In Blackest Night – 5 Years On
Five years ago today, my Mum passed away. Her short battle with cancer was over and I lost more than just her that day. I lost myself. I lost the small amount of desire I had for this life. And, I’ll be perfectly honest, I’ve never recovered. In the words of the Joker, “whatever doesn’t kill you, simply makes you stranger.”
Yes, I have my good days. Well, better days. I could never go so far as to say good as I’m never that positive. My bad days far outweigh the better ones. As I grow older my cynicism and bitterness grows just like the cancer that consumed my Mum. Life has broken me and all I’m doing these days is just filling my time with things. Things to distract me from every day life. The pain and the mundanities of existence. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to properly enjoy something. The passion I once had for seeing my favourite characters on the big screen and the sheer desire to get my hands on the latest instalment of my favourite game series has all but gone.
So, what have I learned over the past five years? It certainly does not get easier. If anything, it gets harder. There have been times since her passing where I’ve desperately wanted to pick up the phone and speak with her. Just to hear her voice. That’s the one memory that has faded the quickest – what she actually sounded like. I have no recordings or videos and that is one of my biggest regrets. Naturally, it’s not something you think of as you grow up.
Every year when her birthday (which is the day after mine) or when the anniversary of her passing come around, I automatically slump into a dark hole and I, quite quickly, withdraw from life even more. It’s my only means of coping. I don’t know whether it is helpful or not but I don’t see any other way of dealing with it. I try to avoid social media and usually ‘go dark’ on Facebook for a day or two. I don’t use Facebook a lot these days anyway; I usually just share things to my pages and come back off. As if, on a timer, a dark cloud descends which fogs my find as well as adds a noticeable, physical weight upon my shoulders. It’s hard to explain but there is a tension that runs down my spine and throbs in the small of my back. The pulsations cause nausea and there’s a weakness in my legs as if they’re almost jelly-like. My chest tightens and I find it incredibly difficult to sit comfortably.
I have no lust for life. No driving ambition and, as I said before, I am just filling time before my eventual (and seemingly distant) demise. As a father of three young girls and as a husband, this is not good. I’m merely a shadow. A negative presence that just exists. Away from home and in public I’m a different person; the Jekyll to my home-life Hyde. At one stage in my life, I may have attributed that duality to me being a Gemini. But fuck that. All that Zodiac shit is just that. Instead, I try to hide in plain sight. A high (or at least moderate) functioning manic depressive that can trick everyone, including myself. At least for a short while. Every now and again it all becomes too much and the cracks show. Lately, this has been happening more frequently and, truth be told, it kinda scares me.
I don’t know what I am truly capable of when I lose my shit. I’ve never fully lost it and I hope I never do. As I get older, the appeal of death increases and the thought of just ceasing to exist is like mana from a non-existent Heaven. These are thoughts I know I should not have. They’re not healthy. But those notions change nothing.
The loss of my Mum didn’t cause these thoughts. They merely amplified the thoughts and feelings I have harboured from a young age.
Socially, I pretend. Laugh when people laugh. Don’t when people don’t. Sometimes I laugh when I shouldn’t and get serious when the situation does not require it. My grasp on social cues often slips and I fuel my anxiety and social awkwardness further. I often lose the point I am trying to make due to messy, incoherent thoughts. Such is the case here as I no longer know what I am trying to say. Whereas most people I know want a cuddle (or a ‘cwtch‘ as they call it here in Wales) when they’re having a tough time or get upset, I just want to be left alone. I will stare at a laptop screen or TV screen, distracting myself and blocking out as much as I can. With earphones in or headphones on, listening to something. Anything. Just to isolate myself as much as I possibly can. Again, this may not be healthy. But it’s all I know. And sometimes, well, it’s better the devil you know.
People will tell you to “live every day as if it’s your last” or some other contrived bullshit that amounts to you making the most of every situation as you don’t know how long you have left. While it sounds good and would be a good ideal to strive for in reality, it just isn’t possible. Life gets in the way. You set out with the best intentions but things will crop up or you just don’t have the energy, brain capacity or whatever to do it. Unless you are blessed genetically, financially, socially or whatever else that would enhance your situation then these ideals can never be fully realised. Like the afterlife, it’s a nice thought but in all seriousness it’s just not real.
What I will say, having lost both of my grandparents and my Mum, is take as many photographs as you can. Or record videos. Sit them down and record conversations – not necessarily for podcasts or to share with the world but just for you and future generations to hear their voices. In the digital age we are in, we take so much for granted and spend most of our lives living the present through the lens of a phone camera such as music gigs, comedy shows, our kids’ concerts yet we don’t record the trivial, every day stuff that makes life worth so much more.
In just four days time my youngest daughter turns five. That’s right, my daughter was born four days after my Mum died. Back then, it was a very painful and confusing time. I had no idea what to think or do and, each year when this time comes around, those old wounds are ripped open again. And again. Perhaps I am fated to never being able to move on due to the timing of everything that has happened and the constant reminders, like clockwork, each and every year.
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