Separation Journal #1: Seven Weeks Later

Posted by on 30 Jul, 2011 in Lifenotes, Relationships | 0 comments

A T-shirt I bought this month

A T-shirt I bought this month

Seven weeks since my wife moved out. How can that be true? They say time flies when you’re having fun, but apparently it flies by when you’re going through a major upheaval too. I suppose there are lots of new experiences and feelings to busy the mind.

Anyway, I intended to blog a bit more often than this, so I’m going to start writing something about my life every two weeks (credit to Roo for the idea). These will be interspersed with my other content, so if you don’t know me well you may want to skip these – you can use the categories to drill down.

In some ways a lot has happened since the reboot. In some ways very little…

First,  I should say, I am not sure how to refer to my until-recently-significant-other. Wife is still technically true, but suggests a togetherness that isn’t there. Ex-wife is also not right, because we are not divorced yet. Referring to Alex or Alexandra by name seems too personal.. This is my blog where I am trying to talk about my life and I will try only to talk about her in the context of my life, I don’t want to get personal about her. So, I guess the least bad option is that I will fall back to talking of “her” and “she”, and occasionally still use “my wife”. It’s not quite right, but hopefully you can avoid reading too much into my choice of words!

Anyway, I digress. Let me try and capture what’s been happening these last few weeks.

During the first two weeks, we didn’t see each other much. She had her mum visiting, and then I went down to California to see my friends Paul and Claire for a week. It was a much needed break, and it was great to spend time with friends. Most of the time was spent eating amazing food, visiting wineries, chatting over beers, entertaining the kids and soaking up the Californian sun. A break like that is always good for perspective.

While I was away I came to realize that the important fact about all the troubles I’ve had with my wife is this: She doesn’t want to be with me any more. She has come to believe we have no future, given up on any hope of us as a couple you might say. Whatever else I think, it’s clear that fact is something I have to assimilate.

When I returned and we got to talk, my impression proved to be true. She sees no “us” anymore. Having said that, it was clear that neither of us was happy with the status quo. It was out of balance for me to be thinking of us as together-but-living-apart, and her to be wanting to be completely separate. So we came to the conclusion that the right thing to do was to consider ourselves separated – free to start planning a life apart, seeing other people if we wanted to, but also not making the leap to divorce just yet – leaving just a glimmer of hope that we may still have a future. Maybe that is foolish on my part, certainly I shouldn’t hang on if it becomes clear it’s really over.. On the other hand, the reality is that under UK law we have to be separated for two years in order to divorce by mutual consent. So I feel like there is no need to rush. And I wonder if she may feel differently towards me as time passes and her circumstances change. Time will tell.

Since then, I have been trying to keep myself busy – I have really been taking advantage of my newfound free time. I figure since my relationship status is unclear right now, the best thing I can do is concentrate on finding happiness and strength from within. So I have been doing lots of things I’m passionate about:

As I mentioned last time, I’ve been attending a writing group every two weeks now. We call ourselves Writers’ Bloc (no public site yet, but we may publish some of our work there in future). It has been a really good supportive environment. Each week a different person leads the group to share some different writing skills and insights, and in the last few weeks I’ve both lead the group (doing some exercises on character development) and also had the chance to get some detailed feedback on some of my writing. As a result of that group feedback (as well as the one-on-one feedback of my talented editor friends Angela and Lorrie) I was able to take an idea I have been knocking around for over a year, and take it through five revisions until it was really solid and publishable. I’d previously pitched the idea to the editors at O’Reilly Radar, a respectable tech blog, to whom I had been introduced to through a colleague, and they were excited about it, the title was to be “Why files need to die”. It was published on the 14th July and has received a huge amount of interest, it has been retweeted and shared over 500 times, generated some very vocal debate in the comments, and was even mentioned on the Wall Street Journal’s TechEurope blog. It’s a big deal for me as it marks the first time I have been published as a writer… something I hope will happen more in coming months and years. Anyway if you are interested you can read the article here. I have a few more writing irons in the fire so watch this space!

