The Hardship of Living…

Mark Reichman 13 Dec 1963 - 1 April 2014

Mark Reichman
13 Dec 1963 – 1 April 2014

I wasn’t there
I didn’t see
I’m left to wonder how this could be
Is this a nightmare from which I’ll wake
Was there no other choice that you could make
Had the burden of life become too much to bear
Was living a torment
Your Life,
One of despair
I don’t understand it
None of us do
Was life a Winter landscape,
So gray and so bleak
Did you think of the destruction you’d leave in your wake
The havoc your untimely passing would create
Your daughters who love you
A Mother, burying a son
Your sisters, as one
Your choice was a sad one
Reality bites
Did none of us see
As a possibility coming to pass
This April Fools joke was a little extreme,
The punchline not funny
What does it all mean
You spoke to your mother
You spoke of the future
You sounded happy
And now we know why
Your decision was made, the decision to die
Be at peace
Be pain free
Find sunshine and solace where ever you are
Outshine the stars like a diamond in the sky

Have you ever wondered what the point is? Why is it that you wake up every morning of every day to face the world again? Is it a conscious choice that you make or something that you just cannot avoid? A friend of mine has an expression “The Tyranny of yes, the freedom of no” in my head it resonates as the “the tyranny of life and the freedom of death” but, does death actually bring you freedom or does it merely facilitate the escape from one living hell into a deathly one? And therein lies the rub for me because do we live or do we just exist and if we just exist is there any real point if that is all there is to life?

To the spiritual answers I have no clue and only give a passing thought to when I feel the brush of another beings energy pass across my skin, so it is really the earthbound questions I give pause to in my daily life.
Life is tough, dealing with the reality of one’s daily issues is a challenge that even the toughest, the richest and the happiest face. So what is it that drives a person to the point where opting out appears to be the ultimate solution to one’s woes whether they be real or imagined.
Why do the people who live life on the fringe carry on living? Their lives appear to be miserable with no money, no facilities, no daily shelter and wondering where their next meal is coming from that you have wonder why they choose to do it every day, what not just step off a bridge and end it? Is the human will to live so strong that the thought of ending it all does not enter their heads?
At what point does the need to cease living become greater than the will to live? At what point does the desire to end it all overwhelm the thoughts in your head of the devastation and grief that you will leave behind? What does it take to happen in your brain, what chemicals take control, what thoughts take command that are strong enough to suppress the basic human will to survive? Give thought for one second to the survivors of the concentration camps who lived in spite of the horror and deprivation they were subjected to, give thought to those who suffer from illness and disease whose days are filled with pain and no possibility of relief, they go on every day in spite of the inelegance of living.
Living or existing is the difference between relishing each day and not so much living each like it is your last but rejoicing in the fact that you are alive, that you have a roof over your head, even if you cannot really afford the rent or bond, seeing the sun shine in all its glory every day and laughing in spite of everything.

I too have questioned the point of working long hours, sore feet, soured relationships, the bleakness of the future of the planet, mankind’s inhumanity towards his fellow man and animals and I know in my heart that that it is the way we treat the planet and its bounty that depresses me the most. To me, the people who take it upon themselves to challenge society on the choices it makes are the real heroes, the anti-trophy hunters, the vegans, the people on the ground who face the miserable plight of our lions, dogs, elephants and primates, amongst others. When I see man’s cruelty towards “others” I wonder at the future of life on this planet and I am grateful that I do not have children who will be left to fight the fight for the well being of planet Earth, when the water runs out, when the rain forests are decimated, when the fundamentalists take over, when freedom of choice is no longer an option. Is there any wonder then, that some people choose to opt out early. You’re wondering why I don’t choose to end it early if this is the bleakness I see ahead?
I know I have had days or weeks even when I have wondered what the point of all this is. Why it is that I get up every day to face the hardship of the daily grind. Admittedly my life is a bowl of cherries when compared to the millions of others out there who struggle with their daily existence.
To quote a friend, life is relentless, it just keeps on going! You can opt out for a while but then you pop your head back out and life, like the steamroller it is just rolls on over you and carries on, your choice is whether you want to stay in it’s path.
I think life is more like a roller coaster, exciting and scary, with never a dull moment but it’s your choice if you want to close your eyes, hold on tight and scream in the face of it or put your hands up and yell out your challenge to the skies with your eyes drinking in the ride.

Would I ever consider suicide as an option?
Yes. Maybe. I don’t know. Possibly. The day that my disease reaches a point where the quality of my daily life becomes a chore and I am a burden to others, maybe then.
Until that day NO, not whilst the sun shines, I can laugh at my foibles, paint a canvas, sculpt out of clay and work for my daily bread. Not whilst I still enjoy the feel of rain on my skin, the pleasure of living is not a hardship to be endured.
I have now experienced those mangled emotions, suffered the grief, wondered why, questioned why, found a few sad answers and realized that so many of the questions will remain unanswered. Now I know the devastation of suicide is not just something that happens to other people’s families, now I know that suicide is a choice that anyone can make

The thirsty days of mourning is over, but my life will go on
Rest in Peace brother

2.2 children and white picket fences……..

