Finally, there is clarity? Then and now with OnceAndFuture

I sincerely hope you can find a way, Once. You are a good and kind man.

I didn't know it was so hard to get to UK. Doesn't seem so hard across Europe ;)
I'm sorry your burdens are great right now. :(

If you are feeling super low and suicidal I encourage you to call a hotline and do your self care. Perhaps thinking too far off future is too far off. Just making it through the week or day might be enough. And if that is too much, make it though the hours.

Hang in there.

More virtual hugs. Though I haven't chimed in I have read all your posts and I do so relate to losing it all. You are heard and you are thought kindly of and many of here worry for you now, hoping you can hang in there.

Take care of yourself Once.
I wanted to check in because I saw that a lot of you were worried. I'm OK but the situation isn't honestly much better. I think the best news I've got right now is that I am seeing my old counselor from a few years ago. It's going well but she is extremely concerned, as am I to be honest right now.

No news on the employment front. There are a couple of contracts I am in the running for but I can't see either of them happening till at least the end of the month. I'm going to go to temp agencies this week, which I didn't want to do because I'd rather be available for (much better-paying) contracts, but at this point I need some money now.

There's been another terrorist incident in the UK. What is happening to my former home? :(

I'm thinking there are going to be some major changes soon. There have to be.
Thinking of you, Once. I hope visiting your old therapist is working well for you, and things are slowly working out for the better - if not on the relationship front, than with your employment at least.
Thank you Tinwen. I've been thinking about this place again, since I haven't had anywhere else to write. I am thankful that someone is thinking about me.

The good news I have is that my working situation is getting better. I've had a few more gigs and our financial situation is improving. I'm not working anywhere near 40 hours a week, but fortunately I don't need to in my situation. My consulting partner is really happy with the work I'm doing and thinks I'll get more jobs soon. In addition I've been headhunted for a pretty good job. I'm not sure I want it but I'll certainly look into it.

Unfortunately from a personal standpoint I'm not doing much better. Working from home is pretty isolating, and I am feeling really lonely. I don't have any friends here and I don't have the energy to make any. I'm not sure how things are going with The Signal. I guess that means it's not as good as I hoped. I've been back living with her about 3 1/2 months now and it just feels like forever.

I'm trying to get some help. I've been continuing to see my old counselor. She's giving me good advice which has been hard to take. Tomorrow I'll be seeing a psychiatrist, and I hope that will help as I don't like feeling this down and this tired. Other than the job looking up and the job I'm being headhunted for I don't have a lot to look forward to. I'm trying to do some things for fun as my counselor suggested but I don't find anything fun any more. So, I'm trying to carry on best I can, hoping that tomorrow will help.

I hope everyone here is doing well. I miss reading about everyone's stories. But at the moment--and I've been feeling this way about other places like Facebook--it's been hard to read about other people having friends and happiness and enjoyable times. That seems hard to write. But I hope that one day I will be able to turn things around.
I am glad to see you reaching out again OnceAndFuture.

Keep trying to follow your counselor's advice, the trying is often what brings tiny incremental change. I hope the psychiatrist will be of help, getting the right medication has helped both of my guys out of really low places.

It seems like a good sign that you are able to do good work and attract the attentions of a headhunter. That takes strength. Is there any way you could do your work in some place like the library or a coffee shop where you could have some human interaction?

I think of you regularly and always hope things are getting better for you.

Glad to hear some things like work are starting to improve. I hope other things will also over time. Hang in there with your counselor.

There have been a few things here and there that have happened recently and sometimes those turn into a lot of things.

Many years ago The Signal and I started watching a TV show (I won't say which one here for privacy reasons). We both joined a Facebook group which liveblogged the show every week. Although the show is (probably) gone now, some of us from the Facebook group put together our own private group, and we've all stayed in touch and talked to each other off and on the group for some time now. It's not an extremely active group, but we all talk occasionally. A few months ago, one of the popular members of the group passed away suddenly. It was very sad as he was in his early 40's and had two young children. Then just a couple of weeks ago another member of the group, who I'd been much closer to, also passed away--she was just a couple of years older than me. I'd just been talking with her a couple of days before about music and politics and a bunch of other stuff. It did hit me pretty hard.

