Sunday, July 29, 2018

Rear View Mirror


An old journal survived in another box. From well over 30 years ago. I don't know does anything good come out of this sorting through old crap thing at all. I started reading it and it was so compulsive I didn't stop until half way through and found myself teetering on the edge of an abyss.

I realized I was reading about an undiagnosed nervous breakdown I had. It was awful stuff. Heartbreaking too. Do all of us suffer, in the past, from such dark nights of the soul/spirit? I frankly don't know how I survived as I wrote about suicide and death so frequently and I was still in my thirties. Briefly: I had unexpectedly got fired from a career position. At the same time my former husband was having an affair and missing from home frequently. One of my kids had quit school and was on drugs. I was flat broke, pennies in the bank, no energy even to lift the phone and hire a labour lawyer as my self esteem was in the toilet. I can tell from the writing how I had rejected friendships, anyone reaching out to me. I must have been a one note samba, full of lament and hopelessness. Everyone stopped calling and that's how I wanted it. Isolation, fear, poverty. I certainly didn't let my family of origin know - in hindsight probably a very good thing - and I was nursing a seriously infected leg without medical attention. And oh yes, drinking heavily. I must have been an alarming sight. Well to anyone showing up on my doorstep and actually seeing me for I didn't answer my door. Or my phone. Or open my mail.

My father arrived in the midst of all this unbelievable mess. He never showed how distressed he was. He asked to see my leg. I cried at him: no doctors, no hospital and he showed me how to treat it with salt and sunshine. He assured me it wasn't cancer (my mother had malignant melanoma and died after multiple amputations, I was sure I was following in the same path). He took me out for walks every night, long walks along rivers and lakes and on one weekend to the art gallery in Kleinburg to look at Group of Seven paintings for hours. I had forgotten all of this. He must have been disturbed and scared at my condition but he never let on. By action and deed he showed me he was on my side.

My leg healed with a big scar. My mind took another couple of years before I was good and ready to deal with my alcoholism.

Last night I couldn't sleep (and I sleep well today and for many, many years) as my thoughts raced over again and again that absolutely awful, terrifying time when I felt death nudging at my door every hour of the day and I would succumb to the cold comfort of that bottomless pit of hopelessness and despair.

Sometimes we need to glance briefly in the rear view mirror but staring in it for too long can be a very dangerous visit to the dark side.

Can anyone relate?

18 comments:

  1. I can but not so long ago. I have not blogged about it or talked about it but, I don't understand, the topic keeps coming up again and again in the last couple of weeks. Just two days ago, I met a very interesting man, a psychologist from Israel who said that my sharing my story was very unusual and that I should encourage others to do the same too.

    Three years ago, I went through a period of clinical depression and I can relate to how you felt bar one fact. I was not drinking. I was not willing to take help but, my son and some other members of the family got fed up and got a psychiatrist to come and see me at home as, I was not willing to leave it for anything, not even for a hair cut. The psychiatrist, now a good friend, fixed me all right after four visits and medication. It took four months but, at the end of it, I was back to my usual self.

    I can now see why the psychologist suggested that I should not only share but also encourage others to share. It is a catharsis is it not?

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    1. It is cathartic Ramana and thank you for sharing this. I imagine that we rebound better and stronger for having shared the experience though at the time I didn't have the words apart from the incoherence of my own writing that I didn't share.

      Reading it from the distance of today I am greatly disturbed by how close I was to ending it. My father took me in hand in his own way and undoubtedly (to me now) saved my life. I do remember those walks in the evening, the movement of water and the sound of birds, often in silence but I do believe the healing began then for me.

      Good that your son picked up on yours and got you the help you needed.

      XO
      WWW

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  2. Yes I can relate, as I'm sure a lot of us can, and I so agree that "Sometimes we need to glance briefly in the rear view mirror but staring in it for too long can be a very dangerous visit to the dark side."

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    1. Thanks for understanding Tom. I think you're right in that we all visit the dark place of despair in our lifetimes.

      XO
      WWW

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  3. Thank you all for your honesty.

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    1. I think we all have variations on this theme Judi tho I believe some don't recognise it and burrow deeper into isolation and despair.

      XO
      WWW

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  4. Wow, your dad sure stepped in at the right now. My younger son recently had his heart broken when his fiancée abruptly ended the relationship and I felt so helpless in the face of his anguish. All I could do was welcome him home, feed him, do his laundry, listen to him - just mother him, I guess.

    But in my own darkest periods, I tend to go underground. I don't write about them until I am coming up for air.

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    1. So sorry to hear about your son. Mothering and fathering is never more important than then. I write through my darkness just to get some sort of centre or way forward. But back then? writing through it was gaining more mud than clarity.

      XO
      WWW

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  5. I understand
    the mind is so difficult to handle.
    I breath, think happy thoughts and after a while I am back to my self

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    1. Sometimes that is easier said than done, Ernestine. Particularly in the case of terrible anguish and pain which all else subsumes to the darkness.

      XO
      WWW

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  6. Yes, you can glance in the rearview mirror, but do not turn around and go back there. It's in the past and the best I can say from these recollections is that, "look how I survived that and did okay. I can do it."

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    1. DKZ, I am putting away the dark journals, they serve me no purpose and my nights become fraught with nightmares.

      XO
      WWW

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  7. Old journals are an eye-opener; at least they have been for me. I haven't experienced the dark despair, but a good part of what I'm reading doesn't give me pleasure. It does add to my present understanding; that's the best I can say about it, except for the fond memories therein. I will remember what your dad did to help you; simple, natural and wise. -Kate

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    1. I am grateful I had to go through this awful time, it helped forge who I am today, basically a happy person, creative and content.

      I had no idea at the time that my dad was so helpful, he would just insist on those walks - "to keep him company" so he wouldn't get lost.

      I will hold those walks and Kleinburg in my heart forever.

      XO
      WWW

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    1. Somehow I knew that E. Kindred spirits.

      XO
      WWW

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  9. I recall a challenging period of time with matters that took a while to sort out. There were just too many issues affecting me, but over which I had no control. I think we reach a point of simply locking down for self-preservation, or other times may feel like Don Quixote— riding off in all directions — crazy-making times.

    I had periodically thought of starting a journal, but never did cause figured I’d likely write things that i might not want others to read, and what if it was stolen. A writing teacher friend gave me a journal, so I decided to start one, but would use some vague wording with meanings only I could interpret.

    I recall beginning with the quote about this being the winter of my discontent, adding only a few more sentences. Well, wouldn't you know — our house was broken into. Among the items stolen was my journal. I’ve never started another one.

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    1. Probably wise Joared. Reopening the past as I have experienced it recently came be painful and traumatizing. I literally had no idea of how awful those times were and my poor kids when I think of them living with me, rejected by their father, it must have been horrific.

      I think I would have been better off tossing it once I found it.

      But if this post helps one other person I'll be grateful.

      These times pass if we are patient.

      XO
      WWW

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