Tuesday 28 March 2017

A Personal Message

(Note: this is a message from James Monkman, and is not representative of the feelings/thoughts of the others involved with RGCD and our associated projects).

Hey there, it's been a while. I rarely write anything personal on this blog but I think I owe an explanation for my complete lack of activity here at RGCD over the past 5 months. This isn't the easiest thing to write; in fact until recently this isn't something that I've told many people at all. However, enough time has passed now that I feel confident enough to share my story.

Back in November last year my wife of 10 years suggested that we get a divorce. There was no obvious build up to this, no almighty row, nothing. She just brought it up in conversation one evening, calmly and sensitively explaining that she couldn't see a positive future for us as a couple.

Out of context, this sounds quite extreme. However, in hindsight it had been a long time coming. Since having children (our eldest of three is now nine years old) we had both failed to invest any time or effort into our relationship. In particular I had retreated deeply into my hobbies (primarily DJing and RGCD projects), which took up nearly all my time outside of the day-to-day business of work, basic household responsibilities and the kids. Cass and I worked well together during the day, both having an equal input into the upbringing and welfare of the children, but as soon as they went to bed we'd go our separate ways; I'd go up to my attic office, and she'd sit in front of the TV or go to bed with a book. Once a week or fortnight we'd snuggle up together on the sofa and watch a film or something - but that was it. Like I said, there was no build up to this - we rarely rowed or fought, but other than the kids, we had zero time for each other and no shared interests.

As the children took up more and more of our time, the few hours we had each week to ourselves became ever more important, with us both fighting desperately to maintain some sort of sense of 'self' and to establish our further differing personalities. Where we once shared things, we instead tried to force our own interests onto each other.

A perfect example of this was when I bought and framed a framed No Man Sky print for our dining room. No consultation or anything, I just bought a picture at a games expo and hung it on the wall. A week later, Cass retaliated by going out and buying a print by a Majorcan artist, removing my picture from the wall and hanging hers instead. The week after this, I removed her picture and rehung mine... and so this ludicrous behaviour continued for weeks until I eventually gave in and left her print on the wall. Hilariously, not a word was said about this - it was classic passive aggression in action.

This is just one example of many where our relationship was in clear and obvious crisis.

Clearly, this was not sustainable, yet we'd just accepted it as the norm, and carried on like this for the best part of a decade. Over time, our relationship devolved from us being lovers into little more than than housemates who for the most-part mildly irritated each other.

Luckily, the timing of the D-bomb being dropped on me coincided with a period of self analysis. I'd recently come to accept that at almost 40 years old, I was now super-unlikely to ever be any of the things the teenage me had hoped for; I wasn't going to be a world touring DJ, nor a singer in a critically acclaimed underground post-punk band or a famous/rich video game developer. Shit, I sure as hell wasn't going to be an astronaut either. So instead I'd been taking stock of what I was lucky enough to have; a secure, above-average-paying job that I didn't overly 'hate', a comfortably sized house, three wonderful kids and an amazing wife. So when the shit hit the fan, I was in the correct frame of mind for it. Rather than going on the defensive, I accepted that yes, this wasn't working and although I was a good Dad, I'd not exactly been a perfect husband.

However, all the bullshit aside, I still very much loved my wife and I wasn't going to give up on our 16 year relationship just like that. So, instead I set out to prove what I'd recently come to realise; that her and the kids really were the most important thing in my life - and that's where I have been since November. Everything went on hold whilst I put 100% into saving my marriage.

It's been an amazing experience. Cass and I have both changed so much over the last decade that it was like starting again with someone new, yet with a foundation beneath us. We've openly discussed our feelings, made time to share common interests, established new goals together and shared new experiences. I've done things I'd never previously imagined doing, including Buddhist meditation and dance classes, and I've actually enjoyed myself in doing so. I have made an effort to build a friendship with her brother, and become closer to her family. In short, it's been going rather well.

But where does this leave RGCD? In fact, Cass raised this question the other night whilst out on one of our now bi-monthly date nights. The truthful answer is that yes, I really miss working on RGCD related projects - but I now accept it for what it is, a hobby business. As our 'honeymoon' period calms, Cass and I are again looking to spend a couple of evenings a week doing things for ourselves, so I am slowly picking up the pieces I left in disarray back in November - with this explanation being one of the first steps. It's not going to be a particularly fast process, but I've invested too much into too many projects to just let them die.

With that in mind, my immediate to-do list is as follows (for starters, and in no particular order):

  • Finally send out the 2015 compo carts/prizes(!) Really sorry about this! :(
  • Release Paul Koller's new game for the C64 (This was supposed to happen last Christmas!)
  • Restock our sold-out cartridges.
  • Release Tiger Claw for the Amiga.
  • Release Yoomp! 64.
  • Do something about getting the now-greenlit Conga onto Steam.
  • Write about my love for the Pico-8 scene.

All of which I hope to achieve within the next couple of months.

Take care of yourself and those around you. James.