Friday, 16 April 2010

My Light at the End of My Tunnel

Sounds like a classic book-come-movie title doesn't it? The looming sense of drama made only bearable by the glimmering hope of it all ending well.

Are we driven by the prospect of a happy ending? Is that what keeps us going, despite the crap that keeps flying at us? Is this an intrinsic human survival mechanism that keeps us from being extinct?

In 1997, I resembled Jamal in 'Slumdog Millionaire' after he took a dive in the sewer in order to get his Bollywood idol's autograph - I was covered in sh*t. Not literally, but metaphorically, I was up to my eyeballs in it.

I was studying wine marketing full time at university (fun but fraught with danger of 'overdoing it' in the tasting department). I held three jobs. I was learning to be an announcer and disc jockey (I love that word) at a local community radio station. I was hosting professional wine master classes twice a month. I partied every weekend operating on two hours sleep. I had recently separated from a five year relationship and in the shaky beginnings of a new one. And to top it all off, a very close and beloved family member was diagnosed with terminal, inoperable cancer.

I collapsed.

After several visits to my doctor complaining of extended PMS (pre menstrual syndrome for readers who haven't come into contact with it - lucky you) I was given the diagnosis: clinical depression.

What followed was months and months (and months) of a terrible battle, which took place at the bottom of my emotional cesspit. I refer to this period as my 'Dark Ages'. Even now those days merge into one murky memory that's best described as sludge. While I cannot be clear on what happened when or with whom, I do remember one thing - my light at the end of my tunnel.

My light was someone very close to me and my family who suffered a mental illness. I have vague memories of this jolly giant whom I looked up to with awe and pure love. I was always greeted with surprise lollies (candy), which my little hands would dig out of a deep pocket.

When I was five, something horrible happened; that beautiful light was extinguished. What's worse, is that their warming glow was taken from us by their own hand. Even at such a young age I could feel the tragic sense of loss. The impact and devastation was clear, it was palpable.

In my darkest hours (there were many of them), I would remember my wonderful jolly giant - my light at the end of my tunnel. If I couldn't go on for me, then I had to go on for someone other than me. I had to create a purpose greater than myself that made it worth the effort to keep going. I could not allow my loved one's flame to be extinguished in vain. And so, despite my compromised mental state, I deemed that my life was worth saving for theirs.

Whether we care to admit it or not, most of us like real-life happy endings. Perhaps it's a reminder to us all that no matter what challenges we face, we can rise above adversity. Searching for a light at the end of the tunnel is the hope we seek to make our trials and tribulations endurable and worthwhile. So if you are (or someone you know is) having a dark moment - ask yourself, who is the light at the end your tunnel?

Until tomorrow, may your light continue to shine.

Grace xx

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  1. I think everything happens to us for a reason. I might sound like I am paraphrasing self-help books or the typical new-agers, but I believe we must ponder all that happens to us, especially the "negative" events, and then seek the door which opens to us, find the message we have been sent, understand the experience from that event we must gain. This blog of yours allows you recall these events and thoughts and allows you re-consider these moments, to help you better find your way to 40 and the light at the end of your tunnel! Keep it up Grace!

  2. Whoa, Grace, that is some heavy poop! (I've been saying "poop" a lot lately as a lighter version of the alternative) Reading it only made the weight of my current mood even heavier, but I think sometimes we really need to feel and carry the weight of burdens to realize how light life (and dawn - yes, I've read ahead) can really be. Keep going, Grace! I'm very impressed at your tenacity! Big hugs, Christy

  3. Thank you Garrie and Christy, I appreciate your encouragement.

    Christy, I like your use of 'poop' - may I borrow it? (the word, not the sticky, smelly brown stuff)



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