You Can Cope – Hang In There
Posted on December 30, 2011
Yesterday, in an extraordinarily unusual display of emotion, I broke down whilst walking my dog home. It hit me yesterday that everything which my family and I have experienced over the past 7 years only continues, and I was so very mistaken in believing that things would improve in time for me leaving home in 2012. I think I was in denial.
In all honesty to live one life but appear to be living another to those around us is something which sadly many of us fall victim to at one point or another in our lives. After all, how can we expect anyone who isn’t us to understand exactly how it is that we feel? To be paralysed by pain and unhappiness amongst people for whom such emotions do not occur often is a profoundly difficult thing to experience, and so the majority of us choose rather to maintain a “face” in order to keep the peaceful, yet painful, tranquility born out of not socially confronting our own issues. I don’t believe it is our fault, for so often there are people who would not show the care or compassion which someone experiencing such emotional turmoil would need in order to confront their feelings. And so it is, that at our darkest moments we keep ourselves totally isolated for fear of others finding out the truth, and how they would respond to it.
I have always been one of those people. When my Father was depressed, drinking, and destroying both himself and my family, I continued to go to school, see my friends, and engage with people on the outside world like all was fine. What else could I do? I was only a child. Even when my Father killed himself through his behaviour I continued to be the person who “put a brave face on it all”. I was too scared to be honest with those around me about why it was that my Dad died, and actually what my family had been going through. Some might disagree, but I maintain that our society still stigmatises mental and emotional illness and anguish to this day. For me to admit the presence of depression and alcoholism, self loathing and abuse in my family to those around me could have, in my mind at 12/13 at least, spelled disaster for other’s perception of my family. I live in an area where sadly people love to gossip, and honestly I know many people who – not that it is their fault – would fail to understand the depth of what my family has gone through. And so it was, I kept it all to myself.
Following my Dad’s death there was a lull in the drama of my family for we had all confronted our worst nightmare. However, rather than grieving as a family, things soon slipped into the ways of the past, the only difference being that my Dad was no longer the source of the emotional upset. That source remains to this day, and despite my prolonged efforts to heal my family, I simply cannot do it. Even when I left school for 8 months to try and conquer all that debilitated my family I could not manage it. Truthfully I didn’t make the conscientious decision to leave school for so long, rather in October 2010 I just couldn’t cope with the pressures of school & a social life on top of my own personal and family issues which remained unresolved.
I was just totally exhausted, both emotionally and physically. The strains of my family took their toll on me in both respects, and consequently even to this day a lot of how I feel is defined by that pain. However, I never lose my desire to fight for those I care about.
It is a very hard thing to admit, but the primary source of my unhappiness is due to both my parents’ inability to cope with their own pain. This is not something which I ever discuss with those around me for the reasons I talked about earlier, but the time has come for me to be a little bit more honest. After all, I have nothing to be ashamed of. Nor does my family.
One of the most heartbreaking, yet healing words I have ever heard are those of Bruce Springsteen. I am talking about “The Promise ’78″, which I first heard in November 2010.
“I lived a secret I should’a kept to myself
But I got drunk one night and I told it
All my life I fought this fight
The fight that no man can never win
Every day it just gets harder to live
This dream I’m believing in”
The Boss described exactly how it was that I had felt. There seemed to be no end to the pain of my family, nor did there seem to be the personal relief which I would experience if that were to end… At that point in my life I felt so terribly alone, that was except for one person who cared about me even when my parents were unable to.
Something which strikes me is that I have pretty unfortunate luck where care is concerned. The few people who I have met who I was honest with and who genuinely cared about me have now all gone. Including the person who wrote me the last note I ever received from him, which is the title of this piece. “You can cope – hang in there!”. Alas, I haven’t seen him since October. He was the one person who was the real friend I needed, and who had been there since the start.
Then something wonderful happened, as this blog was shared by brucespringsteen.net – and as a result I met some truly special people. People who I have been honest with and who care about me as much as I do about them. Thanks to Bruce Springsteen I met people who I not only share a love of The Boss’ music with, but who can also genuinely relate to and understand how I feel. Similarly, I can relate to and understand them too. I only wish I could be with them and not be stuck in Perth where I am now.
This is not to discredit or bash the good friends I have here, for they also mean a lot to me, however the people I have met through Bruce Springsteen and my blog are people who I share so much with.
I have come to accept that I will never be able to fix my family, and so the best I can do is continue to make sure my sister remains the clever, confident, talented, and loving – not to mention happy – person which she is, so that she can leave Perth as everything she deserves to be. She makes me so happy, because I realise that the one thing I managed to do was at least prevent my family’s problems hurting her too.
Sometimes I feel so weak and on occasion pretty worthless, and hopeless. Something however which I have learned is that that is not me. The strong person I do believe in my heart I am is prevented from “breathing free” because of the confines of things out with my control. I just have to get away from Perth, and this unhappiness, and be with people who I can be truly happy with.
I also understand that there are people out there whose lives are immeasurably more painful than mine. For whatever reason. I know there is so much suffering out there, and there will even be suffering in the lives of some who may read this. I have such faith for them, for you, and I hope that together we can share on our experiences, grow from them, and support one another in pursuing our dreams.
The point of this was not an exercise in self-pity, rather to prove testament to the fact that no matter how hard things get, we can all manage them. We can all survive. I have faith that the friends I know who are suffering right now will one day live in the happiness which they deserve, and I am hopeful that a similar faith for myself will return one day too.
Potentially my family will never be healed, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t be. So too it is true that maybe whatever makes you unhappy in life will never be resolved, but that is not to say that you will forever remain victim to its unhappiness. Follow your heart, and allow yourself the love and care which you deserve.
This has been an unusual post, and I promise that normal service will be resumed shortly!
In the mean time I pray for you and your happiness. I wish you all a very happy New Year, and hope that no matter what you are going through, you remember that the happiness which you are deserved of will be yours one day.
Until that day I have my own promise to maintain. A personal promise, and the promise I made to someone who means so much to me.
Springsteen has created a massive amount of poetry and music to help sustain us through hard times, but right now I will leave you with a few of my favourites.
All the best.