Dark Nights and Inauspicious Days

Today is Friday the 13th.

I columned about it.

I posted about it.


I love inauspicious days and things that are supposed to be unlucky.

Mainly because I feel like one of those things. My entire life, I’ve felt a little bit like the thing no one wanted to touch. The unlucky penny. The broken mirror. The big black cat crossing everyone’s path. Regarded with suspicion, and confusion. Sometimes direct and active hostility. Just not quite right. Not quite normal. Potentially bad luck. Something we should probably just throw away, or at the very least, avoid.

And miraculously, no. I’m actually not suicidal. It would take too much effort.


In all seriousness, since I had the girls, my entire life revolves around giving them a childhood that they don’t have to recover from. So. Killing myself would kind of harsh the mellow I’ve been trying to generate in that department.

But I’ve made peace with my basically “dead inside” personality and I have chosen, rather than indulging in the emo tendency that comes with the character trait, to use it instead for comedy. Very dark, dark comedy.

Like George Carlin.

With a vagina.

I’m not for everyone.

As I was reminded somewhat jarringly this week.

The nature of having longitudinal trauma of a mostly relational nature that occurs early, and recurs often across one’s lifespan at developmentally unfortunate moments, is that other people will sneak up and flick the sore spots every now and then, often right out of the blue when you were looking in the complete opposite direction. Sometimes, it’s inadvertent. Often, I think, it is. At least partially. Or, I guess, people who know about it do it without thinking.

And I have been working hard the last few years to respond more appropriately to that unfortunate circumstance without (a) overreacting in anger or, more my style, (b) offering cheap forgiveness in the interest of avoiding a confrontation and allowing it to happen again, and again, and again.

Normally, after experiencing a perceived rejection like the one I did this week, I’d be pretty salty and Branchy after two days in my own head to stew.

To be clear, I’m still exquisitely Branchy.

Just. More passively Branchy. Less, you know, violently…Branchy.

At a certain point, personality doesn’t go away. And that’s not a bad thing.

I’m bummed, unsure of exactly what happened, and tending toward blaming myself for all of it, but I’m also kind of righteously ticked and certain it is not all my fault. I can say with confidence that I’m really, really sure that I don’t get all the blame, and I’m pretty clear on the allocation of responsibility for the situation.

What’s bothering me about it, at this point, is my inability to control or even know the other party’s acceptance of responsibility. Whether there is any at all or whether it will be my own failings that caused the problem, in their mind. What their interpretation of it is. And honestly, the fact is that that’s not something I’m even entitled to. It feels like I should be, but I’m not.

And, in the end it’s utterly irrelevant to my life going forward anyhow.

But I’m struggling with cycles of rumination over precisely that, nonetheless.

It’ll clear up. It always does.

But something about this one feels different.

I’m definitely supremely let down. Stung. A little stunned.

But I’m equally okay with it, comparative to how I think I might have handled it even months before. And I’m not sure what’s changed.

But I like it. I feel like I’ve reached a new level of Walt Kowalski-ism where I’m just too damn tired, on a soul level, to even give one half of my shittiest fucking shit about what the hell this person thinks of me anymore anyway.

As I was chewing all this over for probably the fifteenth time today, in my own head, as I drove home from covering an event in Youngsville, I realized that I am fully into a Dark Night.
Dante Alighieri, who wrote “The Inferno,” and to whom all thanks is due from anyone who enjoys overdramatically comparing things in their lives that are mildly annoying to “the seventh circle of Hell,” (me, right here, I enjoy that…a lot…thanks, D), described what St. John of the Cross or, more contemporarily, Roberto Assagioli, refer to as a “dark night of the soul.”

I’m proudly, flagrantly agnostic, so I choose to take from the DNOTS concept everything with the exception of a spiritual meaning. For me, god is knowledge. My faith is entirely invested in curiosity and the insight you stand to gain from investigation with as objective an intent as possible, and the willingness to learn inglorious truths about yourself in the process. And the whole Psychosynthesis deal rubs me entirely the wrong way in some facets, but then others seem to me as common sense as the fact that the sky is blue, or that black licorice tastes exactly like (I’m absolutely certain of this) Satan’s taint must taste.

What I like about Psychosynthesis is that it’s all about figuring out, for sure for sure, what shit is your shit and what shit is someone else’s shit. For me, that’s the hardest thing to puzzle out. But once it’s done, coming to terms with my own shit tends to be pretty damn simple. I don’t have a problem accepting inglorious truths about myself. I struggle a bit with the motivation to become better, and refine what’s inglorious about me into a more glorious version of what it is, but it’s more just that I lack the energy to create the necessary momentum from being spread very thin all of the time than it is a desire to remain unpolished.


I do not live in service to my ego. I live in service to becoming the best possible version of myself that I can. Sometimes I just can’t afford the energy to make it happen in eight neatly-packaged, formulaic interactions or less.

Sometimes, other people’s ideas of how we’re supposed to improve ourselves don’t ring true. They thump hollow. And I don’t care what the current darling intervention in the trauma-informed care movement is, it’s not for everyone.

Doesn’t matter what it is, it’s not for everyone.

And that doesn’t make someone who simply can’t engage with it resistant or ambivalent. I know that’s an easy, easy answer to a “difficult” case, but it’s not always true.

Sometimes, what other people want to pathologize in us is what makes us the strongest. What other people say holds us back is what’s actually keeping us standing upright. So yeah, it may slow me down or even anchor me in some ways, at some times, but I’m not moving forward if I’m laying flat, either. And my ability to think, and reason, and philosophize doesn’t deserve to be called a syndrome.

That’s not fair.

That’s invalidating, and it’s incorrect.

Maybe dissociating is keeping me from feeling the traumas that haunt me, but you know what? It’s also what kept me from falling apart as the traumas were happening, so maybe don’t push so hard for me to disown it.

And bilateral stimulation can happen in a lot of ways. And one of them is through narrative processing. I am capable of healing. Maybe not the way others would like me to, but I am. And I won’t perform in order to extract approval. I don’t like it, and it makes me feel shitty, and if that’s the only way a person thinks they can help, then they’re not the right person to help me.

It’s just as simple as that.

So I’ll press on on my own. I’ve gotten this far holding my own hand and slapping my own face, and I’ll keep doing exactly that, goddamn it.

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