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April 29, 2006


I value questions more highly than answers because questions always have corresponding answers.

I was talking with a friend today who is about to start a period of separation from his wife. The conversation reminded me of my first couple of months of separation.

In October of 2005, as I lay in the bath, I thought that I was losing everything, all that I had worked for over the past decade: a home, a family, a life. Thoughts of suicide passed through my mind: should I jump from Beachy Head, slit my wrists, or take an overdose? I remember feeling shame when I was with other people: I felt that I had failed as a man; that I had failed at marriage and failed as a father. Grim and unrealistic images of years of living in a bed-sit flashed through my mind.

For days I had been unable to sleep because of anxiety, and because of these suicidal thoughts I went to see the doctor. He prescribed a 10mg dose of amitriptyline before sleep; the same dose given to a child who is wetting the bed. Needing to use chemicals made me feel like even more of a failure. I resisted for a while and then I tried it for a few nights. I slept well. But then when I stopped using it, I found that I had really intense and disturbing dreams. I realized that it was suppressing my process and I decided to stop.

The doctor was really cool because he also suggested mapping out all possible options and outcomes, good and bad, on a mind map; I did that and it was very helpful. He also recommended Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), which I haven't tried yet.

I went to stay with my mum; that's what really saved me. I just packed up and stayed there for a couple of weeks. She burned logs on the fire for me and gave me food. It really helped to be with my mum. I love her so much and I really appreciate her looking after me.

After a while the feeling of being a failure passed. I realized that I'd been basing my identity partly on being a "family man". Even though it can be fulfilling, it doesn't define me. I'd still like to have a family of my own one day; one that lives with me. I had wanted that before; I had wanted to create and provide the family environment that I didn't have as a kid.

Without realizing it, I had created a family just as unhealthy as the one that I came from. And the reason I did that was because I didn't know anything else. I felt a need for safety, intimacy, and love, but I just didn't know how to create that because what I learned from my parents was not healthy. The dysfunction in the family that I created was very subtle but just as damaging as that in my childhood family. No matter how hard I tried to make it different, the dysfunction just sprung up in some other form because I still needed to work on removing the root.

Now I'm learning to have a healthy relationship with myself. At some point I'll be able to have a healthy relationship with another person. And then perhaps we'll bring a child into the world and we'll have a healthy family.

I'm pleased that I didn't kill myself. Since last October I've found out so much more about myself and about the world. There is so much sweetness everywhere. I have also made at least a hundred new and very special friends since then, and I'm really excited about the future.

"Thanks for the warm, open-hearted, honest and happy story of you." — Charley

"[this] is really touching. I love you." — Rosie


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