solo in sydney

The Move
February 28, 2010, 9:57 pm
Filed under: sydney, the backstory

It seems an obvious solution to simply pack a bag and stay with a friend, even for a few nights, and trust me when I say that I’d do this in a heartbeat if I had the option.

But I don’t. I’m not from Sydney. I have a few associates, but no family or close friends.

I met J in my hometown when I was happy, carefree and financially secure. I had already struggled with Depression on and off for years, but with a vast network of family and friends around me I had been coping well. Our first few years together were fairly smooth sailing, though J was caring and understanding when I did have the occasional off day. He knew my diagnosis and he was supportive in ensuring I sought further help.

Eventually, my job became so frantic that I had little time to be depressed, but when an eventual lull emerged, I would crash. I could barely drag myself out of bed for days on end. Despite this, I loved my job. I was working hard on a project that I loved, with a group of people I loved.

One night, J announced that he wanted to move to Sydney, and that I was coming with him. I’ve wanted to move to Sydney for as long as I can remember, but there was simply too much holding me where I was. I was in the running for a promotion at work, but J brushed this off and said we’d reevaluate if that occurred. In the meantime, he applied for countless jobs in Sydney and started looking for a new apartment.

By the time I got the promotion it was too late, according to J at least. I had to turn it down and ask for a transfer. I was madly in love with J and nothing was stopping him from moving to Sydney, so I followed. I put my dream job on hold and followed him, and ended up spending years in a job that completely burnt me out. I eventually crashed, and without friends or family around to share the load, J buckled under the pressure and I didn’t recover for months. I still haven’t fully recovered emotionally, and especially not financially.

But despite it all, I don’t want to leave Sydney. I don’t want to admit defeat and return to my home a failure. I like my life here now, I just wish it wasn’t with J.


Paper Towels
February 28, 2010, 9:32 pm
Filed under: dear diary, depression

You know your situation is dire when you’re threatened with being kicked out over an argument about paper towels.

One of J’s habits that really gets to me is that he never puts something back where or how he found it. It’s a silly little gripe, but it often escalates into something major if I have the gall to ask him to clean up after himself.

This evening, J’s attempt to cook, at my request, came with his demand that I help. Apparently pasta and rice are beyond his capabilities. As I was preparing, he asked if we had any rubbish bags, and I told him that we did, in the drawer. As I put a pan onto the stove, he had a go at me for starting too soon, as if it was my fault that he hadn’t thawed the meat even though I’d asked him to prepare dinner earlier that day. That conversation was charming too:

C: Can you please get dinner ready tonight?
J: What do I look like, the chef?
C: Definitely not, but can you organise dinner anyway?
J: Oh, so you cooked dinner last night and now you’re a chef?

I rolled my eyes and walked off. He’d been especially short with me all afternoon and I simply wasn’t in the mood. So when he had a go at me for my preparedness, I did the same thing. I turned the stove off, asked him to let me know when he was ready, and retreated to my study.

Within 30 seconds, he was shouting out across the apartment, asking me if we had any paper towels. Given that they were in the same drawer with the rubbish bags he’d just grabbed, I offered little more than a neutral ‘yes’. Maybe a little more deadpan than neutral, but nothing snippy or bitchy.

Cue World War III.

His response was off the chart, including asking why I was responding like I’d ‘just been punched in the face’. In amongst being told I was disrespectful and have no idea how the world works, I tried to remain calm. After about 5 minutes of his ranting, I told him that we’d had this argument before, and that if he didn’t like the tone of my response, maybe he could just get his fucking act together and open a drawer first.

Cue World War IV.

Another 5 minutes of screaming and yelling. Another 5 minutes of him telling me how useless I am and how inconsiderate I am that I can’t just answer his questions politely. Never mind the fact that whenever I ask a question of him, the best response I can hope for is a shrug or a grunt. Never mind the fact that I always put items back in the same place, so the paper towels have been in the same drawer every single day that we’ve lived together. Never mind the fact that he’d JUST SEEN THE FUCKING PAPER TOWELS RIGHT NEXT TO THE FUCKING RUBBISH BAGS.

Yes, I realise how daft it is that something so minor had exploded into something so ridiculous. Attempting to tell him that fell on deaf ears. Telling him that he was just looking for an argument provoked him further. Eventually I just told him to leave me alone (though a little less politely than that.)

So we parted on the agreement that he wasn’t cooking dinner “for me”, he was going to bed, and that if I didn’t work a full week this week, regardless of my depression, he’s kicking me out.

I’m broke, stressed, I’m depressed and I have nowhere to go, But I would like nothing more than to be free of him.

February 26, 2010, 10:11 am
Filed under: dear diary

We planned a holiday together months ago. Things weren’t much better then, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. We’re barely talking to each other at the moment and the holiday is this weekend.

When we do talk, it’s strained but civil. Until today that is, when we agreed to meet up for lunch. We couldn’t agree on where to go, and soon enough we were arguing on the street. I despise the thought of people knowing that we’re arguing. I hate my body language giving me away as one of ‘those’ couples, so I stayed calm and just agreed with J.

After a moment of silent triumph, he turned to me and asked if I was alright in the most condescening of tones. I rolled my eyes and said yes. Big mistake. He grabbed me by each arm, shook me a little and told me quite loudly to settle down as we were walking along a busy main street.

Mortified, I clenched my teeth, slapped one of his hands away and told him I was fine. Somehow this set him off, and he yelled at me to calm down. Ironic.

When I didn’t respond, he threw his hands in the air and stormed off. I took a deep breath and kept walking, only to walk around the block and see him march back into his work.

I had lunch by myself. For some reason I called and asked for him to join me, but he said no and hung up. I was hurt, but relieved.

