HELLO DARKNESS MY OLD FRIEND…
Updated: Sep 16, 2022
I’m tired of feeling like I have to fit in somewhere. I’m exhausted by these underhanded expectations, wedging me into some gross, cookie-cutter, societal niche; tired of not giving myself permission to be the beautifully dark soul that I am. Ever since I was small, I was drawn to the melancholy, the misunderstood, the macabre, the pain. I wanted to touch it, understand it, coddle it. This… darkness (for lack of a better term) has been living inside me since I was small. I remember it from the time I wore cloth diapers. Yes, diapers. I’m on the floor in our bathroom, Mom is changing my diaper and accidentally sticks me with a big, yellow safety pin, “Ouch! What was that? Why did it hurt? Can I see it? The thing that just hurt me… show it to me.” I remember the yellow pin and I remember thinking that. As I think back, recalling all the times I watched the Star Wars trilogy with my brothers and cried—I’m not a bit surprised. When Vader died (sorry for the spoiler but if you haven’t seen the original Star Wars movies, in the correct order, then move along. You’re not the type of friend I’m looking for), I cried. For days afterward.
Sitting in the movie theater with my whole family, I bawled like a baby when Luke took Vader’s mask off just to watch him die. Vader’s story wasn’t told; nobody understood him, and it seemed no one wanted to. The only thing we, the viewers, knew was—Vader was the bad guy, and he needed to be dealt with. Period. Why? What led to him betraying Obi-Wan? He must have had a reason. While watching Disney’s, Sleeping Beauty with my mom, I was mesmerized whenever Maleficent suddenly appeared; that green cloud of sexy smoke swarming around her, the long black cape, the horns, and that gorgeous black raven perched atop her staff of doom. I so desperately wanted to know why she had it out for this royal couple and their newborn baby. What had they done to make her lash out so? In these stories, for me, there was always something missing. Maybe no one did anything. Maybe Maleficent was just being Maleficent-y, and Vader was simply Vader. Villains aren’t always born villains. Sometimes they are, but they also all seem to have an exciting backstory; and I consider it an insult if I’m expected to just move along, while reading or watching something, and blindly accept that the bad guy has to go just because. I’ve often felt there was something wrong with me for siding with the opposer. Or maybe I’ve just known, or felt rather, that there was something very wrong with mob mentality and groupthink. These feelings began to manifest—taking on the shapes of Vader, Maleficent, and anyone else who didn’t fit snuggly into social constructs—and it just sort of grew from there. The good guys, the JWs, the Jedis, the royal family wanting to rule their kingdom in peace, the Smurfs, the Care Bears… they’re all the majority. Group-thinking their way into one harmonious herd. Then along comes the outsider. They push buttons. They go against the grain; albeit not intentionally, they’re just being themselves, doing what feels right. But that isn’t welcome. They’re expected to toe the line with the mob and when they don’t, shit starts to go down. That’s when a whole village of people chase one ugly, but lovable Beast—who happens to own a kick ass library—with knives, torches, bow, arrow, and pitchforks. Why? Because he doesn’t fit in. As much as he’s tried to fall in line with the crowd, he wasn’t supposed to, he was never meant to. There’s no home for him there. Suddenly forced into a mold he can’t even shove his foot into comfortably—he becomes distraught, misplaced, scared, and alone. What do people, and mystical, fictional creatures, do when faced with those harrowing emotions? They lash out. Hard. Vader had powers he himself didn’t even understand. Of course, he was going to misuse them. Or perhaps, for him, it wasn’t misuse, but simply how he was comfortable using them; his ideas just didn’t coincide with what everyone else thought he should be doing. Same goes for Maleficent, Gargamel, Professor Coldheart, Beast, and let’s not forget the most famous antagonist of all, my favorite—Mephistopheles, Beelzebub, Gog of Magog… Satan. Thanks to my upbringing, I’ve been obsessed with that snake since infancy. It took me a while to put all this together, but most of the jagged pieces fell in line, and clicked beautifully in my head while talking with my writing coach and friend, Lauren. I wondered if my fascination with all things dark, and typically unwelcome in mainstream society, meant there was something wrong with me. Or perhaps it’s just some wonky INFJ thing that only she and other INFJs would get, since we make up a mere 1% of the world’s population; and we are rarely, if ever, understood. No, it wasn’t just that. Some of my fellow INFJs are a bit sunnier than me. And it wasn’t just my upbringing either. Even though many things do circle back to my time spent in the Kingdom Hall—it wasn’t just that. I got a bit discouraged, thinking I’d never bust out of my cocoon; I’ll be forever doomed to peeling the inside layers apart, baring a hole just big enough to peek outside, and watch all the other butterflies who seemed to get it, flit around. I was sure my fate was sealed. “Oh, you’re getting out, Rebekah,” Lauren said, “Your wings will just be black with spikes.” Yes. Black, with spikes. I dig it. There has always been this huge part of me that I still don’t understand; powers, if you will, that I know I’m meant to use but unsure why, or how. These pieces are still homeless, but I’m closer to understanding them, and finding a place for them than I was. See, I wasn’t meant to fit in anywhere and that’s ok. Now before you get all, “Oh, cut it out Rebekah,” “You fit in just fine,” “Don’t doubt yourself,” or “You’re just intentionally not fitting in.” Stop. I’ve heard it all before and I’m calling bullshit. You couldn’t possibly feel what I feel, any more than I could feel what you feel. What each person feels is a very personal and unique experience. Trust me when I say, to have this thing, this being, this darkness inside—is not intentional. I didn’t create it; it created me and it’s just always been there. Think back to the cloth diaper story if need be. I used to doubt myself and wonder why no one seemed to get me. I always thought it was me; that there was something wrong with me. But now? I’ve just accepted it. I don’t fit in simply because I don’t; sometimes I don’t even fit in comfortably with my own husband. Ask him. There’s no way I could explain it, so that it makes any sense to the masses. I can only describe it as this… feeling; and even though at times, from the outside, it seems I’m getting along splendidly, I can assure you—I’m a professional chameleon—behind my smile, I’m screaming on the inside. The only place I feel I really fit in, is the cozy space I’ve found between my ears. That’s home, and so is my darkness. I’m sure the same goes for Vader, Maleficent, The Beast, Satan, and any other antagonist that comes to mind. We’re all just shifting, looking for a place to rest our darkness.