Everyone tells you to look for a silver lining when you’re going through difficult times. Less widely championed is the truth that hope can be a very dangerous thing. I found myself hoping even when I was in the middle of despair. It’s the only way to convince yourself that you can still be happy when you’re not.
Hope came in the smallest forms. It could have been a look, a smile, a plan for the future, our future. Whether that future seemed to stretch on for eternity or be the coming weekend, weeks or months, when Megan planned something, anything that included me in her future I was hooked. I could believe that we were in this together and that everything would work out Ok in the end.
We were all set for our trip to Paris, the Eurostar tickets were printed and safely pinned to our noticeboard. The apartment was finally booked for the week and we made plans. We planned to enjoy Paris together like we had always imagined. Megan sent me links to web articles about things to do while we were away. From the love locks on the bridge at Notre dame, taking a trip up the Eifel Tower and enjoying spectacular views from the Sacre Corue.
Just before we would travel we would celebrate our one year anniversary. Then we’d have my birthday together in Paris before coming back to the end of the Pride weekend in London and Megan’s birthday the following weekend. Our immediate future looked pretty bright. That’s not to say however that everything was easy and that we were both overflowing with happiness, it was just enough to give us hope and keep us hanging in there.
Once or twice when Megan had been working late I found myself looking under my side of the bed for the little box I had stashed away from our earlier dating days. In there I knew I would find the hordes of notes, receipts and trinkets from the moments we had shared so happily. I quickly found what I was looking for, the diary Megan had given me at Christmas, filled with sticky-notes of all the things we should do together in 2013.
Megan had become disillusioned with living in London so quickly, we stayed so much in Brentford that we couldn’t really say we were living in London at all to tell the truth. However when I found the list again it was clear that so much of what Megan had planned for 2013 revolved around spending and enjoying time together in London. The possibility was now on her doorstep and she was completely turned off by the idea these days.
Sure, things had gotten hard just when they should have been going great. Megan blamed her depression and we quickly settled into that insufferable routine. I’m beginning to think I’m not the biggest fan of routines. I crave change or new experiences. As much as I can be constant in my feelings and expression of them, I can’t be content with the bear minimum. Our lives had been the bear minimum for a long time.
Was it really depression causing all the pain between us? I can’t honestly say it was. I wanted to believe it was. I wanted to believe it so much that I even talked to a therapist about it, how to live with someone suffering through depression. What would that mean for me and what I needed out of a relationship, was it even fair for me to expect anything from her if she was in such a dark place? I couldn’t even seem to think about anything else, like work.
I was a monster while I was in the office, up and down like a rollercoaster. As long as things were going well I imagine I was the best person to work with. The moment things would go off track or get a little difficult I’d take it personally. That whole feeling of ‘I can’t do anything right’ would rear its ugly head. I had even started to wonder if the job was even right for me, I blamed anything but what was really causing my struggles.
It was hard for the people around me too. Over time my colleagues had become friends, when I was happy they were happy for me. The day they had seen me looking at an engagement ring months ago as I wondered if Paris could be the start of forever with Megan they were excited for me. They shared in my hopes and happiness and in return I shut them out when we hit the rocks. I wouldn’t let anyone know what was going on and continued to paint a happy picture to everyone on the outside, as much as I could.
It had become no secret that I was a ticking time-bomb over something. All I could do was try to fix whatever might be within my control to fix. I looked over the list of things to do in 2013, I decided to try and make it happen for her, for us. I bought us tickets to see a show in London, Paris was already booked. There was things like both get a tattoo and god knows what else. Perhaps if she remembered all the reasons she might love living in London, living with me. Then maybe, just maybe that glimmer of hope might turn into the real thing.
In the back of my mind there was the start of a niggling feeling that had taken root unconsciously and was now beginning to break through into how I thought about everything I was going through. It was that warning bell that tells you that you’ve been here and that the explanation is obvious, she’s cheating on you and you’re struggling at work because you’re not being given a fair chance to prove yourself.
I’d spent so long telling myself that thoughts like that were my demons to bear, that I couldn’t feed them or let them take up any space in my head. I’d never trust anyone if I expected them to cheat on me and that I’d never get ahead at work if I didn’t make my career happen instead of just going to work every day. As the thoughts broke through I could chose to let them take over or I could wilfully deny any possibility and give in to blind hope that everything would right itself in the end.
I hoped… I was too scared to think about what it would mean for us if it wasn’t her depression causing all our troubles. I was too anxious about that to care much about work, that demon would only get stronger.