Things still feel hard. I don't have any offline friends and not for the first time in my life I feel incapable of making any. I feel a lot more distant from my family now. A couple of weeks ago I visited my dad, and it felt like he'd changed a lot--without going into detail, he is just not the person I grew up with, not the person that my mom was so proud to be married to. I've been getting along better with The Actress, but now that she's working and more independent nobody sees that much of her.

And then there's what's going on with The Signal. The bottom line is that it's likely we're going to be apart, at least for some time. The job I've been headhunted for is in a bit of a holding pattern--I was supposed to have an interview last week but it got postponed and I am waiting on a reschedule. If I get that's on the opposite coast. The Actress doesn't graduate till next year so we would at least be apart that long. But if I don't get the job...The Signal has been talking a lot about finding a job somewhere else too. We've kind of agreed if I don't get the West Coast job that she'll start looking. And then I'd stay behind for The Actress and then...eventually?...find a job where The Signal moved to.

It seems like neither of us seems too upset about this. I guess that's a bit troubling to me. The Signal was concerned about being away from the cats if she moved, but she never said she felt that upset about being away from me (or The Actress, which actually worried me more). But to be honest it just seems more and more like nothing really upsets her, or makes her happy or sad or anything else. Good news or bad news elicits the same feeling of resignation with her. She gets angry or frustrated over things, but those feelings pass. Every day kind of feels the same.

When I was living alone while we were separated, one of the things that depressed me was that there was nobody to share my good times with, and nobody to console me during the bad times. But I'm starting to come to the realization that that hasn't changed when I'm with The Signal. If I'm happy, she tells me I'm out of control and hyper. If I'm sad, she tells me to get over myself. So basically I've learned to be gray. I try not to talk about not only anything that might lead to an argument, but anything that might make her accuse me of being too happy or too depressed. And I know this is all coming from her depression too, at least as much as she will talk about that. I just don't know any more.

And so I realize that things aren't going anywhere, and I have these reminders that life isn't forever. I realize that waiting for things to get better won't help, but on the other hand I don't know what I can do next. The job I'm applying for or the jobs The Signal is looking at might be a kind of deus ex machina. But I can't help think that they'll just lead to us being lonely and stuck, instead of together and stuck.

Part of, I guess, what drew me to this community is that so many people here are willing to take situations which aren't working for them and radically change them. That so many people here are willing to say something like, "the situation I'm in isn't working so I'm going to reject what society tells me to do and build a situation which does work for me." I feel like I've reached phase 1 of that--the situation I'm in is not working for me. It does not necessarily follow that I will reach the same phase 2, or even that there will be a phase 2. But it's taken a long time to realize that my situation isn't working, and now I've got to figure out what will.
I think you can get to phase 2. You have managed to keep going even in bad circumstances. Things will get better as you take care of your mental and physical health.

I hope the Signal is getting treatment, as more than one depressive in the house is hard enough with ongoing treatment. I have been there. Try not to let her depression dictate your emotions. You don't have to be grey and you don't have to share your feelings with someone who is too ill with depression to empathise.

My sympathies are with you.

But it's taken a long time to realize that my situation isn't working, and now I've got to figure out what will.

You have that much done. So that's good. Phase 2 can happen in baby steps.

Hang in there!
I was supposed to be at a conference this week with my business partner. But it was cancelled because of Hurricane Irma, and so now I have a few days at home without a lot to do. So there's going to be a lot of time to think. And I'm probably going to ramble here.

