Friday, 23 October 2015

In Praise of Hopelessness

Friends: if you ask me to meet you and I say no, it isn't because I don't want to. It's because long experience has taught me that unless I can get to our meeting place within half an hour, chances are I won't be well enough to come and I'll let you down. Or, if I do make it, I'll need a couple of days to recover.

If you know me (or have read the rest of this blog) you'll know I've had three kidney transplants. I've never had very much energy: whether this is connected to my kidney problems, 25 years of immuno-suppression or is something entirely separate, I don't know. But it's got worse over time. I sleep 10-12 hours a day - sometimes more. When I'm awake, I'm mostly foggy-headed and tired.

I've also had back pain for the last 15 years or so. Despite spending thousands of pounds on different treatments, this too has got worse. There's nothing structurally wrong with my back and the pain specialists at my local hospital say that I'll probably always have it. The exercise regimes prescribed for me sometimes reduce the immediate pain but have not produced any long-term improvements.

At this point, I'd like to say that yes, I know I have a lot to be grateful for and yes, I know that many people have things far, far worse. Including some of the people who are likely to read this.

But the pain and the tiredness have increasingly restricted my ability to live the life I want. When people say "I hope you feel better soon", I know they mean well but it feels like yet more pressure to achieve something that I have been chasing fruitlessly for almost two decades.

So I'm giving up hope.

To devotees of positive thinking, this sounds defeatist.

It really isn't.

I'm giving up hope because I'm tired of bashing my head against the walls of reality and blaming myself for being unable to punch through. 

Because I'm tired of fighting to maintain a hope that is tantamount to delusion.

Because as long as I'm gazing over the rainbow and dreaming of Oz, I'm not making the most of Kansas.

Because as long as I'm yearning for the landscapes beyond my prison walls, I'm not seeing that my cell is actually quite spacious and comfortable. I'm not seeing all the things I could do in here. I'm not contemplating the possibility that, even if I can't do very much, maybe that doesn't necessarily mean I'm a waste of space whose life is worthless. (My mind really rebels against that idea: THOU SHALT ACHIEVE, DAMMIT!)

Because sometimes the best way to hold things together is by letting an unsustainable reality fall apart.

And because, sometimes, giving up hope is the most optimistic thing you can do.