Oscar brings us the third instalment of Taking Time, a diary series about intermission.
CN: Intermitting, exams, smoking
My boss told me I seemed sad about five times today. It’s nice of him to notice, sure; and it’s nice that he thinks that’s out of the ordinary. But I wish I didn’t seem sad.
Adjusting to living full-time at home with my parents is seeming more difficult than it should. When you have a constant sense of being in crisis you can become oblivious to the fact that other people have their own burdens, concerns and such like, which are entirely justified, and must be given space and thought. I’m gradually grappling with the norms of home, which while by no means oppressive, are by necessity more rigid than those at university. I suppose it’s largely since I did so much of my maturing in those two short terms I had at Cambridge.
Speaking of Cambridge, I have finally (yay!) had confirmation and documentation of intermitting. Which is great. I now no longer feel as though I’ve simply disappeared. Some things about it are a bit odd, but these will be ironed out with further communication. I don’t, for example, have any rules set in place about my rights as a visitor in Cambridge – whether I can still go to the May Ball I’ve forked out for, for example.
“Being at home makes me feel more stable, even if I am feeling sad a lot of the time.”
But it’s strange now that I am home and almost settled and happy with a non-Cantab life, I don’t feel any desire to go back to the institution and course that so directly fed my misery. This will all play out with time, I suppose. Being at home makes me feel more stable (how is it possible that politics can so easily poison vocabulary!?), even if I am feeling sad a lot of the time.
Things are happening to really help out, though. I’ve had a consultation session with a therapist, which was incredibly valuable. I was very apprehensive beforehand, especially about having my parents in the consultation with me, but it was actually a brilliant experience; a balance of catharsis, construction and critical evaluation of my historic and current ways of thinking and acting. I’m seeing this therapist now weekly over the next four weeks, and will likely continue beyond that, despite crossing the obstacle of
M o v i n g h o u s e.
My parents have wanted to escape London for years. That coupled with a change of job meant that they were sparked to put the house I’ve spent the last fourteen years in on the market. At first this was very much to be their move and their new house, but then as intermission gradually became reality, its impact on my life became more necessary. We accepted an offer on our house, and eventually had an offer accepted on another. Things were all ready to go. I was excited to have somewhere new, despite the collateral loss of all remaining social life I have in London, and the inevitable loss of my job, of which I’m becoming fond. Moving to the country was to be an adventure, but one we could predict. Then our purchase fell through, straight after we agreed our sale. Now we’re faced with a move-out date and nowhere to go. The plan is to rent somewhere for six months or so while we look afresh for somewhere to buy.
As much as I want to detach from this, the inherent insecurity of my dwelling – absurdly – is really playing on my mind. I don’t know where I’ll be, whether I’ll have any chance of a job or a social life, any degree of independence. Factually these things should be fine, but I’m nervous nonetheless.
While that is obviously scary and unstable and somewhat undermining my resilience, I have reasons to feel good. I’m financially doing fine – my job pays very well, thanks to the hard work of campaigners for the London Living Wage, and my outgoings are very low. I’m in the early stages of seeing someone new, which is very nice, and I feel will help me in many ways – rebuilding a sense of myself, regaining a sort of social (I shy away from the idea of morality) compass, and building a new circle of friends. And I’m planning to start having piano lessons again, something that has always brought me a huge amount of joy, an outlet for my feelings, and a sense of accomplishment.
“I am certain that it has to be the best it can be. I feel that’s become a theme for me. I expend much of my energy on making sure I never cease to believe that things will be good.”
After the move, my plan is to spend one day a week in London, touching base with the city that raised me, having a session with my therapist and a piano lesson, seeing friends old and new, engaging with the culture I’ve always thrived on. But living in the country will have its own advantages and opportunities. I’ll have more space for thinking and experiencing the world; easier access to different parts of the country – we’ll be much closer to my grandparents, and many other family members and friends. I am certain that it has to be the best it can be. I feel that’s become a theme for me. I expend much of my energy on making sure I never cease to believe that things will be good. I hope this is a good strategy. I don’t know, but maybe my therapist does.
I’m excited to have serious professional help finally happening, a space in which I can really assess the things that are putting me in the situations I’m in. I’m also really excited for May Week. Headline act announcements are making things feel vivid (and worth the investment), and the promise of good weather, a friend’s birthday, seeing everyone without them all being snowed under with revision and so on are really pushing me on.
Things are quite exciting, albeit uncertain. I’ve also stopped smoking altogether, which is good. Steps like this will help me in the long run, I’m sure. I just have a few hurdles left before I can really start to see the big picture. I’ll get there.
I don’t know what will happen next week. By the way, this column is becoming less weekly and more like every nine or ten days. I hope you forgive me ❤