On those better days, I crawl out from under the duvet and think of those happy times that can be had in that place that lies beyond my front door.
I smarten myself up, put a smile on my face and out I go. From reluctant recluse, to a man who is recognised, who makes them laugh, who makes them smile. For those magical moments when I'm out and about, the cashier laughs at my zany humour, the stranger on the street, senses my positive vibes. And the conversations I have are but fleeting thoughts, as I avoid the awkward questions. It's all, 'How are you? What do you think of this British weather and my goodness, put ten pounds in my petrol tank and almost filled it up to empty.' Yes, the conversations are simple and I dare not go that one step further that may actually see me involved in a meaningful relationship. For then, the conversation would entail me being asked, 'So what do you do for a living?'
I wonder how I would reply to that, shatter the illusion of me being some sort of local yet mysterious 'celebrity'. How would I tell them that I no longer work, have little money and had a total breakdown several years ago. Would they listen long enough to hear me tell them that over eight years of workplace bullying, the wife who got pregnant by another man, took its toll on my esteem. That, in fact, the friendly guy before them was a scared, vulnerable, fragile shadow of the man he once was. Would they listen long enough to hear me tell them that I reached out, volunteered tirelessly and with great empathy for a mental health charity, only to have the charity exploit me and with evil irony, reinforce my mental health issues..
Sadly, my fear of being judged, of causing disappointment, has been a stumbling block in my daring to 'impose' myself on society for more than a few hours at a time. Then again, I might find someone who does not pass judgement, who sees beyond the label and praises me for all I have done, to raise my son on my own, whilst battling with my illness. With increased awareness, a willingness to try to understand, I may just find that person.
So this man who leads a double life, who types away in the solitude of an empty living room, embraces the hope of a better future. And tomorrow? Who knows. Maybe I might have a conversation that goes beyond the simple and reveals the complicated life I really live.