There is suffering. We know this, at least in the abstract, we know that people suffer. We can ignore it, we can blast those who are suffering and mock them for adopting an attitude of playing the victim, we can criticize their choices while all the while feeling superior and, truth be told, just a little bit lucky. Yup, that suffering stuff is for someone else, not me, I’m a positive thinker, I’m a doer, an achiever…
Eventually we all suffer, it is an unavoidable part of the human experience. We will lose someone, we will feel alone, we will come to know our own frailties and feel shame, or like we have no way out, or that we can’t live up to everyone’s expectations of us. There’s a big one isn’t it? What others expect of us may not be what we can or want to do; so it gets overwhelming. And when we get overwhelmed we lose a little more of ourselves and retreat even further and that’s when the demons come in.
We all have our own demons too, they promise they will help us feel better, they’ll make us feel more “normal” whatever that is and they will fix everything if we just run a few more miles, or have just a little amaretto in our coffee, or cut another piece of our arm, or watch just a little more porn. We each have our own particular demons who hint that they can make it all better. At least they will take away the feeling that we don’t have any control, the feeling of being lost, the demons help us take action.
Except the demons take over, such is the nature of demons. We can chase them with religion, with hope, with any other formula but they hang out, biding their time. And when we let them come out and play we feel more shame, and more isolation, and more pain so we let them play a little more until we blame everyone but the demons, who are, after all, only trying to help.
Facing the real problem takes no small amount of courage, we don’t like to deal with shame, that’s why we are ashamed! Sometimes the problem is ego, it lets us think are problems are special, that no one else can deal with them, that we are put on this earth to deal with this misery by ourselves. In truth, if you let go of ego, you’ll understand that there is suffering, that we all suffer and that someone out there can understand our pain because there are billions of people and only so many types of pain.
We are not all that unique. Or separate.
People love us, even when we don’t deserve to be loved, that’s the miracle. And, we have the potential to love back, even if we don’t feel like what we have to offer is worth sharing. Because everyone will suffer, and at some point, everyone will need love, it might as well be your’s. We judge ourselves most harshly, we have to get off our own backs and that happens when we begin to understand that we cannot ignore suffering, we must accept it. You can’t over achieve it, you can’t love yourself out of it, you can’t drink yourself out of it. Pain is part of living and numbing yourself to pain numbs you to joy too, and to love, and to anger, and to contentment, and to sadness.
Life is to be lived with all the lights on, not in the shadows. Demons and all.
Acceptance. That’s what I’m trying to write about here, is acceptance. We have emotions, we have pain, we have impure thoughts, we have bad impulses and there is no shame in that. We all fall down. We will disappoint others, we will get mad at people we love, we will say things we will want to take back. Others will do the same to us. Accept that.
Once you accept that there is suffering, that there is pain: you can accept that you are no different than the rest of the humans who are, after all, human. Some of us turn that pain into creative works, some of us become a little more understanding of others, some of us decide that it is okay to ask for help. And forgiveness. And peace.
We are all on a journey, all here for a different reason and some of us don’t figure out what that reason is for a very long time. And that’s okay, time is on our side if we are willing to accept that we will never have all of the answers or totally be in control of any circumstance.
Maybe we don’t feel to good about our “self” at any particular moment. So what ? We put way too much emphasis on “self.” Maybe, just maybe, its very selfish to focus on self when we have families that need us, people less fortunate who could use our help, and a life purpose that has yet to reveal it self. Maybe we can find a way to make those demons work for us to channel our shame, our pain, and our anger into something creative, useful, or competitive. Something positive to obsess over would be a nice change. wouldn’t it?
Life involves pain and we have a lot of lessons to learn on our journey, it takes no small amount of courage to get up everyday and carry on while ignoring our demons. We can do it, we can help each other.