Hello again! A few days ago I shared my experience as I confronted my inner darkness and challenged it to battle. I also shared a bit of the healing that took place, but I feel there is more to say on that matter.
You see, many people spend their whole lives avoiding the darkness. They deny their demons and they avoid their pain. They reject the parts of themselves that they deem ‘bad’. I’m no exception to this, of course, but I feel it’s important to speak on this matter. It is an epidemic that holds us back as individuals and as a global civilization. I won’t speak on the global ramifications at this moment, but rather my own personal experience with a pattern that most all can probably relate too.
Those of you who know me well, know me as an extremely empathic and sensitive person. I feel the world very deeply. Just two nights ago I cried watching Inside Out just to give an idea. (On a related note, I highly recommend that movie, it even relates to the theme of this post!) Anyways, I digress. As an extremely sensitive male, I received a fair bit (read: a lot) of bullying in my youth. You see, it’s typical for men in our society to be conditioned from a very young age to be unfeeling. How many times do you hear things like, “Real men don’t cry,” “Tough it out,” or “Don’t be a crybaby” tossed about? I’m sure I don’t need to convince you that it happens ALL THE TIME!
To be a sensitive male in a society which conditions men not to express emotion is challenging to say the least. After countless people telling me in either subtle or overt ways that my feeling nature was ‘bad’, I started to believe it. I then began to reject that feeling nature within myself. I did my best to remove that aspect of myself from the light, and bury it in the darkness. It’s through this process that my feeling nature became a part of my shadow-self and, thus, a demon was born.
In my mind, that feeling-nature became one of the demons that haunted me. As much as I wanted to be the strong, stoic, macho guy; this damn monster kept haunting me at every turn! The more I rejected this, the more painful it was! You see, despite how much I wanted to deny this ‘demon’, it didn’t change the fact that it was really an aspect of myself. I was rejecting, in fact, one of my greatest personal strengths and gifts.
Fast forward to last month when Danielle and I broke up. I was lost and confused and hurt. As always seems to happen in these moments, my ‘demons’ emerged once again. I could have distracted myself with drugs, movies, television, sex, or any other number of numbing agents our society provides in droves; but I didn’t. I chose to confront my demon. At first he was pissed: “How could you reject me like that! That was a horrible, cowardly thing to do!” That was the difficult part. This is a the reason it took courage to face my demon. He had a lot of things to say that, quite frankly, I didn’t want to hear. Still, though, I listened and realized my demon spoke the truth. Then something happened. The anger gave way to sadness: “I was so scared and lonely in the darkness all alone, it was so hard!” It was then that the demon ceased to be a demon. He wasn’t so scary anymore. He just wanted what we all want: love. Then came the momentous realization of the crime I had committed: I had exiled that aspect of self to damnation and solitude. I had caused so much pain to myself. In that moment, I could do only one thing. I embraced my demon. I held him close as we both wept tears of relief. I finally allowed my demon into my heart, where he now continues to live and love. Anyone who has reunited with a long lost friend or family member has an idea what this feels like, but reuniting with the self is a special kind of relief. In that moment I forgave myself completely for my rejection of that demon. I accepted fully that- hey- sometimes I cry when a song comes on the radio. And I rejoiced in taking one more step to wholeness.
It was euphoric! After the tears settled and I reemerged from my inner struggle, I felt stronger and more capable than ever. I could see the world more clearly than ever before! Situations that had always made me cringe with discomfort or cower in fear seemed no more threatening than a trip to the grocery store. I celebrated my newfound power! I laughed, I danced, and cried tears of joy. Truly, I cannot possibly express the bliss I felt, but I’m sure you know what I mean.
Here’s the takeaway: pain is a gift, our demons are lost aspects of self. We are all human, none of us are immune to the damaging effects of trauma. We all decide at various points in our lives that we don’t like some parts of ourselves. We’ve most all decide we’re too soft, too dumb, too forceful, too loud, too angry, too something! The list goes on and on. When we reject these aspects of self, demons are born. The parts of ourselves that we relegate to the darkness become the demons that haunt us and unconsciously influence our decisions in life. There is no need to judge yourself for this, we all do it. I know for sure that there are many more demons in my depths waiting for the opportunity to emerge. The point is not to further reject yourself for creating these demons, but to accept responsibility for healing them.
You see, there is immense healing in reuniting with your demons- perhaps the only true healing- and no one can do it but you. So the next time you find yourself in a situation where you’re confronted with pain, I encourage you not to run from it, but confront it- for that pain is an invitation to grow and heal. What is this pain? Where is it coming from? Have I always felt this way? I guarantee that that pain is that lost part of yourself calling out for your attention. When you confront this piece of yourself, it will bring up even more pain– all the pain you’ve numbed every other time you’ve denied the call. This will be difficult, to be sure, but when you go through the pain you will emerge from the other side stronger than you were before. You may be burned to ash by the searing fire of your pain but, like the phoenix, you will rise again born anew. You will find yourself more capable of love and less likely to judge. You find yourself more at peace with yourself and the world around you. You will find yourself more you!
I realize this is not easy, but I promise you can do it. There is nothing to fear. The pain isn’t what tears you apart, it’s what helps you come back together. And although only you can confront and embrace your personal demons, you need not do it alone. You have friends and family who love you- who will be happy to support you if only you give them the chance. Even if you don’t have many, you do have at least one.
If any of you decide to confront your darkness and walk the road of self-transformation, I honor your courage. If you need any support at all, I am here. I offer myself in service. I would be honored to hold your hand while you fight the good fight. I am intimately familiar with the dark dance, and know just how helpful a shoulder to cry on can be. I will offer my assistance in any way I can. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your life circumstances are- I have only the utmost respect for those who choose to confront themselves. It doesn’t matter the nature of our relationship- I will be there for you unconditionally. I will do anything I can for each and every one of you when you make the choice to heal, you need only to ask.
If you do choose to go it alone, though, I understand that as well. But to any of you who choose that route. I have one thing to say to you. Consider it a lantern to guide you through the darkness. No matter how hard things get, remember this one thing: You are loved.
Thank you for reading my fellow warriors. I love you all.