solo in sydney

Ticking Clocks and Quiet Goodbyes
September 14, 2013, 10:31 am
Filed under: dear diary, depression | Tags: ,


In the depths of depression, my brain seems to entirely rearrange my own perceptions of time, blurring days into weeks or even months, but occasionally providing such a vivid, searing memory that I can almost hear the clock ticking off the seconds.

In the midst of Packing, I have two distinct memories that fit into this curious latter category.

The first, perhaps not coincidentally, relates to an innocuous wall clock that had adorned three apartment walls from the first year of our relationship. Gifted to us by my best friend and her partner at the time, the clock in question was of a simple, modern design.

In my early days of packing – those rare few early days when I was lucid enough to be able to strip everything off the walls, all my posters and prints and artwork, I hesitated when I came to “our” wall clock.

I still can’t fully explain the hesitation. Yes, it had been a gift to “us,” and it took pride of place in every apartment we called home. At the same time, it was a gift from my closest friend, whilst not a single friend or relative from “his side” had ever sent us a card or even brought over their own snacks or drinks, let alone kindly giving us something, anything, we would love enough to display in our home.

I felt a righteous ownership. And yet, I hesitated.

Some part of me knew that it would be the kind of bizarre item J would contest.

I was right.

I was leaving 95% of my belongings behind, including many items J and I had bought together but also a number of items that I had owned previously. I just wanted to be gone.

But that clock, for some reason, was mine.

He noticed its absence immediately. He walked into the apartment, surveyed the blank walls, and asked where “his” clock had gone.

I informed him that I’d already packed it.

He locked his eyes on me, his lips in a grim, straight line, and asked “Why?” in a cold and unfeeling voice.

My friend gave it to us, so I’m taking it,” I stated calmly.

“It was given to us. Why do you get to keep it?” he inquired.

I asked what his friends or family had given us in the many years we’d been together.

He was momentarily silent.

Then, with a powerful sense of conviction and entitlement, he informed me that I wasn’t allowed to take something if he didn’t have an immediate replacement. The irony of his losing me clearly didn’t occur to him in that moment. The logic of someone making far, far above the average annual salary being unable to replace a $70 clock was completely ignored.

I dug in my heels. I still don’t know why it even mattered. As I’m writing this, I can glance over and see the clock in question hanging on my wall, and I’m still slightly baffled as to how such an insignificant item became such an issue.

I’m sure there’s a metaphor or an allegory I could make here. Something about how even when I felt like I was losing everything, I was still holding onto the things that mattered, whether I knew they mattered or not. Perhaps an allusion to the fact that J was losing someone he could never replace, and was instead grasping onto an easily replaced item.

Frankly, I don’t know. I didn’t even realise at the time that I still had any fight left in me, so it continues to perplex me why I spent what little energy I had on such an inconsequential thing. And yet occasionally, I’ll glance over at that clock and be strangely proud that I was even capable of standing up for myself at that stage, so deep into my depression.

As that clock relentlessly continued to tick away, I sunk even deeper into my crippling depression, my “reinforcements” arrived, and my belongings were packed into precious few cardboard boxes. To the best of my knowledge, J stayed elsewhere for this period.

With one exception.

I remember nothing else of that day. Whether the boxes were packed, whether my mother was there, whether my flights were booked.

I remember nothing but J walking through the front door, dropping his bag and keys on the floor, walking straight towards me where I was inexplicably hovering between the bedroom and the living room, and taking me into his arms.

He held me gently, and he cried.

In retrospect, that moment compels me to defend him. It prompts me to clarify that he was never an inherently bad person, he was just incredibly bad for me. He was a good person unexpectedly trapped in a bad situation, one that he couldn’t fix, much to his frustration.

At the time, however, I simply I hugged him back, somewhat automatically, and remained blank. I felt a slight twinge of regret and sadness, mostly that I felt so little. I wasn’t physically capable of crying. I couldn’t share his grief or loss. On the whole, I felt nothing.

In between what can only be described as weeping, he meekly asked if we could remain friends.

“Of course,” I said, and he pulled me closer and cried some more.

As soon as he let me go, some time later, my memory fades back into an opaque fog. I don’t know if we even said goodbye, or if I left that minute or that day or weeks later.

But that last memory of J, of his vulnerability, his unguarded, soft side – I wouldn’t say it makes me miss him, nor the good times we spent together (of which there were many, despite what I’ve shared here). But it makes me appreciate those times, appreciate the many lessons learnt, and perhaps even more importantly, to appreciate the people in my life who make me feel important and loved every single moment of every single day, the way that J simply couldn’t.


7 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Thanks for sharing your story. I’m glad that clock is there to remind you of the strength you probably didn’t realise you had. That same strength will help get you through your depression. Be kind to yourself, you deserve it xx

Comment by Clancy

Thank you Clancy, I very much hope you’re right. It’s been a long time since these last encounters with J, and I’ve heard a lot of seconds tick by, but I’m still hopeful that I’ll get there one day :)

Comment by soloinsydney

So painful, yet so poignant. Beautifully written.

Comment by tonyroberts64

Thank you kindly Tony. It almost feels a bit silly writing about two such inconsequential moments, and I know how minor they seem, but they truly are the only clear memories I have of a very dark period. I can only hope they stand out for a reason and continue to give myself (and perhaps others) strength into the future.

Comment by soloinsydney

You are very brave to write about this and I hope it is helping.

Stay in touch xxx

Comment by Faux Fuchsia

This truly is just the tip of the iceberg, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to write about “what lies beneath” – but nevertheless, I thank you for your support FF. x

Comment by soloinsydney

[…] irrationally felt myself wondering if the hotly-contested wall clock had been replaced just as soon as I had […]

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