So with the events of my trip to the UK behind me, and my still aching ego nagging at me, I nursed my wounds for a short while. Then I ended up back at uni, this time as an employee. I got straight back into my theatre work, and resigned myself to the life of a single, mediocre actor, working to keep alive. I moved in with a long time friend and left behind staying with my parents. I needed to work myself out.
Incidentally, I had moved out previously during my years at uni (as a student), but it was short-term. When my flat mates decided to get married and get a place of their own, I went back to my parents. That was before England of course.
An interesting thing happens when you stop looking for things, or stop worrying about not having things; they stop getting you down, and they have a tendency to find you instead.
The job I had at uni was working alongside my course controller, from when I was a student, in the development of an on-line, Professional Educator Development course. It was for teachers at all levels, and focus on the use of technology, in its carious forms, as tools in the classroom. I was even given an entire unit of my own to develop, deploy and teach. It was great work.
I also connected with a woman who would go on to be my wife. We had actually met briefly before I had left for my ill-fated trip overseas, but my plans were in place and I wasn’t really thinking of anything else at the time. The story of how we got started is peculiar for those who knew me in the old days.
I’d been back a while before it happened, and had done a few seasons of theatre up in the hills. I recall, almost as if yesterday, walking out from the theatre into the foyer. There was the usual mill of people around, and I was on the look-out for my agent who I had recently signed up with. Sadly they never showed and that partnership was short-lived.
Then I saw her. I swear that the room around me when to shades of grey as a spot-light of colour focused on this one woman. Initially, I did not recognise her from previous meetings (there had been a couple), and so what I did next was so completely out-of-character, I still wonder today what came over me.
I walked right up to her and her small group, said, “I’ll be right back, just going to get a drink” and did exactly that. I pretty much ignored, without thought, everyone else in the room, and that was the beginning of a new direction in life. I had never before expressed such confidence and bravado. It didn’t shock me until much later, after the thrill had worn off.
Our relationship was exciting, frightening, stressful, wonderful. It was a little whirlwind turbulent. I quickly realised how naive I was about many things, but I was committed to making it work, as best I could. I made some embarrassing and almost deal breaking mistakes. I fumbled emotionally through many things, and found myself having to learn very quickly about things I never realised existed.
It wasn’t my first relationship. I had had a few previously, but most lasted between a day to a fortnight before simply not being anything any more. I look back, and I know I tried far to hard than I really should. I potentially made things worse.We both brought our baggage and dealing with that was a new, and difficult challenge for me.
At the end of my two-year contract with the uni, I was let go. My work performance had dropped, and they simply could not justify my employment any further. This was shortly after my partner went through a painful and distressful ectopic pregnancy. I ended up working as a contract trainer doing odd job for a number of training establishments. We proposed to each other. I did mine in the privacy of our house… I was a little chicken all right! She had the balls to do it at a restaurant, which got us a free champaign. WIN!
A Proud Dad
We married in December of 2000. Then, on September 11, 2001, our daughter Hayley was born. I remember holding our little girl in the Birthing centre, watching the news about planes going into the World Trade Centre. It was surreal. For months after, the TV was dominated with articles on the event, and we wanted to focus on our daughter. So we didn’t watch a lot of TV for a long time. I focused on developing my training connections to keep the work coming in, and my theatre dropped off almost completely. I was, I am proud to say, a hands on dad.
Those first few years were stressful and incredible, for both of us. We went through extremes highs one day to extreme lows the next. We were learning a whole new way of life from nothing. We got into a habit of waking every two hours during the night to feed Hayley. I would get out to get Hayley, as her mum got herself ready. I would then sit beside and read until they were finished, and then return Hayley to her cot. I wanted to be a part of the process somehow.
Then Hayley didn’t seem to want to wake up, but we persisted anyway. She didn’t want to feed, which was troubling, and eventually frustrating. We eventually sort professional help, and their advice was, let her sleep. If she wants to sleep, let her sleep. So after two further stressful nights where we let her sleep, but worried that she was still all right, we eventually were able to relax ourselves. We were lucky that Hayley weaned so quickly. I have since heard far to many stories about children taking far longer. Not sure how I would have handled that.
This was pretty much our life, new things would crop up. We got scared by what it meant, found out better, then onto the next crisis. However, the stress of it all, the before and after, took its toll on both of us,. The relationship, little by little began to erode. There were other things; medical, psychological, fiscal, etc, that further exacerbated the relationship.
In my work life, I was offered some long-term contract work with the Department of Corrective Services, and after the instability of contract training, the thought a period of regular pay was very appealing. This eventually lead to permanent full-time employment with the Department of the Attorney General, making our future a little more secure. Yet even the regular working hours took a further toll.
A Defeated Man
It wasn’t long before I found myself in uncomfortable, yet overly familiar waters; questioning my reason for being. I blamed myself for the breaking down of the marriage, and it was easy. I knew myself best, and knew my faults best, so being able to attribute the changes to things in me was… like riding a bike. I actually rationalised that if I were to die, not by suicide mind, but die all the same, that they would be better off because of the insurance on me, and I wondered how I could arrange that.
I felt like I was not good enough. That I couldn’t be loved, because there was nothing to love.
Find the entire Hard Road series here.