The last few months have been hell for me. Struck down by a debilitating event that left me helpless physically and drained mentally. Totally shattered.
This wasn't the first time my body slapped me hard like this. A series of heart attacks, major nerve damage and my original stroke had already taken their toll. Each time I was knocked down, though, I instantly fought to get back up. This time I just stayed down. After awhile something just snaps. What's the point becomes your mantra. Rather than struggling upwards you begin to crave further depths and even thoughts of nonexistence nag at you.
This is very hard to admit. Pangs of guilt and selfishness at loved ones bereaved keep such thoughts as just that merely thoughts. During hot tear moments, however, internal shouts of coward and burden can almost turn such thoughts into action. Almost. Fortunately I have external shields.
My wife and children are amazing. Stepping up, going without, and being the strength I lack on so many occasions. Literally keeping me alive. Unconditional love made flesh. It therefore makes me feel pretty shitty to say that this can be a double edged sword. Remember the shouts of burden above? They get so much louder as you see loved ones sacrifice so much. A whole mess of emotions kick in which even now remain tangled. So I kept looking down. Ashamed but still ever down. Up stepped the pixels.
For various reasons I have no "real life" friends close by. I use the quotes because part of me finds that term and it's connotations that an opposite and perhaps lesser type of friend exists offensive. The people I grew up with, met on my travels and worked with are now seen through the lens of my computer screen. Along with them are a large group I haven't (in the main) physically met. The majority of these have entered my life because of a shared love for the MMO World of Warcraft. (For those of you accidently here you now know why this blog is called Ten Gnomes and not Fat Bloke Whining). These pixels helped save my life.
Early on following my collapse it became clear that in amongst all the medical mess financial mess stalked. Despite the wonders of our health service effective recovery was going to cost more than we could afford. I asked for help and it came. In cash donations and the spreading of my need it came. The financial goal was quickly reached a true crisis was averted. I still looked down.
I suspect that some of you reading this are toying with the words "selfish prick" right about now. All these people step up show me love and concern and I can't make the effort to get of the mat? Couldn't agree more. The real sense of elation was once again tainted by feelings of failure and being a burden.
In countless online interactions I was told how silly such thoughts were. The love shown came with no cost. To think otherwise was just silly. Despite a small part of me knowing this to be true...down.
So recovery begins but there is little desire to recover so I don't. My internal jukebox is still playing the 12" disco remix of "Why Bother" and months pass. If I'd written this a week ago this would be where I still stood (or rather laid).
Last few days though there's been a distinct adjustment. Partly this was due to the joy I had at a surprise trip to see the Warcraft movie. A logistical masterpiece pulled off by my amazing wife in total secrecy. Her joy at my joy knocked the foolish thoughts of burden out of my head. The happiness at my happiness shown by my kids also gave it a solid kicking. Then those amazing pixels iced the cake.
The reaction of those I told this news to online was like a flood of light. A torrent of genuine joy and happiness for me. A spot of ventrillo with some true diamonds downunder added another layer of gold. The realisation hit hard that I love these people and that behind the pixels are folks I want to be engaged with for as much time as I can. Looking down would stop that from happening. So now I'm looking up.