After work he called and asked me to a movie like nothing had happened. Livid, astounded but too tired and worn down to argue, I agreed.

I don’t want to go away with him. I don’t want to be anywhere near him, but if I do get on the plane with him, maybe I just won’t come back.

February 22, 2010, 5:04 pm
Filed under: dear diary, the backstory

Some mornings I struggle to get out of bed, and more often than not I stay there, hiding under the covers in a state of false security. I’ve done this so often that it’s become a problem, both emotionally and financially.

J is at the stage where he’s had enough. If he comes home to find me in bed, he ramps up into a shouted lecture that I’ve heard countless times before. I’m not responsible, I’m not trying hard enough, I’m lying to myself and I should just quit my job and move back in with my parents.

He’s run out of patience, and I’ll be honest in telling you that he had plenty. Just not quite enough for someone who’s trying to drag themselves out of Depression – the kind with the capital D, the regular visits to a psychologists and the endless array of pharmaceuticals. Apparently I should be better “by now”, and the fact that I’m not somehow reflects badly on my moral character.

Though J was patient for quite some time, he never came close to understanding what Depression was doing to me, how it crushed my sense of self worth and made me feel guilty and useless when I couldn’t just pick myself up and brush myself off.

So after 3 years of struggling with Depression, largely on my own, I may be lying to myself, but now, for the first time in our relationship, I’m also lying to him.

I’m sitting in a park a few blocks away from our home, dressed in my office getup with a full face of makeup and immaculate hair. I’ll sit here for another hour, then I’ll walk back home and tell J about my day at the office, instead of the day I actually spent paralysed in bed.

I would rather go to all this effort and lie to J’s face, instead of seeing the look of anger and disappointment in his eyes. I can’t break down crying again, just to hear J telling me to stop because “it’s not achieving anything”.

So, I’m lying. To him, to my employers, and to myself.

February 18, 2010, 10:12 pm
Filed under: dear diary

I’ve been unwell on and off for months, and the more ill I get, the more angry and frustrated J gets, the more stressed I get and the longer it takes me to get well again. It’s a ridiculous vicious cycle that seems largely based on money or lack thereof, but there’s something more going on beneath the surface. I don’t know quite what yet, but it seems to pervade all our daily interactions.

This week I’ve been back at work for the first time in a while. Instead of being proudĀ or happy for my improved health, J has remained virtually silent. I asked him what he felt like for dinner tonight and his terse response was “Whatever you feel like organising”.

Okay then. I raided our empty fridge and our empty pantry ( apparently I’m the only one who is capable of grocery shopping) and I cooked a meal from scratch. With about 5 minutes to go, J walked out in his usual fashion. Without a word. I opened the door after him and asked where he was going, and the monotone response was “Getting alcohol”.

He arrived back as I was serving up dinner. He put a six-pack of beer on the counter, grabbed one and went to the couch. I asked him if he got anything for me, being a prudent non-beer drinker, and he just scoffed. We ate dinner in silence, then he stared blankly at the TV for an hour, then he went to bed, slamming the door behind him.

Days like these, I really have no idea why I bother.

The Talk
February 16, 2010, 5:35 pm
Filed under: dear diary | Tags: ,

We had The Talk. It lasted all of 5 minutes. After yet another screaming match and yet another half-assed truce, I suggested that we should start thinking about how we’ll divide our ‘stuff’ if (when) we split. J brushed it off with a comment about how silly I was being. He doesn’t think I’m serious about it and for some reason he’s largely right, but I stood firm this time and insisted that we need to consider because it’s a very likely outcome.

Normally he’d continue to dismiss any such talks (we have them often) as the result of my ’emotional state’, but I think I got through to him this time. Eventually, in the most caring tone he’s directed at me for months, he suggested that we should get me back on my feet first before we discuss it further.

It pains me to admit that he’s right, I’m an absolute mess and I’m not ready to go it alone, as much as I’d like to. Worse still is that I’m caught in a vicious cycle – his emotional and financial support, however fleeting, is something that I’ve come to depend on. It’s doing my head in to live with someone who acts like they loathe me a good 75% of the time, but I honestly don’t think I can survive without him at this very moment.

February 15, 2010, 7:10 pm
Filed under: dear diary | Tags: ,

Valentine’s Day came and went and J didn’t say a word about it, not even a ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ or an ‘I love you’. Nothing. He did however have a go at me for working on the weekend. My alternative was to sit on the couch while he watched cricket, so after his outburst, that’s exactly what I did. He didn’t even make eye contact with me, but I sat there for over an hour nonetheless. Eventually I asked if I could go back to work without him getting angry about it.

“Fine. Whatever. I’m going to bed anyway.”

He stormed off. I decided to let him cool down for 10 minutes or so, then I followed. I asked if he realised he hadn’t even said Happy Valentine’s Day to me, or even given me an indication that he cared (about me, not the day itself).

“Why should I? What have you done for me lately? Why didn’t you say anything? Why didn’t you get my anything?”

He has the infuriating ability to make everything my fault. He’ll find a way to trace every argument back to something I did or said, and if I even attempt to defend myself, it just goes around in circles.

C: I didn’t get you anything because I knew you wouldn’t get anything for me.
J: How did you know?
C: Well, you didn’t, did you?
J: No, but you didn’t get anything for me so what does it matter?
C: I said I didn’t get you anything, but I did make you something.

Minutes passed in silence before something occurred to me. Our anniversary. It was two weeks earlier and I’d only just remembered.

C: What do you think it means that we forgot our anniversary?
J: You forgot, I didn’t.
C: Why didn’t you say anything then?
J: You were busy.

If memory serves correctly, I was busy being yelled at. By J. About nothing.

Happy anniversary.