I replay my life like a stranger. A separation from the masked days. The survival mode that kept me fighting on for another tomorrow. Often dissociated from the day, from the fears, from people ... and society. It’s like looking back at someone else’s memories. I know it was my life, but it doesn’t feel like it, in fact it never felt like it back then.
I felt like a failure at the weekend, because I felt my family’s stresses too deeply. I know my wife feels the pressure of being our safe space. She often gives her all, to my daughter and I. A constant reassurance. She works too hard, I want to help her reduce he workload. Be able to relax more, and seek out the things in life that she’s interested in. Rather than seeing her exhausted day after day, week after week.
I don’t wish for a lot in life but I do wish for that. I always wanted to provide for my family. It just felt unobtainable for so long, and even now I don’t know if it’s possible. I find myself pondering if I could have done more to support my family. To take some of the weight, that I feel too often, off my wife’s shoulders. It’s really odd being told you are amazing, but feeling like it’s still not enough. That my limitations in communication and education cost us.
Words echoed by teachers, and employers alike. Useless, worthless, waste of space. That’s the “me” I was made to see, those were the voices that swirled around my mind like water going down a drain, but it wasn’t me.
In the beginning of 2008 my contract was terminated. That was the last time I was employed and had a wage. In 2012 my benefits were cut to just £22 a week (for 7 years), I gave it all to my wife for bills, it felt right to do that. I wanted to provide something to our family.
I tried stopping wanting for things for myself, and have got used to an empty bank account.
I unmasked in 2022, a process that’s still a work in progress. With help I found myself, but can still feel lost at times, because I often don’t know how to do the things others do. It’s these thoughts that consciously make me feel stuck. Like my life is a riddle that I can’t quite figure out, especially when it comes to a part of society I almost felt excluded from. I don’t really value money, I value people ... and I wonder if my life hurts the one person I never want to hurt.
My wife is my north star, my guide, and the light in the darkness.
I’m just scared that I can’t be the same for her, when she needs it.
All our best and love
Ross Fraser and Jeni Dern
Words – Ross A Fraser
Graphic Design App – Canva