Essay from Abigail George

Across The Valley’s Face of Brokenness, Loneliness and Rejection

By Abigail George

I tell myself I want to be happy but all I get is its everlasting pursuit, its muses, its loves, and music. I was startled and dumbfounded by the world when I was younger. I hadn’t lived with an immense amount of sadness yet. I have lived with despair and hardship all my life. It feels like winter in Johannesburg all over again. It feels as if I keep looking over my shoulder and I keep seeing him there, the love of my life, the ex-soldier all over again. There is emotional pain in my verbal and non-verbal reasoning. I want to be a peace-loving person but am not engineered that way. I am not the kind of machine who can be gentle and kind. I am not a social animal. When I am depressed, I am withdrawn and introverted. My soul has been reinvented by a fountain of mono amine oxidase inhibitors, tricyclic drugs, psychotropic medication, chronic fatigue, ailments and disease, relapse and recovery and the rebuilding of my life. The leaf falls but instead I see a eulogy.

Love is like the sun but when night comes my soul is depleted, I feel less energetic, starlight fills me with integrity, but I am exhausted. I feel broken by life, tested by every single assignment that life offers up to me. I have blamed God for the set of circumstances that I find myself in. What makes me sad is this. The temporariness of life, losing loved ones to a tragic death, the spell of grief, the conjuring up of brokenness, the loneliness that belongs to solitude, being considered interloper, and being rejected by this most modern of societies because of it. I have no staying power. I am no longer as steadfast as I was once in achievement. I spend my time writing for other people now. Screenplays. Scripts but it seems to be a never-ending process that never gets me anywhere. It never gets me to where I want to go. I tell myself there is some good and wonder at being alive. There might be conflict in my life between originality and giving yourself a progress report at the end of the day.

Perhaps people are laughing at me, I think to myself. I haven’t fallen in love in a long time. I am now in a transitioning period. I am growing older in my aloneness. I want someone, people to see my fire but it is pale, and the flame does not reach my entire being. It licks my ankles feebly. There is no lasting power there. I feel more dead than cosmonaut. I feel numb. Not anything like a person who comes offering love. I am considering further study at the University of South Africa. Considering short courses. Latin or an introduction to ancient Greek grammar and syntax but nothing interests me for long. I watch YouTube videos featuring clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto, Dr Jordan Peterson. I look at cultural trends. The pressures of life are upon me, but it has made my blood wise. Upon me is cognitive dissonance, mental aberrations and my psychological framework has taken a knock.

I have low self-esteem and a crisis of identity but in those moments of self-doubt and insecurity I turn with success to prayer and meditation. While loneliness ate up my wisdom and the realisation that life is not excellent for me. Not by a long shot. There is still the instinct that I must move forward by means that I must discover in having a spiritual outlook. I must move onwards and upwards led by the restorative powers of religion, congregation, and church. So, I am in a valley now, hesitant, less forgiving than I was before but I had mountains to overcome. You feel ashamed of loneliness. It is not for the fainthearted. There is an abundance of wildflowers, but I can’t take cognisance of that fact. There is imperfection in humans, but perfection in the utility of nature. We can lose everything in the material world but the progress of faith and the entropy of tolerance, the chemistry found in empathy and the revolutions that co-exist interdependently in the spheres of kindness can never be lost or erased by insecurity.

I turned to the scriptural mandates put forward in the bible and found purpose, meaning, and calling there. I turn to the genius of female writers that have come before me and find a certainty and solace there, a kind of predisposed familiarity. I turn to poetry in my hour of need, and it carries me through the darkness of my mood, the texture and play of sadness in times of helplessness and hopelessness. I must be remarkable because the poetry is a gift to me. The origins of words give me satisfaction and a rise in my mood. I feel capable and competent. As if I have some command on life. There is the milk and honey of being a paid blogger. I write and a lust for life returns to me. There is an owl house behind my third eye, the attack of having suicidal tendencies running through my veins as I search for acceptance. The rejected persona is always searching for self-care, acceptance, and loyalty from others and when it is not forthcoming from humans you tend to find it in other opportunities for personal growth. I try and be gentle with myself. I must be intelligent about all the forms of brokenness that occur in my life.

