Alone in the crowd.

Sometimes, even with family and friends around, I feel desperately alone. I feel so unable to make them understand what is happening to me, that I might as well be the only one in the world.

I don’t feel this way as often as I used to – but it still happens.

The last few months have been very tough for me and I have even gone back to thinking that the world would be a far better place without me messing things up. Not rational? Yes – I know, but it does not stop those thoughts and feelings from seeming so real.

On the 4th of June my father went into palliative care at my local hospital and rapidly went downhill and passed away on the 11th. Although he was very ill, the speed of his passing surprised us all. I was sitting next to him on the evening he died, as I was when my mother died from cancer too.

As I watched that final breath go and his body relax – I suddenly felt as though the weight of the world had descended on me. I was the oldest living one of my family now and it frightened me. I knew what had happened when my mother passed away and how everything had fallen on to me to do, and I wanted it all to go away.

I called my wife and my brother and they came to the hospital to meet with me. My brother broke down in tears, my wife had a few quiet sobs, but I was in a cocoon of my own. None of it seemed real – it was if a 3rd person was watching it all and reporting it to me. I took care of the hospital and undertaker details and then we said our goodbyes and went home.

From then until the funeral on the 16th I made sure all the arrangements were completed, or at least someone outside of me seemed to. The cocoon was still there and I felt nothing. The service went well according to everyone there. I said all that I wanted to with my brother who shed a few tears along with the family and yet I couldn’t show emotion at all.

The day after the funeral I entered hospital to have a total knee replacement operation. The operation itself went very well but the recovery has not been as good as hoped for and I have lost a lot of mobility in the knee at the moment.

About a week after I got home from hospital, I was sitting in my living room as my wife came in from work and suddenly, the cocoon burst and I broke down into uncontrollable crying. When my wife put her arm around me and asked what was wrong, I replied, “I don’t know!” This has happened a few times since that day.

I really didn’t know. I just suddenly felt that life was all too much to handle. I couldn’t explain it too myself let alone to any one else. Later I thought back on the day of the funeral and realized that about 300 people who attended had surrounded me, and yet it seemed as if I had been a pebble on the seashore and the waves and water were flowing around and over me without affecting me at all.

It was even the same at my psychiatrist’s yesterday. I have good relationship with my doctor but as we reviewed what had been happening since my last visit I started crying again. Now whenever I start crying in front of people, no matter whom, I feel so weak and embarrassed. A man should be able to handle life without blubbering like a baby, or so I was taught, and as the oldest son it was expected of me to set the example for my younger brother.

Again, not rational thinking? Okay, the rational part of me understands that crying in itself is a normal healthy reaction to some of the stresses of life, but I have not as yet completely overcome the shame I feel when I do cry and how alone I feel when this happens.

I can’t explain why I feel this way – so again I feel alone and isolated when it happens, no matter whom I am with, even my lovely wife.

The people who have made a difference at these times for me have been those wonderful people who have taken the time to read my ramblings and emailed me with their comments. Then I don’t feel so alone – there are others who share similar experiences in their lives. Thank you all – for as some of you have said that I may have shared something’s that have helped. You too have done the same.

One person who responded to one of my articles sent me some poems that touched me so much that I asked her permission to include them in my personal website. I have included one with this article because it really helped my feel less alone. I hope you enjoy it. Thank you Dianna.

Its like leaping off a mountain

Or falling from the sky

Exhilaration takes over

And you feel that you can fly


When reality is fantasy

And your existence seems unreal

Others could never comprehend

These emotions that you feel


Life is a constant roller coaster

With far less ups than downs

Often faced with judgment

And ever knowing frowns


The things you do seem normal

To you there’s nothing wrong

But the constant inner voices

Sing to you a different song


Then you get the warning signs

The adventure is near its end

You drift back deep inside your self

And there you hide to mend


Your days then fill with sorrow

Guilt and deep regret

Fearing unknown enemies

The ones you’ve not yet met


You wish your life were just a ride

So you could yell “Enough!”

“I’m tired, I’m scared, and I’m all mixed up

Please, just let me get off!”


Dianna Harris


Graham Brown

12 August 2003

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