Interestingly, that anxiety has actually done me a favour. Bizarre, isn’t it? But it’s true; I’m a firm believer that we should always see every occasion in our lives as an opportunity to learn something about ourselves.
I’ve had three major bouts of anxiety in the past three years – one in the summer of 2015 due to an atrocious situation at work, the second a year later when I was coming close to the end of a job contract, and one just now that I’m now “coming down” from. Each of these three bouts have helped me learn something about myself; the first two that I could stand up and be counted in work situations without being walked over, for example.
This one that I’m recovering from a week or so ago has come about due to the memories of the previous anxieties flaring up. Fourteen months go, after my old work situation ended and I couldn’t afford to stay where I was, I moved in with my mum and dad whilst also starting a new job that was far better suited to my temperament. Those things, combined with taking away a lot of the pressures of domestic life, allowed me time to relax and heal. Living with my mum and dad again was a healthy, just decision to take, and I’m so glad I took it.
But of course, the time came for me to move out again, and it really kick-started the anxiety again in a way I hadn’t expected. Moving home is a nerve-wracking time – I’ve not met anyone at all who doesn’t get nervous / stressed / worried about the practicalities of getting into their new home. I usually focus on it by working hard all day until the majority of my belongings are unpacked.
That’s exactly what I did this time and, with some judicious support from those around me (flat pack furniture, cleaning my kitchen stuff), I had a comfortable flat by the end of Day One, and 95% was done by the end of Day Two (up from 85% the first day). I felt very proud of myself, but the anxiety was still there; I could tell, because I was fretting and worried about the things I hadn’t got completed through no fault of my own – I hadn’t registered with the electric company (it had been closed for a couple of days due to the bad weather) and I’d had to reschedule the washing machine to the following week because the van couldn’t get through the bad weather in the north.
But it was also something else; I was leaving the relative safety of my “recovery zone”, I realise now, where I’d been recovering from a bad time. Being with my loving, generous mum and dad allowed me to focus on healing, and moving out again was bringing back memories of how I was feeling during the last bad time in my life, before I moved in with them. It made me doubt my ability to live by myself again, but of course logic soon reasserted itself again and allowed me a modicum of common sense. My parents bore the brunt of my anxiety, for which I am truly mortified and cannot apologise enough for, and friends have also listened carefully as well and giving me space to vent and heal.
Fortunately, my anxiety is reducing again now and becoming more controllable once again. This current bout has made me realise that I’m not immune to anxiety about change, and that only I can do something about it – and that I need to be more open about the changes I want to make, as no man … no person … is an island.
So I’ve decided to focus on three areas of my life in order to develop and grow, as these are the areas where my anxiety seems to hammer me. As a result, I am going to work on them and develop new depths in those areas so that I can be more confident and stronger.
I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have some exceptionally good family and friends; I prefer quality over quantity, and the people I have in my support network reflect that. They are true quality in every sense of the word; all these brilliant people are my rocks, my support network, and even those who I don’t see as often – staying in touch via Facebook, for example – are still valued and appreciated.
With one of my close-knit circle leaving the area, this is an incredibly sad, yet also productive, new challenge. I will reinvent the times I spend with the friends still in the area and do new things with that network; a meditation group, a yoga session, a cards night, a sojourn to Bournemouth or London or – heaven forfend – even Dover. All of which means I can continue cherishing my friendships and showing how our relationships can continue to evolve and deepen. That’s exciting.
In addition, I’ve been single for a long time; for most of my life, in fact. That’s partly because of my asexuality; some people think that, because I’m asexual, I’m also not interested in relationships other than friendship. I’ve probably been guilty of projecting that image as well, and on the rare occasions I’ve tried dating, it’s never really gone too far.
So if that’s something that appears in my future as well – complementing what I have already got – then fair enough, but right now I have other priorities. Deepening and cherishing my relationships that I already have, and that leaves me onto my next point.
I’ve wanted to be a father for some time now, and that was a surprise when I discovered just how much I wanted it. During my twenties, I was determined that I would never want children – it just didn’t interest me. I loved and cherished the children of my closest friends, but never dreamed that, one day, my biological clock would turn very much on, and I would want to have a child of my own.
So, I will be starting the adoption process this year and seeing where that takes me. I’d explored it before, but with different situations in the past, I didn’t complete the process. Now, however, the time seems to be entirely right, and that’s exciting. I get to work with Barnardos – that’s who I’ve chosen to go with, as they have a national reach – to go through the application process. I’ll still work full-time, and work with my bosses to find a compromise that works for all of us in terms of work/life balance. So watch this space on that one.
My writing is still very much on the agenda, with a plurality of different options open to me. I’m working on a range of fiction titles for the next few years, and that’s incredibly thrilling; more than I can possibly let on, as fiction is my passion, and I have a mouth-piece with Inspired Quill to present my words to an audience – hopefully expanding.
But I’m also still working on the blogging – hence this post and this website you’re reading it on – and still creating content in whatever method interests me. Some people write quite vivid and personal accounts of their life, and that’s something I’m looking at doing more of; it’ll help me to document my journey, look back on what I’ve been doing, and help my analyse how far I’ve come. And if that helps me understand more about my experiences and perhaps raise awareness as well, then so be it.
I’m also proud to be involved with Thanet Writers, a writers’ group based in Thanet (could you guess?). They’re developing into a publisher as well as interviewers (I’m one of them), online content, and groups and performances for writers and poetry. I’m able to contribute to the group via being one of their interviewers, occasionally contributing columns and fiction, and perhaps more to come – watch this space.
I also have the pleasure of being a columnist for the Isle of Thanet News, which is going from strength to strength as an online newspaper, and I want to continue developing that relationship, as it’s one I value.
So there you have it; future plans for Matthew Munson, writer, explorer of new things, and grammar nazi … Okay, some things will never change. You’ll certainly see more output from me, but that’s all well and good – if you don’t agree with me, then fine; tell me, and we can have a discussion. If you agree, then lovely; I like to know if there people on the same wavelength.