“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
‘Cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look? Ooh!
Some say it’s just a part of it:
We’ve got to fulfill the book.
Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom? –
‘Cause all I ever have:
This song by the late Bob Marley has echoed in my mind frequently over the past month or so. Written after the diagnosis of cancer that would ultimately claim his life, it is thought to speak to his personal reflections on mortality. My own longing for redemption relates directly back to my inability to resolve the circumstances which led up to the extraordinarily manic behaviour that marked my final days in the office. And my inability to let it go.
What is redemption?
Disregarding the financial and transaction contexts by which the term is used, redemption is typically understood as:
1. an act of redeeming or the state of being redeemed.
2. deliverance; rescue.
3. deliverance from sin.
4. atonement for guilt.
Looking at the news over the past few weeks, there are some very public examples of behaviour that can not be easily excused. The videotape of NFL star Ray Rice punching and dragging his unconscious fiancee from an elevator, the resignation of a Vancouver CEO caught on video kicking and abusing a puppy, and most recently another NFL player accused of excessively brutal corporal punishment against his own children are just the latest in a litany of public figures behaving badly. Unfortunately, they might have been met with relatively minor reprimands had there not been videotapes or pictures and an element of public shaming.
How many sports heroes, businessmen, politicians and celebrities have been brought down by grossly inappropriate, violent and even illegal actions only to eventually find redemption in the public eye? Many, have found such redemption more than once.
But what if your only “sin” is to have become ill due to a mental health disorder, where does redemption come from? I don’t even know what I want anymore. I have tried to apologize for my behaviour which I know was highly agitated and unpleasant, but there is no way to explain how trapped I was within that state,how miserable and unable to even know what was happening to me until a lot of interpersonal damage was done. Because no one from work will communicate with me I cannot have that conversation, no one can appreciate the degree to which I am still struggling and I can’t stop beating myself up inside for not recognizing the warning signs months before mania was in full swing.
If this was as straight forward as having lost a job, as much as there is grief and loss, I could at least busy myself with looking for a new job. But I am still technically connected to my employer and the question of return is unspoken but not denied. Meanwhile I am not able to function well enough to look for another option or contemplate a return. I am also increasingly aware that everything I loved about the job I had is exactly what, over time, made me ill.
The fact is, I am in limbo. I still have a lot of healing ahead. So why is the desire for redemption so important? Or is this really more the need to be heard and understood?
Isn’t that what we all seek in the end?