Monday, July 17, 2006

Uncomfortably Numb

Katy asked me “what is wrong?” My mood has been solemn, I'm not talking very much and it’s been that way for a few days.

It’s not convincing to say “I’m OK”, “There’s nothing wrong” but it is not something easy for me to explain.

So what’s up?

It could be that I am lacking a mission, devoid of motivation and slipped into a comfort of numbness. Or perhaps that there are things going on around me that make me sad.

Is “sad “the right word? Well, it’s in the ballpark.

We went a saw a French film on Saturday night. Apart from hiding a rubber gecko in our bucket of popcorn (which made Katy shreek), it was a disturbing film. No one does dark and disturbing like the French. Not wanting to spoil the ending for you (hence not giving the title), let me just say that there was a man who’s whole existence had become so unbearable and without meaning to him that he took his own life, and another who was so self absorbed, that the events did little to change him.

It is more than the film though. At breakfast on Saturday, I was asked whether I missed my children and that it must be hard since they live 2,000 kilometres away. My standard response is that there is no point dwelling on the circumstances and I tend not elaborate much. The truth is, that I am sad for my children that they do not have a daily influence from their father. They are missing the attention to their daily development, encouragement and guidance from me. I do not want to deter or cast any negative judgement about those who attend to this now and still believe that this is best for them.

None of this is new ........ and it has been that way for years, so why now? My parents stayed with us last week. First time ..... EVER!!! There has always been an understanding that they love me and I feel the same, but it is rarely said. As such, the times that we do “talk” are more intensive and meaningful. And by “talk” I mean the infrequent conversations that touch on emotion, feelings and items beyond the superficial. At dinner, mum asked how long I was legally required to support Clare and Andrew and this quickly progressed to the time I left home.

First year of a degree in Computer Science (18 to 19 years of age) and I scrapped through the first half of the year without applying myself to the studies, as I had done my whole life. Applied Calculus and Computer Architecture Design failed to spark any interest and I found I was unable to bluff my way through these subjects. There have been few topics I couldn’t get through without using a last minute concentrated effort to “learn” the fundamentals. Those subjects qualified, as did the French language in my first year of high school. I didn’t “get” that language in much the same way as Joey from the episode of Friends, where he blubbered away cluelessly thinking that the noises he made were “French”.

So with a few failed subjects in my first year of a Computer Science degree, I sat down with my parents and decided that I should get a job. For most of my life they had funded my education, they both worked “to get by” and mum said “I’m not doing shift work for you to bludge”. It wasn’t until last week’s dinner conversation bringing this up again, that a wave of guilt washed over me. I can rationalise that my lack of maturity and the history of a spoon-fed college life, more intent on results than real learning, contributed to the situation of my lack of preparedness to support myself. I landed on my feet and got a job that gave me enough money to do whatever I wanted and still without the need or desire to really apply and struggle for a goal.

Clare and Andrew will need support, encouragement and guidance to prepare then for their transition to independence. My thoughts and outlook on how this should be done are probably different than what will happen, but are not necessarily better. It is a tough decision to “take away the trainer wheels” and a tougher one for me to decide I will never get to do it.

These sorts of feelings never leave me and stay below the surface most of the time. My parents visit, a film and couple of brief conversations that would have otherwise failed to register much, have coincided in a lull where Katy’s other interests have left me alone and I am not driven to plan the next adventure or focus on a significant milestone like finding a new house, moving or changing employer. As far as the quiet reflection and solemn mood goes, these are the things I usually keep to myself. Usually I get away with tears in a movie or a chance to contemplate my thoughts out on a long run.

Don’t get me wrong, turn the clock back and it would be not change where I am today. I love Katy and enjoy all that we share, this is one thing that doesn’t apply to her. As for not discussing this, there are two reasons for it. The first is being reluctant to open myself to scrutiny and the other is that I’m not looking for a solution and it's not thoughts I would normally share.


Blogger Chelle said...

Wow, thats a very honest post.
I am sure the sad days will pass and there are a lot of happy and well-deserved ones in the near future.. Its hard being away from your family I know.

3:14 pm  
Blogger Bolder said...

thanks for sharing.

it made me think of Hemmingway's "Islands in the Stream"... be glad for the time that you have had together, and for future opportunities.

we all get dealt certain hands.

3:20 pm  
Blogger Tesso said...

Had I known you were feeling so melancholy this morn I would've given you a huuuuge Tesso hug.

6:32 pm  
Blogger IHateToast said...

for the americans...
college here is private school.

and i KNEW you weren't fine... try to tell me you're fine. i knew you weren't fine!

Nous avons vu le film Caché.

now i hvae to go and try to convince both of us to call in sick tomorrow. it won't work, but it'll be fun to try.

8:55 pm  
Blogger Tammy said...

Thanks for sharing Mark. We all have days/times like this. I think they keep us in balance...overall. It's good to reflect. Just relax and let it go through you, it will.

Now... chin up, mate! {{HUGS}}

12:05 am  
Blogger Susan said...

tooastt . . . cheer up . . . i know it's hard - but Katy could walk around in her underwear or something.

1:30 am  
Blogger Black Knight said...

I also watched a French movie: the final of the world cup! By the way I am sorry for your feeling in this moment. Please take your time and relax, perhaps the wonderful Pink Floyd's music "Comfortably Numb" can help.

3:20 am  
Blogger Ginger Breadman said...

Such a different kind of post for you who's always the comedian. It's interesting to see another side. I'm not going to scrutinize at all. I think it's great that not only were you able to identify some issues you are having, but are able to talk/write about them. That's hugely therapeutic. As for the issues - it's all life - take it one day at a time and you'll get through it.

10:00 am  
Blogger Scott said...

Great sharing Mark... these are my favourite kind of posts to read.

10:50 am  
Blogger Robert Song said...

Mate, things can always looker greener on the otherside.

It can be just as demoralising being around your kids "full time" and them not taking any of your efforts to encourage or motivate them seriously.

Still with tricks like the gecko in the popcorn , they really have a master to look up to and learn from.

5:43 pm  
Blogger D said...

I tried commenting earlier but Blogger was not cooperating with me!

One of the funniest and happiest bloggers is having a bad day. Cheer up! You're great! Besides, you can't stay down for too long, your wife is hilarious and will definitely cheer you up!

7:13 am  
Blogger E-Speed said...

It is good you and Katy have so much fun together all the time. I am sure you aren't really "down" under very much.

That must be hard being eaway from your kids. But I am sure they love you and cherish the time they get to spend with you!

6:49 am  
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