The Brilliant Light On The Far Side Of The Darkness

[Author’s note : I wrote this on 02/04/2011, while I was still working through the darkest part of my life. I am putting this one back up, because I know someone I wish to share it with.

Things change, my friend. Things change. All it takes is time.

Mark.]

I just got out
Of the sauna.
A little toy
My lady bought
Back in 2009.

It’s a two person sauna.
Sits in the corner
Of the master bedroom.
And given that our central heat
Has been dead
For the past 11 months,
It’s turned into
A really nice little room
To sit down in
And read.

And that’s just what I did.
Turned that sucker on.
Set the temp
To 96 degrees
(Fahrenheit or course,
‘Cause that I understand).
Set the time
To 60 minutes.
Pulled off my socks.
Put on my shorts.
Grabbed my book,
My Kobo e-reader,
My Tank of a cell phone,
And MP3 player.
Turned my music on.
And got right into that room.

Oh, but that felt good.
And why wouldn’t it?
Sitting here at my desk,
The thermometer says
It’s a whopping 57.
It’s not that bad,
Really.
You get used to it
After a couple of weeks.

I read another chapter
In the book I’m reading
By Pema Chodron.
“When Things Fall Apart”.
Another book I find
That I like a whole lot.

When I spoke this morning
With my doctor,
He and I agreed
That I’m going to be OK.
That I’ve found the path for me.
The path that leads
To where I want to be.

We spoke of how very
Self-destructive I’d become
In October, November, and December.
And I shared this story
With my doctor.

The first time that it snowed.
In December, that is.
When I was out there
Walking in that snow.
That’s when I realized
How very close I was
To the end of me.
And everything
I might have ever been.

I was just one step away.
For as I walked along
In the snow that day,
I could see all the reasons why
I would bring things
To an end.
And I could understand
So very clearly
Why some people do.

I don’t mean
To upset anyone of you.
I really don’t.
So please let me
Finish writing down
The words I have to say.

As I walked outside that day,
Out there in the snow,
I came to a point in life
Where I could go left,
Or I could go right.

If I was too afraid
To continue on.
I could go left.
And that would be
The end of me.
Suicide, was to the left,
You see.

I went to the right.
Because I decided,
More than 30 years ago,
That suicide
Was not my way.
Was not me.
That I would never run.
That I would not take
That easy way.
That my fear
Would never
Destroy me.

The path that led
To the right,
Lead me into pain.
Pain that I have never felt
In all my days.

I told my doctor of
All the injuries I’ve had.
Damaged ligaments,
Separated joints,
And broken bones.
And that I’d rather have
All those injuries
At once,
That walk through that kind of pain
Again.

But walk through that pain
I did.
And I’m here today.
That proves I did.
And I know this simple truth.
If I can live through that.
I can live
Through anything.

And having walked
Through such agony.
I’ve begun to catch a glimpse
Of the life I’ll have
When I get through
All of this.

And the little bit I’ve seen
Is more than worth
Every bit of pain,
Every ache that my heart had,
And every tear
That my soul cried.

For I have glimpsed
The light that lives
On the other side
Of the darkness
I’ve been in
For so very long.

And it’s a light
That I can always reach
Every single day
If I just take the time,
And use what I have learned,
To find my smile
Again.

For when I find my smile,
I find that I am walking
Once again,
In that brilliant light I’ve found
On the far side of
The darkest days
I’ve ever had to face.

And I really hope that you
Can find your smile.
For if you truly can
I believe that you
Will find your way
To the brilliant light
On the far side
Of your darkest days.

Memories : History

I no longer remember the date.
Or the number of the room.
But I can remember
So very many details
Of that day.

I was in 7th grade.
It was the first 6 weeks
Of the school year.
Like everyone
In 7th grade.
I was taking US History.

The book was just damn boring.
Brutally so.
It was so very hard for me
To read that stupid thing.
To study history.
Things that happened
Way back when.

Studying how the USA
Came to be.
The vikings.
The Spanish.
The French.
The British,
And so many others.
That sailed across the Atlantic.
Finding their way here.

I ignored it all.

Didn’t read a word.
Until the first test
Came along.
And I realized
I didn’t know a thing.

As I sat there
On that day.
Staring at the grade
I’d made
On that test that day,
I realized I had a choice to make.
It was a choice
Left up to me.

Read the book
Of history.
And learn.

Or perhaps for the first time
Fail a class in school.

I never did take defeat
Lightly.

It was the first time I remember
My anger at myself.
And anger can be
Such a destructive thing.

It was the first time
I decided
To not let that test grade stand.
Instead,
I picked up my history book.
And started reading it.
And asking questions
In almost every class.
Starting with that day.

It was the first time
In my life,
That I’d attacked a class.
With the same ferocity
That I’d used at work
For 29 solid years.

It would not be the last.