In the creative space you can align yourself with people there. You can live vicariously through the dimensions and elements of the substratum of reality. You project viewpoint onto the human scourge and poverty you feel. Your perspective becomes embryonic until you see some cause for finality and closure on your old ways of life and then understand the humility of accepting the personal growth that comes with belonging, accommodation, and adjustment. It becomes my motivation to play a role in this process. I continue writing about the molestation, the bipolar, my negative mindset, the attitude of others toward me, the footing that I can’t reach in this society. I just can’t help myself. This function of my personality. Writing is universal beyond flags and passports. But writing can lead to having an inner joy and it can initiate the process of healing. I have discovered this through trial and error. I get up in the morning. There is a window, a curtain covering it and I become excited because there is life beyond the window. There is a world out there. The universe feels less lonely. I am still in the bedroom. Silence fills the rooms of the house. Everyone is still sleeping.

My family is not yet awake. There is no sound coming from the kitchen, of people moving around in the house, there’s no feeling of ice withering away there in my spirit. There’s no banging of pots and pans, the making of coffee and breakfast. There is only the shield of the window and I stand there as if transmogrified. I exist but removed from, far away from crowds, from malls, from shops and grocery runs, errands, letter-writing, away from nine-to-five livelihood, from people, animals, and small children. Birdsong hits me in my aloneness. I am careful now. Careful to feel alive and have the sensibility of that reckoning-threshold. I can’t return this to the sender because the sender of all life and humility is God. So, I take those steps towards living and calling it a life. I try and not think about death or taking my own life with some difficulty because rejection can do that to you. It can make you get into a car and take the scenic route to the sea. I stand there in the sand by the sea and breathe for this is all I can do. Inhale. Exhale. Wish that somehow my life was different and play what if. I tell myself I am not married, and I don’t have children was based on a decision I took in my twenties and there are days when I feel a vehemence and if I am fading away.

That there is no one left to blame for this sad affair. I tell myself it is romantic to think this way, to feel this way. I put my slippers on, brush my teeth, wash my face with Dove soap and then make my way to the kitchen. I put the kettle on, open the curtains. The dog had puppies. They are up. There’s a joy in that. I am alone in the kitchen. I think what will happen when I am all alone. I stare out of the window and at all the life out there. The trees have their own language. The flowers are nurtured by water, the pensive rain, the nutrients from the soil and I wonder what will nurture me when my mother is no longer here, what nutrients does the world offer me that I cannot offer myself there. I think of the packed lunches my mother used to make when I was in high school and how I didn’t achieve the child that I wanted or the three children I dreamed about when I was in the hospital with depression that threatened to overwhelm me daily. You’re still young, I am told but I feel older. I feel old. I don’t feel wise in my aloneness. I see a kind of division within me. My self and ego are separate from each other. I am no longer young.

Youth is no longer on my side only the fear and anxiety that loneliness brings about. My eyes no longer sparkle. They are dead to life and the world. I think of my time spent in a shelter and the women I encountered there. I thought I was brave. I thought I was living life on my own terms, told myself that life was exciting in the city, but I was shattered by my own self-pity and loneliness. I hated that other people could see my innocence and this self-pity and loneliness fed by brokenness, defeat, my adversaries, and my rejection by the world. My own family did not want anything to do with me. That is what mental illness can do to you. That is what stigma can do to you. Other people shattered me with determination. I was just as hurt, as wounded and as damaged as those women were in the shelter. They had children who lived on a farm outside of the city. This is what aloneness and rejection from society could do to you. It could usurp your personality. It could plunder you. It could leave you bare. Cast out and bereft and feelings like that were dangerous and malevolent. You could learn to harm yourself by using the intellectualism of your mind.

After the shelter I was on a road to poverty and the knowledge and reality of homelessness, but I wasn’t frightened of it, yet. It wasn’t relevant to me with a kind of finality. I had a weak personality now and I wasn’t strong because brokenness can do that to you. I had a room at the Salvation Army. Night-time I would be found lying in my bed in that room feeling distinctly that now I had truly departed and bid farewell to society, the society that my parents had lived in with respectable jobs. They had never found themselves in the situation that I found myself in now. I realised that I was a failure. I had failed miserably. I had attained nothing and would never return to the feeling of normality I had before I went to hospital. My parents made me sign myself in. They turned away from me, as my maternal and paternal family later did, as society did, as social animals did. There was nothing left for me now except the valley. Finding purpose was not easy. Turning to prayer and meditation did give me a sense of hope that seemed to define me. The recognition that God was to be found in everything did not make a weak person. I grew fond of and not sad at this realisation.

