Walking With Tom: Straight into Darkness

In 1982 Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released Long After Dark. I really loved that album and as wild as it seems, there are multiple songs I could choose from that album that would fit right into my life during the next year or so. In the Fall of 1982 at the “tender” age of 20 I had my first girlfriend. Folks who deal with anxiety are not likely surprised I was a late bloomer, so to speak.

Things were great right up until I came home one day to find all of her stuff gone, along with her of course.

There was a little girl, I used to know her
I still think about her time to time
There was a moment when I really loved her
Then one day the feeling just died

That is pretty much the naked truth right there. No hidden or deep meanings I am striving for, just an unadulterated life moment. For when I caught up to her a week or so later, her words to me were, I don’t love you; I never loved you; I was just using you.

Well then…

Straight into darkness
Out over the line
Yeah straight into darkness
Straight into night

Darkness can mean different things. It can be a place you go or are sent. It can be the unknown. It can be both. In the darkness you cannot see shadows and it can be a very scary place.

I was young and naive and that surely sucked. To have anxiety and to be in a relationship means there is an overwhelming amount of trust – or at least hope. And when that is shattered it is not only hard, but it also puts a few extra bricks in the wall that the next person will have to get through. And for me, that is what this darkness is about. It’s about immediately adding to the wall, making it bigger and thicker to protect from the unknown; to protect from the shadows that you cannot see because of how dark it is. It is a place I was sent and as long as I am there, I need that wall to protect me.

But even someone with anxiety can be resilient.

I don’t believe the good times are over
I don’t believe the thrill is all gone
Real love is a man’s salvation
The weak ones fall, the strong carry on

Yes, it may take longer, perhaps even years, but eventually we can get back up.

For the record, during this life moment two other songs from the Long After Dark album came to mind before this one took hold. The first was: You Got Lucky. As in, “you got lucky babe, when I found you.” This has a great video, but it is a little presumptuous as it paints me as a gift; a gift she threw away. And let’s face it, I was less a gift and more a proxy or tool for some other purpose.

The other song was Change of Heart. “You never needed me – You only wanted me around – It gets me down – There’s been a change – Yeah there’s been a change of heart.” The song is a real stinger, but… It feels like one of those things that comes to mind after the fact and you think “doh, if I had only said that in the moment.”

So here we are with Straight into Darkness, because that is where my first attempt at love took me. There will always be a few extra bricks because of my time in the darkness, but every now and again, someone comes along who doesn’t mind putting in the extra work of dismantling the wall.