I am a big movie buff. I am the sort who will not just watch a film but also look up reviews online, discuss scenes in details with friends, and watch really good films several times over to spot new things in them. But there has been a real decline in quality in the cinemas, due to the over-commercialization of Hollywood. So many sequels and churned out rubbish. Last year, I discovered the Fantasia Festival, an international indie/sci-fi/fantasy/horror film festival that runs every year in Montréal, and I was blown away by the quality of films that can be made when money is not the primary concern. I saw 14 films last year and vowed to see more next time. So when this year’s Fantasia came around I was very excited. I have selected 27 films to see over the three and half weeks of the festival! I’ll be blogging about some of the best ones soon – I have seen some really outstanding pieces of cinema – but for now suffice to say that I have seen more great films in the last 2 weeks than I have in the last year – with the possible exception of the regular movie night I attend :-)  As you can imagine, seeing this many movies keeps me pretty busy – which is good I guess, especially as Montréal downtown is so thriving and lively in the summer. (I’ve also attended some great shows at the Just For Laughs festival, including Russell Howard and Danny Bhoy, and have also taken in some music and atmosphere from the Jazz Festival too).

One of the strangest things about separating is getting used to my own company. This is actually the first time in my life I’ve lived on my own, and I’ve always been a bit of a social animal.. so it can be hard at times. But living on your own has its advantages – no compromises to be made, and you can have all the home comforts you like. One thing that has been invaluable though is being able to talk to friends and family about this change, via webcam or on the phone as well as over a beer in the case of my Canadian friends. When we decided to live apart we sent a mail out to friends and family to let them know what was happening, and it’s been amazing how many friends from all parts of my life have got in touch with messages of support and encouragement as a result. So whether you’ve seen me face to face, or electronically, or emailed, thank you all so much! It’s really helped and I am sure I will continue to need a bit more of that in future.
(See, I’m trying to get used to saying “I” instead of “we”…). Also on the friends front I have realised that while I have some good friends in Montréal, I don’t have anyone I’m really close to… So I have been following lots of opportunities to meet new people and try new things… Maybe I will meet someone I really click with, or maybe I will get to be even better friends with someone I already know. Hope so, because I’m verging on lonely at times. (That was hard to write but I may as well be honest).

Another area that has been keeping me busy is thinking and ideas. Obviously there is plenty to think about with such a big life change… But also, I am starting to get a lot more creative thoughts occurring about technology, software interfaces and in particular the semantic web (something I talked about in my blog post). I am channelling a lot of this into my job, and into some drafts for future blog posts, but also am thinking I might finally get to actually do some coding and start building some of the ideas I have been cogitating over in recent times. I have bought a few domain names, tinkered with a few products, sketched some ideas, and starting to make plans… Watch this space… (Oh and if anyone out there is a keen coder or graphic designer eager to get their teeth stuck into some new projects, let me know, I am looking for collaborators). I’ve also got involved with the Montreal Semantic Web Community, a new group in its embryonic stages which shares some of my interests around the future of the web… so something might happen there too.

So, that about sums up what has been occupying my brain over the last few weeks. Sorry it was a little long, hopefully since future “Lifenotes” will be every 2 weeks they should be a little more bite-size…

Oh, and before I go, just one thing to say about the fact I am writing this. You may find it strange that I am being so open about what is going on. Essentially this category of my blog is going to become something of a diary, an online journal of sorts. I know that some might consider it dangerous to put so much information about yourself out there. But on the other hand, I have only ever had good things come from blogging… people tend to connect with you more when you share ideas and thoughts… and I believe the benefits outweigh the risks. Writing this is kind of therapeutic for me, and it certainly won’t be as polished or succinct as my finished/crafted articles.. But maybe somebody out there finds it interesting or there is something they can identify with. I am of course very keen to hear ideas and thoughts on how to cope with separation. For now, I guess you could say the reboot failed, but I am starting to carve out a new path, and I’ll keep soldiering on…

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