The Dark Corners Part 1
It's All Over.
*** This is the first in a collection of essays that I have felt compelled to write and/or finish for some time. Diving deep into some of the darker aspects of this journey - anger, guilt, self-pity, difficult aspects of Kara and my relationship, abject sadness, and then some.
I’m hoping to illuminate and examine all of those shady areas in the hopes that nothing malignant manifests within them at some point down the road. But also to paint a more complete picture. Relationships and recoveries aren’t always pretty. And I think it’s unhealthy, potentially even dangerous to dwell exclusively on the more pleasing or comfortable aspects of both.
Some of these essays I started, or would revisit from time to time only to find that I wasn’t ready yet. While others I only recently wrote or began writing because I knew I would need to be in a good place to even attempt them. This first one is a bit of an exception, however, as it was written just weeks after the loss when I was mired in it deeply.
This essay aside, I can safely say that I’m in a happy and healthy place now. Still, these were difficult to write, and I suspect they might not be the easiest things to read either. ***
Part 1: It’s All Over.
By our third year at Whiskey Jane (our off-grid residence), we had settled into our groove. Having replaced all the failed systems and discovered the hows and whys of everything else, we were kind of killing it. I try not to say this very often and never in mixed company, but the pandemic brought out the full shine on us and our chosen situation.
It was the happiest that either one of us had ever been. Ever. I had only hoped for a life as fulfilling and roundly gratifying as this. All needs perfectly met. All wants exquisitely satiated. What else could a sentient being ever desire from existence? Other than its continuance.
Unfortunately, it did not continue. Nor did it morph into something less than or slowly degrade. Instead, it was stolen away and torn apart. Disfigured and dismembered, leaving an immediate chasm between a near-perfect what was and an insufferable ever after.
The first two times my snowglobe was vigorously shaken and thrown against the wall, I bore much of the responsibility for the scorched earth that was mine left to till. But this last one is markedly different. On top of being a grief grand slam, none of it is of my own doing. On the contrary, I had carefully, lovingly, and dutifully constructed a humble but glorious existence. I lived how I wanted, where I wanted, and with whom I wanted. I honestly felt like I was about as happy as a human could reasonably ever expect to be.
Because of it, gratitude radiated from my soul. I thanked the stars and put positive energy out into the sweet, clean air of our homestead daily. I communicated to my partner with borderline nuisance-like regularity just how much I loved her and how grateful I was for all the ways she enriched my being. And in the course of a single one-minute early morning phone call, it was all over. It was all gone.
For the entirety of my adult life, I have been a purposeful nomad. “Home” was both a technicality and an abstract. Until I met a person who was, for me, the manifestation of the concept. As much as I loved Whiskey Jane, as much as she was my all-time favorite mailing address, the home I lost that day was Kara.
What makes the whole thing all the more eviscerating isn’t just that A) I lost my all-time favorite person, pet, and place, along with most of my worldly belongings, few as they were. Or that B) I’m no longer going to be living the life of my dreams. It’s that in this scenario, A and B were stolen in a swift and tragic manner that could not have been more perfectly designed by science or Satan as a mechanism for breaking me.
But purgatory comes in many incarnations and is born from all manner of circumstances. Having endured the suspended animation that is addiction and recovery a few times previously, I’m at least semi-prepared to endure the ultimate level of hell that is this loss. I have a semblance of what it takes to make it back to a human baseline and onto functionality.
How to breach a frozen barrier when I’m trapped under ice. How to gather just enough slow, deep breaths while entering shock to make an attempt at pulling myself onto the surface. How to use numb or broken lower limbs, elbows, fingernails, and teeth to crawl to shore and position myself in the sun. How to dig for grubs, sleep on sand and feathers, rest and recover. Then finally, hopefully - be able to stand again.
But doing what it takes to come back from subzero feels like emotional chemotherapy, and this is my third recurrence. It’s what I have to do to survive, but at what cost? How much of me will be left after this round? And honestly, what’s the fucking point? Any life I might be able to lead after this will be a longingly hollow stepdown at best.
Realistically, I could spend years walking over broken glass and shedding skin only to arrive at an eclipsed continuation of an existence devoid of any true happiness or purpose. I don’t know if I could take that. But I also know more than anything, I can’t take this.
So it’s probably high time I gather one more breath and try to get myself out of this water and onto that ice.
*** If you happen upon this essay and you don’t know me personally or you’re not familiar with my story, please know this. I did find real happiness and purpose again. In ways, in things, and in people, that I couldn’t have possibly imagined at the time. It was worth the fight back, and it always will be. ***