Darkness, Darkness, be my pillow
Take my head and let me sleep
In the coolness of your shadow
In the silence of your deep
You know that scene in "Good Will Hunting" where Robin Williams' character tells Matt Damon's character it's not his fault? And Will has this gut-wrenching sobbing breakdown?
It wrecks me, every time. Just thinking about it right now, I'm all teared up. Despite cultural narratives about bootstraps and the inherent moral superiority of this or that "kind" of person...life just isn't fair, and people who are overflowing with virtues and have done nothing to deserve a karmic ass-whooping and who spend their time trying to make the world a better place often get sucker-punched by the Universe. It's not their fault.
It's not my fault.
Darkness, darkness, hide my yearning
For the things I cannot see
Keep my mind from constant turning
To the things I cannot be
When I was a little kid, my dad used to talk about "starving kids in Africa," as a way to remind me that my life was really all right and whatever I was whining about was, in the grand scheme of things, not that serious.
That is totally true. On a global scale, there are people whose suffering dwarfs mine, who deal with horrors on a daily basis that I will never encounter or experience. By virtue of circumstance, I have a whole litany of privileges that make my life easier in ways I don't even know about ('cause that's how privilege works!). No matter how rough my life gets, there are probably a billionty people who'd trade me in a heartbeat. Objectively speaking, I'm very lucky.
The problem is that life is not lived objectively. I carry around all this cognitive dissonance, essentially frustrated with myself for feeling hurt or sad or angry about what's going on in my life...because it could be worse. I won't let myself really, truly get angry or sad or hurt, because I ought to be cool with it, I ought to be grateful for the blessings in my life, I ought to be able to access cool reason and logic and keep it all in proper perspective.
Just because things could be worse, though, doesn't mean that they aren't awful. Right now, I'm working very hard on figuring out how to keep things in a global context without trivializing my pain. I've been trained so well to disregard my own feelings that this has become a pretty challenging endeavor.
Darkness, darkness, be my blanket
cover me with the endless night
Take away the pain of knowing
fill the emptiness with light
Sometimes I wish people really did have stuff tattooed on their foreheads, like "abuse survivor" or "clinically depressed" or "born with six fingers" or "writes horrid poetry" or "wants dad's approval and never gets it" or "in physical pain every day" or whatever.
I think it would be enlightening and equalizing to see how every single person had a whole bunch of tattoos on their forehead. If we were faced with the undeniable fact that merely being human meant dealing with these sorts of complexities, might we be kinder or more compassionate to each other? Could we ditch secrecy and shame and fear? Would it be so easy to perpetuate stigma and oppression?
Don't get me wrong, we'd find a way. Humanity is talented like that.
Darkness, darkness, long and lonesome
Is the day that brings me here
I have felt the edge of sadness
I have known the depths of fear
I thought I had learned long ago that if I didn't give myself what I wanted, nobody else would. I've always been good about giving myself opportunities for art and travel and music, for experiences and beautiful things I enjoyed. It's why I put time and money into my home, why I invested in my wardrobe and experimented on my hair. I firmly believe that doing that stuff for myself is a gift that nobody but me can give, and that's important.
On the other hand, though, I have started to see how there are so many ways I completely disregard what I really want. It's like I indulge my superficial, material needs and wants, but let the visceral ones be completely overrun. It almost scares me to see how little I have cared about myself in really vital ways.
Is it even possible I could have a self esteem problem? Maybe. Ugh.
Darkness, darkness, be my blanket
Cover me with the endless night
Take away this pain of knowing
Fill this emptiness with light
There's a reservoir of purified rage that's been simmering down in the depths of my wee black heart for most of my life. It's tinged with despair and loneliness and fear, and sometimes it screams about how unfair life is. Mostly, I keep it bottled up and silent, but I've been trying to pop the cork recently, in hopes that it won't always live under everything I say or do....because right now, I'm pretty sure it does.
Lyrics from "Darkness, Darkness" by Jesse Colin Young.