It’s Just You And I My Friend
Posted on January 5, 2012
I have had a rather emotional few weeks. Within me there has been a more pronounced conflict between the hopes of my dreams versus the realities of my life than there usually is, and whilst this has arguably left me more insightful about not only my life but the realities of our existences, I can’t help but feel pretty deflated as 2012 starts to truly kick in.
2012 is a year abundant in the hope of promise, and the promise of hope, but which presents the profound danger of damaging so much too. Whilst this could be the year of my dreams being fulfilled, so too it could be the year in which my dreams become shattered. During the past few days I have written a couple of posts about the harsh realities which define us against our will, versus our desire to define ourselves by how we use our experiences to make us stronger as people. However I think it is equally healthy, although not nearly as optimistic, to confront the fact that despite becoming “stronger” as people, tough experiences which are relentless can leave us feeling completely exhausted.
I have referred to how between October 2010 and June 2011 I wasn’t able to attend school due to being overwhelmed by life. The 8 months I was away from school was, absolutely, the worst part of my life. Even the few months surrounding my Dad’s death weren’t as painful as spending the best part of a year depressed and isolated was. I remember one day it hitting me that every morning I woke up I was disappointed even to be there. That is testament to the depth of how much I was struggling. However due to the obligation to my family which bound me to life, I couldn’t simply “fade away”, rather I had to keep fighting for change and the promise that things would get better. I felt broken from day 1, but I managed for month upon month and eventually made it back into a relatively normal state of being.
The hardest part about my 8 month break from school was the sense of isolation which I felt. Whilst I had some contact with a few friends, the majority of my time was spent alone. It is often said that in times of great trouble you discover who your “real” friends are. It transpired that a lot of people who I thought were my “real” friends weren’t friends at all… I had been mistaken in believing that I meant as much to them as they did to me. It would be easy for me to be resentful of the way I was let down by the people who were supposed to care about me most, however they had no concept of what I was going through – a pain which not even I could define. Besides, my unhappiness wasn’t actually mine, rather my family’s, but with my Dad dead and the remaining adults unable to cope, I had to step into the breach to do everything in my power to save the ones I loved so much.
In the midst of the hopelessness, isolation, and pain which I was feeling for my family – and myself – there weren’t many things which I could see worth going on for. I was there by an obligation born out of an undying and eternal love for my family – the love which we all feel at least once in our lives. However, as Bruce Springsteen’s 1995 song, “My Best Was Never Good Enough” describes, my best was never good enough to fix my family.
That song also greatly emphasises the way in which society removes the dignity of the human experience by seeking to encapsulate whole personal tragedy into lines which then become simple clichés, lacking any real meaning behind the words’ origins.
Beyond trying to help the few remaining people within my family, my days would consist of further internal and external unhappiness. I remember the few moments I got to myself were often at 3 in the morning when I would watch back to back episodes of “[H]OUSE M.D”, a friend later remarked that I loved watching House so much because it reminded me that there was “someone even more depressed out there” than I was. And in many respects that was true, as I could relate to the struggles which House was experiencing too. His breakdown at the end of Season 5 was equal in emotional intensity to how I felt on occasion at the lowest moments which I have ever experienced. However, beyond House there were a couple of people who I describe as truly saving me.
Bruce Springsteen is one of these people. When literally every single thing in the world which could ever present the promise of happiness and care was gone to me, I had the music of Bruce Springsteen to keep me afloat in the turbulent storms which I was experiencing. “The Promise”, being released in November 2010, came at the time I needed it most. It provided me with the vital connection to the hopes which would ultimately sustain me through to better days, and the words which Springsteen speaks in the songs which make up the album described my life perfectly. Knowing that The Boss had experienced what I was going through, survived, and had translated it into music, over 15 years before I was even born, was a life changing discovery for me. To this day Bruce Springsteen’s music remains key to my ability to cope when life is at its worst for my family and I, and for the ones I care about.
Beyond Bruce Springsteen there was one other person in my life who helped me through the tough times, without judgement, and with complete compassion. A man I knew who had experienced in his life the emotional turmoil which I was going through… He had been there but had made it, and was determined that I would too. Even when my parents were unable to care about me, and even when my own school was beyond caring (with the exception of the likes of my Guidance Teacher), when the Doctors “couldn’t” help my Mum, and when I felt abandoned by so many of my “friends”, there was one person I knew who did care about me and my family to the degree necessary to make a difference. A Teacher from my school, he was at times one of the last real friends I had. We spoke all the time, and he remains to be – up until recently – the one person I could ever be totally honest with. He would meet me at school whenever I needed it, and with the school’s permission, he would email me asking if I was “okay” when he hadn’t heard from me. I owe so much to him, I also miss him greatly too, and only hope that our paths cross again in the future, and that when that time comes I am the man worthy of all the care he provided me with. Along with the music of Bruce Springsteen, he saved me.
And so it is, that I sit here in January 2012 writing this – rather lengthy – post. When I think back I realise what tremendous progress I have made in my emotions, my life, and my self-esteem, however when I look at my life as it is I am still hit by a wave of unhappiness, one which I hope 2012 will see the end of. Whilst the problems of my family remain in some ways as bad as they ever have been, I now have more than I ever have done to cope and make it through the tough days ahead.
The promise that things will get better, and the faith that I can make it, coupled with my ever growing love for the music of Bruce Springsteen, and the real friends and companions I now have, (some even made through a mutual love of The Boss), the dreams which fuel my desire to fight, the love which makes those dreams real, and the hope that one day all those I care about will live in the happiness which they are deserved of… This is what I have to live for. I also have a promise to keep to someone who I know has felt as lost in this world as I have, but who I know will make it.
Despite the rather depressing tone of the majority of this post, I’m still waiting on a sunny day, and I hope you are too. Even when things hit us, and knock the new found confidence we have, and even when we feel like we have been resigned to the darkness of square one again, never forget that we will all make it… Eventually.