Letting The Dark Win

It’s been a mad, crazy week of networking and a fresh start. The sense that despite upheavals and retrenchments, life goes on, and because of my refusal to give in to the fear, and to isolate as a result, I slipped pretty seamlessly from one job straight into another, taking a nice severance cheque along with me.

All good… I even said to Sarah as I left her on my way to Richard’s birthday bash that all this has proved to me that my isolation does more harm than good. Sure, some me-time is a very necessary thing, but I overdo it because I am Dave, and Dave overdoes things.

So off I go to Richard’s party – and get a flat tyre. No big deal. I can handle this. I’ve changed tyres before – though never on Cape Town’s busy N2, just after Hospital Bend. I changed the tyre. Like a boss.

I closed the boot and that’s when I saw that all the brake dust and grease was no longer on my wheel – it was all over me and I looked like a backyard mechanic working on a particularly filthy, leaky engine…and I snapped! Poof! Just like that…goodbye good mood! Goodbye positive thinking! Hello angry, infantile slamming of doors, wheel spinning and cussing a litany of filthy expletives. The only thing I wanted now was to shut the world out and be alone in the darkness.

I got home, showered and texted my apologies for going M.I.A.

And then my sponsor called. And asked why I hadn’t called anyone to help change the tyre. Why hadn’t I gone to her house to clean up? Why hadn’t I relied on my network of friends, in the crunch, like I had just a week ago? I couldn’t answer. Well, I could. But I didn’t like to.

Because through the anger, I’d let the darkness win. I’d played out another aspect of codependent behaviour – I refused help.

She urged me to get dressed and go out – because isolating was letting the darkness win all over again. I refused.

I’ve been holed up ever since. I’ve made excuses, saying it was the rolling impact of the shock of suddenly being unemployed, then suddenly employed without any time to take it all in. I’ve lied to myself and said it was just a Sunday day of rest thing. It wasn’t. I’ve been a shit, sulky human. My inner child exerted his tantrums – and that’s the kick: because all of these feelings, this acting out – it’s all got to do with as a child, not feeling the world was a safe or friendly place, of being left behind, left out, in the way. All these conflicting motifs seem at odds but are all just childhood insecurity that was never placated in a way that felt credible, sustainable or like it really focussed on me, on making me feel safe.

Of course, I could write that tomorrow will be better, but those are just words. It’s action that counts. It’s learning from this situation and putting that lesson into play next time life throws a wobbly. You know – like I did last weekend…I’ve done it before. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

I’m done beating myself up over this. The darkness won a battle; but I’m still owning this war.

© Dave Luis 2014. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Respect for being able to bleed your soul in an open forum. However, don’t be to harsh on yourself in not passing some of life’s irritations without flying colors. Look at the journey travelled thus far and all the small victories along the way; it has forged you into the warrior you’ve become. As you grow in strength and wisdom as a soldier, beware of benchmarks belonging to a different battle.

  2. Life isn’t just winning, just happy, just living. It is also brooding and losing and failing. And falling. And learning. Feel the darkness. Feel the pain. Embrace it a little. Tomorrow you pick yourself up and put on a smile and leave the darkness even if you don’t want to. You fake it and you put one foot in front of the other. And you keep on keeping on. Because life isn’t just winning. Sometimes it’s so darn tough. But you know that the darkness will pass too. And then, when you find the light again, you will enjoy it so much more…

    1. Thanks Jackie – I’m often reminding friends to ‘go through the process’ – and it’s something I never remind myself to do. Life does that reminder for me, clearly! Thanks for the words of encouragement. 😉

  3. The dark sometimes needs a place too, for it allows light to enter. Without it we would never know the difference.

    I would have definitely been like the clothes darling but now I wonder – is this just Dave rushing in. All positive and drivey with thinking taking a little back seat? Not that it’s a bad thing though for in this stuff up you learnt a life lesson again. I almost want to poke fun and say at least you didn’t go into a store and buy new clothing.

    Regards your own worst critic, Dave….

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