Things have been coming to a point, and late yesterday they reached it. It’s been a troubling few years for me. At times extremely difficult. I’ve had people about me offering me various degrees of help, though there’s little anyone else can do for me in times like this.
Throughout this period I’ve shunned any sign of pity, and been wary of sympathy. What I’ve sought is understanding. You come to crave that I think, to ease the sense of isolation and loneliness. At times and in places, in dribs and drabs, I’ve occasionally managed to communicate some aspect of what it’s like. For a little while they understand, but it passes as they get on with their life. What is for them 5-10 minutes every now and then is for me 24/7. I don’t get away from it. And I’ve now come to the realisation that it’s not possible for anyone to understand who has not experienced what I have.
It’s been a long timing coming that. Hope over experience, etc. It can’t be denied now though, and on reflection, it’s not that surprising.
It’s a very complex thing this, and it’s no wonder it’s hard to grasp. It’s hard for me too, and I’m in the middle of it. You tend to think having to endure like I have is just having to deal with the one, big thing. In fact it’s many things, and the response to it is multi-layered and multi-faceted.
There have been days when I’m conscious of one thing more than another and think, that’s the worse thing about being in this situation. The next day I’ll feel something else, and will think the same thing about that. I don’t know if there is a ‘worse thing’. It’s all hard, and it doesn’t stop.
I could probably list out 20 different aspects that prey upon you in some way. At random: the wavering sense of identity; the feeling of utter helplessness; the way some people see or act towards you, as if you have been diminished as man; the sheer unrelenting sense of being oppressed, trapped, without escape from it; the seeming futility of action; the pity in people’s eyes…and so on.
I would never have anticipated the half of this before. When you look upon it from the outside it’s the practical aspects that catch the eye – how to pay the rent say, and the stress that incurs. If you’re smart you understand that there is a metaphysical aspect to this also, but cannot say how or what.
Part of the reason you seek understanding is to feel a tenuous link with the world you have been cast out of. If people understand then I must still exist. To experience a common emotion is to be part of the brotherhood of man.
I give up on that, and it’s fine. I think it’s something I should have done long ago. In a way it’s liberating. Why waste the energy? If you understand, great for you, if you don’t, well, you never will.
Put it another way – I will no longer try and persuade people of what it’s like, not when they go home to a life with all its comforts. Nor will I allow myself to be affected by how they see me.
That sounds negative, but it isn’t necessarily. I get told regularly how strong I am, how resilient, how amazing it is that I’ve survived and stayed so positive, and how they could never have managed it.
I’m grateful for the sentiment, but means nothing to me really. What else could I do, I wonder? What options do I have but to survive? I know it’s not as simple as that, but it is to me.
Often when I’m told such things it’s not my resolute self I think of, instead I’m reminded of my frailties. They can say that, I think, but they don’t see me when I’m on my knees. I do, and I don’t forget.
Funny, just the other day I said to myself, you’re a tough fuck H. It was true. And I am. But at the same time I’m not the man I was. I can still play act, but I’ve lost essence. There’s still a hammer in me, but I haven’t got the same definition as I had before. No surprise maybe, but fuck I know it. I feel feeble, and I hate it.
You know how sometimes you meet people and they impress you somehow with their quiet strength and confidence? For reasons you can’t put a finger on you come away admiring them. I think there are people who see me like that, though not as purely – my story has too much ugly in it.
I would love to be that person, but feel a pretender. I know I can project things, but the truth is different. I know my inadequacies. I’m painfully aware of how I have failed. I know how close I’ve come to breaking. I feel such disappointment that I am not that man, no matter what other’s think.
I can aspire to that though, which is what everything last night rolled up into. I give away the need to be understood. People can believe what they will of me, and it won’t matter. I’ve traded too much to try and be the same. I’m grateful for people’s help, and will accept it, but with the determination that I have to do it myself.
In a way this is life-affirming. In a way it’s isolating too – but perhaps necessarily so. As soon as you begin to compromise something weakens. I’m set on what has to happen, and determined to make it so. I’m far from serene, but accepting this is no small thing. It feels a bit like me again. I’ll do the yards, but I’m not going to let go, and I’ll go it alone.