I admit, I’m hope…


Let’s call him TIMBL.

I’ve been with my boyfriend, man-friend, person I sleep with, partner, other half for almost two years now. I don’t often write about him because he doesn’t like to be written about. I have to hide my appreciation of him in public, on social media, and generally even with friends. That bothers me because I want to be able to share with the world that I found this person who makes me really happy; someone who, even with our incredible differences and often wildly different perspectives on the world, how it works, other humans, morning wake-up times, etc., I know is a very good person. I’ve known that from the beginning.

Me? Well, I’m a mess these days. Is that always the case? Is it always us being the messes and our partners cleaning us up and putting us straight? (The us being the group of writers and bloggers that I have read for years.) The short answer is no; but we all have our peaks and valleys and, while I’m a fairly well put-together human being on most days, recently I have been in a very weird valley.

I admit, I’m hopeless.

That, my dears, is for later.

TIMBL is quite a bit younger than me, but that means he’s got a ton of energy. He’s caring and thoughtful and loves me and encourages me and even though I tell him he’s not funny at all most of the time, in secret I laugh at how silly and stupid he is. He’s handsome and talented, and somehow, though he doesn’t need to be, also wildly insecure (unnecessary, boyfriend!). He surrounds himself with good, genuine, honest, funny people; and he is equally at home in the company of men (as long as they are musicians, cyclists, programmers, or a combination of the three) or women (as long as they are quirky and silly). He’s a feminist, though he’d never call himself that, and he gets better at being one day by day.

I’ll admit that most of the problem areas in our relationship are because of me (even if he has his own shit to work on) — I have my insecurities, my secrets, my ambitions that I don’t know how to work toward, my fears, my moods — but he never (or rarely) blames me, or calls me out, or feeds them in any way. He mostly just laughs and hugs me and tells me I’m crazy, which, I am. I often refuse to believe that I would do or say silly things ever. But he always reminds me that I do, and that I have a bad memory, and I guess I’m not too bothered by that.

I admit, I’m hopeless.

Why start with this long description of my man-bae? Well, it’s a hugely necessary thing to understand for the rest of this. I promise.

I left my job at an international organisation a couple of months ago with the aim of finding a new path in life. I was bored stiff and had lost myself and my ambition in there somewhere. And that decision. Was. Hard. I’m 35. “Spring chicken” and “tons of time” are phrases that just don’t apply anymore. TIMBL was supportive throughout, but there wasn’t a moment that passed before that fateful final day of real life, big girl day job wherein I wasn’t panic stricken about what I would be doing with my time off and with my life thereafter. I’m too old to recreate myself. What if I can’t do anything anymore? I don’t even know where to start. I’m not creative enough now. I’ve lost my spark. I have no energy for it. I am scared. It’s too much… it’s too late… it’s too big… what am I doing??

So, I did the only natural thing I could think of and, every day since 1 September, I have almost blissfully avoided putting any thought into any of it. (I stress about it every day).

I admit, I’m hopeless.

Instead I found other things to pour myself into. I worked on other, small contracts to help friends, I went to Japan for a thrilling two-and-a-half week adventure, I went on small weekend trips with TIMBL, numerous friends came to visit and we galavanted around the city, and I started to check off my bucket list of all the things I never did or saw during the almost three years I have lived in Paris.

All the while, TIMBL, this uncertain about himself but complete rock for me, made me laugh and we continued building our long train of inside jokes while he repeatedly told me it would all be okay. Wait just a gosh darn golly second though! (Enter normal, barely-ever-calm synapse-flailing emotional upheaval.) Who is this person to tell me everything will be fine?? He is too young! (he is, right?) He knows nothing of my life! (oh, but he does.) He can’t see my brain! (um, neither can I!) What does he know of love… (enough.) of passion… (enough.) of confusion and heartache (enough.)?? He is not human! (okay, this is debatable.) 

But he is a good person, remember? I suppose I am starting to believe him now, but it took some time to come around to that.

I admit, I’m hopeless.

Meanwhile he’s had his own struggles, stresses and worries.

In just over a month, he’s leaving his job so we can travel together and “be on a create your own adventure every day”, well, adventure for a few months. Now he’s starting to feel it too — that big, ugly weight. Look, it’s frightening to not work, to not have an income, to not know where one day or one choice might lead you next! But while he is his own version of a stressbag with the end of his contract looming, he is also doing a damn fine job to be excited and look forward to the unknown.

The unknown!! 

Okay, admittedly, there is a plan — but what is that saying about, “life happening when you’re busy making other P’s?” Look, I’m accustomed to adventures. I used to thrive in a challenging environment and change? Not a problem. But I got old somewhere along the way; things started to scare me — change started to scare me.

In a younger version of myself, change was typically manageable because I was alone. I create a new self, a new being, a new outlook, a new persona and it’s okay because I have no one else calling me out on that transition, no one else I have to think about. I can easily slide into “happy, silly Me” because I’m surrounded by happy, silly people; or “depressive, opinionated Me” because, well, I live in Paris. Persona management has always been my strong point — even if TIMBL would say mood management has not been.

When a big life change is looming however, the idea of having someone else in my corner, who may be all kinds of positive and supportive (sure!), is daunting. I am responsible for this other person and I don’t like it. I need to consider his needs and his path and I don’t want to. This has to be about us forging a path together and all I want is to go it alone, make my own plans, be my own person, forge my own damn, wreckless path… but as TIMBL would say, quoting Eddie Izzard, “This is not a game of ‘Who the Fuck are You?’ and he’d be right.

I admit, I’m hopeless.

So, how does one navigate the big black hole of change when there is another person involved? Well, this one falls back to making plans. Making plans, you see, is my easy recipe for not stressing out about what’s around the corner. It keeps you focused, driven, and occupied instead of worrying yourself into a presque-coma every second of the day about all that other stuff? You have a move coming up? Plan the packing and storage and transport. You have trips to consider? Get your visas and plane and train tickets squared away and make pretty maps and itineraries. You have jobs and money and future decisions to make on where you’re going to go and work and live at the end of all of this? Honey, pull it back! One thing at a time! 

All I can say is, I’ve come to find that there is no easy, one-fits-all solution for making a big life change — especially when it’s no longer just you that you have to think about. But, you have to keep moving. I have to keep moving. We have to keep moving. And I have to keep in mind that in the beginning, being together wasn’t a decision made in solitude. He also chose me; with all my mess, he chose me. That’s saying something and I need to honour and respect that choice (as in, I am not allowed to run away).

In the end, and to celebrate and kick off this dual-person, not working for a while life of ours, we decided to take a month and travel around Spain and Portugal once he leaves his job. (A real holiday!) It will be winter, so we’ll hopefully miss all the tourists and be able to focus on what we really want to get out of this — being together and overcoming the little challenges that pop up along the way. It doesn’t sound half bad, right?

Half bad? Who are you? Where am I? Let me out!

Fuck me! Hey, does anyone have handy that “brain-worry, I think I’m going to die, I can’t do this, I’m going to just run away now, okay thanks” cutoff key? 

Breathe. Breathe dammit.

I admit, I’m hopeful?

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