…but then again, too few to mention. So sang the maestro and it rings true for me.
I think that most people who know anything about me will agree that 2016 has been, arguably, a year of considerable reflection for me. Not just reflection, but action taken as a result of it too.
Weight loss, friendships, jobs, embracing the German language, who I am, who I want to be and what I want out of life. I have reflected and acted on all of these things since the beginning of the year. I could have wallowed, I think most people would have forgiven me for that. I didn’t, and I am very proud that I didn’t. It really would have been easier, now that I look back, but easy is not the same as good.
I have a deep flaw that lies in over-analysis of situations. Well, I see it as a flaw, others might not, but it tends to lead me to exercising a little too much caution a lot of the time. Over thinking a situation will often cause it to be too late to act when you finally reach a decision (IF you finally reach a decision).
I don’t recall when it happened, but I hit a point where I started to care what people thought of me. Not too big of a problem you might think, but unfortunately that escalated to caring what everybody thought of me. Yep, even that guy walking towards me on the street that I don’t know and will most likely never see again.
Taking self-awareness to the umpteenth degree ladies and gentlemen. That affected my confidence to act. I stopped feeling free to dance when I went out, preferring to lean on the bar and nod my head with the best of them. I wanted to dance, I wanted to have a laugh, but something was stopping me. I gained weight around this time too and my vanity (such as it was) stopped me in my tracks. Now I wasn’t just worrying about how people were judging “That guy over there” now they were judging “That fat bastard over there”. It’s ridiculous the more I think about it.
In short I had, for reasons best known only to the dim dark recesses of my subconscious, generated a massive self-esteem issue. The trouble was, I either didn’t realise that’s what it was or I wasn’t prepared to admit it. I acted confident and was able to blag it to a certain extent, but I couldn’t quite carry it off completely.
My work suffered, I couldn’t give presentations, struggled with conflict resolution and became pretty angry pretty quickly with situations that didn’t really require it. I couldn’t trust any of my decisions properly, at home or at work, so I almost stopped making them. It was not a good time for Ole Davey.
Moving to Germany helped. It was something that I had always wanted for myself. Something that I have been saying since I was 15 that I wanted to do. So achieving a personal goal like that helped me. My confidence at work started to come back..culminating in me offering to take over a failing section and get it working again. Which I achieved. Presentations, hiring/firing, disciplinaries, meetings and all that jazz were flowing again. I left there and headed to another place. Promoted in 2 weeks, being sent to London regularly, involved in all sorts of projects and even sent to Santa Clara for a
jolly week long meeting.
The trouble was, my personal life was still problematic. Don’t get me wrong, I had found a relationship with an amazing woman, but I was struggling to deal with speaking German (even though I could), struggling with calling companies about bills or problems. When I went out…Mr Confident…when I had to deal with daily life stuff…Gibbering Wreck. I lost a little weight, but mainly I started looking after myself properly. So, whilst I was still huge, I at least looked OK. Slowly the confidence started to filter in and I was able to function a bit better on a daily basis. Still nowhere near the level that I should have been at, but better. Mostly I persuaded myself that it was better and so, invariably, it actually got better.
Here’s the big reveal though. I was diagnosed some years ago with mild depression. It’s something that very few people know about me. A lot of people wouldn’t believe it and a lot of people would be like “everyone has mild depression sometimes”. Unfortunately, that’s not the same thing. Feeling down from time to time is normal..it happens to us all..it happens to me sometimes. Mild Depression is a different beast.
Now, I am lucky. I think I have been prescribed Anti-Depressants once in my life and then only for a short time. I am able to function and my depressive episodes are, generally, not so severe that I can’t fake it until I actually feel better. Factor in my recent life turnaround/improvements and I haven’t suffered all year.
Then Monday happened, I got sick. Being more healthy has had the side effect of allowing me to avoid my standard “start of summer” illness that has always plagued both myself and my mum. I didn’t even think about this until Monday night, when I started to feel like crap. It left me feeling run down, unable to train properly and completely lethargic. These things contributed to an “episode” that I am currently fighting to get out of. One of the reasons for this post I guess. So, more reflection.
Things have a habit of going wrong. I think that is true for all of us. I got married at 21 and had 2 kids. Do I regret it? No. My kids are amazing and I look back fondly on the time with my wife. Sure, it went wrong in the end, but that doesn’t stop it being good while it lasted. I spent a bit of time alone, playing the field and then got with someone else for 10 years and had another 2 kids. Do I regret that? No…again, amazing kids and I can look back fondly on the great times we had.
Cue a bit more time playing the field and I, somehow, end up with CW for 7 years. Do I regret the relationship? Not at all. Right up until the break up, the relationship was amazing…at least to me (I don’t mean that to come across as bitterness). She helped me grow as a person, be more willing to take risks and get as close to being “myself” as I think I had ever been. Sure, there were still times where I was playing a role, but I was playing it well and a lot of the time I discovered that I hadn’t been playing a role for a while without realising it.
Without her, I would have missed out on a lot of music gigs, some great friends and of course the cake shop. Seeing the world through someone elses eyes can be a real experience if you allow yourself to do it. She had a way of looking at the world that made you want to drop your own cynicism and just enjoy shit.
The cake shop is the one that people wonder about. I think a lot of people see it as a failure. Which is fair, I was forced to close it and have suffered financially (and continue to do so) because of it. Was it a failure? No, not even close. It was a success. What failed was my body. The first 2-3 years of any new business are the hardest. You have invested a lot and have yet to recoup that investment. You build debt with suppliers whilst establishing yourself. After that time, things start to get easier and you will eventually turn a decent profit. So, yes, it was a struggle…but it was a struggle we were going to win. Unfortunately, things conspired against me. The finances were not there for me to hire the people that I would have needed to allow me to recover from my ankle problems, which led to me being forced to work crazy hours and made my ankle problems worse. Hobbling around a bakery kitchen, alone, at 4AM with your leg in a cast and crutches does not a stress-free environment make.
Do I regret it? Not for a split second. I regret not being able to continue longer so that I could have sold the business properly, but it was out of my control. The painkillers that allowed me to work did nothing, the ones that helped stopped me from working. It was a horrible catch 22 situation and I was forced to close the doors around 6-8 months too soon. Even with all of the financial issues that followed, I still don’t regret a minute of having that business.
I definitely do have regrets from the last few years. The biggest being that a lot of the stuff, described above, has stopped me from being financially sound enough to visit my kids often enough. Same goes for other members of my family. I have relied on birthday gifts to allow me to travel to the UK for a visit.
I regret that I didn’t tackle certain things from my childhood when I still had the chance to do so. I regret that I don’t seem able to get out of my own head sometimes. I regret that I was blind to the issues in my relationship with CW, meaning I was helpless to resolve them. I regret not looking after my ankle properly years ago. In general, I have very few regrets.
I am very lucky and, by writing this, I am hoping to very quickly get over my current “episode”.
For the record, I regret the bar of chocolate I just ate….Oh, and I definitely regret last Saturday night…but the less said about that the better