I feel at this time of my life, that I am approaching an actual need, forcing me into a position where I have to deal with an aspect of myself that has always been there, but inwardly invisible; if not actually silent. It hid behind other manifestation of my unconscious, as if it was the root on which they fed. It is dark, intelligent, nasty, hateful and self-destructive, just for the sake of destruction. It comes out from time to time as rage but instead of being directed towards others, as if wanting to share the pain, it is focused on my inward self, wanting to destroy and be destroyed; it is a longing for oblivion. Perhaps this is what I have been looking for all of my life, this aspect of my inner self that is approaching me, or is it I who am doing the wooing? I can’t say I like it. For I think this is where my experience of nothingness comes from and at times my complete repugnance for the absurdity of life’s tragic overtones; leading me to forget, or overlook, the joy and beauty that is also there. It is perhaps my inner “drama queen”, or self pity, or something actual, real and nasty, that has to be walked through, or I think, journeyed with. Perhaps it is all the above. I often feel like a puzzle that has been thrown all over the floor finding it impossible to put back together……”Humpty Dumpty had a great fall”, his fragility strewn over the grassy lawn, for all to see.

I had a dream last night in which one of the men I took care of was a central part of it. It was just a dream but we did have a conversation and the gist of it was this: “Mark, the only thing that it central for you is to grow in love, nothing else matters, just do that.” Joachim was a very devout and loving Christian, the most gentle of men, who in fact even had a glow about him while alive (I also had the honor of being with him when he died). So perhaps he is another part of my shadow, which is showing itself, to counterbalance that ‘dark thing’ that seeks self-destruction and oblivion. One aspect wants life, the other darkness. I wonder how many fragments there are of me that still have not found their place scattered over ‘that’ floor. Perhaps these aspects (the ‘dark thing’ and Joachim) are a compilation that puts these bits into two distinct groups. I am slow, so perhaps the process is being made a little more obvious to me; for after all how many years do I really have left?

In my family, I have been the most religious I guess. Well at least when younger; that is now no longer true. However, I have come to the conclusion that the reason for my seeking God at a very young age was because of all my brothers and sisters, I am the most fragmented and, perhaps, lost. So making God my center has slowly allowed these fragments to be drawn back to the center. A process that is far from being accomplished and will no doubt continue until the day I die. I also feel that without this relationship with God I would have been dead many years ago. I am not being over dramatic, just human, and I think many, perhaps the majority, are like me. I think we all walk on a razor’s edge that is not, and for good reason, often thought about. (I think that is what phobias are about, saving up all of our fears about life and its uncertainties and yes danger and placing it on ‘one thing’).

Something happened to me when I was two. An event that lasted for one year, which I feel woke me up too soon. It was as if one minute I was a child, immersed in my mother’s love, and then without warning I found myself alone, in a very cold place. There is no one to blame. It is life after all and I coped as we all do….and have survived as many of us do….and in my own way have prospered and am happy…..except for that ‘dark thing’ that seems to be floating to the surface now.

It is always something. I think this inwardness that has been both a gift and a curse is in the end mostly gift. And to tell you the truth, I would not change that for anything. I am me because of my past; the good, the bad and the ugly. Also the simple stuff of life which we all have to deal with…..that, yes, I often find absurd and meaningless in my worst moments and in my best, a dream that will be over way too soon, is also in the end, gift and grace.

I have a feeling that children may act a certain way, but inwardly they are much older than they let on. There seems to be a defining moment for most people, perhaps there is more than one, but the first I feel is the most disruptive. Abandonment is perhaps the most common, when suddenly the child is left alone without the parents. The loving immersion with mother and the safe presence of the father, so taken for granted because it is simple reality for the small child (an extension of the child’s self), is suddenly gone and only the coldness of aloneness and the feeling of isolation remain. The safe enchanted world of childhood is over and the process of self protection begins to form and grow. This event could be short lived, so its effects may not be devastating. But if prolonged things can shut down within and locked away, so that one can simply function. I am still trying to find the on switch. Sometimes it seems to flick on by itself but then, as if overloaded, shuts itself down. For the most part parents are not to blame, it is just life and we have to adapt with what we get. I am of course dealing with my own experience; others will have something different that would be their defining moment, when they suddenly found themselves outside the gates of paradise, with no way to get back in. We can only go forward it seems. Perhaps these defining moments, while painful, are in fact needed to get us started on the way.

So in my worst moments, when things are dark, it is then that I make an act of faith in God’s loving relationship with me and with mankind. I choose to believe and it has allowed my inner fragmentation to stop eternally expanding further out into perhaps mental illness and slowly return to the center…..perhaps it has always been there, this center.  I just needed to keep digging (an still am) for that pearl of great price. In the end, it is about love, though it is often forgotten that love is stronger than death, which says a lot about its power to heal and wound. Perhaps this dance is what keeps us going, a goad that allows the search to go on.

What is this ‘dark thing’? I think each person will have to answer that question for themselves. If they in fact have this dark experience of their inner lives, or souls, that is deep and painful enough to cause them to ponder about its significance in their lives. Much of our self-destructive searching I think is simply trying to medicate this inner turmoil, chaos and pain; yet to no avail. Without some kind of loving relationship with our inner selves, then there is only pain that has to be dealt with. Pain says, ‘deal with me’; or if not ‘I will deal with you’. There is no escape; at least there is none for me. Our societies, governments and religions reflect this inner struggle in my opinion. There are mirrors everywhere, our inner reflections impossible not to see.

Mark Dohle

Mark Dohle

I am 62 years old and have lived in the Atlanta area since 1971.  I am Catholic and my faith is important to me, yet as I age the mystery continues to deepen, so I read broadly and try to keep things somewhat open ended. I work with the aged and the dying. I was in the Navy for four years and I guess I am life of center when it comes to politics, but not too far left. Actually, I am kind of a political moron.

I am the third of  11 children; ten still alive, one died in in 1958, three days after birth.

  1. Mark Dohle

    See you are Santa! Thanks for the encouragment my friend.


  2. Jingle Davis

    this is so sad. many people in my family have suffered from clinical depression and i now swear by rx drugs and counseling to direct negative thoughts and impulses into a more positive direction. i wish mark well and hope he’ll get help from modern medicine. it does work.

  3. Mark Dohle

    There is a lot of help out there my friend. Thanks for your comment.


Comments are closed.