“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength.” — August Wilson
At some point, every man and every woman has to face themselves. Most people take the easy route during hard times and avoid their emotions with distractions, hoping that those emotions will eventually just go away. In time, people find out that no matter how fast and how far they try to run, their emotions, their issues and their conflicts always catch up with them. People may find temporary solace in material possessions or even in that of another person. But that’s all it is: temporary. The quick fix never works in the long run.
We find our strength and save ourselves a lot of time, energy and tears when we look ourselves in the mirror and face the person looking back. When people hide from their emotions and don’t deal with their issues, they allow those negative emotions to fester and to grow into something much worse. Sometimes it’s easy to think that strength means showing no feelings at all; to think that allowing one’s self to cry, feel pain, anger and heartbreak is a sign of weakness. It’s exactly the opposite.
Allowing yourself to cry, to scream, to feel hatred and sadness is all apart of building strength because you’re dealing with the issue at hand and not looking for those feelings to simply go away. They never just go away… especially after a traumatic experience like a divorce, a death, a really bad break up or other devastating event. In order to heal and move on with your life in a healthy way, you have to face yourself and your demons. Nobody is perfect and we’ve all got character flaws. However, it is through recognition of those flaws and learning lessons that we can begin to turn those flaws or “weaknesses” into strengths.
I spent two years in therapy learning how to allow myself to feel. I used to bottle everything up inside and put a plastic smile on my face as I pretended that everything was fine. Though I had the love of friends and family, I felt incredibly alone and I didn’t understand why. It was during these two years that I learned how to deal with emotions, recognize why certain events or actions triggered certain feelings and in turn, how to handle them in a healthier, less destructive way.
You can’t simply place a band aid on a bullet wound. Eventually, because that wound was not treated properly, it becomes infected and that band aid becomes useless. It’s the same thing in life. You cannot heal and expect to be happy and healthy without first taking care of the emotions that were triggered by a catastrophic event. Whether it be the loss of a job, the end of a relationship, an unfortunate medical diagnosis, whatever it is… you cannot simply sit there and hope that by filling your life with convenient possessions and convenient people that your issues will go away. In fact, the longer you avoid dealing with them, the more pain you eventually put yourself through… and at that point, you have nobody to blame.
I’m thankful for those two years of therapy. I’m thankful for my family and friends who have allowed me to cry and be angry and feel pain… and gave me a shoulder to lean on when I could no longer stand on my own. Through the tough decisions I have had to make and the subsequent reactions of those involved, I am proud to look in the mirror and see Rachael looking back. I see my trials and tribulations but I also see someone who has not run away in the face of danger. I’ve said to myself “It’s ok to cry. Cry,” and I have cried. I’ve said “It’s ok to feel hurt. Feel it,” and I have felt hurt. I have also said to myself “It’s ok to feel happy. Smile and embrace this,” and I have felt happiness and joy. I will not allow others to make me feel weak or to hurt me unnecessarily because they are too scared to face their demons. Never again will I look at anyone but myself in the mirror. Because I have stood up to the ugliness that can emerge from taking the easy route and running away, the easy route is no longer an option. I will not ever look in the mirror and see something broken, battered, alone or shameful.
My hope for you, my readers, is that if there is something that you are running away from, stop. Turn around and stand up to whatever that entity is. Better to do it now and spare yourself the heartache of doing it later… because by then, any pain that you could have handled early on will have multiplied 100 fold.
Do yourself a favor. Face your demons.