Let me tell you something about hope. The dark side of hope. The side that people tend to ignore, or gloss over, with the hope (irony?) that it won’t come up. Hope can make you tired. Dead, bone tired. It can strip you of all reason, of all logic, and it can dump you somewhere deep and dark and difficult to get out of.
Hope. Of course, it is the candle by which we light the dark night. The sliver of good things to come. It gives us a reason to continue, something to strive for. But that is in small doses. When you hope for sunshine the next day, an easy night, a promotion on the next round of appraisals. Then hope gives you that added oomph, that fire in your belly.
When you start to rely on hope as much as you rely on food to give you sustenance, when hope is the only thing that makes you go on, when you experience it in such large doses that you feel you are going to drown in it – then hope becomes toxic. When you have only hope left, and that little flame is the only thing that keeps reality at bay, then you start to feel the heaviness of that hope. It starts to crush you.
We hope for a better tomorrow, most of the time with no evidence that that is even possible. Hope makes us dream, wish upon a star and take risks. But it also allows us to stay when we should run, to keep what we should burn, to cover what we should expose.
Hope kept me in a marriage I never should have been in. Then, it gave me the courage to walk out. It helped me through the long nights of parenting alone. It almost killed me during lockdown. It makes me look forward to tomorrow and gives me the grace to forgive myself for yesterday. Hope has shown its many faces, and I try to see it for what it really is – want to know what you need? Then listen to what you hope for. And then don’t just hope for it, make it happen.