Right now sitting in my little bungalow, thinking, reflecting, imagining, wondering, I find my mind drawn to this:
No I’m not in a prison, not be a long stretch of the imagination, and no I don’t only have four walls and a wash basin. Life is far from that. Life is far from such a grim existence that the idea of the call for exercise time in the prison yard is a long for luxury.
And yet my existence at times feels somewhat like it is. I live in a very small two room bungalow or granny flat. I have a very tiny bathroom and not even a kitchenette, well only one that I have made myself thanks to the items available at Ikea.
In a sense I should be on top of the world, basking in the freedom of finally living authentically. And yes, there is that. But there is huge cost that goes with that. Huge loss. Loss of relationship, loss of lifestyle, loss of company, loss of contact, loss of family.
A lot of loss.
Yes a lot of gain too. But mental health is not that simple. It seems to require a level of cognitive dissonance that many are truly not capable of grasping.
On the one hand is wonderment, joy, freedom in experience life as the authentic me for really the first time ever.
Yet on the other is the loss. The pain of the loss, the grief from the loss. All of it.
And it really hurts.
It’s as though that pain is on the very edge of consciousness all of the time. As though just one little slip and it comes crashing and smashing it way into focus. Loudly proclaiming over and over again as loud as it possibly can everything that is lost. Screaming in your ear that you don’t get to share your life with a partner anymore, that you don’t get to be there each day as your children wake and go to sleep. That you’ve lost that connection with your offspring.
When that pain breaches the outer defences, like water breaching a floodgate the pain and sadness overwhelm all the walls, barriers and futile defences you thought you had in place. Like a house of cards fighting against a gale force wind and suddenly shoulders shake, heart rate races, breath hyperventilating and aching, gut wrenching sobs explode out of you. They are unstoppable, inconsolable.
The idea of being trapped within four walls, wash basin and prison bed seems suddenly an apt metaphor for the experience of your existence.
And yet, somehow at the same time, is a newfound sense of wonder, a joy at choosing clothes to wear each day that you’ve never before really felt. A new appreciation for the face that looks back at you from the mirror. Feelings of loveliness when you receive a compliment, where in the past this has always seemed nothing but uncomfortable falsity.
It really is like doing life at odds with itself. It’s like living between two formidable instincts vying against each other for supremacy. One an instinct of authenticity and being oneself, and the other continuing to pretend to be what you are not, but with the benefit of maintained status quo relationships.
Making sense of this friction, this paradox, seems to be my lot in life these days. Making sense whilst at the same time standing on the precipice of a spiral into major depression and pointlessness.
Or maybe I’m just making too much of it all after all.