This morning I woke happy, with a smile on my face. This morning I woke grateful, for my mind and my body and the life I lead. This morning I woke wanting to live.
This morning was a very different morning for me than the mornings of the past nine to ten months.
Anyone who knows me sees the smiling, optimistic persona. As my friend James mentioned to me a few weeks back, “Man, every time I see you, you are just so happy. Always smiling.” “I am a great actor,” I would usually reply, and he would never believe me. I try my hardest to keep up an image in public, an image people expect of me. I have been taught this since my earliest days. Be a man, not a victim. And I have learned well to cope, to smile-and-nod, to “be what is expected of me”. And a big part of that coping involved honing my skills of perception, both personal and public. In this reality, in this society, especially for a middle-aged man, no one really cares about my mental well-being. People care most about their perception of it.
When a person is an easy target, they are also easily disposable, and therefore easily ignored. And when a person is alone in a society of billions, it is all too easy to believe in personal worthlessness. Stop feeling sorry for yourself is one of the usual responses whenever I have dared to crawl out from this hole to be vulnerable. People are cruel, intentional or not. And if I am not put down for daring to whisper my truth, then I am met with a cliche. You should meditate. You shouldn´t focus so much on the bad, but be happy. Don´t think so negatively all the time. The list of this ridiculous dialogue is endless. It is the reason no one ever knew that every single night for the past nine to ten months, I have gone to sleep wishing on that magical star that I would not wake in the morning. And it is the reason I would sink deeper into my depression every morning for the past nine to ten months when I did wake.
The last time I woke up truly happy and hopeful was a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. I was living with who I thought was going to be my future, a strong, talented, beautiful woman and her angelic 1 yr-old son. That last morning, I woke around 5:30a to the sound of crying, and I thought, this is what I have always dreamed of my life being. I kissed my love gently, whispered for her to go back to sleep, and I got out of bed, walked into his room and held him, feeling him wrap his arms around my neck, squeezing me in comfort, his tears being soaked up by the bare skin of my shoulder. It was how I had been waking most mornings for the weeks preceding. Those were the happiest mornings of my life, and I found myself looking forward to going to sleep just so I could wake and experience them, finally.
But this morning, after having a bit of a cold for the past few days, after talking with my body and my mind, after trusting in the strength of the trinity that creates me, i woke healthy, strong, well-rested, breathing the air of the Atlantic ocean, and the first words that came to my still unconscious mind were, thank you body, thank you mind, i am truly grateful for you.
Over the next few weeks, I will be in a state of mourning. What I realized very recently is that my resolve has disconnected me from empathizing with myself, and the necessity of survival and my determination to survive has weakened me. This has become my reality because, although I have buried and hid from and moved past all of the pain and betrayals of my past, I have allowed them to stay scattered all around me, all around my spirit, rotting as bodies do in the sun, decomposing but never buried. “Moving on” replaced the acceptance of loss, and “the pursuit of happiness” has prevented me from bathing in the rich sadness of mourning and letting go. Because, no matter how far I have come or or how far I was going, regardless of how many mountains I climbed and countries I walked across, I was and am still tethered to my past self by these moldy, rotting lines of reluctance.
But this morning, I woke up grateful in the trust I placed in myself many years ago when I faced my family, alone, knowing that my life would be changed, permanently, in the forever years of living that I have ahead of me.
To mourn properly means to not make an enemy of my past and of my depression, but to be honest with it in order to remove its taboo over my existence. And as a result, this morning I woke up grateful because of this simple acceptance.