Monday, March 15, 2010

The Prism.

They say that you should live your life with no regrets. I don't know who says it really - but I have heard it a bunch of times in my life time. I have often said myself that I have no regrets. I've said it loud and proud and have emphasized that were it not for all the life experiences I've had up until now, I would never be able to rough house on the living room rug with my 3.5 year old son or hold my 5 month old daughter in my arms and do little fishy kisses on her cheek and have her giggle with delight.

But the fact is...

I do have regrets - a lot of them and sometimes, when I am feeling particularly low, those regrets amplify into something much more acute. The failures I have wrought within my adult life haunt me and consume me. The darkness of those failures is oppressive. Worse than that though - they can actually carry with them a familiar comfort.

That's actually really twisted...but it's true.

The sum of my regrets and failures weigh me down at this moment, after what has been a frustrating day.

Mondays are always a struggle for me - in part because, from the moment I wake up (which is usually anywhere between 6am and 7:30am), I know that it is going to be at least 25 hours before I will be able to lay my head on a pillow once more. It's the nature of my job right now - permanent night duty as an ICU Nurse. I do this for reasons that are partly my own but because I am sort of forced to (it's a long story and I don't have the energy here).

But Mondays are also the one day where I sit in my downstairs office and work my pre-WW1 Bakelite telephone (yep - you read that right) in an effort to try and market my novel - to try and get people interested in it - book stores interested in it. And that's what I did today - spoke to newspapers, magazines, book shops (the latter of which was following up on calls and emails from last week). The results were in a word...deflating. I feel as though I achieved very little and in some cases the ambivalence towards my novel actually bordered on hostile. I am not a marketer. In fact it makes me feel like a greasy, used car salesman.

Today wasn't a good day.

In the past I've alluded to a distinct lack of support for my endeavor from those closest to me. It has been distressing. Well the ambivalence from even those quarters has ramped up a notch in recent weeks to the extent that now it is being put to me that this novel is bad for me as a partner and father. My long held dream, something that I have coveted for most of my adult life is seen as a burden and, actually a source of resentment. I balance my responsibilities well - I am certain of that. I am constantly checking to ensure that I do...

Like I wasn't a good day.

I stare now, through the window of my ICU cubicle upon a city where I've never truly belonged. I am a stranger here, an "Englishman in New York" to quote Sting - just because it seems fitting right now. I have resided in Adelaide for 16 years but I've never, truly felt at home here.

I don't actually know where I feel at home sometimes...

In the depths of the night, when my bio-rhythms have spun off their axes and they are interrogating me once again - why haven't you settled down to sleep yet? - the old wounds of my past settle upon me and I am powerless to not carry their burden.

There was another life...before this one. Nothing as romantically supernatural as I have portrayed in my writing but it was a life which I treasured. But I was forced from it - involuntarily. At a time when I was trying desperately to salvage the broken pieces of it in some vain effort to fix it.

The door was shut.

But as I walked away from that door it opened unexpectedly.

"I'm so sorry. I was wrong! Please give me another chance! Dean! Please!?"

I stood at crossroad. And the path I chose led away from that door. Without touching my hand to the handle I had closed it and locked it. But it hollowed me out and I was empty for the longest time...

I often catch myself wondering. What might have been, what is right now...but I brush those thoughts away brusquely...guilty for having allowed them to coalesce in the first place. It's not fair to the life I live now.

Regret, guilt, shame...

Sometimes I feel as though I want to go to sleep for a year. Seal myself up somewhere where there is no light, no sound and I can can just disappear.

Tomorrow will be a new day.

I will shake off the shackles of my torment for now and refocus...somehow....

For now...


  1. Wow. I'm not sure what to say, other than take one forward step at a time. Some days do wear you thin.

    Don't forget the other side of the ledger - the positives. Those kids would be the starting point for sure.

    Take care of yourself and give the kids an extra hug on Mondays. Tomorrow will be a better day.

  2. Digging deep into the dark places can be cathartic but it can freak people out. I'm not sure of the wisdom of this but it was something that just...happened.

  3. Dean... this sounds like a really rough day. I went through something like this back in January, actually. It was bad. Really bad. And I know what you mean about the regrets. Hang on.. I am going to email you...

  4. Dean - Sounds like life to me - when it's your turn in the box, it's your turn. We all get a go, some more than others. There is nothing that you described that I can't identify with, and some even almost exactly. Especially the part about people closest to you being ambivilant, and sometimes downright don't give a rat's ass. My sage advice is always, It'll pass, trust me, it'll pass. So don't let it get you down my friend. Your book is wonderful and you have to believe in it. Nobody but us writers can even pretend to understand how you feel about it. It's pure ego on the hoof, and impossible to ignore. And if you're lucky - not just good, but lucky - you'll make it...

  5. I don't know exactly what to say (mostly because I think you're just venting). But what you wrote will resonate with a lot of people, I'm sure; I know it did with me. Regrets about "what could have been" - I have those all the time. And then, like you, I feel guilty because it's not fair to the life I have right now. And the support (or lack there of) . . . I have only a handful of people who truly support what I'm doing or show much interest in my writing.

    Hang in there! You're doing an excellent job of it all!