I realised that this week upcoming is particularly significant.
Its one year since Jose Mourinho was sacked as Man Utd manager and as a Man Utd fan, these things are significant.
Theres a number of significant events in my life that I can also remember when they were… because they happened on the same date or time as a Man Utd match, I can remember the date of my first kiss, it was the same date as Liverpool vs Man Utd in January 1994, the game ended 3-3, though united were 3-0 up in the first half. I remember the kiss too, fairly innocent, naive, cute and romantic. But, back to last year, as im not sure theres any more details of my teenage years you want to hear about…
Oh yes, 18th December 2018. The Mourinho Day. I got this news in the car park of the office of the Diocese of Durham at 10am or so. And it made me smile and pump my fist in the air and happy. The Mourinho days were dark days, football was dire, manager with narcissist syndrome. For me they werent the only dark days of 2018. But I remember that day, because I was heading to an interview for the job I love, and the job I have now, and its been a year. I think i got the job, because i was good at an interview presentation – tell you the truth I imagined the interview panel as a group of youthworkers that I was training, and my material was the presentation. It clearly worked. There was just enough endorphins running through my body from the sports news to get me through. I got back home and I was shattered though. A few days later I was told I was successful.
For 2018 had been a year in which I had gone for jobs, applied for others, and not got them, or got that far, this could have been one more the pile. One more where do I actually fit in the youthworker/manager/faith/community/institution spectrum in which i hadnt found somewhere at the time. Thank fully that issue solved itself on Mourinho day.
And at the same time of going for that job, I was also outside from my family home, having separated from my wife since the September before. If it wasnt for the sheer generosity, hospitality and friendship of someone id known 20 odd years, and who could house me free until i had a job, i have no idea where id be. However, thats not to contemplate, I’m grateful. So, whist in the midst of that, I was looking for jobs, and trying to recover from alot, and support around me was forthcoming, via social media and friends.
But on 18th December, I got that job. And its been a year this week since.
So, I have now been the Part-time Team Leader for Communities together Durham for a year, a year in which i have been well supported, managed and have the most amazing team around me who are deeply committed to responding to issues of poverty across the north east. Its no easy job, but it so fits with my skills, and at the time of quite serious emotional upheaval, has given me the flexibility, but also the opportunities to have purpose, grow confidence and rebuild. And through this job, and via the diocese I was also able to access professional counselling, which accelerated the rebuild, the self awareness, the ability to think, make decisions and see things, though am still sincerely indebted to friends for this too.
Because the emotional upheaval only continued, maybe that was predictable. And cut a long story short, until the point in June (after a lovely week in Tunisia) and having been back in the family home for 4 months, that I made the decision to end the relationship.
In July, after again, being in receipt to the most generous hospitality from a different friend (and now new work colleague) for a month, I moved into my own flat, my own home, and it so feels like that, my own home. I cried as the estate agent showed me round it. And ive been here since July. I am 40 seconds walk from the sea, have lovely neighbours in the block, and am so enjoying cooking, playing my guitar and being able to get home from work, (though i work from home for all 3 jobs i have) and sit, reflect, and often do morning or evening prayer (northumbria community – i went on retreat there a few weeks ago) , and i feel that the flat, and that life itself has been granted to me as a gift. A new gift to treasure and open, to explore, to adventure and dream.
My old family home sold this week, moving on is happening and theres a new reality, routines getting used to. Some of you reading these words have met me in the last 2 or 3 years and would have no idea, and you’re right, you wouldnt. I was good at being closed. Even though some of my posts have shared some vulnerability, some things stayed guarded, and i am pretty good at talking to other people about them. Keep me off subject.
I have so much to be thankful for in 2019, I have so much to be proud of in such a good way. The old addage, what a difference a year makes is certainly true, the last few months has been a time to reflect back over the year, and consider how I got through it all. Theres triggers and awareness, emotions and reactions, only natural, but theyre all ok. For usually i realise quite how thankful I am to be who I am, where I am, to be active in the ministry I am, and loved and treasured by God, my friends and so many people. Life is good. Life is a gift, and i feel like I’m enjoying and appreciating every minute.
Jose Mourinho leaving Man Utd… I owe you one.
I have had easier years, and though theres been despair and desperation, theres also been genuine joy and happiness. I am due a very easy year, though I cant see that happening, theres at least a few challenges around the corner to deal with, and others im sure that I dont know about. So, my review of 2019 starts with a heartfelt thanks to the board of Man Utd for sacking Mourinho, but has a deeper heartfelt thanks to an amazing set of friends, colleagues and the many people who have supported me through this year. I will encourage anyone to go for counselling by the way, i will also suggest that we make space to talk about marriages, relationships and home lives with people more often. Maybe it was only me that was guarded about this before it had hit crisis point, though im not sure talking about marriages ever crops up at youthworker conferences or in supervisions… just a few observations.
Jose Mourinho… you have no idea. Oh, and I’m so glad you got sacked… the football at united is so much better… 😉