Hello darkness, my old friend.
I’ve come to talk with you again.
-Simon & Garfunkel
We all know them. Some of us are them. You know, people who live in darkness and negativity. People for whom there is no light, no comfort in life..
Clinical depression often underlies this kind of darkness. True depression can be a black hole and requires professional help and sometimes, medication. They can make a difference.
Help is available
I know people who won’t accept any kind of help. Maybe they have the outdated idea that therapy and/or medications show weakness. Some don’t value introspection — and wouldn’t believe some of the things they might discover by digging deep. It’s so much easier to wallow in the muck
“But I”m not unhappy, day to day!” they might protest. The intuitive friend or viewer usually sees something different. Like how every interaction the other has is colored with darkness. That they have built no resilience so every challenge is validation for their dark views in a self-perpetuating cycle. When things get too positive, they often blow them up. Because darkness is more comfortable than light.
It can be frustrating on both ends. But for them, there is no other way.
How can discomfort be comfortable?
The concept of finding comfort in discomfort sounds strange. Counterintuitive. And yet living in darkness can be familiar and familiar is often more comforting than something we don’t know. “The devil we know,” and all that.
As loved ones and friends, we can do nothing but stand by in support. It is a helpless feeling.
Sometimes, their negativity goes further and the person lashes out at something they misinterpreted or just to let out frustration. That can feel emotionally abusive. It often confuses us because it seems to make no sense. Why did they say that? Do that? We can’t figure it out. And can’t do a thing about it.
Time to go
So sometimes, we simply have to exit the scene. Because we can never forget that we, ourselves, come first. Our safety and our happiness.
This scenario is particularly hard for me, because while they might be “Hello darkness, my old friend,” by personality, I’m more like Katrina and the Waves, usually “walking on sunshine.”
You can see the problem.
I’ve had to release several friends and loved ones over the years. Sometimes, I realized their behavior was passive-aggressive. Other times, it was unmistakably aggressive. I don’t think there’s much grey area in interpretation, either. If you think something’s not right, it isn’t. The vibe is clear, no matter how we want to preserve the relationship by rationalizing.
Not too long ago, a friend died. As he lay dying, he saw the meaning of life clearly for the first time–and gave powerful testimony: Life is all about love and relationships. Those were among his last words.
I aim to live my life with respect for love and relationships. But when others act out to the contrary, it becomes easy to wish them well and walk away.