It's been a very quiet time of late. I haven't had a lot of work, although hopefully that will change soon as I have a few contracts that are awaiting signature. The job interview in Los Angeles is still somewhere in outer space. But worse is that things between The Signal and I have gone almost silent. The Signal is spending more and more time with friends, running, going somewhere else. She isn't affectionate any more and when I try to be affectionate she doesn't respond. When I ask her about it she says it's my fault and I need to take more of the initiative, but when I do she doesn't want to be with me. Before, this would have made me very upset. Now I just feel down about it. I try not to let it get to me, but it does.

To be honest I am stuck in the mud. I don't have any friends any more and I don't know how to get them, to be honest. In the past year or so I've tried to, but I've honestly stopped. I feel like the friends I had before just stopped talking to me, and I don't know why, I just know when I've tried to talk to them or meet up with them they don't want to have anything to do with me. I don't know what I've done wrong, if I've done anything wrong. But when the only person you really talk to tells you everything bad that happens to you is your fault, you start believing it is your fault.

It would be wonderful to have somebody to talk to again. I feel like I'm in a vulnerable place, that I would start being friends with someone who wasn't good for me because I just needed someone to be there. Part of me doesn't even care about that though. I need to get out of this vicious circle. Maybe the deus ex machina of the Los Angeles job will get me out of it. Otherwise I don't know where to start. I've been to meetup groups and I feel like I get nowhere. I don't feel like I want to go anywhere.

I feel like I'm mourning a loss though. The Signal and I were a loving couple up till last year. Now we're just not, even though she says nothing has changed. We don't talk about anything serious. We used to talk every day, but now if I'm away she doesn't want me to call. I miss being close to her. If it is my fault I've ruined a lot. If I ruined everything I don't know why she wants me to stay. If it wasn't my fault I don't know why things can't be fixed. Either way this is not right.
It's been a busy last month. One of the two major contracts I was up for came in, so I've been putting in a lot of hours on it and on some minor projects I already had. Last week I presented at a conference, and the presentation ended up being a lot more complex than I'd expected, so I had to spend a lot of time on that as well...especially because I ended up writing a small book's worth of handouts for it.

It's been welcome to get the work, but it has slowed down a personal project that I started before I got the big contract. I've started writing a novel again. Many times before I've started writing and given up partway through, but this time I think I've hit on a plot and characters that I quite like, and so far I'm happy with it. At some point when I've written more of it and edited the opening chapters to my liking I'd like to join a writers' group for some advice. It would be a nice way to get out of the house, where I've been working 10 or 12 hours a day at times. I've already joined a boardgame group that meets once a week and I've enjoyed going.

So there's been a bit of change in my life, mostly positive. Getting work done has been strangely fulfilling.
"This one thing doesn't have to go away."

--The Tragically Hip, "Fireworks"

Gord Downie died last night at the age of 53, survived by his words and everything he's done to support Native Canadian causes. Two great legacies.

I'm at another conference, this one being a little more of a mixed blessing than the last. I've worked with the company putting on the conference for almost 20 years, and they're frustrating to deal with at the best of times: resistant to change for years, they suddenly saw the light a couple years ago but now pretend to have always been leaders in innovation when in fact they're barely catching up to their rivals. They've survived by buying their more nimble competitors out then crushing their good new ideas like ants. On the other hand, I may have found more work coming my way, which is of course welcome.

This conference has seen a return of my at-times-crippling social anxiety. I know why this has happened. On Facebook, a lot of my female friends have joined the #metoo movement to stand up and say they have been sexually harassed or assaulted. On Tuesday one of my friends encouraged men who'd been sexually harassed or assaulted to stand up too. This reminded me of something I don't want to remember. When I was 14, I was sexually threatened by an 18 year old male. He'd been making what I can only describe as weird comments to me for some time, and I'd brushed him off and tried to ignore him. Then one day in class (I skipped grades in school and I'd been put in this class three grades ahead, which was probably a bad idea) when the teacher was out of the room for some reason he sat down at the empty desk next to me and started asking me if I wanted to have sex with him. When I tried to ignore him he grabbed me and insinuated that if I didn't want to, he'd force me to. This--incredibly--was right in front of everyone else in class. Someone ran to get the teacher, and I still remember him running back into the classroom at full speed. I also remember him grabbing the other kid by the neck and frogmarching him out of the room.

