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?