So, happy new year!
It’s been a ‘interesting’ year, full of ups and downs.
It started well, with me riding high off the relative success of last year’s NaNoWriMo. It was an important milestone with my writing, the first time I ever got around to actually finishing something in a short time that I even remotely liked. So, that was Planet Of Snakes (a sequel to the unfinished Desert Of Zin) and very happy I was with it too.
(Not that it matters what’s finished and what’s not, things have changed in that quarter. More on that in a mo.)
Then, shortly after the new year, my mother had a cancer scare. Not good, not good at all. But she had it removed, went for her radiotherapy and everything is currently peachy keen. (It’s amazing how you can get all of the angst, worry and relief of a time like that and boil it down to a couple of sentences…)
Then a few months into the year amazing news arrives. Ruth is pregnant! I still remember how excited I was when I found out. We had been trying for a while and finding out really was a gift.
Then we hit the summer. And intimidation and bullying at work. Not good seeing as I worked for the my church. With the benefit of hindsight, and plenty of counselling, there is definitely an element of a culture of dishonour about the way some Christians act despite the ‘Culture of Honour’ that is advertised.
Anyway, it wasn’t a sudden thing. Using the same old hindsight as before it’s clear that my self-esteem and confidence were being ground down over a long period of time. More on that later as well.
There was a welcome break in there called Summer’s End, a progressive rock festival in the small town of Lidney, by the Forest of Dean. Myself, The Psycho Chicken, Bruce and (when she felt like she could endure all that glorious prog) Sharla enjoyed Steve Hackett, Pallas, Pendragon and all the wonderful bands in between.
But then back to work where the situation continued to get from bad to worse…
The months of September, October and November were back to the growing depression, anxiety, stress and suicidal tendencies. This really was the worst part of the year for me. I was being intimidated and harrased by my line manager (who, unfortunately, was also my minister) and despite already letting people in authority know the situation he was still my line manager and still intimidating and harassing me.
Now, I understand that in the cold light of day it might not seem like much, but when your church is your work and the only feedback you get from your minister/line manager is negative and your interests and thoughts are open to ridicule, it tends to affect you poorly.
NaNoWriMo arrived in November, right at the height of how bad things were getting. With panic attacks and ‘The Fear’ growing almost daily it was a miracle in itself that I was able to get over 24k words.
This was the ‘All-New’ Desert Of Zin story. I felt like the existing one was going nowhere. I had no plan or interest in keeping it going and any ideas I did have just seemed tired. But then I thought that it might be an idea to take the core concepts I still had in mind for the story and just start afresh. Different setting, different characters (although with the same names) and with a narrow scope, at least initially, than the original attempt. And for the most part I’m a lot happier with it so far. Lots of stories to tell though, which is good. Stops me from getting too bogged down with any one story.
But it wasn’t finished in the month, so there we go. I’ll try again with something new next year.
It was the second-last weekend in November when everything hit the fan. Angry threats were made at work and that was the straw that broke back of it and I handed in my notice. Better that I was unemployed and healthy than employed and suicidal.
And I haven’t really regretted it once. It’s a no-brainer that I have not been back to Whiteinch Church of Scotland for the Sunday Celebration and I don’t think I ever will. I do wish them well for the future but if they ever want to see this ‘Culture of Honour’ fully realised they’ll have to really look at sorting themselves out. One thing that going though my own counselling process has shown me is that there are a good few of Whiteinch Church leadership who need counselling of their own.
But with a month of the year left, two wonderful things happened.
A story, Whiteinch In Flight, was accepted for a local anthology…
…And my daughter was born, late for Christmas, but in plenty of time for the new year.
I have big plans for 2010. It really feels like I’ve been through a lot this year and I’m confident and a feeling a lot more prepared for what I’m planning for the year ahead.
There are books to write, a wife to keep happy and a daughter to raise. No problem.