I find it remarkable that on the Summer Solstice I am focused more on going inward than outward…
If you’ve been reading my posts, you know that I am on a journey of transformation.
If you’ve been reading my posts, you are also on a journey of transformation.
As we celebrate the longest day of the year, we also acknowledge the nights will begin to lengthen.
Maybe it’s just coincidence or just confirmation bias that my mind recognizes major solar transits as congruent to my internal experiences…
Afterall, I do a certain amount of associating phenomena as relevant to my life…
Regardless, as the days begin to diminish and night increases its hold, I find myself entering my internal cave to once again embrace my demons…
The following is a story about a monk named Milarepa who, while living in a cave, came face-to-face with his demons…
“One day Milarepa left his cave to gather firewood, and when he returned he found that his cave had been taken over by demons. There were demons everywhere! His first thought upon seeing them was, “I have got to get rid of them!” He lunges toward them, chasing after them, trying forcefully to get them out of his cave. But the demons are completely unfazed. In fact, the more he chases them, the more comfortable and settled-in they seem to be. Realizing that his efforts to run them out have failed miserably, Milarepa opts for a new approach and decides to teach them the dharma. If chasing them out won’t work, then maybe hearing the teachings will change their minds and get them to go. So he takes his seat and begins teaching about existence and nonexistence, compassion and kindness, the nature of impermanence. After a while he looks around and realizes all the demons are still there. They simply stare at him with their huge bulging eyes; not a single one is leaving.
At this point Milarepa lets out a deep breath of surrender, knowing now that these demons will not be manipulated into leaving and that maybe he has something to learn from them. He looks deeply into the eyes of each demon and bows, saying, “It looks like we’re going to be here together. I open myself to whatever you have to teach me.” In that moment all the demons but one disappear. One huge and especially fierce demon, with flaring nostrils and dripping fangs, is still there. So Milarepa lets go even further. Stepping over to the largest demon, he offers himself completely, holding nothing back. “Eat me if you wish.” He places his head in the demon’s mouth, and at that moment the largest demon bows low and dissolves into space” (https://tricycle.org/magazine/demons-mouth/).
Into the Demon’s Mouth
As I’m rereading this and editing it, I realize there is a lot in the above story about Milarepa I want to comment on. At a later date, I will come back to this post and expound a bit more on some of the great insights contained therein…
However, for now…
If you follow my posts closely, you know that I am writing this much later in the day than normal.
Usually, I get up at 4:30am, do my morning routine of praying, meditating, journaling, exercising, blog writing and generally have my post up by 9:00am.
After meditating this morning and feeling tired because of poor sleep due to my fresh tattoo on my back, I decided I needed more rest.
I felt the tinge of depression mix into my blood which made me feel heavy. I gave in and allowed myself the excuse of needing more rest because of recovering from the tattoo (which still fucking hurts, by the way).
I told myself… This is a cave day.
A cave day would normally be one where I sink into self-pity and hide from the world.
Today’s cave day is a little more intentional than mere life/self-avoidance.
Much like Milarepa, I am surrendering to the fact that I cannot make the demons go away.
No, I’m not sleeping the day away or escaping into a world of any number of movies at my disposal…
I’m doing my fucking job and writing this blog!
I spoke with my AA sponsor this morning for our weekly check-in.
He’s convinced more step work and service to others will get me out of this funk.
He’s probably right…
Because I chose to get this tattoo, I’m also not exercising for the next few days to give it a chance to heal – which disrupts my routine, daily dopamine, and gives me too much time in my head.
Further, the internal work I am doing requires me to come to grips with a lifetime of dysfunctional relationship patterns.
In order to grow, I am leaning into the discomfort of my old scripts…
No one loves you.
You’re not enough.
Why do you start anything, you’ll always quit.
You’re a failure…
Now, Mr. Sponsor told me not to sit in those feelings and thoughts too long because they will continue to reward me with my current state of feeling irritable, restless, and discontent.
In fact, most everything and everyone have been really fucking irritating to me lately.
It can’t all be them, right?
No, it certainly is not all them.
The lenses in MY glasses are cracked.
