THE BLOG

Everything Is Not OK - Part Two

07/09/2017 13:36

People on Facebook are routinely exposed to updates from friends and family showing how well their life is going.

I wanted to start sharing my bad days.

As I write this, last month's column has just gone live on one platform for comment and just been submitted for potential rejection on another. I'm not that troubled by either of these things though. I have far bigger problems. In six weeks I will be homeless.

That sounds like dramatic overstatement to draw you in but the truth is that it's really not. If you're served notice to quit by your landlord you have just two months to find somewhere else to live. They don't need a reason and, in the long term, there doesn't seem to be much you can do.

According to housing charity Shelter, 150 families are made homeless in the UK everyday. That's well over 100,000 people a year. If we were all talking more honestly about our problems this would clearly be a more regular conversation. So I'll get the ball rolling.

Our own situation is complicated by the fact of my wife's disability. This means that in the first place we need somewhere that is suitable for her and in the second by the fact that since she cannot work our spending power is very limited. One of the many joys of a free market economy is that the more specific your requirements the fewer your options and therefore the price can be higher. The cost of scarcity. Hooray.

In the midst of all this I get a text from someone, my mum maybe. "How are you?"
I'm trying to get better at simply saying "fine" or "ok" and actually share if something is wrong. What I've noticed I am doing now is sugar-coating my responses. If I manage to make myself give someone my bad news I often reach for some form of emotional compensation. 'We've been thrown out but the weather's not bad'. 'I've been fired but I needed a holiday'. If I am going to give someone bad news I will spend ages thinking up something like this to go alongside it.

I really don't know what I'm doing here. Am I trying to appear stoic in the face of adversity or to screen the person I'm talking to from all of the stuff that is dragging me down right now? At times I am acutely aware that other people have their own stuff going on or that they might do for all I know. I don't think it's totally stupid to give other people consideration but if we all did that all the time nobody would ever actually say anything.

Perhaps what we have to do is strike a balance. When to unload and when to hold back. Although, even as I write this I am having a rethink. Maybe what we actually need to do is build better relationships. What we need is people around us who we know and trust. That way we can know when their life is going so badly that they could do without our grousing. And the rest of the time they will want to hear everything we have to say because they genuinely care about us.

I realise that's all rather glib. None of that is easily done. This is very much a case of do as I say, not as I do. I probably haven't got to every root of this issue either. But let's take this one step at a time. Let's start talking.

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