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This Too Shall Pass

Thirty one and single again.

Almost to the day. In fact, pretty much to the day, as in; it was the actual day - my 31st birthday. The woman that I fell in love with looks me in the eye and says “I’m so unhappy, I can’t do this any more. I’m sorry.”

Within two weeks everything has changed. Two weeks. She's gone. Left the house. It's bare... and me? I'm alone. I mean, what the hell are you supposed to do at 31?
Should you wear a badge?

“I’m single. Yes, I know too old and that by now I’ve probably had a couple of really shitty break ups, which in turn that I’m carrying a fair amount of baggage oh and yes, given that I haven’t actually managed to settle down just yet (while all my friends have, with babies etc) that I’m also aware that the chances of there being something wrong with me are quite high. But hey, fancy a drink?”

It’d be quite the badge.

The odds are smaller up here. It’s the first time in my life that I’ve actually been aware of my age. What it is, what it means and ultimately, where it’s gone.

Another life

You know you are truly in pain when you start trying to work out how much pain something else might cause you and whether or not that pain would be better or worse than the pain you’re feeling right now.

Staring down from a 4th floor balcony and trying to measure what the branches of that tree would feel like as they thrashed against the skin - would they catch my fall? Break it maybe? I mean, I don’t actually want to die, that’d be rubbish… but some other pain than this one, this one I’m feeling right now, that would be awesome. Thanks.

What if I just put a leg in front of an oncoming bus? Or a passing tube? That would hurt wouldn’t it? I mean really, actually quite a bit. We’re talking broken bones and a stint in the hospital. Maybe she’d come visit me then.

I have a broken heart. It’s been broken once before (Just once he says?! Ha!), I was married in my mid-twenties, the last of my friends to tie the knot (no pressure) and nine months later I come home from work and she says: “I’m sorry, I don’t love you any more.”

That very nearly killed me. Seems dramatic to say that now, but it did feel like absolute death for months. Months and months and months.

The Fear

The thing is, I guess in some ways, I did actually die. At least, the man who got married in his twenties, he died. I don’t even recognise him in the photos from those days.

What happened? I got through it. It affected me for a lot longer than I thought at first mind; I went away to Asia and had a number of life-affirming, life changing moments. “They fixed me” I thought. Nah, they didn’t.

They just helped me through the pain. But that's not a bad thing.

Being scared is not something that comes easy to own up to. Not for any man. September 12th 2001, I remember waking up and feeling scared, seeing the world in a different way. But that was something else. That was rational fear based upon a terrible, terrible atrocity. You were allowed to be scared.

I keep catching myself panicking. Walking the streets, looking down instead of forward. Avoiding eye contact with anyone I happen to look at. I don’t want to upset anyone. I don’t want to get in anyone’s way. I’m scared.

It’s not cool to be frightened. We’re raised as creatures who aren’t expected to show such an emotion. As early as the first trip to the dentist, "BE BRAVE" we're told, fear not. Do not be afraid and whatever you do, don’t ever, ever be scared. Ever.

Today I am scared.

For the life of me I can’t work out what it actually is I’m scared of, but I know the feeling and that is fear.

Let it in, let it out

The fear of being alone, the fear of never finding ‘the one’ (again), the fear that there might actually be something wrong with you and that you’re incapable of holding a relationship longer than a few years.

The fear that you’ll always get it wrong, the fear of never having children to love and care for, the fear that the love of your life is already shacked up with some wannabe, posing bozo who’s weaseled his way in at the first opportunity. All those fucking fears. They make me scared. I am so scared. So fucking scared.

An angel whispered to me on the tube last week. I swear it’s true. The Bakerloo line pulled in and a girl stepped off, “this too shall pass” she said, to no one in particular.

She must have said it to an unseen friend, or was mentioning something in conversation, but the words landed in my ears and before I’d taken my seat, I was bawling.

Such heavy, aching, silent tears. “This too shall pass,” she said.

I cry because I know she’s right and I’ve seen this road before.

It’s OK to be scared. It’s OK to cry. Just let it in and let it out again.

Screw what the world says we should do.

Let it in and let it out.

In, out… in, out… and breathe.