I don't talk about that much, if at all. I don't think I've told anyone that except my counselor. For the school's part, seeing as it was the 80's and people didn't talk about these kinds of things, they handled it about as well as they could. As far as I know the other kid was expelled from school--at least I never saw him again. Later on I figured he had to have had some real bad problems. Even in the 80's you didn't threaten to molest a kid in front of almost 20 witnesses. I just hope he didn't actually do it to anyone, though I fear he had, or did later. The guidance counselor talked to me later about it. I think the only thing I asked him was not to tell my parents. The guidance counselor and I had been on good terms for a while, so every so often he'd ask me to stop in his office to see if I was OK.

Then I kind of forgot about the whole thing after a while. Eventually I went back to the class. I remember a couple weeks later we were assigned a group project, and my assigned partner was a girl who lived down the street from me. Right before our big class presentation she disappeared from the school without warning, leaving me to do the presentation by myself. At first I was irked about it, but then one of my friends who knew her told me she'd dropped out of school because her boyfriend--another student--had assaulted her and she was trying to get away from him. That upset me more than my incident--even then I realized she hadn't done anything wrong, but she was the one being forced to leave. It was damn unfair and there wasn't a damn thing I or anyone else could do about it.

So I kind of had to grow up fast as a result of that class.

I can't really talk about what happened to me out loud, but I guess part of that is I don't feel right talking about it. Like I'm trying to take the spotlight from other people who were hurt worse. I don't think it increased my social anxiety, because I was already pretty darn anxious before that. It was hugely embarrassing for me, since the 20 kids who saw it happen told a lot of other kids what happened and probably about half the school knew, but as for lasting effects I don't know. I can't change what happened, so I don't know what I would have been like if it didn't happen.

I think I've been bothered by it now because so many of my female friends are standing up and saying they've been harassed. And I want to say, I hear you, and I understand you because I've been there too. But I can't, because really I don't understand. I don't understand what it's like to be female or identify as female and be attacked by a male.

So in the end I'm just silent about it. And I should stand up for other males who've been through it. I just don't know what to say.
A couple of weeks ago The Signal and I separated again. I am ok now, in the sense that I have a place to live and I'll be able to get back to work starting tomorrow.

I'm sure it was my fault that it happened, because I started the argument and eventually had another breakdown. I don't know what it means any more though to be at fault for things. I mean, I've taken responsibility for starting the argument and having the breakdown. But I'm also the one who had to leave and start over again. I'm not complaining about that. I just don't know what to do about it.

So basically I'm in the same situation I was in last year, minus the hospitalization. I guess the positives are that I'm not in a job where I'm afraid of getting let go, and that this time around I'm a little more familiar with where I am. I lucked into a better apartment--nearly twice the size of the last one for only $50 more a month--and this time I insisted on taking both my little calico and the stripey cat I adopted back in Florida, as they became best friends this year. They're sleeping on chairs next to each other right now.

But I have no real idea what the future is going to hold. I don't really know anybody in the city I moved to (to be honest, I didn't really know anybody in the city I moved away from either). I've started to get paid for the work I've done finally, but I'm still owed a lot of money and there's no schedule for that; there is the possibility of another major contract at the end of this month. Still, this isn't where I hoped to be at this point in my life, not at all. I don't know what I hoped for in life, but it wasn't this.

I guess the only thing I really learned over the past 16 months is that I can't count on anybody other than myself to get better. I've been helped by family members, and I don't know what I would have done without them. And my business partner has gotten me some work, even if I haven't always been paid on time for it, or at all. But the other people I reached out for help from just walked away when I needed them, even if I helped them in the past. Every old friend I reached back out to in the last 16 months didn't want anything to do with me, even if they didn't know my situation.

