The feeling had been stirring for a few weeks. Not a crippling emotional pain but a nagging sense of discontent. Nothing was quite going to plan. Cancelled work, stretched finances. Tired children, nagging doubts. And above all else, the dawning realisation that nobody really cared.
Trying to speak
It was the ongoing battle that tipped the scales of doubt. Countless attempts to tell somebody. Subconsciously willing them to stop what they were doing. Wishing with every fibre that one of them would rouse from the preoccupation with their own problems and listen.
Just a few minutes, maybe an hour. Long enough to talk it through. To share the problem, gain perspective. Perhaps even some advice or suggestions. But above all, reassurance that this was not insurmountable. A gentle reminder from a friendly voice that this too shall pass.
Children played loudly. Interrupting. Jumping up and down and making themselves heard in the inimitable way that only children can. When do adults lose that ability to speak up? To tell someone, “Please stop. It’s time to listen.”
From person to person, the conversation was the same. A faltering start, an attempt to explain. Something didn’t feel right. Things were mounting up. Tired. Then, the familiar blank face would appear. Distracted by their own problems or external factors. The moment was gone. Conversation moved on, steered away onto a topic more important to them.
The point of no return, a moment of clarity. Nobody listens, do they? Not really. Other people’s problems are for them to contend with. The nature of human relationships dictates that we seek out people who can benefit us. Because altruism carries its own baggage.
And so, from the depths of despair rises strength. A realisation that something deep down can keep going. Devoid of help or support, forced to go it alone. To find the answers within, where they have been all along.
And like a phoenix from the ashes rises courage. Daring to get back up, put one foot in front of the other and keep going. With a new resolve, and an unwelcome awareness that would prove essential. This battle would be won or lost without an army. The war was far from over, but a new rallying call would sound. Because help isn’t always at hand, and waiting for it masks an understanding that each of us can be our own protector.
No man is an island. But the mainland can be a lonely place.