April 3, 2011 § Leave a comment
“You took my heart and tore it apart, you daughter of darkness.” (“Daughter of Darkness,” song by Geoff Stephens)
I still struggled with dark thoughts. They didn’t go away because I hoped and prayed and wanted them to go away. They didn’t go away because my parents hoped, and my mother prayed, and they both wanted my dark thoughts to go away. They didn’t go away because I was suddenly madly, crazy-ga-ga infatuated with the sexy Tom Jones powerhouse performer I saw live in Las Vegas, and who lived inside of my sheltered teenage head and heart.
The dark times were there and I was always the “difficult” daughter. Not difficult as in naughty or causing havoc. Difficult as in hypersensitive, emotional, anxious, and then, as a teen, depressed. I know there were times when my lack of self, lack of strength, lack of identity, which manifested itself in being clingy and dependent, isolative, emotional and tearful with a hopeless/helpless attitude, broke my parents’ hearts. When my fears and frailties brought not just me, but those whom I loved the most, down to their knees.
What was the family dynamic? We were a family that looked good and fit in well everywhere. We were a family that had lots of friends and social activities. We were a family that did all sorts of interesting and exciting things. Except for that tall, skinny daughter with the dark thoughts who disappeared. While prayer was my only resource as a young girl, as I became an adult, and more familiar with the psychological process, I learned that I took on the role of the identified patient. In family therapy, when everyone is focused on the easily identified person who is the “problem,” it allows everyone else in the family to avoid looking at their own contribution to the problems within the whole family system. And with as much love as there was within the family, there were problems, just like there are problems in every family.
While Tom Jones has historically been rather spare at doling out personal information, I remember being riveted to his report of feeling deep disappointment at a low point in the beginning of his career. He had met his manager, Gordon Mills, released his first single “Chills and Fever,” which hadn’t done as well as they had hoped and dreamed, and Jones and Mills were low on money. The two men were living in London, trying to make that big break happen, and Jones’ wife, Belinda, (commonly known as Linda), was working in a factory in Wales, helping to support her little family, and taking care of their young son, Mark. It was reported that in his despair, “Jones stared at a London Underground train approaching as he stood on the platform and thought how easy it would be to end it all by stepping in front of it… ‘For a split second I thought, awe, f*** it, if I just step to the right it’d be over. I felt so down because I didn’t know what to do. That very rarely happens to me. I didn’t want to go back to Wales without proving myself. I wasn’t making any money. F*** it. But then things flash through your mind. What about your wife? What about your son? What about your mother and father? How would they feel? But for that split second – that’s as low as I’ve ever got.” (The Independent, “Tom Jones: The Devil in Mr. Jones,” by Bob Guccione, Jr., April 16, 2005.) Shortly thereafter, Jones recorded “It’s Not Unusual,” his first hit, and the rest is Jonesian history.
How would they feel? That is the question I always asked myself when my thoughts got dark – when I became the daughter of darkness. How would they feel? That is what you must focus on when you get lost in the darkness and the pain of living. How would they feel? They would feel unbearable hurt, loss, and grief. Whenever I thought my pain was too great, I asked, how would they feel… and persevered… just like the singer who saved me.