Shadow Play




I mean something. It has taken me a long time to arrive at that assumption, after a five-year stretch which has often felt like a life sentence, but I can now state with some assurance that I very much mean something. It’s funny how we tend to major in convincing ourselves that we’re worthless and flunk out when it comes to believing we can make any kind of difference to the sorrowful fate being projected. But somehow we manage it and I’m the living proof; having spent the past half a decade riddled with self-loathing. Back in 2013, I hated my own guts for walking out on what many others perceived as the “perfect marriage”. Just like that, I upped and left, without the faintest idea where I would even lay my head that night. And while my decision turned out to be more than justified, that didn’t stop me feeling like the villain of the piece, regardless of any extenuating circumstances that led to my sudden departure.

It’s rather a long way back from that point, let me tell you. First things first, I had to learn how to like myself again and, this in itself, was something of a gargantuan undertaking. It wasn’t that I couldn’t identify any strengths, more that one’s weaknesses tend to be a great deal more vocal when wracked with overwhelming guilt day after day. Indeed, the only respite available came in the form of my writing as this turned out to be a therapeutic venture to say the very least. Some of my content from the bleak midwinter of 2013 revealed the kind of desperate place I was in mentally, but there was no way on earth I was about to throw in the towel without a damn good fight, blood-soaked or not. Neither did I have any intention of unloading all my emotional baggage on anyone who took the time to read, when I could be finding ways to raise their own spirits. There always had to be an end goal. And one piece in particular called “Teetering” was actually conceived as a last chance saloon battle cry to myself, to prove to myself that I wasn’t done yet. Not by a long chalk. My hope was that it may empower just one other person to not feel so utterly hopeless. And I would like to think it did.

They do say time is the great healer and, while I can think of a far better one, eventually those gaping wounds begin to seal up into scars. Better yet, once a reflective fellow like yours truly has spent enough time scrutinizing his psyche, there isn’t a great deal left to suss out. Not that I considered myself the oracle of all things psychological, far from it in fact. I’ll be learning every single day until the Lionheart in my chest ceases beating. But I had put in more than a shift naming and shaming my countless demons and had finally arrived at the place where you just shrug your shoulders and say “Fuck it!” No longer did I host the burning desire to perform Seppuku before the red moon. Furthermore, I actually started to love myself again. Quite the feat when you consider that I’d spent the past two decades pulling the wool over my very own eyes with regards to my true identity. Let’s not pop the cork on the Mo√ęt just yet, I was still a man in his early forties whose prospects appeared grimmer than Dani Filth’s walk-in wardrobe. But I no longer desired to face plant the nearest artexed wall and that’s significant progress in my book.

Once you reach the point of realization that you’re not nearly the enemy you’ve billed yourself as, it’s time to stop assessing the damage and begin looking at what you can do to better your situation. Time to have a long hard look at what was still holding me back from the happiness I felt I’d more than earned. At the time, it felt like nobody truly understood me, despite their very best intentions. And they would need to try damn hard over the next few months as D-day was approaching and that meant making the hardest decision I have ever been required to take before one long-running saga in particular took me entirely out of commission. On March 4th, 2010, I became a proud parent and finally came good on a pledge I made to my late father to keep the bloodline going. Then, on none other than Christmas Day, 2017, I took the rather excruciating decision to accept that I was no longer destined to be a part of my son’s life. I could see what the situation was doing to my ex-wife, whose best interests I will always protect, but more critically, I could see what this whole sorry mess was doing to my beloved boy and nothing, but nothing, is going to mess with his wiring at such a pivotal time in his development.

Things looked fairly ominous for a while there as I had withdrawn from all those around me and, if I’m being honest, just wanted it all over with. Not just the scenario I was faced with either. Everything. Life. My entire existence. Smoking well in excess of forty cigarettes each day and necking around three litres of Taurine energy drinks appeared a reasonably decent method of self-termination for one unwilling to put their loved ones through the whole unexplained suicide deal and it appeared to be working like a charm as my heart was practically awash with knock-off Red Bull and threatening to explode in my chest at any given moment. Worse still, I requested this very denouement numerous times from a God who evidently wasn’t listening to a single fucking word I was saying. You know things are bad when you find yourself dreaming up heart attack shanties on your way to the local grocery store and I felt even more aggrieved that I was seemingly not even permitted to bow out gracefully. Clearly I hadn’t suffered enough. Could there be just one more indignation in store before the final curtain fell? Mercifully, the answer to that is a resounding no.

