For the last few weeks, Friday’s have been bad for me. For one reason or another, each Friday over the last month has brought bad news or unfortunate tidings. Last Friday was a public holiday in Melbourne and I had the reasonable expectation that the sequence would be broken. It was not to be.
It was not that anything happened particularly on Friday. Rather everything that had happened caught up with me en masse. All the frustration, the disappointment, the betrayals and disrespect, all of it suddenly was heaped upon my shoulders. It crippled me. I was leaden with emotion and fragile to touch. All the world seemed a bleak place to me. And in the middle of it, I was forced to face up to what it means for me.
It’s now Monday, I have the day off, and I’m more or less fine now, though I don’t look forward to returning to work. The questions I asked myself on Friday remain valid, though.
I sometimes wonder that having survived all that hardship it used up my resilience, rather than proving it. I’ve no doubt I’m much more vulnerable now than I ever was before, and much less formidable. That may not be a bad thing in moderation. I was renowned for being invulnerable before. I don’t think it was entirely true, but it didn’t help me a lot. I needed to open up. It’s a necessary part of my growth as a man. If something broke in that period, if now there are cracks in me, then okay, as Rumi says, that’s how the light gets in.
The problem is that it’s so unfamiliar and foreign to me that it throws me off-balance. That, and at times it is too much. There are occasions that I am so fragile that anything will set me off.
I think about how I have changed from then to now. I think most of my instincts remain the same. My behaviours more or less are unchanged. I’m more open, more relaxed about certain things, but that’s by controlled release. In a lot of ways I’m just as driven as before, but more and more I think that’s habit. I’m more sensitive in certain ways – not the bulletproof man I was before – and take much more to heart. And – for me, most damning – I don’t have the resolve I used to.
All this embarrasses me. At times I’m on the verge of being ashamed at this frailty. That’s a residue of times before. If it was another person I would feel compassion and respect. I can’t manage that altogether for myself, not yet. I know I’m being harsh on myself, but that’s the difference between what I think and what I feel.
The upshot of all this that I don’t know if I’m suited for the life I set myself for which, basically, was a continuation of the life I had before. I’m still smart enough to manage it. I still have a certain mulish persistence. In practical terms, there’s no reason I can’t. Except that my heart isn’t in it, and nor perhaps is my spirit.
I always wanted responsibility. I always put my hand up for the toughest jobs. I thought was unchanged. I told myself that. And still, I have those habits, that instinct. But I am not that man now. There is a fragility at the heart of me that was never there before. I always sought leadership – now I don’t want that pressure or expectation. Perhaps it will pass. I hope it does, but for now, it’s a fact of life.
What it means is that I really have to reconsider the roles I’m applying or striving for. I’ve got the noggin for them, I even look and act the part, but I don’t have the fortitude to do them now. I think my ideal role now is to find a role in the corner, something intellectually demanding, but which requires limited leadership or decision making. You see – just writing that shames me! Yet it’s true.
I think I have to accept that having survived homelessness and strife that yet it inflicted upon me psychic damage. It may yet lead me on a path of enlightenment, but for now, it is troubling and difficult to deal with and, most particularly, to adapt to. It’s harder doing it alone, but it is what it is.