I remember that day
Very well.
The decision that I made.
For that was just another step
Along the path
That lead to my destruction.

A path of self-denial.
Of self-inflicted pain.
That slowly turned into
Self-hate.

And as I walked that path
I lost all track
Of me.

Leaving just a shell
Of the person that I was.
A machine.
That could only do his job.

It was a decision
That changed everything.
Leaving only a machine.
With no heart
Or soul.

It was a decision
That lead me to the point
When I would walk
In the ice and snow.
Or in the rain.
Until my toes and heals
Blistered.
And then bled.

Until I couldn’t tell at all
If I was hurt or not.

Until I’d forgotten completely
Everything that mattered
To me.

I remember history
From back in 7th grade.
And the decision that I made
One day,
To never fail
Another test.

I remember
How that day
Changed everything
For me.

And I can’t help but wonder
How many people I know
Made a choice like I made.
Many years ago.
And now are completely lost.
And don’t even know.

And you wonder
What has caused
My soul’s tears…

Memories : Unlimited Soda

I remember.
Clearly.
The day I made that choice.
It happened
The first year I ever worked
In a world I never made.

1976.
It was in early October.
I’d managed to get
My very first job.
Working in a grocery store.
As a grocery bagger.
A generic name.
For a generic job.
A job in which
You could end up doing
Damn near anything.

Like straightening out
The contents of
The freezer isle.

Do you have any idea
How frakkin’ cold
500 half gallon boxes
Of ice cream really is?
Momma…
My fingers still remember that.
Even after all these years.

Back then,
Soda was dirt cheap.
Less than 50 cents
A can
Out of vending machines.
And the store had one.

I’d been working
All afternoon.
Into the evening.
I was helping
Close the store.
When I decided
I was thirsty.
And took a time out
To grab a drink.
And chug that drink down
While I was working.

No one minded
In the least.

But as I went
To get my drink,
I remember exactly
What I thought.

I thought
Of my family
History.
Our ingrained abuse
Of alcohol.
I thought of the problems
So very many
In my family
Had had with that.
Going back
For centuries.

I knew then
That a person shouldn’t drink
3 or 4,
Or 5 or 6
Cans of soda
Every day.
That doing that
Would not be a good thing.

But I knew also
About the dangers
Of drinking even one
Alcoholic beverage
In my family.

So I stood there for a moment.
Having bought a soda
From the vending machine.
With that cold grape soda
In my hand.
Feeling the coldness
Of the can.

And I remember thinking,
“I don’t care
If it’s wrong.
And it will hurt me
In the long run.
I’m going to let myself
Drink all the soda
I want to.
Because it beats the hell
Out of drinking
Alcohol.”

So on that night,
Working in that store,
I threw out the rule
I’d been taught
About drinking just one can
Of soda
Every day.

I remember that choice,
Every detail.
Every thought.

And I don’t regret
Having made that choice
At all.

For I’ve never had a problem
With alcohol.
Unlike so very many
In my family’s
History.

I remember.
Clearly.
The day I made that choice.
It happened
The first year I ever worked
In a world I never made.

1976.
It was in early October.
I’d managed to get
My very first job.
Working in a grocery store.
As a grocery bagger.
A generic name.
For a generic job.
A job in which
You could end up doing
Damn near anything.

Like straightening out
The contents of
The freezer isle.

Do you have any idea
How frakkin’ cold
500 half gallon boxes
Of ice cream really is?
Momma…
My fingers still remember that.
Even after all these years.

Back then,
Soda was dirt cheap.
Less than 50 cents
A can
Out of vending machines.
And the store had one.

I’d been working
All afternoon.
Into the evening.
I was helping
Close the store.
When I decided
I was thirsty.
And took a time out
To grab a drink.
And chug that drink down
While I was working.

No one minded
In the least.

But as I went
To get my drink,
I remember exactly
What I thought.

I thought
Of my family
History.
Our ingrained abuse
Of alcohol.
I thought of the problems
So very many
In my family
Had had with that.
Going back
For centuries.

I knew then
That a person shouldn’t drink
3 or 4,
Or 5 or 6
Cans of soda
Every day.
That doing that
Would not be a good thing.

But I knew also
About the dangers
Of drinking even one
Alcoholic beverage
In my family.

So I stood there for a moment.
Having bought a soda
From the vending machine.
With that cold grape soda
In my hand.
Feeling the coldness
Of the can.

And I remember thinking,
“I don’t care
If it’s wrong.
And it will hurt me
In the long run.
I’m going to let myself
Drink all the soda
I want to.
Because it beats the hell
Out of drinking
Alcohol.”

That on that night,
Working in that store,
I threw out the rule
I’d been taught
About drinking just one can
Of soda
Every day.

I remember that choice,
Every detail.
Every thought.

And I don’t regret
Having made that choice
At all.

For I’ve never had a problem
With alcohol.
Unlike so very many
In my family’s
History.