I can  very clearly remember sitting on the red brick steps at primary school in the early 80’s with the winter sun shining down on us benevolently, chatting to my female friends of the day about our bright and shiny futures. I don’t remember us talking about careers and work and succeeding in the big wide world out there beyond the school hedge but we did talk about husbands and children and knights on white horses and houses with picket fences, 2.2 children, four cats and a dog called Rex.

I don’t remember any of us talking about going forward as upwardly mobile single women, future business moguls, managing directors, movie directors, divorced with kids, single women with kids, single women without kids, single women with dogs as kids, widows, lesbians  with twins, female adults with huge chips on our shoulders and running accounts with therapists. Foremost in our simple pre-teenage minds were husbands and children and happy ever after lives. Even though many of us came from broken homes with numerous divorces and step parents by the dozens we never actually thought “”that” would happen to us. But then like all things in life  you don’t, do you…………..until it happens

Leaping forward in time to a quiet autumn evening in 2011, funky music playing on the radio in the background. The temperature outside is dropping but it’s still warm enough to be sitting at the laptop in just a T-shirt banging away at the keys and hoping my fingers can type as fast as my brain is churning out the thoughts that hound me as the light outside fades to inky darkness; a perfect match to the dull ache in my heart.

It never crossed my mind that 30 odd years after this starry-eyed childhood contemplation of the future I would still be single and childless. I have never married. I have never given birth to a child. I am single. I have the most amazing girl friends. They are scattered around the globe in a modern age diaspora, and lo and behold so many of them are single as well. What happened to us along the way? How did we go from the blossom and romance of youth to jaded and single and over 40 in the blink of an eye? Is being single an unconscious decision we made somewhere along the line or a conscious one? is being single the armour we wear to protect ourselves? Or is it modern men? Did we look around us at the single men out there and think, fuck me, I would rather be single. Is it because we are  the epitome of  independent, self-employed, self-motivated, self-starters who are able to support ourselves, who are able to make our own way in male dominated society that we are single? Do we scare men off? Are men put off  by the fact that we CAN support ourselves, that we CAN go through life without them, that we CAN purchase our own vibrators and change the batteries ourselves, that we can call an electrician, sleep with a plumber or have our newspapers delivered?

Shit I hope not. I don’t want to be single all my life. 

If that is the truth, that I don’t want to be single for the rest of my days, why do I keep making the same stupid mistakes? How stupid am I? What silly romantic notions lurk in my mind? Why do I constantly repeat the mistakes of the past like a CD stuck in the same scratch?

I cannot speak for my friends but for myself………..I never set out to be a single 40 something year old, not consciously at least. I would love to have Mr Right walk into my life instead of continually seeing the back of Mr Wrong’s head as he gets booted out the door just like his predecessor.  I would love to share my bed with a wonderful man, share the days happenings over dinner, walk hand in hand, bitch about the neighbours, make love in the  rain and chase the dog away from the nibbles on the picnic blanket. It would be wonderful to wish one man a happy birthday for years in a row, happy 25th anniversary and scream at him for getting you into this mess as the next contraction hits. Admittedly I have a penchant for walking into a room filled with men and fancying the only man in the 1 million, one hundred and thirty-one men that are filling the space at the time that I cannot have, the married man.

I have already broken my heart  over one married man for whom I would have gone to the ends of the earth. A married man who talked to a young woman of love and romance, of a home and children, of shared bank accounts and overseas holidays, of white weddings  and golden anniversaries. A married  man I loved with all my heart. A broken heart.  A really broken heart, so broken that it would take 12 years to mend and another seven before I would actually be ready to drop the walls around me, break down the barriers and hack into the cement shell around my heart to let a man in again. 

 In the mist of the 19 years between existing and being ready to love again there would be no shortage of  men along the way. One night stands, two-week interludes, a four-year romance, a one year joke with a man, no make that a boy, a decade younger with a humongous penis and a fabulous sense of humour. And although I loved each and everyone one for the brief 15 minutes they graced my life they never chipped the lead-lined casing protecting my aching and lonely heart. I may have cried some tears when they moved on, got asked to leave or fell off the edge of the earth but it was okay they weren’t Mr Right anyway and no I wasn’t in love with them.

 Mr Right, no, no, no I meant to say Mr Wrong would make a grand entrance into my life  2010 and rock my world so much that my armour would weaken and cracks would begin to marble the plaster of my heart. 

You would think that having learned my lessons along the way so well, having nursed my broken heart and knowing the male  creature as well as I think I do, that  I wouldn’t rush head long  into another dead-end relationship, that I would hesitate before taking the plunge, that I would reflect on the pain that would be waiting in the wings, that I just wouldn’t go there again. You would think! And you would be wrong.

 Alas, I never learned from those lessons life handed me. I never took heed of the treacherous road I travelled. I never worried about my achy breaky heart. I jumped headlong into the embrace of danger. I rushed heedlessly into the passionate embrace of the demon that likes me being single. You see this is the chip I carry on my shoulder, maybe single is a self-destructive state of mind;  a finger that beckons you at high-speed towards the dangerous curves so that you ignore the bright yellow and black of the chevron signs.

And if this blog makes no sense to you, it is because I am unable to make sense of it myself. My attraction to the dark side, my lethal penchant for repeating the mistakes of the past for you see, I have gone and done it again…………I have broken my heart

I have fallen in love with a married man.