The darkness

Every eight or nine days, I hit a flat spot. It’s as if all the negative thoughts I’ve pushed aside come rolling back to me, and every little mishap or issue I’ve swallowed returns sour in my mouth.

The hope I’ve lived by seems a pale thing, if not self-indulgent. I’ve fought hard, but to what end if the cancer returns? It seems more likely suddenly. Every ache, every little physical anomaly, becomes suspicious, and all efforts futile. I have deluded myself with false determination. I come to believe, in this brief period, that I am on borrowed time.

Likewise, I recall that no matter how far I’ve come and how much I’ve improved, the shadow remains, as does a level of incapacity that may never advance. I’m reminded of how much I’ve lost and how much I’ll never get back. Like it or not, I’m a changed man.

Then there are the little things that accumulate over time – the petty irritations and setbacks, the inconveniences and annoyances suddenly loom large as if portent of something more significant. What’s the point, you wonder? I’ll never get ahead.

Such has it been for me yesterday and into today. I’m conscious of feeling this and not wanting to, but it infects my thoughts and my dreams, and I feel impotent anger that I can do nothing about it. In time, it will pass, as it is passing now.

I wonder what triggers it or if anything triggers it, or if it is simply the way things are – a necessary expression and ultimate purging of ill thoughts. There is an element of emotional exhaustion I suspect. The effort to remain positive must wane, and this is the result.

There seems little to explain why it should have come upon me yesterday. I had a good weekend. On Friday night, I’d met up with Cheeseboy for a few glasses of vino and then a Thai meal. On Saturday night, I’d had guests for dinner – the first time I’ve entertained for years and a notable event. It was a good night.

There was a moment on Saturday night when I thought I might be freeing a curse. After years sitting in my fridge, I opened a bottle of Veuve. My mum had bought it years ago to celebrate the good news she expected – a remission of her cancer. Instead, the news was bad. I inherited it when she died, and I didn’t want to open it until the moment was appropriate. I wanted to be rid of it. Each time I opened the fridge, it was a reminder. And so we toasted each other, and mum, as the night commenced.

It was, by coincidence, her birthday yesterday, though I didn’t realise it until late.

My footy team won again yesterday, and otherwise, I was productive, but I felt dogged by this dark cloud. I considered taking today off from everything – from work and treatment – and giving in to the feeling until it passed, but today I was up early again and at it.

The inconveniences mount up, and perhaps there is cause for concern. I discovered last week that I’d been taxed too little and owed the ATO $2000 I don’t have. I had hoped for a refund. Instead, it means I won’t be getting a dog this year. Then there were mystery amounts taken from my bank account by dodgy organisations. I hope to get the dollars back, but there’s a pang whenever anything such happens to you. And I’m in dispute with the gas company, which charged me seven times more this quarter than they did the previous one.

In the end, this is life. There will be ebbs and flows, peaks and troughs. It ever was the case. That I’m recovering from cancer only gives it a different slant and accentuates the movement. More rides upon it than before, but I’m more conscious of it also. And I’m less certain of how it will play out.

If it’s only every eight or nine days, I can manage it and consider myself lucky. The rest of the time, I push forward with hope and expectation. I realise how it can be and understand how for some, it is much more challenging. I’m fortunate the way I am because it always passes for me.

It’s like it’s always been, though the stakes are different. You find a way. You go on. And that’s easier to say now that I’m coming out of the darkness.

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