For the longest time, the kids have kept me alive. I got up every morning because I had to make them breakfast and send them off to school. I got out of bed in the afternoon because I didn’t want them to think that I spent the whole day in bed (I sometimes do).
I stayed alive because I didn’t want to leave them with the legacy of suicide.
I still don’t. But I’ve often wondered how I would manage once my boys were old enough to leave home and lead their own lives without me. Once they didn’t need me on a daily, hourly basis. Once my presence wasn’t required quite so continuously.
Even though the shadow of suicide ideation is not quite as pervasive as it once was in my life, it still pokes up its ugly head frequently. Life feels hard and I don’t want to do it. There is that on one hand and my children on the other.
But I no longer stay alive just for them. I now feel I have things to get on with for myself. I have things that I want to say and write. Not so much unfinished business, but unfulfilled potential.
I’ve decided to go back to university. Next year, I’m doing a Master of Communication and after that, I might do a Master of Marketing.
On the one hand, my latest birthday (50) weighs heavily on me, but on the other, I want to prove that middle age doesn’t mean that you become stale, irrelevant and inflexible. I’ve never actually felt that, but I’ve felt angry at the attitude of younger people towards my age and grey hair. Being self-taught doesn’t hold the same currency in their generation as it does in mine.
Working part-time has also given me a new lease on life. Having someone other than my kids depend on me is like a shot of adrenaline in my chest. Not only that, but having regular VA clients, who have work for me every week, means that I do have a reason to get out of bed, other than to make breakfast.
I never thought that work would give my life meaning. And it’s not really. It’s other people depending on me that does. Working in the public service, I was just another cog in the machine, but working for solo business owners means that I’m an important member of their team. And I’m doing work that I enjoy and am good at.
I would like to do a lot more writing. This is so much harder than working for other people because it means I have to self-motivate to seek out publications to pitch to, generate ideas to pitch and then write. Although I don’t generally have problems with the last bit. Generating ideas it’s the hardest, because I rely so much on “the muse” visiting at odd times and places. Hence why there is so little fresh content on this here blog. I do have one article I promised to an online mag, but it’s a rehashed idea and sometimes I feel like a one-trick-pony. And yet there is so much I can write about. Narrowing it down to just one idea can be hard, but at the same time, coming up with that one idea that I haven’t yet written about is equally difficult.
The flow of ideas used to be constant and I’m not quite sure what happened to stem it. Maybe I don’t read enough? Or get out enough? Or don’t give myself enough time to just think? I’m constantly trying to distract myself with Netflix or phone games, or scrolling through Facebook. Walking used to be a great time for letting my brain roam free and come up with ideas, and I did go for a walk this week, so maybe there is hope yet.
If you’re struggling to find reasons to keep going, hang in there. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that the answer is going to be different for everyone. I think a lot of them will have something to do with connection to other people. So do make those connections. Go meet someone for coffee. Join a group. There are book groups, walking groups, business networking groups. Reach out to your Facebook or Twitter friends. Someone out there will meet you for a coffee. Or just go into a coffee shop and hang out. Pretend like you belong. Feeling surrounded by the hubbub of life has helped me heaps of times.
Also published on Medium.