Sorry, this is all a bit netmums, it will be long and rambling, I'm not looking for answers or a conversation really, though there are a few questions, mostly I just want to get it off my chest.
I have been a user on ST for years, though this is an alter ego.
I'm 42, and since turning 40 it's like I've suddenly woke up and realised I am wasting my life trying to achieve what has been pre-determined for me by my upbringing, peers and society. I have in effect been living the lie adhering to this ideal, ignoring who and what I really am, suppressing urges, conforming, etc. You get the (familiar I am sure) picture. Married 18 years, 2 children, good job, usual trappings of the aspirational middle class existence.
Scratch the surface though, and it isn't good, or particularly healthy.
I've had three serious breakdowns including hospitalised with depression. I'm beginning to realise this is because I've been conditioned to bury the truth, put on a brave face, do the right thing, get back to the coal face. A psychiatrist once told me "you must be well, society needs you to be well as you have a family, and responsibilities", immediately prior to prescribing a debilitating quantity of heavyweight drugs. Back on your feet son, slip that mask back on.
For at least the last 10 years my marriage has been loveless, held together simply through the practical demands of normal life. 10 years ago my wife had an affair, we gave it a year to 'heal' for 'the sake of the children', which I instigated. Think of the shame! Got to maintain the pretence, happy family, nice car, nice house.
It turns out that may have been the biggest mistake of my life.
Shit seems to have got very real since turning 40, I suddenly notice soulless unhappy people shuffling around a mere 10 years ahead of me, all of a sudden 10 years seems like nothing, it's virtually around the corner. I am acutely aware of past mistakes, they have a very long tail, it increases the pressure to get it right, make the right decisions.
I have recently taken on a new job, striving beyond my comfort zone to move up the ladder. It's not unusual for me to pull 14 hour days including travelling. It's tough, tougher than anything I have ever done. I get no thanks, I expect none, it's my duty, right?
I role in exhausted gone 8pm. I make my own cup of tea, prepare my kit for the next day, maybe make myself something to eat. I'll pop in and see the kids in their rooms, my wife doesn't move from the sofa, I'm lucky if I get an acknowledgement.
On weekends I do my washing. I make all the meals on a daily basis when I am here to do them. I do all the meal planning, and do the shopping. I run all the major mechanics of housekeeping, finances, housework, gardening, general administration, there's nothing that happens in this house without my hand.
I get no thanks, I expect none.
In social and family gatherings, I am openly criticized by my wife, she seems to take joy in humiliating me, it hurts me. But, got to keep up the pretence right? Happy families.
My family do not tolerate open hostility, we have always shoved things under the carpet, emotions are a sign of weakness. My mother told me they don't understand depression as they came from a generation that learned to be 'tougher'. I recall them visiting me in hospital, I had been there several days, I asked them to come. They were horrified and embarrassed.
For the last year I have had almost daily thoughts of leaving my wife and creating a new life for myself. I am terrified of the future, on my current trajectory I'll be working myself into an early grave through stress and depression. I will be one of those soulless folk in the supermarket I see, people being instructed in the minutiae of daily life by uncaring spouses, filled with self loathing and regret. I've had a taste of regret I don't like it, I simply must do something to prevent wasting another 10 years of my life.
Yet, I am struggling to overcome the conditioning of my upbringing, and society. It's so selfish isn't it, to simply want to be happy?
I have nobody close enough to me with whom I can trust to discuss any of this with. Not even siblings, they don't have the time, too busy creating their own lies.
I have decided to leave my wife, she doesn't know yet, she's sat on the sofa in the other room. But I am going to pay all the debts off first which is going to take me a few months.
To be honest it feels like someone has to make the move and put us both out of our very respective miseries, I am convinced we'll all be better off for it.
The hardest part of all is dealing with my inner demons, the guilt, finding the courage, overcoming it all. Three lives are wholly dependent on me.
What an absolute waste.