Monday, October 03, 2005

end of the tunnel

It was a true story, but it had a once-upon-a-time-in-a-land-far-far-away quality that distanced me from it in the telling. Not that its content was fairy tale material. No Prince Charming, no Fairy Godmother, no Happily-Ever-After. In truth, it was a sad story, as stories go, but, to my amazement, I simply was not sad to tell it.

My life’s work is stories, but not the writing of them. I enter stories, sit down in the middle of one with the main character and, like a 1980’s choose-your-own-ending paper-back, help her contemplate how her story will proceed from here. Fiction or fantasy, prose or poetry, description or dialogue—I hear a lot of stories. I participate in a lot of stories. I tell a lot of stories.

I told them the story of a girl, that day—a girl not at all unlike them. I could see it in their reddening, tear-rimmed eyes, in their nodding heads, their forward leaning torsos. I was telling their story, as well. They had experienced her dark nights, her never-dawning mornings, her days of February gray that lasted year long. They had heard the same well-meaning-poorly-thought-out advice, the holier-than-thou condemnations, the get-a-grip-and-stop-feeling-sorry-for-yourself-and-suck-it-up-and-pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps sermons. They had felt the condemnation, the shame, the futility. They had battled the discouragement, the desperation, the despair. They had been there. They were there now.

They had come, that afternoon, to deal with their own depression. They were expectant, though of what, they were not certain. They teetered precariously between hope and hopelessness—hoping to hope. Daring to entertain the thought that there was more to life than this, that there was a way to get there, that there was something to hope for. And so I told them my story.

The details of my own depression are unremarkable save but one—I am not depressed any longer. The light my father swore to me was shining at the end of the long, dark, never-ending tunnel, once completely out of view and out of reach, now shines like the October sun in the blue fall sky. Like an old high school friend or a sibling who lives out of state or a distant aunt on my father’s mother’s side, the girl in my story is familiar to me, yet I do not know her any longer. It is my story, but it is no longer my life—merely my pre-story, giving the reader the background so as to understand the current plot more fully.

I told them the story of a girl who was once severely depressed, for a very, very long time. That girl is me, but I am no longer that girl. It was a fairy tale of sorts after all—happy endings happen, even in the absence of Fairy Godmothers. There is a Light that shines in the darkness, and it doesn’t glow at the end of a magic wand.

Hope for the hopeless. This is my story, this is my song…

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