Originally published 02/02/2012.
It comes as a wave. It builds. It is slow, and heavy, and at first it feels as if I can continue to stand in it, and resist the current.
When one’s body is broken, it is visible. Others can see the broken parts sticking out, smell the rot, assess the damage and quantify the exact amount of sympathy, decide upon a course of action. The dark inside is different. The body shows it, yes, but not in ways that can be understood by anyone who has not been sucked under.
The darkness rises, and the current underneath will lift and grab. One’s whole being, the air around, the muscles give way.
Just get up. Just shower and shave and do the dishes and feed the dog and wash the clothes and cook food and pay a bill and go to work and
None of these things are possible. When you’re standing on the shore these are easy things, simple, small things. In the grip of the current the only fight is not to get sucked under completely, to keep the head above the surface enough to steal a breath.
And another, and another. Because you can’t just stop breathing.
I know I should just talk directly about my own experience, here. I know I should be specific. But how can I? How can I?
I have smelled my own stench when a week of the darkness has left me washed up on the shore. I’ve been catatonic- seen shapes in the shadows. I’ve felt pain in places where my body is not. And when the body is hurt, broken, or ill, the darkness knows, and rushes forward to seize its chance.
Being alone, in pain, and having the dark wash up on you is something you must, and most will, experience in life. You cannot understand it until it comes, and when you have been through it you will have changed. The darkness leaves a mark on you that can’t be washed away by all the sunlight and blowing curtains and fresh water you can muster.
It passes, and it’s gone. Once it’s come and gone you know it can come again, though. And that haunted feeling will stay.
Good times are good times. And they are best because the darkness has been and gone. The shadows make all the light around them richer.