Thoughts on Themes from Tangled Darkness

In TANGLED DARKNESS, an 87,000-word psychological thriller, various characters grapple with challenging pasts. These include early losses that shape their inner narratives, early exposure to authority figures marred by narcissism and corruption, and the impact of parental substance abuse on child development.

Numerous factors contribute to shaping an individual’s development, ultimately influencing their behavior as accountable adults. It’s an intrinsic part of being human to falter in our choices and make mistakes.

As I pen this, I can almost hear my grandmother’s voice echoing the adage: “To err is human; to forgive, divine.”

This phrase stems from the works of English poet Alexander Pope. It is an excerpt from his lengthy poem “An Essay on Criticism,” penned in 1711. The precise couplet from which it originates reads:

Good nature and good sense must ever join;

To err is human; to forgive, divine.

The saying encapsulates the notion that all human beings are prone to error, and it is a divine quality to forgive those who err. This proverbial saying conveys the idea that forgiveness is an act that originates from our higher selves.

TANGLED DARKNESS portrays several characters who err, presenting them with opportunities for redemption —through forgiveness, accountability, or amended behavior. I’ll reserve the unique scenario of characters committing misdeeds out of pure malice for another blog.

One definition of redemption I found is: the act of saving or being saved from error, or missing the mark. The pursuit of redemption can be a challenging endeavor, fraught with obstacles and setbacks. Yet, it can also be a deeply fulfilling experience. The ability to acknowledge our mistakes, make amends, and take steps to right a wrong feels cleansing, lightening our burden, and feels like the right thing to do.

The path to redemption is far from easy. It demands a degree of honesty and vulnerability that can be unnerving. However, the reward of a clear conscience and the chance to mend damaged relationships is worth the effort. In TANGLED DARKNESS, several characters are offered opportunities to redeem themselves in diverse ways. Sometimes, it’s less about “saving” oneself from error, and more about the experience of being saved.

For some, redemption comes in the form of forgiveness. It can take courage to seek forgiveness, and it may be even more challenging to grant it. Some might describe the experience of forgiveness as grace—a divine power that enables one to accomplish what they couldn’t do on their own. The most useful definition of forgiveness I’ve come across is: forgiveness involves letting go of resentment and anger. We may circle back to grace when it comes to letting go.

For others, redemption arrives in the form of accountability. When an individual is willing to take responsibility for their actions and the ensuing consequences—no matter what those consequences are—it can be a difficult pill to swallow. However, as one of the characters in TANGLED DARKNESS discovers, it is the least difficult of the alternatives.

Then there are those who seek redemption through amended behavior. An apology for past mistakes rings hollow if the same behavior continues to surface. In TANGLED DARKNESS, a character must not only acknowledge her wrong actions and the harm they caused but also demonstrate a different way of being to repair her relationship. This becomes possible for her after gaining an understanding of the motivations behind her wrong actions.

Themes in TANGLED DARKNESS include redemption, forgiveness, the intricate web of addiction, the corrupting influence of absolute power, moral ambiguity, and the bonds of blood—the significance of familial ties. As I continue my endeavor to bring it to print, I plan to post several more blogs exploring the various themes in the book.


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