Is there anybody there?



Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today,
I wish, I wish he’d go away…

When I came home last night at three,
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall,
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door…

Last night I saw upon the stair,
A little man who wasn’t there,
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away…     Hughes Mearns

It can’t just be me who thinks and lives the way I do – wondering when the doors open in the right order and things start going in my direction. When I was younger I always assumed that life would be fairly straightforward: married with kids, job, house, car, occasional holiday and generally happy. But they don’t talk about it do they – parents or teachers – the reality and difficulty of getting through it.

I’m a very lucky man in many ways, I have a great family and roof over our head. I couldn’t ask for a better other half than Jill – she surprises me daily with her patience and love. Our kids are adorably quirky and with another on the way it’ll be great to see the final member of our clan. But there’s a ghost in our house – not in a supernatural way, more in a “missing something” way.

You ponder whether this is all you are going to be – not to denigrate anything in my life, but I just feel there’s a version of me in a parallel universe who is achieving things I’m not or can’t. It’s hard to put your finger on exactly what it is but you have a sense that there is an unfinished sentence but you don’t have the capacity or vocabulary to complete.

Is it just me? Is it me from when I was a kid with wild dreams and ambitions in life and now I’m discovering that vanilla really is the flavour we live with and beige the background? “Mid life crisis” I hear you cry – not really, I have no interest in sports cars or trading in the missus for a younger model. There is a man who “isn’t there” but I’m struggling to pin him down.

If I knew what was missing I could perhaps do something about it, until then there will just be a space that I can’t explain. Perhaps as I get older and the kids are growing up I wonder what I will leave behind; what will be left of “me” in the future. I don’t have dreams of world domination but it can’t just be surviving can it? That’s what I feel I’m doing at times – counting out one minute into the next hour into the next day.

Clockwatching, not living.

Yes, a job would help and less periods of depression would certainly be a boost my system but I want to be more than just a job or wage. Maybe living with the bipolar disorder is giving me a duality that yearns for the manic me to appear and take the depressed me on an exciting trip or adventure. Am I missing the madness wishing I could bottle up the highs to help cope with the lows?

I could try to be more introspective to work it out but I get the feeling if I were any more self-reflective I might fall through the looking glass.


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