Shadows of the Mind

Today is R U OK?Day
I thought this was appropriate. I wrote it back in 2008…today I’m sending it out, with love and hope.

Happy Faces

Nadia peered through the small slits in her eyes begging for the sun to hide its happy face. Her mind tugged at the vanishing night to stay a little longer, she needed someone, something to keep her and the dark shadow company.

Like the dark shadow and its barrage of contradictions, the bright morning wasn’t going anywhere.

There wasn’t a particular reason the dark shadow had jumped out at her a few days earlier. It had been like any other day, she ate breakfast and took the train to work, but then her mind began to wander.

Nadia’s life couldn’t be described as anything less than privileged and paradoxically, happy. What mattered to her as a child still mattered to her as an adult.

Throughout her life, Nadia had hungrily sampled life’s sweet nectar, trying to quench her insatiable appetite for new challenges and experiences.  It’s hard to say when she hit a sour spot and the dark shadow introduced itself, but as Nadia grew older its presence became more apparent. Like a school bully, the dark shadow regularly taunted her, often at the most inopportune moments.

After losing a running race, the dark shadow would meet her at the finish line to wrap her in its heavy, suffocating embrace. When she did badly in an exam, it would scream comments across the blank paper, “Stupid, stupid, stupid.”

Fortunately youthful resilience could force the dark shadow into the depths of her thoughts. Yet as Nadia entered adulthood the dark shadow set up camp in the living room of her mind.

Most of the time the dark shadow would rest peacefully as if enjoying the tranquil surroundings but as the storm clouds gathered, it too would begin to brew.

Nadia had been busy with work and hadn’t seen the dark shadow drag its cumbersome being across her mind and prop itself just outside her field of view.

Her work continued to challenge her, which she relished, but doubt crossed her mind as colleagues chided her toil. She dismissed her concerns and reassured herself of her ability – but the doubt lingered.

As a child it mattered to Nadia that people thought well of her and that her efforts in life were rewarded with a sense of achievement. This still mattered now.

Being busy meant there was little opportunity for the dark shadow to burst into her thoughts. Yet given the chance it could squeeze into the forefront of her mind.

This time Nadia had carelessly left the door wide open and the dark shadow crashed through. Like thick, tacky tar it stuck to every thought, drowning her in a sea of doubt.

As she struggled to pull herself above the waves she managed to ask herself how she had let herself reach this point.

“Who cares what other people think?”

“So what if something of little consequence was overlooked at work?”

Logically this made sense, but her mind continued to silence the voice of reason.

For weeks she wrestled the dark shadow until they were both exhausted. Even though the dark shadow had retreated it lurked in the background.

Nadia desperately wanted to land the final blow to send the dark shadow rocketing out of her consciousness. However, she knew at best the dark shadow would limp away looking over its shoulder as it threatened to charge back.

The next morning when she woke, Nadia welcomed the morning sun. Although the black shadow’s haze lingered she could appreciate the hopefulness of a new day.

It would take a bit of time for her battered psyche to heal, but the bruises were beginning to fade.

Without the dark shadow’s influence, Nadia could think rationally and recruit bursts of positive energy to join her in battle next time her mind was ambushed.

She didn’t expect the dark shadow to move out of its cosy living space voluntarily. Perhaps when it was peaceful, it could be introduced to her new recruits, self-belief and self-appreciation. As a joint force, maybe the dark shadow could be coerced into giving up its residence.

Nadia was determined to reclaim her happiness and once again enjoy the sweetness of life. After all it mattered then and it mattered now – more than ever.

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