“There’s a light at the end of the tunnel!”
We have all heard it said. Probably it’s been said to us.
When I first had it said to me it didn’t make any sense. What tunnel ?. Where was it ?. Why was there only light at one end ?. Surely, if I had somehow entered this tunnel I would be able to stand in the middle, look both ways and see light at both ends ?.
People said it, I presumed, to cheer me up. But I couldn’t be sure. Was it genuine ? Or was it merely something trotted out as a cliche and said because it was expected ?.
I never see the light at the end of the tunnel.
For myself, despair was about falling. Like Icarus I had flown too close to the sun and, wings of hope melted, I had fallen.
Often the reason for my despair is not easily identified. It has an elusive quality. It just exists. It just is. I can almost touch the reason but often it slips away, tantalisingly out of reach, taunting me, inviting me to catch hold of it.
Despair is rarely based on a single event. It is cruel, it creeps up on me and slowly places it’s clammy hands about my throat and begins to squeeze. I resist it’s torments for as long as I am able before I succumb to the suffocating malignity and I fall, headlong, into the well of despair.
It is a wicked thing. It exhausts me.
People tell me that they don’t understand why something, to them, so insignificant, has taken its toll on me. They fail to appreciate the depravity to which despair will stoop. It will stop at nothing to reduce me. The final act might be small but it is the final act. It is the culmination of days, weeks, months of steadily building torment.
And it casts me down into the well.
I find myself at the bottom. My mind embraced by the cold feelers of self recrimination I attempt to scale the walls and reach the light that cavorts mischievously above me. Desperately I seek places to grip on the mossy, shifting walls that lead to the light. Often I fall back as fresh despair strikes forth from the wall, a fist of granite hammering me down again. And so I rise again, not yet entirely broken, still with the essence of hope fluttering in my breast and I begin again.
I may fall back many times. I bruise easily and each fall inflicts further injury upon my ravaged mind but there is hope still.
And so I climb towards the light. Each agonising step, each barrier of doubt and loathing falls away until I reach the top and emerge once more, reborn, to begin the fight again.
I am not strong. But I will fight you, oh hideous witch called despair, I will fight you and see you beaten for once and for all. And if the well is to be my home once, ten times, a thousand times, it will never be my prison.
You cannot capture me. You never will.