My dad is old. He acts old and feels old and we can all see the end is not that far away. I reflect on his life, where he has been, the loves he has had, the joys, the regrets. He reveals little and seems annoyed if I ask. I wonder what he holds inside, what knowledge, what wisdom, what pain he would rather not touch?
Once when I was nine my two brothers and I were on stools around the cooker. We watched him boil potatoes freshly taken from the earth of his beloved allotment. One stool had legs uneven and as it rocked slightly back my younger brother reached out to stop himself falling, pulling the boiling water on top of him.
He was in hospital for more than a year. His skin burnt down one side of head where hair still doesn’t grow and an arm and part of his body disfigured for life. I’ve often wondered what that was like for my dad. Did he cry, blame himself, carry shame? I’ve never heard either of them talk about it. One of the biggest events of both of their lives never explored, too painful to re-open perhaps.
Shame and the unspoken pervade the lives of many, hold them in a cage, silence can be a slow torture at any age.
Why do some of us dream to scream at the top of our lungs but don’t? What are we afraid of? Of scaring others with our rage perhaps, or scaring ourselves with the same? Perhaps we question if the flood of tears unlocked will actually ever stop?
What hurt and grief and secrets remain hidden, trapped in a stone deep inside our body, blocking our flow, killing us slowly?
Because however much we want to forget it, with alcohol or work or sex or drugs or television, we know it’s still there. The question is does it stay locked?
We are not suppose to regret things in life. It’s the old question with the same answer, “I regret nothing me” I hear them say, often as they smoke or drink and keep their feelings in. And I join them, in so much as I love my life as it has been and can not change it, I fully accept it. Yet I do, I regret things. I regret not going further when travelling. I regret not talking to that girl, a thousand times, in a thousand different places. I’m happy on my own in the corner I would tell myself. Happy watching, happy not getting up dancing. I kept my feelings in, often smoking.
Yet I wasn’t happier on my own. I was happier when I fully loved and was loved and when I connected.
I asked a friend lately whether if he died now would he regret anything. He told he wished he hadn’t let fear stop him doing so many things.
I try and speak up these days and stand up and dance at the drop of a hat.
I feel sad if I convince myself I’m happier alone. When really I’m screaming for love and connection. It’s just I don’t always know the way to reach out and make it happen.
My dad never found the way to reach out. I’m pretty sure he’s not going to change now. He takes that stone inside him to the grave, submerged and soothed with alcohol he slowly fades away.
I love my dad but I don’t want to live like that. So I hide nothing and reveal everything and there’s real freedom in that.
People commit suicide because they can’t speak the inside out.
Yet there are people to talk to who will hold a safe space for you, and keep your truth to themselves once out.
In reality there is nothing to be ashamed of in life. We mess up, we learn, we feel, we grow.
Be brave, speak up, show others and let the long unspoken speak out.
For we all have parts of ourselves dying to get out.
CONTACT: Kendal Aitken: counsellor(Dip)/ psychotherapist( Cert) 07944883961 FREEDOMBRIDGE.CO.UK