I’ve spent the evening reading through an old journal. It’s from two journals ago, actually – the current one’s orange, started this morning. The previous one is red. The one before that is yellow, and it’s the yellow one that I’m reading. It dates from just before Christmas, and goes through until the beginning of February. Not actually all that long ago, really – but it feels like an age.
The thing that strikes me most was just how difficult everything was. Just how much I was carrying, how heavy and painful it was. How despairing I was, how hopeless – how I worried that I was falling apart, spinning out of control. Losing my capacity to keep myself together. The water wasn’t over my head – it was perhaps just below my eyebrows. Christmas was horrible – coping with rehearsals and fatigue and the Christmas Eve singing marathon while also buffeted by symptoms of PTSD – and throughout the beginning of January I wrestled with the question of whether I simply give up the choir altogether. I despaired of ever being able to sing again, of being anything other than a burden on my friends and fellow choristers, of ever finding that peace and healing I so desperately sought. At least part of my fragility was simply the raw-edged fatigue of constant, debilitating insomnia.
I’m grateful, this evening, for the chance to read through that bleak bright yellow journal – at least the half of it I’ve read so far – because I’m suddenly profoundly aware of how far I’ve come, of the fact that things have changed, just a little bit, since the beginning of January. I’m sleeping through the night now about as many nights as I’m not; and if the water was at my eyebrows – well, now it’s probably about chin level.
And I’m struck anew with the realisation that, despite the fact that I wrestled – painfully, and hard – with the question of whether to cut my losses and simply leave the choir, I am a chorister. There was never really any option other than to persevere, and to trust that things might get easier. And they have, just a little. I’m learning to live with the symptoms which present themselves when I open myself to the searing beauty of the music which is my weekly fare. I’m learning to make space for the memories which dig their claws into my mind when I allow my thoughts to still when I sing. I remember and sometimes relive each beating, each argument, each verbal and emotional flaying I took over the choir – and there were a lot – but some things are worth taking a beating over and the choir, and the music, around which my weeks revolve are one of those things. And that knowledge helps when things all get a bit difficult.
It’s not easy yet, and it probably won’t be for some time. The path set before me is not smooth. It’s thorny and rocky and there’s still a part of me which is surprised at my friends’ love for me, and at the fact that I’m still able to show up every single week to sing despite how painful it might be. But maybe it’s not quite as thorny and rocky as it once was, and that gives me hope that, by the end of this new orange journal, the way might be just a little smoother than it is now.
And I’m profoundly grateful for that.