I've vowed to "get better", but without knowing what "better" looks like it's hard to get there. I keep thinking I'm there, but obviously I'm not. I just wish I wasn't so damn awkward around other people. I feel like I have a sign over my head telling people to stay away. It's hard to feel better and be better when you feel so radioactive. Again, I don't want to complain. But the first thing I always hear when I say I'm feeling alone is that I need to go out and meet people. Well, I do, and it's not working, and I just don't know why.

I could rant and complain here forever but it's not going to do any good. I suppose I've talked to others long enough without it doing any favors, either to me or anyone else. Perhaps it's time to embrace my own silence for a while. Being here in the apartment over the last couple of days, watching the cats chase each other, has been somewhat calming. Maybe a few weeks of listening to myself and creating new habits, patterns, and routines will be helpful.
It is good to hear from you again.

I'm sorry to hear that your relationship with The Signal did not improve. I hope you can move on and recover emotionally. It seems your sweet cats are a help.

You sound already better than in the past, as though you have some ground under your feet and are not all at sea. With a bit of stability I think you will keep doing better. Concentrate on those improvements you have made more than how the overall situation is not your ideal.

It can be hard enough to make friends when things are going well, doing so when in emotional, physical and financial turmoil was expecting a lot out of yourself and others. You may find it easier now. If you are physically up to it you might try volunteering with some group that helps people in the kinds of bad circumstances you have been in. You have a caring heart and those are always needed. Friendships may develop there.

Your perseverance through harrowing conditions has been inspiring.

Thank you, Leetah. Sometimes living here in the apartment it feels like I am talking in silence, and it's good to hear some advice.

It's been a quiet week. I had a lot of work to do, so I was stuck here with the cats. I think I've listened to every news podcast out there, if for no other reason than to cut through the silence (and the cats don't mind listening to the sonorous voices of the BBC either). I'll be getting a little money next week, which is good as I can get the last few things for the apartment.

I've been able to get out a little bit. I went back to a couple of groups I went to when I was last living here, and some people even recognized me, which was nice. I've surprised myself by how confident I've made myself out to be there, even if I don't always feel that confident. None of the groups are meeting this week, but fortunately I've been invited to relatives for Thanksgiving so I won't be alone over the holiday. I do have to admit to feeling very lonely though. I realize this is not a common problem for a lot of people on this board. But I realize this is going to have to be my situation for the foreseeable future.
I don't know if this is any consolation but it seems to me that we regularly hear from people who are lonely despite poly. Such as Muirrin-

I think even Redpepper has had lonely spells when things went to heck and beyond.

The fact people in the groups remembered you indicates that you were not as unnoticed as you feared.

Keep on keeping on.


P.S. if the bbc announcers start seeming to be holding conversations with the cats then it is definitely time to get out and about.
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"I am unconsoled, I'm lonely
I am so much better than I used to be." -- The Weakerthans, "Aside"

My counselor had warned me that at some point depression or loneliness would catch up with me all at once, that the totality of my situation would suddenly strike. And I keep waiting for that to happen. But it just hasn't. And although I haven't exactly done a good job in predicting the future lately, it doesn't feel like it's going to any time soon. This feels....good? I mean, I am still pretty lonely, and the holidays haven't helped with that. On the outside it might not look like my life is going anywhere. But it feels like it is somehow. The little pieces of things I'm doing are starting to add up.

Even if I don't really know anybody any more other than the two cats, I feel like I'm slowly starting to rebuild myself. I decided early on that I was going to take each need that I had and work on them one by one. So now that the apartment is where I want it to be, I'm going to start working on my health now--going back to the gym, eating more healthily. I realize this is about all I can handle at once right now, but I also realize that I can handle it. That also feels like a step forward. It does feel like time has slowed down now that I've deconstructed everything to its constituent pieces. I realized this morning that I'd only been in the apartment for two weeks, when it had felt like I'd been here two months. But that's nice too. I don't feel like I absolutely have to do everything at once. I will have time to fill every day.

