I’m not sure why I’m writing this. Actually, no, that’s a lie, I know why I’m writing this, I just find it difficult to articulate. Essentially what I want to tell you is to hold on. Please, please hold on. If you’re not sure you can, I say again. Please hold on.
Selfishly, this is as much a message to me as it is to you. I’m putting this into words because I need to hear this message too. These feelings of pain, anger and sadness at my broken dreams and the uncertainty I face need to have greater purpose than simply the backdrop of the ruins of my former life.
As I sit here writing this, what I’d quite like is to go to sleep and not wake up again. I expect things will probably get better, but it feels like such a long way away, and I’m tired. And I know there’s a little part of me in the back of my mind, hidden in the darkness, shouting “but it’s going to get better - it won’t always be like this”. I think it’s probably correct, but right now it’s too quiet, and frankly I just don’t care.
I picture myself stood alone on a wide, featureless plain. It’s cold and dark, and the plain stretches away in all directions. If I look hard at the horizon, I can see a faint glimmer of the approaching dawn. But it’s so far away. I’m not warmed, by it, I’m just aware of the distance between me and the light. I’m aware of just how much darkness there is to endure before the light comes, and I don’t know if I have the energy. I’m tired. And as I write this, I know that what I need to do is be patient, to wait for the dawn, await the beautiful sun that will shine upon my face and warm my bones. But that’s the problem, I have to wait, and I don’t know for how long.
It’s not to say that there aren’t good moments. There are things that help. Being with my friends, a piece of music that reminds me of happier times, a painting I’ve always thought beautiful, the leaves of the trees outside my home fluttering in the sunshine, the clear blue sky. They are brief glimmers in the darkness, and I remember their beautiful light, but it’s just a memory of the light they bring, it doesn’t warm me now. When they’re gone I’m back in the darkness.
I guess what helps right now is acceptance. I’m not fighting the situation. I know what I can change, and I’ve acted where I can, but the rest I can’t alter right now, and I feel sad, angry and fearful. But I accept how I feel. It’s awful, and I don’t want it, but it’s here and it’s not going a way in a hurry, and most importantly I refuse to add guilt to all the other feelings running through me right now.
In a way I’m lucky. I've had enough therapy to know that I’m OK as a person, and to accept that this feeling of OK-ness ebbs and flows. The louder negative thoughts of my childhood are largely vanquished. The problem is, right now I just don’t care. I’m too tired to care if I’m OK. I don’t know how to overcome the tiredness. It pulls at me, drags me down. Stubbornness helps, but the tiredness endures.
You see, I can’t hold onto the hope. I can’t press it tightly to my chest to comfort me. I’m just not built that way. All I can do is stand here in the dark, and notice hope in the distance, not yet bright enough to warm me, just a glimmer of a better future. And so I wait. That stubborn part within me knows the hope is there, the sun is ready to rise. So I’m not holding onto hope, but perhaps I’m holding onto the thought of that hope in the distance, and maybe that’s just enough, so I hold on.
Hope would be too powerful right now. I’ve been in the dark too long, its brightness would burn my eyes and scorch my skin. I can’t hold it, but perhaps I can bear it in the distance, and accept its gradual approach.
If you can’t see the light of hope yet, it’s there, just beyond the horizon, and I urge you, please hold on.
If you have been affected by the issues discussed in this article, you can contact the Samaritans here.
The author is a counsellor based in the South of England who wishes to remain anonymous.