The underground river

I go round and round in circles searching for explanations and analysing the ‘facts’ because I’m someone who can’t ever desist from trying to know. It’s like an engine in me that drives me this need to understand and, once followed, to categorise and file away. The problem in recent times is that understanding is fleeting, or conflicting versions of it exist.

The confusing thing is, as I reflect that I don’t think any of the conflicting versions are wrong as such. They are true as long as they are current, then another perspective opens up, more ‘facts’ come to light. I never stop in this search, as these pages very well attest, and perhaps this today is yet another version of that – except this time I propose that the many conjectures I posit, the analysis I embark on, are actually addressing the symptoms, not the cause.

For example, I say that I don’t have the burning desire that I had once, though often times my behaviour contradicts that. The explanation I have for that is that having experienced hard times that my perspective has shifted. I just don’t have the hunger, and my justification (for I find it hard to swallow that I might not go as hard as it as I used to) is that I am older, I’ve done that, and I have other priorities.

The real reason is that it isn’t in me anymore. And why? Because I’m sad all the way through.

I made reference the other day to an underground river of sorrow, and it feels a bit like that – hidden away from view. In the last week or so – and I don’t know why – it feels as if I’ve broken into a subterranean cavern and caught sight of the river flowing there.

This is the crux of everything. I’m sad all the time even when I’m happy, and sometimes the sorrow is so deep that I can find it difficult to manage. At it’s worse, I feel as if all energy, even will, has been leached from me. It’s like I’m trying to run with an elastic band dragging me back.

I was a stoic long before any of the shit engulfed me, but in the time since it was that which allowed me to keep going. That became a mantra of sorts – plough through, keep applying yourself. And even when it feels crippling, I rouse myself to get up because I don’t want to succumb to it. It makes for hard work sometimes, like heading into the face of a gale. It was the standard I set, though, reinforced by habit. I was afraid that if I gave way, I might never be able to get up again, but if I appear grim sometimes, that’s why.

I’m not stupid. I know I have issues. It was about two years ago I figured I wasn’t going to survive without opening up about my experiences. I began to share the dark secrets – the shame – of being helpless and homeless. It was a liberating experience and good for me and, though I don’t speak of it a lot, something I continue to do. I’ve owned it.

All I’ve owned though is what happened, not how it left me. Very typically when people ask me about it, I shrug my shoulders and say it’s just something that happened to me. And it’s true. It was like a bad accident that left me debilitated, but – I thought – I had survived and got over it. It was not something that defined me. It was not something I sought sympathy for. I was strong enough to have survived it, and that was that. It was very much in line with the stoical philosophy.

But sometimes stoicism doesn’t cut it. It keeps you from going where you need to go – in this case, into the depths of my sorrow. I sometimes wondered if I was suffering from some sort of PTSD, but I never considered – or was willing to consider – that I might be just fucking sad.

But everything comes from that, I think. I survived, battered and bruised, have lived on to fight and try and reclaim some part of the life I had. And I have focused on that, the scrap to make a better life for myself. But there are things I can never get back, and that’s the source of my great sorrow.

I don’t care I had it tough. I’m still here. The challenges ahead just make me grit my teeth. What I can’t get over is the hole in the middle me knowing what I have lost forever.

I lost all I had materially, but that’s the least of it. It means what would have been easy will now likely be hard, but I’ll get on with it. What I can’t get over is the loss of my mother, and with her, basically my whole family unit. I miss that love and affection and feeling a part of something good. The circumstances break my heart, even now.

People die, and I accept that. I miss mum, but we all suffer such loss. It’s the acrimony that followed her death I find hard to swallow, and the fallout of it that fractured a once-close family into fragments.

It seems so tragic and unnecessary to me, and even now, I feel lost. It hurts, and for the first time, I can admit that. It’s Christmastime, and it’s this time of year I feel it worst because it was this time of year that was generally happiest.

This year, like in recent years, I’ll be alone. I have invitations for Christmas day, but I’ll decline them. It’ll be pleasant enough. It’s not what I’ll do that makes it hard. What grieves me is what I’ll miss out on again – love and laughter and trust and affection and a sense of being part of something bigger than me. A family. It’s terrible what happened and one day I’ll get over it, but I guess the first part of that is accepting it.

So here I am. I’m sad, and I want to cry. I’m not the grim, stoical figure you see. That’s just on the inside. On the inside, I’m tender and want to be loved just like everybody else. I’m not as tough as you think, and it’s time you knew that. I’m sad, but now I know it.

I can’t claim back what has been lost. I think I just have to find it again for myself.

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