You see, while December 2017 had every right to go down as the worst month in recorded history, it actually turned out to be anything but. When the great love of your life arrives on the scene, particularly after such a prolonged period of intense woe, you sit the hell up and take notice. There had been other loves and I wish every last one of them every last happiness in their future endeavors, but not a single one had truly fitted me. This time I knew, from the very second we first crossed paths, and with the kind of wide-eyed clarity that had eluded me since way back at childhood. Without this magnificent soul, I would have been down before the seasonal decorations, but thanks to meeting one with courage in every last one of her convictions and an uncannily similar flight path, I more than made it through my own personal Battle of Trafalgar. Indeed, I had to pinch myself when arriving on the cusp of new year with nothing but unbridled enthusiasm for the year ahead. And this from a guy who had never once looked past the end of his nose for the five years prior to what can only be explained as bona fide divine intervention.

Speaking of reasons to be cheerful, there is one other person who continued to see me through these decidedly choppy waters, and taught me the true meaning of the term “chosen family”. Given that I felt like a ghost around my nearest and dearest, I really needed someone to step up to the plate and love me unconditionally. And that is precisely what happened. No judgments or making me feel like not a solitary event in my life was any longer worthy of mention; just oceans of support and understanding to remind me that I do mean something after all. Suddenly, I was well and truly back in the game. Battered and bruised like an Albino after a dodge ball play-off; but still just about standing. Moreover, I had myself a nice little fire in my belly and it felt good to feel something in my gut that didn’t request that I assume fetal position. Life had done its level best to finish me off but, thanks primarily to the two aforementioned angels, it came up short.

And what a difference eight months makes. I’m sure we all reach that point on occasion where it feels like all our best efforts count for nothing and the road ahead looks just too bleak to entertain. But this is my primary motivation for writing this today. You see, I have since gotten engaged to be married to the one great love of my life and have attained a level of contentment that I no longer thought was even remotely possible. I’ve also gained a sister and she offers me tremendous encouragement to continue plugging away and striving for the goals I have set to truly make a difference in my life and the lives of those I adore. Granted, it will still take a great deal of belief and commitment to make this happen, but neither are in scant supply and I can now see the happy ending that seemed to elude me for so long. So you see, it’s imperative we keep on keeping on, no matter how bleak the forecast can seem.

Sometimes you just have to strip things right back, find the angels who have the ability and willing to love you free of condition, and build your foundations from scratch. Do so and you may just find yourself reaching higher than ever before, unlocking strength you suspected had long since wasted away, and becoming the person you always wanted to be. It worked for me and I was convinced that any hopes of finding genuine happiness had passed me by. Right now, my love and I are enjoying an extended sabbatical and this has been absolutely necessary for both of us to relocate our true centre. But we will return soon and, when we do, it is full steam ahead until we achieve the goals we now know are within touching distance. So no matter how messed up things can seem at any given moment, please don’t give up. Try and forgive those who have ever wronged you and let it go, surround yourself with those who truly see you and cherish them dearly, and go make yourself. Do this and you may just find that you mean something after all.





  1. One of the most beautiful and inspiring pieces I’ve ever read. I felt on that journey with you the whole time and quietly nodded my head from start to finish. I too have been on a journey as crazy as an Orb album and gained a brother. And that brother is you.

  2. One of the most beautiful and inspiring pieces I’ve ever read. I felt on that journey with you the whole time and quietly nodded my head from start to finish. I too have been on a journey as crazy as an Orb and album and gained a brother. And that brother is you. Thank you so much Keeper for seeing me too.

  3. It takes a lot of strength to face our adversaries…and it takes an UNBELIEVABLE amount of strength when that adversary is yourself. xo

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