An easy answer is that I stopped because I suffered a return of depression which affected my motivation, energy, interest and creativity. I had to stop because I could not go on.
But that doesn’t feel like half adeqate. bordering on the tautological…
Let me think out loud, and try to look under the experience.
In Autumn 2005, I left UK after over 30 years there. I moved to Ireland in a mood which was very positive, enthusiastic for the change - and frivolously playful in formulations like “I’m going on an anthropological fieldtrip…”
Cliches like ” I’m returning to my roots…”
There was a big practical element/challenge: how to get Wiffe and baby Grace over here without putting them to much trouble. I got off on the desire to do a good job, to minimise the stress for all and relished the prospect of moving into a new era in my/our life.
In a nutshell, I minimised the loss.
Downplayed the huge change that I was facing into. I coped with the upheaval by denying that it was much of an upheaval: I saw it, and talked to myself, as if it was all good news. I felt I could take it in my stride.
And, in many ways, I did rise to the challenge and carved out a way of life that seemed to work for me. I made the move an object of interest, almost a research topic. At its most fantatical I imagined I was conducting a participant observation study of “re-migration”.
Last week I went back to Bath, to be there while the removers moved our belongings out of the house which was about to change hands.
Whereas I’d moved to Cork in autumn 2005 without any significant emotional downside, I found it “broke my heart” to close down the house in Bath. I almost howled. Almost wanted to shout “stop… I can’t bear it… go away… I want to go back to my house… want to walk these streets again… want to be back home…”
I only paint a snippet.
This is what I began to think:
After 30+ years in UK, where I’d grown up into adult responsibilities, experiences and relationships, I had lost more than I had ever imagined: I had lost my centre… and perhaps my spiritual core.
I’d moved to a new country where I felt confused, awkward, irritated, disappointed, lonely, lost, un-held, un-networked, un-linked, un-centred… (the list could go on). Few compensations realised so far. In other words, I was now a fish out of my water.
And worse, I was denying it to myself and misinterpreting, misrepresenting, misestimating my predicament.
I loved being a stay-at-home-dad, being the main carer for my wonderful little creature daughter, Grace. But… I faced a future riddled with change, without any confidence that I understood the systems, cultures, mores, fashions.
I didn’t yet have the support network that I needed.
The experience of several bouts of depression over 15 years has taught me that I am a vulnerable person, however strong and resilient I feel when I am well.
What did this type of thinking suggest to me?
How about this?
The depression that overwhelmed me in August was Nature’s way of reminding me (in a very tough manner) that I had lost so much, that I had better value what I was losing, and that it was unhealthy to minimise and imagine that I was impervious to such massive strain.
It would be many years before I would feel, and be, settled in Ireland. That was simply the way it had to be. Because I had found a centre in UK society, it would be a slow process of disentangling, and shedding confusion and anxiety. It would be some time before I could feel safe in Ireland. So far, my lack of safety was disguised by the excitement of the move and the vigour with which I got stuck into new habits.
I got turned on by blogging. It seemed to gratify many of my needs. But the reality included the fact that I had hardly anyone round me to talk to face to face and do things with… and (worst of all) that didn’t seem to disturb me enough.
I was too cocky for my own, and anyone else’s good.
Nature kindly struck me down into deep suffering. Nature took away my sense of integrity, wholeness and my sense of being bound together. In that place Nature introduced a fracture through which out leaked my confidence, togetherness, capacity to love, interests, and (cruelly) my memory.
In flooded doubt, indecision, massive and ever-present anxiety (about everything)…
I must stop now and go pick up the Wiffe and Grace.
Does this way of thinking make sense to you?
I’ll write more soon…