Firstly, I would like to apologise for my late posting this week. I could make up some crappy excuse, but then I wouldn’t be being honest – and what’s the point in an Agony Uncle that can’t be honest? Not just to you all, but to myself. Last week I had a bit of a blip and fell off the rails. As you may or may not know, I live with clinical depression. The thing is when I am feeling low I turn to self-medication – my medicine of choice? Alcohol. Now, I wouldn’t call myself an alcoholic, that’s not a term I like, but I am definitely alcohol dependent and use it as a crutch…
The week started off well. I was very excited about voting in the General Election. This was the first time I was registered on the electoral and actually able to vote – disgraceful I know, I’m twenty-nine.
I went along before work with my fiancé to our polling station and put my ‘X’ in the box to vote for my local Labour MP, Rupa Huq (the elder sister of Blue Peter presenter, Konnie Huq – I’m still not over the fact I never got a Blue Peter badge. Life is a cruel mistress!) I left the polling station on a high that lasted with me throughout the day as I encouraged everyone at my work to vote. I got home from work excited to stay up and watch the results come in – then came the exit polls… then came the whisky. I was so depressed at the thought of what was inevitably going to happen to our country that rather than watch the results come in, I drank myself into unconsciousness.
Thank God I had the next day off work, as I spent the vast majority of it in bed and would really have been in no fit state to manage others! The thought of work, my job, well that didn’t make things any better: I love my colleagues and the team I work with, but I have worked in Customer Service in one way or another for over twelve years. Everyday my soul is chipped away more and more with every complaint I take. These people have such First World problems. I retired from acting last September and though it was such a weight off my shoulders finally making that decision, I still haven’t decided what I want to do for the possible forty years left of my working life. For a depressive that likes to have long-term plans and goals… this is not good.
So after going to work on Saturday, still slightly groggy, and having these feelings about my work life reinforced I decided to go to my friend’s housewarming party and proceeded to get very drunk again. It was lovely to see my friends and hang out, but I just didn’t want the night to end and didn’t want to go home – even when everyone else was clearly ready for bed. I also smoked – yuck! Then I proceeded to drink through the whole of Sunday too – I had two Bloody Marys at brunch on Sunday – then continued to drink the remnants of the bottle of tequila from the party the previous night.
Now this worries and upsets me as much as it upsets my partner, and this is something I am really trying hard to put right. I even referred myself to a support group in my local area and am really hopeful and looking forward to it and meeting other people in the same boat. Like I said this is a journey for me too, and I am far from perfect, but I want to use my experiences to help.
I’m pleased to say the binge stopped. I brushed myself down and got back on the right track. Life is a long and bumpy road and it really helps when we have good friends to help us through it. My housemate ‘little one’, Anton and me binge-watched the whole of Grace and Frankie… it is awesome (though it has made me want to try peyote – I should not try peyote… ever!).
I have also joined the Labour Party – this election has lit the fire under my ass I very much-needed. I am truly happy to be getting more involved in politics, and really hope to be able to effect change for the future – plus I get to vote for the new party leader! Also as much as I love my colleagues I have been working on tightening up and polishing my CV: in the coming week I plan to submit myself for every single job I can find on Guardian Jobs.
Anyway enough about me… I just wanted to explain why this post is late and also show you that we are all going through our problems. But I’m here to help – if you want me to.
This week’s brave writer is Paul, who has a problem I think a lot of us will really be able to relate to.
Do I have to choose between my future kids or my fiancé?
I really want to have kids but my partner doesn’t.
I have always wanted to have children and recently I have been thinking about taking the plunge and looking at surrogacy. My fiancé though keeps giving me excuses for why he doesn’t think we are ready.
I am ready, but I don’t think he ever will be ready to have kids with me. Do I have to choose between my future kids and my fiancé, or shall I be patient and see if he comes round to it?