As I’ve said before, if it bothers me, it belongs to me…
And as I come face to face with the demons of inadequacy, I’m reminded to surrender to them.
Some of the ways I’ve tried to manage these demons heretofore came out in my 4th step inventory (an AA thing) and manifested as what the program affectionately calls my “character defects.”
To wit: selfishness, dishonesty, self-seeking, fear, and being inconsiderate.
These basic coping skills/shortcomings keep causing me misery; not to mention pushing others away.
This is why I want to thrive beyond trauma-
To break the fucking cycle of living like a victim.
I told a friend the other day, “I’m living in the solution, not the problem.”
Of course, I was being a critical and passive-aggressive asshole when I texted her that because I didn’t want to hear her negativity (it interferes with my own negativity 😉 ).
And living in the problem is continuing to do the same things over and over again expecting different results…
Einstein said that is the definition of insanity…
Sure, insanity sounds fun… but it gets really fucking old!
So today’s drill is to put my head into the mouth of the demon-
The big demon that tells me I have no place on this planet because there is something so fundamentally fucking wrong with me I should not exist.
That demon’s name is Shame…
And Shame is a fucking liar!
I don’t need to do anything to escape shame, because it’s bullshit.
I have a place here.
I am loved, loving, and lovable… as I fucking am!
When I feel lonely and inadequate, I don’t need to look to social media for a quick fix.
I don’t need to text someone and flirt with them.
In fact, I don’t need to do a damn thing except the next indicated step.
The Next Indicated Step
The next indicated step is to write this blog, lovingly practice self-acceptance, and follow my sponsor’s suggestion to work Step Six.
My homework for Step Six (Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character – AA, pg. 59) is to write out the opposite of my character defects in all areas of my life.
What would it look like to be unselfish in my relationships, family, homelife, job, recovery fellowship, finances, health, and spirituality?
What would it look like to be honest in all my affairs?
Do I want to do this work?
Am I tired of doing the same shit over and over?
It comes down to when the fear of change becomes less than the fear of things staying the same, I will commence to make changes in my life.
And unfortunately, sometimes my growth is at the speed of pain.
When I get uncomfortable enough, or more to the point, sick of my own shit, I will do the work to change.
Now, I realize the tone of this post is different than prior posts where I was way more fired up and in your face.
But that’s the thing about staying committed to writing five days per week about thriving beyond trauma – there are ups and downs and the path is not always linear.
But as Mando would say, “This is the way.”
I think it would be a disservice to my audience to pretend like I figured out the magic answer to breaking free from trauma every single day.
There are just days that feel like a shit storm inside, and I admire the authenticity of my fellows who say so and keep fucking going anyway.
So today’s mission is to dig deep.
Go to fucking meetings.
Tell on myself.
And trust the process.
I am right where I am supposed to be.
And this, too, shall pass…
I don’t have a lot of fluff today to share.
In fact, this post almost didn’t get written, but today, I try to honor my commitments.
I hope that there are those of you who can relate to my post today.
Even more so, I hope it validates your experience, gives you hope of getting through difficult days, and provides you with some direction.
It’s a lot easier to create content when you’re feeling good.
I want to continue to thrive in spite of how I feel.
Even on the difficult days, we are thriving.
If I’ve demonstrated anything today, it’s that I am committed to thriving.
I am facing who I really am without finding a quick fix.
I am sitting still and feeling the feelings I’ve spent years running from.
I talked to a mentor and was accountable.
I showed up to work and peformed well.
I was of service to others.
I am digging deep writing about the person I want to become.
I honored my commitment to write this blog.
Tonight, I will go to a fucking AA meeting and be accountable.
I am being kind to myself and staying in action.
Each day is a victory when we show up.
Pat yourself on the back today.
You showed the fuck up!
Thank you and be well!
Thank you for reading today’s post as I expose my journey of learning to face myself. This is an ongoing journey I’ve been on for years. Ups and downs are to be expected. But the thing that matters is we are not alone and we just keep moving. If you are feeling sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, reach out and we’ll get you on track. We can do this together!
Check out my podcast and be sure to subscribe!