Comfortably Numb.

24 Nov 2016

Today we are publishing the second blog of a series of five by Mary:

In 1979, Pink Floyd Released their concept album The Wall. I was sixteen.

I remember Tommy Vance, the week it was released, devoted the entirety of his Friday Night Rock show to playing the whole of this double album. I listened, under the bedclothes (I was supposed to be asleep by 10pm) as the story of "Pink" unfolded – losing his father to the war, his bullying at school, his over-protective mother, music career; the drink and drugs and divorce and finally his breakdown and subsequent freedom.

The song Comfortably Numb occurs at the end of side three (vinyl, remember), when Pink descends into what appears to be a catatonic state. A doctor is called and he has to be medicated.

At the time I don't think the song made a huge impression on me; I was probably jolted awake by the visceral Run Like Hell on the final side, but it means so much more now.

Emerging from the mania of the last few weeks I enter a new world.

There is no pain, you are receding

A distant ship smoke on the horizon

You are only coming through in waves

Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying...

...I have become comfortably numb

Then the doctor, "Just a little pinprick

There'll be no more Aaaaaaaaaah

But you may feel a little sick."

Roger Waters definitely knew what he was talking about when he penned those lyrics.

As my score plummets from the nineties to the twenties, I'm back on the pills and it's almost a relief. I know what I'm doing again. This is familiar territory. I can't feel anything anymore; the world has retreated to a distance and I have disconnected. Again.

No more insects doing the jitterbug under my skin. No more vicious words snarling like wolves at their kill. No more Aaaaaaaaaah!

But at a price.

The world has gone suddenly muted, as if the soft pedal on the piano has been depressed. Colours have faded. My stomach announces hunger but my taste buds want no food.

My husband holds me, but his hugs are a husk, and his kisses are chaff on my lips.

My children are strangers to me.

And the river calls, dark and inviting. "Come away with me. I will give you peace for ever. Dissolve yourself in me and leave nothing but a trail of bubbles. Slip into and under me; we will wash together into the Wash and the Great North Sea. Slide into silence and leave only silence behind."

But I am too tired to go down to the river. I am the survivor of my own earthquake and personal maelstrom and besides, I still dimly remember past promises I made to stay alive.

I will come through this time too. It's just a matter of holding on; doing the next thing and the next thing and the next.

There is no pain; I am comfortably numb.


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