I scramble breathless to the top of the cliff where I have hung for two years. There is a stark panorama below. I shudder at the swirling abyss, the demons of mental dysfunction that recently threatened to engulf me. I recall the lure of sweet surrender – wanting to fall, to give in and let go. Yet like the limbless knight in Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail, I had been surprised to find I could lose so much, and still exist. There I remained as my arms and legs fell off, still clinging. A parody of the annihilation of ego that might precede enlightenment, if only I let it.
I scan the abyss and see others still hanging from their cliffs, alone in their ordeals. I see myself reflected in their numb gaze and recall fleeting moments of connection. I shake my head, knowing I will never understand suffering. Gratitude overwhelms as I realise I have escaped. I heave myself to the top of the cliff, to greet life as I knew it.
There is no one there to meet me. Instead there is scorched earth all around: my marriage, my finances, the last of my child-bearing years and many relationships lying in the embers. As I draw a sharp breath I am relieved to see green shoots throughout the charred terrain. I remember that my favourite pass time has always been to tend a garden. I still possess that which I sought to save: my sanity. And not only have I survived, but by some miracle my health has been returned to me, never to be taken for granted again.
But what will a life free of managing ailments be like? Will I know what to do without the desperate daily quest for survival? What will my brain do now that it doesn’t have to race against the clock to find a cure? What will it feel like to breathe freely again? What will be the new normal?
As I see signs of new life everywhere I find myself more than a little thrilled to discover a mid life blank canvas on which to draw. Gone is the serotonin deprived fear of new beginnings that has handicapped me for years. I throw my head back and laugh in the knowledge that many would change places, if they could. Suddenly I see someone in the distance, waving. I still have a friend and she has been waiting for me. I feel exhilaration rising. I look forward to a healthy middle age and know my time has come.
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.
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