I thought I should keep this in until I was sure I wanted to write it, just in case. You know, history dictates a strong likelihood of pearshapedness.
Back in April, I asked Gaz to leave and then I cried for about a week without even pausing to eat chocolate. Our relationship had a lot of issues and although we had tried to make it work, it didn’t. He was emotionally manipulative and I was full of fuckwittery. He left so that we wouldn’t destroy ourselves by becoming physical manifestations of how much we hated our relationship. He was my motivation for my Pozible project and he was every bit that guy and I was a very bad replica of my former self. I was self-destructing and he was helping me on my way.
So we spent a couple of weeks apart, during which time we talked a bit but mostly didn’t. Then at the end of that time we reconvened and talked about what we should do moving forward – should we be apart, should we try to make it work, should we make some kind of pact, should we go to the shops?
To his credit, Gaz is a strong advocate of getting help with mental health issues. And I have lots. And so does he. I probably have slightly greater numbers of them, whilst he has meaner ones. You’re right, this isn’t a good combination. But it does mean that when there are issues that seem insurmountable, Gaz points himself in the direction of doctors and people who know things.
That’s what we decided to do. First, we sat down and talked frankly to each other. We had pretty much abandoned our relationship, so this was easy. We talked about the things we didn’t like about ourselves and each other and often we agreed on them. When we had a list, we took it to my counsellor (who I have been seeing for a couple of years now, both with Gaz and without) and asked her what to do.
“YOU GUYS ARE SO SHIT AT THIS!” she bellowed, which was fair. “But go on, show me what’s on your list.”
“Gaz never talks to me about stuff – he just gets angry and walks out,” I said. “We never resolve anything.”
“Anna talks to me about fucking everything,” Gaz said. “She gets so worked up she can hardly breathe and thinks that is a good time to work through problems?”
The counsellor nodded because it was obvious to everyone what our problem was, besides the fact that we both, and especially Gaz, really sucked a lot of the time. At the core of our relationship issues was our total inability to communicate.
What she did – and this is the reason I keep going back to her – was give us some actual practical things to try out. We decided to at least do them and see what happened. We kept doing them. We kept talking. Our counsellor was like, “Hooray, my processes are legitimate and proven!”
So five months has passed, and that is enough time for me to feel comfortable coming to you fine people and saying, “This is what my life was like, and this is what I did and now it’s like this instead.” A lot has changed in those five months, both with Gaz and in other areas of my life. We’ve got help together and we’ve got help apart, which is probably the most important thing of all.
The change in his behaviour is so marked that my sister asked me whether he had had a stroke (and you know, maybe he has). It’s strange to post this and actually be reflecting on the true situation instead of making excuses for him, but he is considerate and kind and does things with generosity of spirit. I have moved to working freelance 50% of the time, and he is supportive in ways I didn’t expect, like when I have deadlines and he makes me cups of tea and takes the kids to the pool, or when he sneaks out and gets me an ice-cream while I’m still at my computer at 11pm.
Obviously those kinds of things aren’t the opposite of “being an abusive fuckhead”, but they are indications of the way his attitude toward me and our relationship has changed. He considers me in his decision making, and is thoughtful when he disagrees with me. He makes an effort to spend time with me and asks me how I am.
And for my part, I approach things with less crazy and more empathy. I have been pretty bad at thinking about the way people around me feel, and that’s something I’ve been bad at since I was a little kid. Instead of being like, “Hey, you seem tired, why don’t you take a load off?” I’d be like “WHY ARE YOU IGNORING ME OH GOD THIS IS FUCKED!” So owning that has been a big part of this process.
Last night we went to Chadstone and ate Schnitz in the food court and then sat in the rich part in thongs and hoodies and laughed for three hours.
I just thought you should know, so I can write things about him again without people saying, “I thought you left him because he is a massive asshole!” which they do surprisingly often.
I am really happy. Not even pretend happy. Proper happy. Five months in a row of actual happy with no fighting.
If it turns out he has had a stroke, I will let you know and we can all laugh.