Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Current situation #3: Friends

I've started to feel like I have very few people who I can really call friends. When I had tonnes of friends (or at least acquaintances) around me, when I couldn't get rid of them and had to be really blunt and ask them to leave because all these people would show up at any time of day or night, I always used to say that you knew REAL friends because they were the ones that you could call at four in the morning when everything had gone wrong and they'd be there, no questions asked. I'm not sure how many of those I have left. Or where they've gone.

I guess when my friendship with T turned sour I started to retreat a little. I was really hurt by the whole thing, by losing my best friend in a battle that wasn't even mine to fight but that I got stuck in the middle of and then, to add insult to injury, was accused of putting myself in the firing line. Around the same time, N and I split up again. My unprecedented reaction was to just work and work, all hours of the day and night, frantically tying myself to a cause that would give my life some meaning now that everyone I truly believed in had jumped ship.

How do you recover from these emotional wreckages? What do you excavate, what do you abandon? Is this whole exercise diving for pearls or wreckless wallowing in the past's murky depths?

I'd be lying if I said I'd never felt like this before. I felt like it when I was in my second year of uni and in the middle of a very long, very messy ruin of a breakup. I isolated myself, saw nobody, felt like I had no friends, didn't want to spend time with anyone. Wrote about it. Eventually got over myself by basically getting into drugs, which allowed me just to be and not over-analyse, and always being around people. For a few years I was the most sociable person I knew, never alone, phone always ringing.

But those friends drop away, don't they? Those night-time friends, the huge circle of acquaintances hanging on for the good times and never around - never invited around - for the bad. I've become much more anti-social. And also just shit as sustaining friendships, I don't know if it's laziness or arrogance or just not wanting to invest all that time and energy into other people. I've kind of fucked off a lot of people because they aren't perfect or because N doesn't like them or because I don't feel like just getting shit-faced and bitching about stuff. That's probably not a bad thing, I guess.

Also because N is around on the weekends, or I'm there, that complicates things a bit more. Because we're so self-sufficient. I was going to say she's more anti-social than me but I'm not even sure that's true anymore.

Anyway - the upshot of it all is that I feel lonely. I need to spend more real time with people, getting to know them, having fun. Meeting more inspirational, interesting, intelligent people. I think maybe I need to join some new local groups or get a hobby or something like that. I need to connect with more people. Or to connect more with people. Or something.

Current Situation #2: Job

I'm working at a national violence against women charity at the moment, as Policy & Campaigns Officer. This is essentially my ideal job and field, although the organisation is pretty much a mess internally, but as far as I know a lot of third-sector organisations are like that. Whenever I feel a bit down about it I try to imagine what my 16-year-old radical feminist self would think if she knew that in 10 years time she'd get to be a brazen pain-in-the-arse for pretty good money.

I've got a lot of expertise in the field of gender, feminism, etc. I'm pretty confident that I've chosen the right field for me, I have earned a lot of respect in this sector. The thing is that I've never had any "career" ambitions, so it's difficult to think of where I want to be, really. I've had so many jobs and there's no way I could go back to doing something I couldn't give a fuck about, I'm pretty sure I'm generally in the right field.

However, there is no chance of "progression" within the org that I'm in at the moment, apart from to CEO which I have no desire to be. Also there's a slight problem in that if I wanted to move elsewhere, although I have loads of transferable skills, all my expertise and contacts are Wales-specific. And unfortunately the sector is dying a bit due to government cuts etc. And job security is non-existent - I know I have a job until March and that's it, that's how it is across the whole sector.

I'm also a little bored with mainstream feminist organisations, and don't feel that I'm challenging myself particularly in terms of my knowledge base. So I've been trying to think of potential future projects where I can learn more and do more and be as effective as possible.

So far I've come up with:

  1. Something to do with Gender more broadly e.g. Pan-Gender Alliance (?!), something united women's issues with LGB, trans, queer (consultancy?)
  2. Research / academia
  3. Another NGO, probably London-based
  4. Law conversion course, do something more one-to-one or human rights int'l law
  5. Community development

Current Situation #1: Relationship

I'm in a relationship with a beautiful, intelligent, wonderful person who we shall call N. We've been together - off and on - for about 5 years. Things are good between us, we love each other very much and she's my best friend as well as my partner.

Due to the on and off-ness, when we got back together about a year ago we were living in different cities (her in Bristol, me in Cardiff). We've both got jobs we like in these cities so the situation is the same a year on. We spend weekends together.

We keep on making plans that we're not really following through with. For example, earlier this year we went to Thailand for a holiday. We came back with all these grandiose plans and decided to save some cash and go travelling around SE Asia. I'd always wanted to go travelling long-term at some point; this is one of the reasons that we split up a while ago, actually. I was really thrilled that she wanted to go, too, especially after a lot of umm-ing and ahh-ing about whether her parents would approve and whether it was irresponsible, etc.

We decided we'd work on farms because you can stay there and get fed for free, just doing a bit of work for them.

We decided to leave in September; then January; then when we had £5000; then when we had £10,000. Which is never a good sign, is it - if you're going to do something, you'd probably just do it regardless. Now we appear to have decided not to go at all, but rather that N will move to Cardiff in the next few months and we'll move in together and just carry on.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. We've thought everything through and talked everything to death so much that I feel like I can't properly feel anything about it. It all feels a bit like smoke and mirrors, like was it ever going to happen at all or was it just the latest escapist fantasy that we harbour because the humdrum of everyday life just seems like some kind of failure after our ecstasy-addled beginnings and idealistic theories that reality stood no chance of ever living up to. Just some kind of dreamy invention to quench the need to have some kind of "EXIT" sign, some kind of escape route, just in case (in case what? In case we get too normal? In case the dead weight of expectation becomes too heavy? In case we become what we said we never would become, central heating and TV dinners, mortgages, pension plans?)

Also in the back of my mind I don't want to kick up a fuss because historically, we've always split up because we want different things. So wanting different things is a danger sign for me.

Not that I don't want to nest, though. Not that I don't want to settle down, to be with her forever, to move into a nice flat with a garden for a rabbit or a dog and cook together and have people round and be all smug and couply and grossly self-satisfied, even more than we are currently. It just feels like maybe some kind of ... resignation. Giving up. That sounds weird and can only really be understood in context of our history together, a history which I never know whether to mine for its jewels or cover with rubble in an effort to maintain some kind of normal existence. A history that seemed to promise a life less ordinary, a future free of crushing 9-to-5 boredom and domestic drudgery.

I'm starting to think that maybe these doubts are all mine, not hers, not even to do with our relationship. Writing scares me, these days. At some point I made a subconscious decision to stop doing it, to stop knowing myself so well because I was scared of facing these home truths. There, I said it. At some point I willingly blinkered myself and now I'm not sure if I want to let the light back in, or if I should just stay tied to the cave wall watching the shadows.

Hmm. No way out but through...

What's this all about, then?

Hello, welcome, etc.

I'm feeling a bit ... frustrated. Frustrated with a lack of direction in my life, a lack of creative expression, repetition of tired old formulas and making grandiose unachievable plans that don't come to fruition. 

This blog is a place where I'm going to experiment with trying to express all of the above, make sense of my thoughts, try to figure out what it is that I want and how to achieve it.