I used to look at my past and shudder. I did some terrible things that only youth would let you get away with. I deliberately avoid people and places that link me to the past because I’m ashamed to introduce my present to it, but recently I’ve been looking at it with exceptionally rose tinted glasses. Every now and again I look back and rather than recoil with disgust I actually miss it. I miss the fun and reckless abandonment. I miss the spontaneity and care free attitude towards life.
I then look at those things around me in an attempt to anchor myself to the joy of now, but when I’m sat all alone in my house with pizza boxes around me and the hangover of yet another failed diet I struggle to see it. I have no control of my finances, my time, or my priorities. I walked around the shops today and saw a GoPro Session, with accessories, for £150 and really wanted to buy it. I didn’t. I hadn’t sat down and discussed the purchase with my wife going over pros and cons of the price and asking those questions that Martin ‘Fucking’ Lewis has ingrained into us: Do I need it? Can I afford it? Can I live without it? Even though I could easily afford it, I most definitely didn’t need it and I would easily live without it, but why should it matter? A similar thing happened walking around a pet store looking at overpriced tortoises and the associated extras that you need to buy with them, but I really wanted one. I even contemplated joining a gym because, quite frankly, the free one I have at work is shit. But the only time I’ll be able to get to use it is straight after work. I have my family, so my choice seems to be spend time with them or be at the gym, I can’t have both.
I remember one time walking into a travel agent in Bedford and them telling me that if I could make it to Manchester by 0530 the following morning I could get a two week all inclusive holiday to Cancun for a little over £300. Did I go? Damn right I did, because I was in control of my time. Spontaneity and fun were realities and luxuries that I could afford. My priority was enjoying life. Now it seems there is no time for me to enjoy life, I feel like I always have to put the considerations of my family first, then if there’s anything left over we’ll get to me. If you’re a Friends fan, the best analogy I can come up with is that I’ve gone from being Fun Bobby to Ridiculously Dull Bobby, but I haven’t got permission to buy a hammer and I’m not allowed to walk around the village at midnight.
I can already hear you telling me to dry my eyes, grow up, and have a reality check. I have a beautiful family and of course I should put them first. A friend once used to say, “As long as I have a pack of cigarettes in my back pocket and a roof over my head, my family can have everything else because I love them and they deserve it.” Unfortunately I’m much more selfish than that. I want to enjoy my one shot at life as well. As morbid as this is, and I really don’t mean for it to come across as callous, but the friend that used to say this died of cancer at the age of 32. Rather than to the contrary, the fact that along with him I’ve lost three friends in their 30s to natural causes, one to blood poisoning, and one to suicide, it’s actually made me that much more selfish and desperate to enjoy what little time I could have left on this planet. But right now I’m going through a little slump that is convincing me it’s not possible.
I’ve left almost every parenting group that I was a member of on Facebook. I was fed up of only ever getting responses from “perfect” husbands and fathers who have never felt a day of sadness, loneliness, or regret in their lives criticising me for being a shitty husband and dad for being so selfish. For these guys, they get enough joy seeing smiles on their kids’ faces; they make love to their wives every night, never forget anniversaries, and always remember to be deeply romantic despite holding down two jobs and taking their kids to three different activity classes every day. Regardless whether what they say online is actually true or not, I’m fed up of seeing all these great guys living happy ever after. I’m fed up of thinking I’m the only parent who feels guilty for wanting to be selfish and spoil themselves without having to schedule it in the diary months in advance or go through a spreadsheet of balances to get financial approval.
My stepdad said that he heard a brilliant song that sums me up and I think he’s right. Melancholy Man by the Moody Blues almost certainly seems to be written about me.
By all the good men this world’s ever known. Another man is what you’ll see, Who looks like you and looks like me, And yet somehow he will not feel the same, His life caught up in misery, he doesn’t think like you and me, ‘Cause he can’t see what you and I can see.
I should say that I’m not after advice here, just a sympathetic non-judgemental ear. Thank you in advance……hopefully.