Thank you so much for writing in. This is a problem I know a lot of people within our community have experienced, and are currently experiencing. I know this may not make you feel much better right now, but I want you to know that you are definitely not alone. I never thought I would want children, I really, really didn’t, but this is something I have recently come to realise I really wanted – I am broody as hell and want to steal every baby I see. What I mean is, maybe you just need to give your partner some time?
What age is your partner? You say you are 34, but is he younger? And even if he’s not, maybe he still wants to party and have fun – live his life without the ties that come from having a family, because believe me, becoming a parent really is a massive responsibility. You are literally in charge of shaping this little person’s life. It needs someone fully committed, and it isn’t something that anyone who isn’t completely sure about it should enter lightly. I am at the age where lots of my friends are having babies and starting their families – and as much as they love these little bundles of joy, they really do consume their whole lives. Maybe he isn’t ready for that – and there is no shame in that. You really need to get down to the bottom of why he doesn’t want to consider parenthood. You cannot force it.
You say he continually makes excuses – I would love to know what these are… A lot of gay men don’t want to be fathers because they do not feel like they are strong masculine role models and wouldn’t be able to be a ‘father’. I know a lot of people also worry that potential children may be bullied by the fact a child has two same-sex parents. I personally think this is ridiculous. It is better for a child to have to loving, nurturing parents – but these are very real concerns some people have.
You may not like this advice, but it clearly means a lot to you and you need to sit down and seriously talk about it. It is something that clearly means a lot to you – this won’t go away and you will only grow to resent and hate him if you feel he is stopping you from living the life you want.
If his problem is something like the ones I have discussed, maybe he just needs some encouragement that he really can be a great dad. If you do go on to have children, it is a partnership and you will need each other. Why don’t you try to get to the bottom of his insecurities and help him through it?
If he really just doesn’t want to have children, which is perfectly fine – I have female friends who don’t want to have children, who often at times feel bullied by this fact, and are made to feel unnatural, as if a woman’s only purpose is to push a baby out – then this is an issue you really seriously need to address. If becoming a father is the be-all-and-end-all for you, then I hate to be the one to say it – but this isn’t going to work. If your love for him trumps your want for children then great! Continue to live a very happy life together. As I have expressed earlier bringing children into your life is not something anyone who isn’t fully sure about it should enter: it wouldn’t be fair on him, it wouldn’t be fair on you, and it definitely would not be fair on the poor defenceless child.
If, however, it is the fact he doesn’t feel confident about his abilities as a father, then you need to help him see how brilliant he can be. Does he have a good relationship with his family? Do you? Maybe hang out with some friends who have children, develop a relationship with them. It is pretty hard not to fall in love with kids when you see how awesome they truly are. But some people are never going to feel this.
Ultimately you need to have a serious chat. This isn’t something that is going to go away – and if it is a breaking point it’s better to get out of it now than end up hating each other and missing out on the lives you both want to lead. Sometimes relationships give us some great times, but really aren’t made to last.
We gay men (and women) suffer from the problem that we cannot just accidentally fall pregnant. In some ways I’m envious of our straight counterparts for this. They find themselves in a situation … and just make it work. Sadly we don’t have that option. It takes a lot of planning and ultimately money. You have mentioned your want to use a surrogate, and if that is the option you want to take then that is great. As much as we may deny it many people want children because they want a little replica of themselves … for their genes to be passed down. Are you aware of how much this really costs though? I don’t mean to patronise, and I really do apologise if it comes across that way – but with surrogacy you also face the problem of who is the daddy. Maybe that is an issue your partner is thinking about.
I have made no secret that I am very pro-adoption. My partner and I are seriously looking into adoption after our wedding next year and have registered with a charity called ‘New Family Social‘ – this is a charity that helps same-sex partners that are looking to adopt. Just considerations for you… there are many children out there that need loving homes – and you seem like someone with lots of love to give.
I wish you every success Paul, and I know I may not have been able to give you the answer you were looking to hear, but starting a family is a massive deal, as I know you are aware. I truly hope that you and your partner can work things out. You sound as if you truly love him, but ultimately the decision lies with you. Dig deep, what is most important to you?
All my love,
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Live life, and love.