The news of the world affects me in ways both spiritual and mental. Reports of wars, atrocities committed in the name of God, racism, and all sorts of other dark stuff, has the power to induce in me a state of depression which can last for days if I don’t manage to check it. Or there are days when the maniacal cacophony of people’s voices, whether social media or in person, creates in me the need and desire to dig a hole and bury myself somehow, in order to flee from the inanities and insanities of a world gone mad.
Maybe I just feel too deeply or maybe I personalize everything a bit too much, but when the darkness comes to my soul, I am unrecognizable even to myself. My soul becomes cloudy, my sentences become blunt and clipped, and my emotions simmer and boil like an unwatched pot. When the storm of depression crests within me, I am an empty shell, a shadow of my normal self, and the people around me run for cover because when ‘Dark Marlon’ appears, no one else’s feelings are safe from whatever might spew from me.
A therapist of some kind has been suggested, which might be a help to me, but I am afraid to really unburden my soul to anyone. See, there are dark secrets within me, secrets I try to keep even from myself. To make things even more unsalvageable, I don’t trust anyone. Let me be clear about this, so there’s no confusion. I can trust people with my money, my possessions, and even with my hopes and dreams, but never with my feelings or secrets. People have proven to me over and over again that they will use secrets and feelings against me, so I’d be a fool to ever give anyone that kind of ammunition.
“And if I pass this way again, you can rest assured
I’ll always do my best for her, on that I give my word
In a world of steel-eyed death, and men who are fighting to be warm
Come in, she said
I’ll give ya shelter from the storm.” Bob Dylan
Where could I go and whom could I talk to that would give me a safe haven or ‘shelter from the storm?’ How could I open up my soul and unburden myself of the darkness which invades periodically? I don’t trust reverends, counselors, therapists, or even bartenders, so I eventually found a place where I could tell about my damaged self, without inflicting further damage. Yes, my darkness weaves itself in and out of my writing, which has become my safe haven.
Years ago, when I first became a published/professional writer, my wife told me that I infuse my characters with pieces of me, which I vehemently denied. Of course, her observation is true, but for me to admit that, might make people look too closely at the characters I create, and not as much to the story. I don’t leave the windows of my soul open for friends and strangers to peek inside. In fact, the windows stay down, and the blinds closed. However, there’s a crack at the bottom of the window that allows the demons within to escape. That crack is my writing.
On bad days, if someone watches closely, they will observe me getting my notebooks together, opening up my laptop in a quiet space, and immersing myself in a world I create and can control, a world where I am neither the aggressor or the victim, where I can give away small pieces of me which won’t be missed. I write poems, essays, short stories, blogs, and novels, and I emerge from my writing cocoon fully energized, smiling, and once more myself. The stuff I’ve had published this year includes short stories about an end of the world scenario, a pole dancer, a stickup artist, a grieving lover, caring for a dying friend, and a bad breakup. Yeah, all feature a little piece of my soul, given away with pleasure as I hunkered down in my shelter from the storm.
Marlon S. Hayes is a writer, blogger, poet, essayist, and novelist whose latest published stories can be found in Saddlebag Dispatches, a Western magazine, A Flash of Words by Scoutmedia, Flash Fiction Addiction by Zombie Pirate Publishing, and Fireburst by Clarendon House Publishing. He can be found and followed under his name on Amazon, at Marlon’s Writings on Facebook, and marlonhayes.wixsite.com/author