Posted by: scintillatingspeck | December 15, 2012

Too dark.

Sometimes I write darkly.  I wrote a series of haikus tonight which I posted on Facebook, a sort of angst release valve.

deadly logic hurls
me stumbling a jagged path
into loneliness

an escape artist
in shackles, fumbling: sprinting
straight for the exits

every last little
speck of beauty and meaning
has turned into mud

I don’t exist here
except as letters, pixels-
self without flesh, soul

They prompted one acquaintance to write: “yeah, i’m starting to sense a heaviness that’s getting too dark as well, jen. and i get the bone crushing despair. but we get x amount of time here. i hope you can find some beauty in that time as well.”  I don’t mean to pick on you, KL, because I think you are well-intentioned.  But those words “too dark” really struck me.

Am I too dark?  Too dark for whom?  Up arises a chorus of too-much-ness.  Yes, I’ve often been regarded as too dark, and also too much, too serious, too sensitive, too volatile.  Should I go into a shame spiral over it?  How about my tactic of recent times, throwing open the door laughing to greet the demons, inviting them in for a cup of tea?

Everyone copes with angst in their own way; I get that.  This is my way.  Full-spectrum, shedding self-censorship, laying it out in plain sight: this is the only way for me to cope.  It’s not useful to me to squirrel it away.  It doesn’t mean there’s zero beauty in my life.  But if I’m determined to understand darkness, if darkness leads to the insights I need, if my path is obviously winding through the dark, then by golly it’s darkness I’ll be writing about.

It’s interesting to me, because I wrote a long, convoluted email to a friend today, and he responded in a way that showed me the depth of his own despair.  It made me want to yank him, physically, up onto his feet; it was such a strong, visceral reaction.  That feeling of “No, no, no, your darkness frightens me, and I want to save you from yourself,” it swept through me fiercely.  But having my own darkness reflected back at me is helping me to realize, for the hundredth time, that there is no “saving” another; there is the power of bearing witness, and tenderness.  That’s all we’ve got.  I was fretful, as I finished writing my long, convoluted email, that I had said too much, been too much, and I wondered, is it wrong of me to write like this?  No, he assured me, it’s not wrong.  There are no answers, but go on writing, and I will reply. 

It means everything, in the end, to be told that I can write honestly, and it will be received, and it won’t be too much to take.  That’s what I’m offering as well: the assurance that no amount of despair and darkness will turn me away, no matter if it can’t be fixed.


My new favorite song: Sam Phillips’ “Reflecting Light.”  (Thanks, Shay.)



  1. oh, i love sam philips & that song! i also love that you do not censor your darkness. it happens to be very much appreciated by some, such as me. when i get that dark i tend to isolate myself because people just can’t take it, and they’ll do anything to shut me up. don’t let them shut you up!!! i respect other people’s need to keep their heads in the sand, but i don’t like when they try to drag others down into the sand with them. it is a fact that depressed people are more in touch with reality than the non-depressed, and what is so wrong with that? why is it seen as such a bad thing? well, because people need to function. but i think it’s time we all stopped functioning and jumped off the merry-go-round.

  2. it’s fine if my identity is revealed, jen.

    i wrote the ‘sensing the too dark’ bit because i’d just read a series of one liner posts in your status updates, one after the other showing up on my homefeed, each more distraught sounding than the last. and i’d be lying if i didn’t say it conjured imagery of a person lying curled in the fetal position sobbing and waiting to literally crack in half. i began to feel concern.

    in fact, it’s the kind of thing i’ve witnessed from several people before they suicided themselves. and it’s troubling to think you’re watching someone sink to a place like that.

    i suppose it was arrogant of me to assume i could post something that would make a difference, if indeed that had or is the path you’re going down. i don’t even actually know you. so yes, it was well intentioned but it’s really not my place to dispense advice or question how dark you wish to be, how long you wish remain dark or anything else.

    i apologize for the post. i’m down with dark and i can certainly do dark as well as any of the rest on this earth. but my dark collides more with anger than depression as a rule and your posts, again-to me, seemed to originate from that space…a place i probably do not fully understand.

    regardless, it’s not my business where your journey takes you.

    in love and rage,


    • Karla, I appreciate your comment, although I don’t think you need to apologize. Nor do I think you were being arrogant. You’re right; when you don’t know someone in person (and even sometimes when you do), it can be difficult to discern whether a particularly dark series of writings is an ominous sign or not.

      Now I’m thinking a lot about the image that was conjured–curled, sobbing, cracking in half–and wondering if that’s precisely what I was hoping for, to conjure that, and if so, why.

      Having been suicidal in the past, I’m able to recognize when I’m in that place. I have not considered it since conceiving my child (who is now five and a half years old). I strongly doubt that I would consider suicide a viable option as long as my daughter is alive. But that said, I know the trickery of depression well, and I’m still able to ask for help if I need it. There are also enough people in my daily life who would probably notice that something was wrong.

      I have heard it said that depression is a form of rage turned towards the self. This makes sense to me.


  3. when there is nowhere safe to express your rage, no outlet for raging against the murderous machine of industrial society, it does get turned inward.

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