ON DARKNESS

It's funny, I find myself censoring myself on Facebook the last couple of days. Let's admit it, we project personas of ourselves that we hope people will like, relate to, even envy. But sometimes, it's the darker times in our lives that are the richest inside and contain "the meat" that gives us all something to dive into, contemplate, assimilate and even emulate as a blueprint for righting our own ships when the seas get really stormy. My friend X told me once, "Someone's always watching." That has stuck with me for years. And I have evidence that it's true. Through this breakup, my grandmother's death, my job ending with a thud, I have received some of the sweetest IMs from people I've not even spoken with in years, simply taking the time to say, "I'm watching and I'm here." For that, I'm grateful beyond measure.

Things had been going really great for me since last year and I posted them without the intention of boasting, more to maybe inspire or reignite some creativity and joy in the lives of my friends here. I've watched amazingly creative people become shackled by jobs and expectation and convention, which saddens me. I'm not a glowing example of anything, but I'm hoping that some of what I write or the photos that I post or the stupid shit I say incites a momentum shift for people stuck in Groundhog Day scenarios and feeling there's no way out. Since I don't sing anymore, this is my outlet, kids. And it sustains me. Which is sad from some people's perspectives, but it works for me so I'm rolling with it. And you're here, so...

These are dark times for your boy. Gloves off. Sure, the furniture is a beacon of hope that keeps me creative and engaged (gah! poor word choice), but like Alicia (off) Keys sings, "Try sleeping with a broken heart." 44 hours in bed Tuesday - Thursday. 22 more hours since yesterday evening...and counting. As much as I'd like to post joyful photos and tell funny stories or even repurpose someone else's funny stories, I'm closed for business emotionally. 66 hours in bed...me??? Those of you who know me know that even that's waaaaaay over the top, even for someone who could run a company on a laptop while sitting up in bed for hours at a time. But, admittedly, I'm feeling a bit paralyzed. For the first time, I have fear...that is paralyzing. I don't have a job. I have bills that are due, with barely enough savings to cover them because I lost $350K (cash!) when I had to short sale my waterfront dream home 2 years ago and still haven't recovered. I've sunk my remaining money into my candle and furniture business and am PRAYING for a return in the near future. Yes, I've applied to like 40 job postings. Yes, I've reached out to my network for help. Yes, I had a promising phone interview with a company in San Francisco this morning. So I'm not just laying here. But I'm empty. My heart is dark. And for the first time, in a long time, that really scary kind of darkness is licking at my heels. And I don't like it AT ALL.

I say all of this not as a "poor me" speech, but as an admission that even the perceived strongest among us eventually hit those puddles that are far deeper than we'd assumed. While I feel more heartbroken than depressed, I truly understand the fragility of people diagnosed with clinical depression and how fine the line between being okay and feeling completely hopeless can be.

Hearing that Dave Mirra (BMX legend) committed suicide first, really saddened me to the core and second, gave me a bit of an epiphany about both the darkness of despair we can fall into as well as the beauty of life in general. Happy people don't commit suicide. And happiness is a choice, for the most part. However, people fall into situations where darkness compounds and compounds until that one vestige of happiness and light is swallowed up by the darkness. Much like a Facebook post, we can smile and appear just fine, but inside there feels like no hope and the inauthenticity you project with a smile to the masses actually compounds the darkness even more.

I'm not suicidal. Please don't be simple. But, I will say I finally get it. And it breaks my heart that people get to a point in their lives where they feel that life simply isn't worth living anymore. That the pain is too great and too insurmountable to even try. And I swear to you IT'S NOT. Even with my heart in pieces right now, I'm still lucky (?) enough to have insane reserves of hope and self-belief and yes, lessons from my own, numerous failures to know that this is going to SUCK for the next little while, but it will end. The sun will shine, I'll feel whole again, and the smile will return with intention, not obligation. My wish is for anyone going though some shit right now and feeling so darkened that suicide even comes into your mind for a split second, you reach out to me RIGHT NOW or someone, anyone. Conversely, for those of us who are strong and solid in our joy, faith, self belief, that we extend a hand, especially if you KNOW someone's going through it right now. And I don't mean an email or text. Meet them face-to-face and SHOW them that you care...and that you're watching. We're human and as great as the internet is, it will never replace human contact and seeing the whites of someone's eyes knowing something's amiss.

*sigh* I love you guys. Sorry, not sorry for the diatribe. My page, my rules. blah blah blah.

Be kind to one another, please. Actually, let's change that. Be observant of AND kind to one another. Let's not let life online be an excuse to abandon the tangible, nuanced life that only exists face-to-face.

Phoenix NormandComment