a great driving song - What could be better, really?

Driving gives us freedom to explore new places, new ways of looking at life.
It lets us see the world from another perspective. Everyone should learn.
It's hard, and the road is often rough, but it's still worth the journey.

Okay, enough cliche, what can we do about it?

Question your fear. Question the fear in others.

Question everything and question the answers.
Question the news, and extract the facts from the hyperbole.
Remember that correlation does not equal causation.
Speak out against injustice and inequality.

At this point I feel like I'm preaching my world view to you all, and while that is not my intent, I do intend on making the world a little bit better in whatever way I can.
So I'm going to leave you all with one more song.
Because in/tolerance has long been a subject in songwriting that I've always found to be hugely emotive. It speaks to the very core of the soul because equality includes everyone, even Jeremy Hunt.
Equality, Inclusion and Diversity are the fundamental basic tenets of a society and world I hope we would all want to be part of. When they are at risk, compromised or are absent, then we are all at a disadvantage.
One of my all time favourite bands and all time favourite songs.

First they put away the dealers
Keep our kids safe and off the streets

Then they put away the prostitutes
Keep married men cloistered at home
Then they shooed away the bums
Then they beat and bashed the queers
Turned away asylum-seekers
Fed us suspicions and fears
We didn't raise our voice
We didn't make a fuss
It's funny there was no one left to notice
When they came for us

Looks like witches are in season
You better fly your flag and be aware
Of anyone who might fit the description
Diversity is now our biggest fear
Now with our conversations tapped
And our differences exposed
How ya supposed to love your neighbor
With our minds and curtains closed?
We used to worry 'bout big brother
Now we got a big father and an even bigot mother

And still you believe
This aristocracy gives a fuck about you
They put the mock in demockracy
And you swallowed every hook
The sad truth is you would rather
Follow the school into the net
Cause swimming alone at sea
Is not the kind of freedom you actually want

So go back to your crib and suck on a tit
Go bask in the warmth of your diaper
You're sitting in shit and piss
While sucking a giant pacifier
A country of adult infants
A legion of mental midgets
A country of adult infants
A country of adult infants
All regaining their unconsciousness

Sorry for the slightly preachy, tangented post. But I'm guessing you all have your own fears.
The point is really not to let that fear make your decision for you.

Make a decision based on love, not hate. 
Try for a better world by making a better you.
I often wonder what my life would have been like were it not for fear. 
I still ponder what my life would be like to never have to fear ever again.
It's probably true that we will all, at some point, become fearful. 
Just don't let it take control.

If you liked it, then share it. Tell a friend. Let me know what you thought, or ask me a question. Click on one of those ads while you're here, I'd really appreciate it xx


Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Belated Birthday Bonanza

Before we crack on with the ongoing tale of my seperation, coming out and general massive life upheaval, I just want to say "Welcome!" - To all my new readers and "Sorry for the delay" to all of my long time readers.
Suffice to say that some stuff went down, I'm dealing with it, I will be making this as regular as a thing as I can, but lots of stuff has been happening and I just needed time to sort my shit out.
 I'll be filling you in (as much as I will say in public) in due course, so thanks for staying with me xx
Without further delay....

"Morning luv, Happy Birthday! There's coffee downstairs for you"
My feelings about this were mixed,
On the one hand, It's coffee, literally the second I woke up.
On the other hand, it was waking up.
The details of the day aren't important, but I tried to make the best of the shitty situation.
I spent the morning with my parents who made me coffee and gave me my Birthday cards and a kick up the arse, the afternoon hanging out with friends giving me support and wisdom (Thank You, Barry. It meant a lot old bean.), then the evening with my Ex wife for Chinese food and Rick & Morty (The done thing when your Birthday is on a Monday and you only physically separated yesterday). We hung out, she gave me some cards and we discussed my upcoming birthday house party on the Saturday. So after making plans for what food to buy and how much booze etc, that I could take the spare room on the night and help to clean up in the morning, then I went home for an early night. But I ended up having a late one on the sauce with my mum and dad.
In the circumstances, it was as good as my 35th Birthday could have been.
That is to say, nothing bad happened. I did the things that I wanted to do given my situation.

The next couple of days were spent mainly, just sorting things out at home.
My life was contained in a collection of small to medium boxes.
Trying to organise my limited space in my room, unpack, sort out how I was going to make living from my parent's spare room easier, at least in the foreseeable future. 

Thursday 28th would be a notable day though.
I took my mum and dad to a clinic appointment and afterwards took them to the train station, so they could go and have a date night in Liverpool (Dawww).
As soon as I got home I was in the shower, full shave, makeup and wig on, some leggings and a casual tunic top, made myself presentable but comfortable. 

This was the first time I had presented female in this house and I did not have to hide.
Admittedly, it had been over 12 years since I had last done so in this house.
This was the first day my parents saw me present as a woman.
They had seen pictures last year when I first told them I was having gender issues,
but I'm not sure that it sank in at the time, I've discussed this stuff before in a previous post. I can't cope with looking like a guy for long stretches. I've always needed the respite that comes when I see myself in the mirror, looking just that little bit more like what I want to look like, because that's how I feel my happiest. Comfortable in how I look. Even if it was only ever in the confines of my home.
The weight of dysphoria lifts, I feel happier and less bogged down with conflict in my head.
I think it was fair to say that the last couple of weeks had been pretty heavy, and I needed to feel some happiness and a rest from the weight of everything else.

