It’s the middle of January, and the last three months are hard to describe. They were intense.
My relationship with F went through some pretty radical ups and downs. One of the best things was that we went on a road trip to France together, for six days, in early November. It was incredibly harmonious, fun, interesting, relaxing, inspiring, … it was a very good trip. But it was intense, too. Spending 24 hours, every day all day, together, after having met only a few weeks before, that’s intense. Yet I would have said that it brought us even closer together. That is what it felt like during the journey.
But then things went into a different direction: After the trip, for both of us a period of incredibly high work intensity began. From the middle of November until the middle of December, I had to work very hard on a number of things: two fairly long and tiring trips for our film project (one to South Korea), plus some work here at home on our climate change show, I also got ill for a few days (including one evening when we were actually performing the climate change show, I muscled through), and then I worked very hard on an application for funding for the climate protection NGO. And in all of this there’s always the undercurrent of dread and fear that I carry around with me, about the state of the world, and that I let bleed into F’s life, way too early for the little that we knew of each other. At the same time, F had her own issues to worry about — as a freelance artist, she has a lot of doubt about the direction she is headed in, she is insecure about her path, plus she had to work incredibly hard, juggling a number of jobs at the same time, and she was suffering from a depressive spell. And so she was withdrawing into her life to somehow handle it all. And as she was pulling away, I became needy, feeling her slip, wanting her more, while at the same time dropping all of my emotional baggage on her living room floor … There was no fighting, there wasn’t any falling-out, but we weren’t on a good path. Finally, about a week before Christmas she called for a break, and for a time-out. And said she couldn’t feel this relationship anymore.
Christmas then was bleak, I had imagined it very differently, but now it was very much coloured and shaped by my thinking about her and us, and trying to keep my calm, and maintaining my distance. In addition, my mother was not well over Christmas, and so it was not a fun affair at the end of last year. When I returned to the city after Christmas, I thought that it would get easier, when I would be back in my home. But it wasn’t, it got a lot worse, I started to positively obsess over the whole matter, trying to wrap my head and heart around what had gone wrong, and what she might be feeling and thinking, one minute being self-confident in what we had between us, the next despondent and utterly depressed about something incredibly wonderful that now seemed to be slipping through my fingers. It was hard, really really hard. I relied on three friends, Nana, Kal and Rum, to help me through my days, calling them several times per day, needing them in my frustration and in my pain. And I spent New Year’s Eve party-hopping with Ian, who’s also a good friend to share a thought with.
The one thing I did manage to do, in all of this, was to keep my distance. I left her the space she wanted, and did not show much (if any) of my turmoil.
And then, after the new year, we began to approach each other again. It started with a long evening in a bar, having drinks and just talking. Not about our issues, just chilling out. And then, a few days later, she came to my place, to talk through her “work worries” together, and see how I could help with those. And that turned into a completely magical evening and night, we were up until 6, and it was amazing. And I feel that now we’re on a much better path than we were on before all of this happened.
Part of it has to do with my own understanding of what went wrong on my end. It’s two things. One, over Christmas I realised that I am sick of tired of carrying the weight of the world around on my shoulders. It’s insane, I cannot live like that, I won’t, and it has to stop. Even more so, because I am already dedicating pretty much my entire professional life to trying to effect change, and be a force of good. If that is what I am doing on a daily basis, I have the fucking right to stop obsessing over climate change and the insanity of our global economic system in the evenings, on weekends, when I am with F. And secondly, I realised that she needs and wants a strong shoulder. I wasn’t that towards the end of last year. I was needy and small. So I need to make a much stronger effort to be upright, and strong. Which I can. And it doesn’t mean that I cannot feel weak sometimes, and overwhelmed, or need help. But it concerns more my general outlook in life with her. Do I walk into her life small and needy, or with an attitude of “we can do this together”? Realising these two things was very helpful.
It doesn’t mean that I always get it right — I am only human, after all. But I am trying, and I know what I need to do. And we’ve had some incredibly beautiful moments in these past weeks, which I am very happy about and grateful for.