It’s been a long, dark year. But I see a brand new light beckoning at the end of long tunnel full of monsters and fears. Without the valiant efforts of my pug, I might have fallen to despair. My daughter started calling Frankie my Pig Pug Pagan for reasons I can’t understand. But she became the guardian of my life and soul more so this year than in her first three years at my side.
Life threw a few curve balls, opened some doors, slammed others shut, and in all the pain and confusion, my writing improved. I look forward to querying my book in the New Year.
Mothers and Daughters
Wow, this is one of the most complex relationships, is it not, ladies? I have a difficult relationship with my own mother and a very close relationship with my daughter. All three of us share a challenging trait. We all suffer from severe depression. All of us are survivors of various traumas. My daughter and I have made great strides in conquering our demons, but both of us will likely be in some kind of therapy for the rest of our lives.
All The Things We Don’t Speak About
While my daughter drives toward a bright future in New York to start 2020, my mother remains in the hospital six weeks after a serious suicide attempt. No one calls it that, but it is what it is. We are not supposed to speak about these things, are we?
My mother faces multiple physical battles and one very large mental one. The doctors had not expected her to survive the complicated surgery in her weakened state. She did. She can’t walk and her heart is badly damaged, making her physical therapy challenging. There is no dignity in a rotted body, and trying to recover from such self-inflicted harm. It’s the fear of jumping in case you survive that dissuades me in my darkest moments. I can’t quite see the darkness that caused my mom to let go and step off the ledge.
And she is determined to return home, away from the constant vigilance of the nurses and doctors who care for her now. Not to live but to die. Nothing is as awful as trying to save someone from themselves.
For years, my mother self-medicated, drowning out the demons of her own mind in bottles of gin and vodka. She still sees mental illness as shameful and so refuses to engage in any long term therapy. Years ago, after my daughter had been in therapy for six months or so, my mother asked how long I intended to let my teenage daughter use a therapist as a “crutch”. It made me so sad.
My mother is wrong. Seeing a therapist, seeking out help with a group like AA, joining an online group to talk about issues, taking medication to stem the worst of the despair, is not wrong and it is not a crutch. It is necessary. And it is nothing to be ashamed of. And for many of us, it is the only way for us to rejoin the dance of life again.
Clinical depression is a monster without a cure. It must be met and dealt with or when life delivers one of its hard knocks (a guarantee – life is hard, sometimes for no reason at all), the monster will devour its host. I wish my mother would find the light before her last breath in this life.
On Christmas Day when we visited, she seemed to be getting so much better. She was sober for the first time I could remember in years, and she seemed determined to return to life. But three days later, she was slipping again. I hope 2020 will see an end to her pain, one way or another. She won’t have much life left, no matter what the doctors do, but I wish she could see the end of her days in the light, and not give over to the horrors of her own mind.
My daughter and I got a lot of help from the book, Lost Connections by Johann Hari last year. It may not be “the answer”, but it does help one feel less lost, and not alone.
In a sick world, it is almost impossible to be fully sane. Reach out for help. Yes, there will always pain in life, but there is joy. And everyone deserves redemption, happiness, and purpose.
The Beautiful Game
My demons did a fair bit of throwing themselves against me and pitching fits, trying to tell me that I didn’t matter, that the world would be better without me. I hit back and scattered them to the chaos courtesy of Liverpool FC.
Loving to pull out victories in the last seconds of the game, they kind of mimic my life. Where I think I am defeated, in the last moment, I take another shot on gaol. Yes, a Premier League football team represents the endless light in my darkness. They end 2019 on a long, freaking winning streak, adding three new trophies to their tally, and improve the most beautiful game there has ever been with such creativity and incredible collaboration. This is one of my many joys.
I still watch the magical highlights of the game at Anfield against Barca where Liverpool recovered from a 3-0 loss to advance to the final of Champions League (which they won) with a 4-0 victory. The crowd singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” seers my soul with such light. It’s just a game, some say, but for Liverpool, it is more.
For me, this night, New Year’s Eve is not the end of the year. It’s just a date on the calendar. My year begins in August with the beginning of the new Liverpool Premier League season, and ends the night before their first game of the next season. So while others make their new year’s resolution, I am still on my journey of the year.