You are not in a good place.
This time of year is always hard for you, littered as it is with the milestones of the dead, but this year, you have been in better shape, more prepared for the battle than you have ever been. Still, life has dragged you down.
You know you’re not ok because you’ve stopped caring. The kitchen is a skyscraper of washing up and things that need throwing away. Bags of shopping litter the front room; it’s just too much effort to find a cupboard to cram the pasta and the cat food into. You’re not even brushing your teeth at the weekend.
You’re obsessed with silence, and sit for long periods with no soundtrack. Even when you create a playlist for the drive to work, you realise it’s full of slow, teary stuff. Happiness offends you. You are incapable of being overjoyed. You can’t even commit to a new boxset.
You plaster the smile on your face, and most days it works. You feel dead inside, but ok, functional. This is not the dark place, it’s the grey place, where everything is tinged with a lack of life. But it’s ok.
And then the universe decides to toy with you. You’ve made it through your anniversary of grief, when out of the blue, you’re overcome by howls of loss and ache. You cry with the abandon of a child, huge, wracking sobs that leave you bent double, spent, bereft. You cry til there is nothing left inside. Nothing.
Your loss is ready to go, and maybe this is the final time it will own you, maybe this is why it is attacking you one last time. You feel this anniversary will pass more peacefully now, as if 20 years has put a lid on it. But just one last time, that really hurt.
You know that you can breathe now that the day is past, now that there is a lid on it. You feel you are stepping into a new era, and you are ready, ready to walk this new path. But the universe just shits on you again, and instead of rewarding your grit and your steadfastness, it gives you a literal pot hole the size of an earthquake and a disintegrated tyre.
As your car judders to a halt you howl, for the second time in a week. You have survived, but you are not yet ready for curveballs and solutions, for DOING, for coping, for having to make things happen. The car is your metaphor. You feel incapable of moving. The injustice of it kills you, pisses you off, makes you so damn angry. You have done nothing to deserve this and yet it feels like a punishment. You have done everything you can to SURVIVE and you are FURIOUS at the injustice of it all. Why do you have to face this? Shouldn’t the universe be helping you? You rage at the universe, and at God. At one point you even tell Him to fuck off (probably not a wise celestial choice) but you feel so goddamn ANGRY.
You never feel so helpless in life as when your car fails you, and within half a heartbeat, the world turns black. Not grey; black. The black zone is utterly devoid of emotion. You are a tunnel vision of doom. All you can do is put one step in front of another, like some ravaged zombie. Even conversation hurts.
The black zone will last for 2 days. It’s a place you haven’t been in a while. You forget how utterly this mood devours you and destroys you, kills the hope in you. Your darkness is a cloak that trails and billows around you, touching everything, souring it, sucking the life out of it. You are just numb.
Physically though, you are in pain. You are full of tension and aches as your body tries to fold back in on itself for protection. Your shoulders feel rounded, as if every part of you is trying to meet itself in the middle, and the physical pain matches the emotional emptiness. You are ruined, and you don’t want to go on.
You sit there wailing. I can’t do this anymore, I can’t do it. I can’t cope. I’ve had enough. You are broken. You have reached your limit, been lacerated by the shards of being pushed beyond your limit. Yet you know you don’t intend to kill yourself. There is a difference between wanting an end to things and actually ending them.
Instinctively – because you’ve walked this path before – you know that sleep is the only thing that will heal you, and you crawl into bed at toddler time. You minimise everything in your life so that you don’t spend an ounce of unnecessary energy. You shut down. You run on essential systems only, but even these are hard to fuel. Getting up and making a drink is too much effort; you would rather sit there thirsty.
So what made the blackness lift? Magic, who knows? I know there are things I can do to help myself, but I’ve also learnt it’s sometimes just a case of waiting the storm out, and that it can leave as suddenly as it arrives.
After a while, you learn that blackness doesn’t last forever, that eventually it WILL go. This is partly what drives the urge to sleep – sleep speeds you through time, to a place where you feel less black.
This time, I am held together by the absolute certainty that this is a year of reset, that one era is ending, and I am about to start a new life, with a clean slate. The day after the blackness lands, I will get a sign that this is true, and the fortune cookies keep saying it too.
I am driven by a need to kill off my old life – metaphorically. I literally want to bin everything and start again, and make less mess this time around. I want to be fresh, not tethered to a past that I have allowed to minimise and limit me. Maybe I’m finally becoming an adult, but for the first time in 10 years, I know I want to be me again, and I know I want to feel whole.