After a day of messing around on my PC and chatting to friends online, while mum and dad were getting sloshed in Liverpool, they texted me from the train station as they called their taxi and asked me to put the kettle on (Standard behaviour in our family - A brew is never far away).
When they walked in, I was upstairs grabbing my cigarettes, I called out;
"Hiya luv! Are you making this pot of tea then?" (Again, standard, it's a fairly typical greeting when you live here).
I walked down-stairs and my mum was the first one I saw, she was leaned forward taking her boots off, as she stood up straight, I got an excited, surprised, happy;
"OH MY GOD!" and a big beaming smile that I smiled back at,

"...You look brill!", well that was easy enough...
"What's up?" my dad then boomed from behind the living room door...
He opened it to see me stood with my mum, his mouth open like a goldfish. 

I gave him the jazz-hands gesture that people use when they present themselves with a "Taa-daa!" and a grin. Not a clue why. I'm a bit weird like that sometimes.
The fish mouth morphed into a smile, then it was covered by his hands and he began to laugh... Wasn't really what I expected, I have to be honest.

He wasn't mocking me, this is something my dad does in his moments of "I can't believe it!" It's worth remembering to expect the unexpected I guess.
I got big hugs off them both, poured myself a strong drink and went to the back door for a cigarette. The pot of tea could wait.

My mum started telling me about where they had been, where they ate how much gin they had drank, then sarcastically complained,
"I'll make this brew then, shall I?" 

But my dad was uncharacteristically quiet. He was still stood, eyes wide like saucers giving me that same surprised stare. If he wasn't my dad, it would have been a bit creepy...

"Dad are you alright? You're staring a bit" I had to make sure he was okay after all, this was a 'first something' for each one of us...
"Sorry cock... ('cock' is a term of endearment in the North West of England. It isn't an insult or reference to gender. You will just have to take my word for it on this),

 ...You're just really pretty, I can't believe it!"

My. Heart. Fucking. Melted.
Possibly the sweetest words I've ever heard my dad say about me.

But like a cunt, I said "You don't have to say that you know..." - (I've never been good at taking compliments. There's always something in my head telling me that my friends or family are only ever trying to cheer me up, rather than being the good people I know them to be, and giving me praise for something.)
"...I know I look like a man in makeup and a wig"

In almost perfect stereo synchronisation, I got a Mum and Dad duet rendition of
"No, you don't!" and then for their encore, "YOU LOOK GORGEOUS!".
10/10 would see again ;)
Nothing like a Mum and Dad flattery campaign to perk you up [/embarrassed-reaction.gif]

So this made up for my less than spectacular Birthday.

In the wake of the separation from my wife, my mum's health problems, moving into my parent's house, all just kinda felt a little better for a little while.
I've got a good mum and dad. Trust them to look after my ego when I can't even...
It felt incredible. It was like a light got flicked on in a dark corner of my mind.
I wasn't happy by a long shot, but I got closer for the first time in nearly 3 weeks of complete misery. Like, if the zenith of happiness is the desert at the end of a 5 course meal, this was the 

The appetiser came that very weekend at the house party for my birthday.
Looking back, I was probably a bit over dressed for a house party, especially one of my house parties (which historically end up in piley-ons (if you don't know, look it up), sweat, fire, vomit and one time a guy at my door offering my whole party outside for a fight).
But, honestly, I just didn't care because for one night at least, my nearest would see me as I am. Or at the very least they would see the blueprints for the 'me' I want to build. And you know what, I felt pretty.
I was surrounded by love, with a belly full of 12.5% fizzy love - Needles to say I loved it.

I don't regret how drunk I got that night, but I do wish I could remember more of it.
But turn up at my house with prosecco and that's the way the night is going!

The outfit I wore for the house party.
As far as I was concerned, the night was wonderful. Thanks to everyone who came. I know it was 5 months ago, but I never did a drunk birthday speech, so you will have to grant me *This*
"Your love and acceptance means more than you know. Thank you all xxx".

It was a good job it went well. Because the days, weeks and months ahead were amongst the best and the worst I've ever known. 
On the one hand, I met new people for the first time (they don't know me as a man), and got a taxi by myself for the first time - and the driver called me 'luv' and other slang feminine pronouns during the ride.
On the other hand, I had a week where I stayed in my room, didn't talk, didn't wash, eat or even sleep for more than 3 or 4 hours because I spent the whole time in darkness in bed.
And when I got a taxi by myself for the second time and got 'mate', 'pal' and my personal favourite in a Wigan accent, 'Fella'. [*/WHAT!?.mp3*]. I could feel my inner Tumblr feminist raging hard deep in my head. But I valued not being kicked out of a taxi in howling wind and rain, or worse, more than I valued my gender identity. Fear is a bastard.
The problem is, when you've been afraid for long enough, you become accustomed to it and even begin to accept it. 
So I let the taxi man mis-gender me instead of saying what I though,
"What part of this *gesture to point at my perfectly made up face, hair and dress* makes you want to say "Fella", I don't look like this by accident you spunk-flute!"....

You know what, Having re-read that last bit, I stand by my original decision to keep shtum.
Wouldn't have gone my way, LOL!

Friday, 15 December 2017

Tinder Trouble in Transitory Times

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.
I cried.
They cried.
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?
At 04:22?
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.
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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