I have just finished reading the novel “Hard Times” written by Charles Dickens first published in 1854.
It is a reasonably short book, but perhaps I am slow reader, or the print was small, but for some reason in took me several weeks to read it.
I like to read every word, and try to understand the deeper sentiments in the novel, which in part, as in many of Dickens novels, are a critique on the social and econominc injustices of the times, touching in this novel on workers rights (or should I say lack of them), the harshness and controlling behaviours of early trade union leaders and mill owners, and the indissovibility of marriage.
As I had anticipated, I was moved very deeply by aspects of the intertwined tragedies of the chararcters in the novel, shedding a tear here and there, feeling overwhelmed, touched, hopeful, sad at different times in the script.
I took the trouble to underline one sentence, which touched a place within me for which I write this blog, but which so often feels suppressed within my breast, and which is a lonely load to carry.
After divulging her unhappiness to her father, he sits up all night pondering on the heart-rendering circumstances of his beloved daughter’s unhappiness in which he has played a part, being a man awake to the needs of the head, but blind to the calls of the heart.
He says to her “when I consider what has been known to me for hours, has been concealed by you for years”
This reality touched a deep nerve within me, because I too have a lived experieince of living a suppressed life as a gay man in a heterosexual marriage.
I have in recent years, I found the courage to speak out, but except in the most exceptional confidences which I have entered into, which can be counted on one hand, there is now a constatnt feeling in my breast that my isolation and pain continues because my truth is still held to ransom by forces of reason which I adhere to within my own heart to keep it suppressed.
Hard Times indeed, for me, and perhaps Hard Times for you too, which keep out the light, to protect the myth which is played out in my family and community as my truth.
My truth, hidden within, is a thing of beauty, which is not fully formed into a resolution to dance in the streets, but finds its expression in a longing and a desire to be known, to be accepted, to be liberated.
I know from my own limited experience of the damage caused by living an experience which is not honest. I have spoken my truth, I have found pockets of support to see me through the hard times in which I live, it is my dearest wish dear reader, that you too will find a space to express who you were born to be.