I am no longer in my twenties. I did not turn to God then. I am in my forties. I turn to God now. I think of how unfair life has been towards me. That I have nothing of substance, no anchor to hold onto. There was no justification for what I had to endure, the life I lived before. I had played the victim role but now in some sense I was a survivor. I am generally unhappy but alive. Life has given me passages of time. It has conveyed to me that I cannot be trusted with either health or peace of mind, sympathies, or small children. I have neglected my responsibilities. Prayer counteracts this feeling that I am a kind of useless and bitter person. I sense this malevolence inside of me. I pray that it will go away. I saw the soldier for the last time at my family home in March. I thought that he was the beginning of a renewed life, but he wasn’t. There are just things I don’t understand about human relationships. He was unhappy. His life was difficult, but I did not understand those aspects of his life or know this for a fact. He worked now and had left the army. When he left me, I stopped feeling inspired to write. I looked out on the early morning and the smoky mist.

There was no future representation of the life I imagined I was going to co-create with him there any longer. The day became sad as many of the days that I live, and experience generally are. My father is still around to speak to and to tell me that he loves me. The relationship with my mother is difficult and strained. She acknowledges the failure in me in everything that she says and does. I feel angry all the time about these topics. Being in the valley, in my aloneness I am frightened, the brokenness, loneliness and rejection blooms with the flowers of sunlight in my bedroom in the afternoon. I confess it but of course there is neither shelter in those visitations. I am longer hopeful that I will one day let go of the brokenness. I go through this world alone, in its singular darkness, caught in the intelligent times of its shroud thinking that now I am officially incarnate. I have reading hands except I can’t predict the future. The outcome of my life. I feel shut away from it all. Once there were teachers that surrounded me. It is no longer the case. The darkness comes with its own teachings. Its own reasoning. I want it to leave me, but it gives me comfort as well.

I am full of laughter and tears. You can see it if your look closely enough. I want my name to be worthy of something now. At night my eyes are greedy for sunlight. During the day I step out in faith. The bathwater leaves patterns on my flesh. I wish the man was still looking at me. It had given me hope but I am a bone-thin woman now and feel shame. Time is leaving me. I return to the silence in the rooms of my father’s house. I am a gatherer of blue now. Blue house, blue silence, blue mood, apparitions made of blue, even the flowers are blue here and the paint on the walls. The animals are blue, and I live in a world of blue. I feel snow inside of me. Inside ventricles and tissue. Inside the womb where a child did not grow into being. I think of the Khoi lost and found in the Kat River Settlement of the Eastern Cape. I think of how at a disadvantage I am now and how humiliating that feels. There are no longer any people left who can teach me the powerful commodity of truth. I don’t see beauty in the world. I don’t see any beauty in myself and that is the hardest to take. The beauty is no longer visible that was once there in youth, and I have started to recognise that there is aloneness in everything in this world. We are not inter-dependent of it.

I remind myself I have reading hands. I tell myself I am Rilke’s wife. It is nearly summer and doesn’t hope and rebirth come with summer? I think of all the lovers and the couples in this world and how I am not a part of that. There is death and I carry myself through that sensation and there is life. I carry myself through that too. I live with pain. It has become familiar to me like furniture in this room. Pain seems to release the divine and the concept of faith. Every hateful feeling of myself, I can’t as much I’ve tried make them go away on their own. The moonlight shifts and I feel less crusader. I feel more child than disciple. I am a follower in darkness and of the darkness. I suffer and, in this suffering, I walk through this valley and have overcome mountains, but I am still left to face the isolation that brokenness gives up of itself to me, the vision of loneliness in all her glory and the vibrations of rejection that come and break over me in waves. In its purest state they crush me, hold me down and berate me. The brokenness is beyond any repair. The narrative of loneliness flows and ebbs within me with disdain. There is alienation but I tell myself that I have goals now. That God and divine timing is finally on my side.

My heart doesn’t have to go through this crushing process. I am alive for a reason. I have a purpose and a holistic vision. I will grow to be an old woman. Not surrounded by grandchildren, grown up children happy and well-adjusted and better than me at building a happier life world for themselves. I must have books. I will have books. What else can I do but bring the aloneness of brokenness, the valleys of loneliness and rejection to life in my characters, turn them into concepts and make a narrative run through them.

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