15 years is a long time. 15 years ago, I found myself involuntarily, and suddenly, unexpectedly single. First Thursday of February. It's always a date I dread now, as I have for the past 15 years. It seems so long ago.
I no longer feel like I am the oldest young man there is, but the youngest older man. The passing of time does that by tiny increments. The past 15 years life – and my life – has changed beyond recognition. As have I. As have, in many ways, all of us. We all did hurtful things when younger. Do we still do them now?
15 years ago, I was single, living in an unheated flat above a chip shop in Walsall, working in an entry level job at a company that no longer exists and paid accordingly. I was unmarried, no dependants – not even a cat – and with a job, not a career. 2000 was a very, very tough year, in all the ways. Physically, it was exhausting. Mentally, just the same. But the hard thing, the really hard thing, is living without hope.
Hope may be the great lie. It may be that things won't actually get that much better, or that this is the best it gets. Maybe. But not having hope? Seeing no way out?
Having to live with a constant set of calamity? A mindset that everything – at all times – is always heading towards a sense of destruction, and even the most solid things are actually fragile, and can easily be undone by invisible and unaccountable monsters. That's the true torture, a sense of being spiritually bereft, of being hopeless, of being without even the lifeline that things may ever improve. That it is all downhill from here, and where you are wasn't that high to start with.
That's the terror. And there's a sense of terror in a great many things, a sense of insecurity, that all these things can be undone, that nothing will last, and nothing prevails. That you can never ever relax for a second and that you can never ever, for a second, ever, think that everything is alright, and instead think that, at any second, every second, something awful is about to happen, something awful will come and take control, and all will be ruined, and the only think you can ever do is constantly be in a state of eternal vigilance, that at any second something that can happen unexpectedly that can destroy everything you've ever worked for.
And that state of terror? That state of hopelessness. So utterly, utterly pointless. It achieves so little apart from making clear that there is a balance of power, and other people have the upper hand. Know your place. Know your place. In a state of terror and fear.
YOU ARE THE DEAD.