It has been eight months since my last blog, which feels like a long time but at least has the advantage of making it easier to reflect on the highs and lows that have happened in that time.
I was pretty much ready to move job - indeed, thought I was going to get an offer in March. But March turned into June, June went to August, August to September - when I was actually interviewed - but since then, neither a yes or no.
Which perhaps would not have been so bad if it hadn't coincided with a very tough year in my own job. My company was not bringing in any new clients, and the summer was deathly quiet. I literally ran out of work, to the extent I used annual leave to take odd days off when I had nothing to do. Which sounds great, except for someone that can't cope very well without a plan and structure. A day off at home with no-one to spend it with is my idea of hell. I played golf and generally got frustrated and angry. Or I just curled up at home and got very depressed. I would have much rather been doing a new job that was more engaging after 16 years in my current role. I was starting to think I was capable of so much more.
In the Spring I had a batch of dates - somehow when I am in a place to date I seem to get lots of possibilities all at once. One a I liked a lot. She was tall and gorgeous and lovely. We seemed to get on so well and we had a great laugh -we had another date lined up before the first one ended. But after a few texts she cancelled and said she was not ready to date. Which I took as a polite way of saying she did not find me attractive after all, and went into a downward spiral from there. Which wasn't pretty.
I picked myself up though and dated the other girls in the batch, none of which came to anything which was really disheartening - how hard is it to meet someone??? I think I had five dates in the space of a few weeks - you'd think one would work out. Let alone my own relationship issues, everyone else seemed to have so much of their own stuff going on no wonder it is so hard to form good relationships as you get older.
So I was bored at work, playing golf terribly, and my love life was barren. I wasn't the happiest of people. I went on a holiday and came home early as I felt lonely and down. I ended up using the time to go into a dating agency and choosing some more women to date, and would you believe got on well with one of them. Four months later we are still together.
I can't report that relationship suddenly transformed my life and made me boundlessly happy and well adjusted. I occasionally meet someone who says they met their partner and knew quickly that they were right for each other. The only people I meet who seem perfect are the ones who don't want to date me. I guess that way the fantasy of their perfection always stays intact.
Reality for me is coming to terms with imperfection. Being able to cope with playing golf badly is particularly hard when I know I can play so much better. I get frustrated to the extent I still want to break clubs over my knee - I can barely contain my frustration and anger. Yet what golfer does not play badly? I could give up, but 30 years on I still play, and every winter look forward to the weather being warm enough again to play.
So I am having to work on my expectations around golf, and how I cope with playing poorly. Relationships are no different. I stopped believing in the perfect woman ages ago, although part of me still thinks that if I was to get a tall gorgeous, toned girl from yoga I would be so much happier. Meanwhile my reality is being with someone who really cares about me, who I like, who accepts me despite eating loudly, not liking holidays and being a moody bastard sometimes.
The truth is, overall, I am better for having this lady in my life. But it has taken quite a few courses on how to relate, six years of therapy, and a few relationships that have not worked out, to be able to make this one work OK. To me, there is a definite skill of being in relationship. Of being able to show who I am and how I feel - good and bad. Being able to sort out and negotiate the differences, as there is always plenty of that. Certainly much easier to not discuss them, but where's the connection in that? Being able to accept someone else despite them not being a picture of perfection. Knowing at the same time I am certainly not. It is still a challenge, that's for sure.
Very recently I got an email from someone whose life was falling apart. Triggered by an ex-girlfriend falling for his friend. But the extent to which this person's life unravelled was significant, as it had done in the past. It really made me aware of how important it is to be able find a way to cope with life's challenges. For me, more male friends has definitely helped, as has actually being able to talk about how I feel to them and my therapist. And starting to realise that it is not realistic that life will go my way all the time, and that part of life is dealing with the bad stuff it throws at you.
It is 14 years since I tried to kill myself. It feels like a lifetime away. I still don't know the meaning of life. I just know it serves me better not to try and think about the answer. The more I focus on the present, the better I generally feel. For me, and I suspect for many others reading this, there will not be some "secret" to life that will make it feel OK. Often, life feels like a struggle, and sometimes hopelessly so. I just graft hard and try to get to OK. To have more of those days where I wake up and feel life is allright. Occasionally, it even feels good in short bursts. That'd not to say it is a s good as I'd like it. By no means. But it is better than it was. I'll take it.