I guess what originally drew me to this board and this lifestyle is the capacity for reinvention, that in multiple relationships one is with others with different personalities and likes and dislikes and loves. I am sure I am not explaining this very well. But perhaps I'm not really sure who I really am, and who I'm going to be. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to talk about it here for reasons that are out of my control. For a long time I was afraid of making mistakes in my daily life, and although already that's starting to pass, I am not entirely out of the situation which caused that fear. Someday I'm going to be able to explain what's going on here, but I'm afraid it's not going to be for some time. I'm afraid there may be some real danger and bad times ahead. All I can do right now is to try to build myself to make sure I can face them.
A last post

My counselor asked me, "What happens next?"

And I had to say that I didn't know, that really I was in a situation where from day to day I wasn't sure how I was going to feel, or what I was going to do. That every night I went to bed not sure what tomorrow would bring, and every morning I woke up not knowing what would happen the rest of the day.

"That sounds like a good thing."

Well, it does and it doesn't. When I was working full-time, when I was living with The Signal, there was a comfort in routine--wake up at 6 am, leave for work at 7, get back at 6:30, back to bed at 11. To know what, generally, was going to happen each day. Mow the lawn or go hiking on weekends.

Now there are days I work until 3 am. Some days I don't get out of bed until 10. But other days I go to bed at 9 and get up at 5. I might be out of the apartment all day...or go three days without setting foot outside. I might work a 12-hour day, or a 3-hour day. My weekend might be a Wednesday and a Friday, or Sunday to Tuesday, or a Thursday night. I might be working for four clients in a day...or none. The only constant is my pair of lazy cats.

And not knowing what the future might hold.

When I moved into the apartment, I didn't have anybody helping, so I had to carry and unpack everything myself. It turned into a bit of an archeological dig, sorting through the layers of my life. The years I spent in England. The lonely years in California and Miami. My marriage to The Signal and its ups and downs. The recent times when the world closed in on me and I lost so much, all of it my fault. The time with The Star. Even posting here. They say you should take what is helpful from your experiences, carry with you what is valuable, and leave the rest behind. To some extent my past lives seem like a distant memory...I feel like I've been here, out of routine but at the same time feeling grateful to be alive, forever. The layers of my life feel as distant as the stars...

...and yet, if I close my eyes and put out my hand, I feel I can touch those past lives. I have a picture on my desk of a birthday party from when I was a kid. I can tell about when it was--our old TV is in the background, my sister wears the bowl haircut she had for a few months, my cousin is in the pigtails she always hated. My aunt, the aunt who was like a second mom to me, is behind me. She died when I was 15. So many years ago. Yet when I close my eyes I can still hear her voice. I can still see her drag on her cigarette (Virginia Slims if I remember correctly), pause, blow out the smoke, and prepare to drop some wisdom.

And she is saying to me, "Your time isn't up yet."

It isn't. But I do feel like I am between lives. This time would be the intermission in the movie about me, the time where the audience goes out to the lobby or the bathroom and wonders how the narrative threads of my life are going to be resolved. I know this isn't Hollywood and there is no guarantee they will aunt's biography was cut off abruptly with so many questions unanswered. I think, though, that there may be some resolution to what's gone before in my life. Perhaps sooner than I expect.

I'm afraid, though, I don't want to put those resolutions down here. Not in this journal. Not under this name. This isn't the right place for that. I don't know what that right place is, but I know this isn't it. People come to this board for answers they can't find anywhere else to questions they feel afraid to ask elsewhere. I feel that although once my story was helpful to those people, it's developed into a narrative that doesn't belong here. Sort of like if you bought a ticket to see an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, and you sat down to a performance of Chekov's Uncle Vanya. It has its place. That place just isn't here.

If any of you are interested in what I'm going to do next, I don't mind if you PM me--when I figure out where I'm going to write next I will let you know. And I will understand if nobody does, too. But I want to thank you all for supporting me during some really bad times. I just wish I could have done more for the rest of you.