Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Twenty four hours

Several years ago I sat in a locked car in a layby, at the edge of a field, in the darkness. I thought about how I would kill myself. Now it would be straightforward, because here were the wilds of the countryside, and it was dark. I would step out of the car and stand, there, in the middle of the twisting road, miles from anywhere, and a driver, any driver, would appear round the corner, be unable to stop, knock me down, and kill me.

I didn't think about the driver of that vehicle, about how they would react or feel. I did not care. I had no emotional life in me worth keeping alive. There was nothing positive, nothing there. Then I watched headlights come round the corner, disappear into tail lights, and thought to myself how I missed that moment, how long before there would be another.

Perhaps after an hour, I started to imagine what would the driver do, if they felt a whoomph against their car. I wondered what I would do with the knowledge that I had killed someone on a dark country road, perhaps as I was making my way home, perhaps after a good day, a family waiting, an evening to enjoy, and then it would all be taken away in a breathless instant by the cruel, thoughtless woman, standing motionless on the road. And then I thought of course my solution would not work; I would stop this horrible emptiness in my life, but I might pass it to another. Because here was some great poisoned disease that I could not be rid of.

I am over that deep dead depression now. It's gone. It was another part of life, and I hope it never returns. I suspect it might, on another day, in another form. Living past that period was not by a sudden jump, or a sharp awareness or clear insight. It took a long hard slog, of one day at a time.

The fragment of sense that helped was, wait twenty four hours before putting any plan into action. That is what I did. I thought, if I feel exactly the same way in twenty four hours then it is the right decision, the right thing to do. But in the twenty four hours there was a responsibility on me, a duty, an obligation, to find something, anything, that would keep it all going, just for another twenty fours hours. And another.

Give it twenty four hours. Look for anything. It might be the shape of a leaf or the sight of a flower, or a sticky up twig. It was rarely people, nor what people could achieve, like art or literature. These things did not matter. They had no place. The wind on my face, possibly, as I stood, staring to the skyline, tracing the cut out shape of a black leafless tree against the blue sky. Then I did feel glad, privileged, to be alive to see that shape. And that, day by day, is how life was.

Two years on, we all went travelling for a month. I cannot say it was a wonderful time, although I have happy memories. It marked another changed time, a time to make a new decision to accept the life I had now rather than mourn the life that was gone. And that is where the daily diary comes in. This blog, when it started, I told no-one about, and like many other bloggers, for months did not care whether it was read or not, because like so many of us will recognise, these blogs are therapies and workings out, a public way of saying thank you or I love you, to find common bonds, to say hey, it's possible to survive. It's possible to survive unwanted knowledges, a blasted marriage, cancers, deaths, sadnesses and life sentences.

It is probably unwise to post all of this. After all, I am honour bound to share life with my husband. World of strangers, your job is to poke me in the ribs and call me a melodramatic old cow. That will be OK. Life is good like that. Experience, and perspective, have stripped me of dignity and self importance, and made me virtually immune to offence. It has ensured I do not worry too much about failures, remorse, regrets, loss, the mess in the kitchen, the £1000 fine from the tax office, the way Tiger writes her b and d the wrong way round. All of these things are petty frustrations and challenges that irritate me when I see no obvious solution. And after I have kicked the bin and slammed down the wine glass, I can laugh at myself doing that. Because I know that none of them really matter, in the end.

But do you see that magnificent tree, stretching out its fingers to the sky, just across that field?