When it’s time to make a change, to move forward in life, to take a leap, to start something new, or finish up something that has been dragged out for a long time, there is usually a backlash from the psyche.
Reluctance arises, doubt arises, fear arises, worry rears its ugly head and for a moment, or longer, there is hesitation. Just as dawn struggles to pierce the dark of night, so does new life struggle to emerge from the dark of the self. Often our old demons, so familiar, reliable, and comforting, come to our aid, begging us to stay with them, to stay as we are.
“Why change?” they say. “You’re fine as you are!”
I became well acquainted with my personal demons during my recapitulation. I realized how long they had been in my life and how stuck I had become because of them, afraid of everything. Worry and fear were always nearby to step in and rescue me from doing something new, from changing anything about myself.
Even if we really do want to change, it is often very challenging to take that first tentative step toward what we know will bring us closer to the transformation we so desire. During times of change we get to experience how our demons work to entrap us, enticing us to remain in the safety and comfort of their arms as we face what scares us the most, new life looming on the horizon!
Just as we are about to take a leap, trusting that life really can be different, our demons can step in and drag us back into our habitual comforts, freeing us of the anxiety that surrounds any great leap into new life. Instead we are coveted and protected by our demons, as they bring us back to the familiar, to that which we may hate about ourselves but which comforts us too.
I often had to deal with my worry demon. It would bring me a perseverating worry-rant of financial ruin, an incessant tale of an inability to make enough money, worry over all the bills piling up, worry over the mortgage to be paid, the studio rent, things the kids needed. The lists were endless, even when there was no reason for such worry, even when I was financially doing well, with plenty of money in the bank, these worries would and did rise up like the old demons they were, intent upon ensnaring me.
I started to see how they came just as I was about to do something new, to take control of my own life and my own destiny, to start a new venture, or to leave someone or something. Those worry, fear, blame or shame demons could pop up so fast, speaking with such rationality that I would easily fall back into believing what they told me.
Much like an addict I’d let them take me spinning off into oblivion. Later I’d realize how hypnotic they were, how they had taken me from awareness of the present moment and lulled and dulled me for a long time with their old tales. Numbed by them I could lose hours, days, weeks, while I struggled to do what I knew I needed to do in order to move on in my life.
In the final throes of breaking away from those demons I learned to appreciate them, but also to recognize them a lot quicker so I could avoid them. I faced life more squarely, became less afraid and less frightened by change as I continually pushed myself forward, as I dared myself to keep embracing new life, no matter what happened.
Gradually, as I finished the recapitulation of my childhood sexual abuse and shed the symptoms of PTSD that had also been a big factor in my life, I learned that life really did like it when I dared myself to do something new, that life was eager for me to live more fully. Eventually those old demons left me alone, for I had no energy left for them, it was all going elsewhere.
As long as we entertain our demons, as long as we open to them, they are eager to entertain us. But as soon as we see what they really do to us we can begin to reject them. Instead, we can begin to take responsibility for creating our own life, the way we want it, even though each step forward may be full of anxiety. And then our demons, as they realize we are no longer interested in them, go away.
Life, I realized one day, was not going to meet me if I did not go out and meet it. Rather than blame others for what had transpired in my life I became more daring and life became more exciting. Sometimes just going to the grocery store was the most daring thing I did in a day, but with persistent work on myself I started to go other places, to do other things, and after a while life was no longer so frightening.
When I met life, it met me too.
Still doing it. Still meeting life, and it still meets me. As I said to Chuck last week, “Let’s not waste a moment. Let’s go have fun!”
A blog by J. E. Ketchel, Author of The Recapitulation Diaries