We all have our inner demons. How we work hard to make them right about us.
What waits for you in the folds of your inner world?
What Terrors, real or imaginary, lurk under your bed or peer from the closet in your bedroom?
You and I don’t need real demons. The ones that walk next to us like the Daemons in The Golden Compass are shitty enough. They’re attached to us with invisible umbilical cords, as much a part of our psychic makeup as our value sets. Our personalities. In fact,they often inform our personalities, because our fears are deeply integrated with how we see the world, and how the world then interacts with us to prove us right.
I’m getting old.
I’m no longer pretty.
I’ll never find love.
I shouldn’t have been born.
Nobody (pretty, handsome, smart, etc) will ever find me attractive.
I’m a loser.
I don’t deserve ________+ .
Nobody’s going to hire me because I’m _________________.
If I say no, they won’t like me (my hand is up).
A man that I admire greatly, and one who has himself faced down his share of Terrors(including a psychotic mother who put cigarettes out on his flesh), said that we all live in terror of something.
To be human, in fact, is to be bedeviled.
My buddy Steve, who has recently gone back to a troubled girlfriend, called me recently. He does this when he has a bone to pick. He described his GF’s behavior. This is what I told him:
She’s recreating with you what her father did to her as a child. She believes, absolutely and positively, that she’s not worth loving. Her father abandoned her, so it must have been her fault. This is how a four-year-old thinks.
So, when she gets invested in and comfortable with you, she turns into a right bitch until you dump her. She recreates her family history. And, she gets to be right about how she’s worthless.
“Christ,” he said. “You nailed it. She’s a completely different person when she acts like this, almost like she’s possessed.”
It’s not that I nailed it. It’s that I do the same shit in my life. As do we all, when brutal upbringings, evil family members or trusted guardians do us harm.
They are proving their Terrors right, too. They have an annoying habit of attaching themselves to the family tree, as it were.
If you and I carry a Terror, typically we will feed it, whether we know it or not.
Feeding it is far easier than facing it. The child inside us believes that do to so is to die.
Such is a child’s belief system. Kids’ emotions are intense and lasting. That’s where Terrors are born. They are as real as the rapist behind the dumpster.
I am grossly oversimplifying, but stay with me here. I’m going somewhere with this.
If you’ve ever been to a Black Southern Baptist Church, you understand what call and response is. There is a deep, potent connection between the preacher and his people. He speaks a truth, they respond. It is as though they are one living, breathing organism, validating each other, verifying the great spoken truths and the living Word. It is a deeply moving, richly emotional experience that has to be lived to truly understand. The words are in every way alive.
The Universe, and prayer, are precisely the same thing.
This is might get in your face. But kindly bear with me.
Every thought you and I have acts as a prayer. Good, bad, ugly, vicious, kind, grateful. Every single thought.
If you are a fan of As a Man Thinketh, you know where I’m headed. We present what we believe to be our Absolute Truths, our versions of who we are to a highly receptive and responsive Universe. The Universe responds with proof. We love to be right about who we are, even if that means we’re trying to prove we’re worthless.
We get validation for how we spend our time thinking. This is a hard pill to swallow because we don’t get to cry victim, not my fault.
Yet if you and I accept that far too much of the time our thoughts are a stew of hatred, jealousy, anger, unhappiness, depression, then we show up for barely an hour on Sunday (or Friday or Saturday)to think good thoughts, what on earth did we expect?
Sixty minutes of good thoughts and focused prayer don’t have a prayer against a week’s worth of sludge.
And that’s if you concentrate on being in church or in meditation or in temple or wherever you are, communing with your God, asking (Him, Her, Them, It)to ease your burden. Or help you win the lottery or get a date with that guy.
Most of the time we’re on our phones.
It’s like laying a lovely flower on cracked concrete in 100-degree heat and expecting a lush English garden to spring forth.
Here’s how this works:
Say I want to drop some weight. I hate my body but I am going to DO it this time. The more I think about it, the more I crave my Krispy Kreme donuts. The more I focus on the Krispy Kremes, the more I berate myself for being a fat pig. The more I berate myself for being a fat pig with no self-control, the faster I say Fuck It I’m worthless I give up, and go get myself a dozen hots and prove myself right. On top of that I buy two more dozen for tomorrow morning because I’m just a fat, ugly pig. Worthless. Always will be.
I get to be right. I just fed my Terror. For me, who has done the above more times than I can count, I have plenty of experience with Universal call and response. I get what I pray for. And I pray with every single thought.
The obsessive need to be right overrides just about everything else. So if my primary messages to what I consider to be at worse, a benign, and at best, a benevolent Universe, are that I’m a piece of shit, said Universe is only happy to comply.
We get to be right.
My very wise buddy explained that the terrors ingrained in us from childhood are likely there for the duration. Like most heros’ journeys, what scares the piss out of us is probably what’s going to make us into that hero.
That is, if we face off with our basement dwellers, and find out what’s in the UPS package they’re carrying.
Even if we do, even if we do the work, they don’t go away. Kryptonite is always waiting in the darkness for heroes. Even if all we’re doing is being a dad, a doggy mom, a grammy or selling Lotto tickets at the 7–11. You do not need to be Captain America to be a hero. You and I only need to be heroic for those we love, who love us and count on us. That’s enough, thank you. Sometimes, being heroic is just showing up every day.
But we need to let go of our need to BE SOMEBODY.
To me, this is what it means to be human. To at once realize that we are indeed nothing, and in that very moment realize that we can be something as a result of accepting we are nothing first.
Nothing doesn’t mean worthless.
Nothing means open. Vulnerable. Light can enter our “nothing.” When Terrors block the way, when our version of who we are and what we can be play Katy Bar the Door to our potential, we are simply protecting our Story about how we are Shit.
Most of us have garden-variety Terrors. But they are ours and ours alone. Like a beloved pet, we own them. Or, put more succinctly, they own us. You can hear how true this is when we shriek,
BUT YOU DON’T FUCKING UNDERSTAND. YOU CAN’T POSSIBLY UNDERSTAND. IT’S SO MUCH WORSE FOR ME.
at people who do their best to talk us off the ledge of our own insanity. We are so addicted to our Terrors that we will fight to protect their right to ruin our lives.
Yeah. We do. We all do. Most of our Terrors are related. At least first cousins.I think there might be a little incest among them. After all, they’re demons.
Wanna stop feeding your Terrors? Stop praying to them. Stop validating them. Stop spending so much time in negativity. Go learn to do hard things. Go own all your own results. Never blame anyone else again for your results, your life, your circumstances.
Because, as my friend says, the second you own everything, you open up the endless potential to do something about them. To change how you choose to feel about them.
You’re goddamned right it will be the hardest thing you ever do. You’ll be doing this the rest of your life. Like shitty in-laws, in fact, or in my case, my asshole neighbor. I’ll sell and move, and another Terror will take his place.
Because I prayed for it. I hate it when that happens.
The day you can stare your Terror in the face, wink at the flaming SOB, and it winks back, you are on your way.