In a land far away, past the pleasant hills of dreams and babbling brook of visions; far off in the distance where darkness, gloom and despair linger is a monster. This monster is subtle yet very real. It selects its prey based upon the handicap of ones inability to recover, not because it’s impossible, but because those who are trapped are blinded by circumstance, deaf to the sound of hope and often drown in the burdens of their heaviness.
This monster studies its prey before every strike. It is especially versed in your history; enhancing tactics with each new encounter – tendencies, habits, weaknesses, and frustrations are all of record within each victim’s file. The sight and sound of defeat, disappointment, disaster and discouragement are its ever gratifying reward, and ultimately targets are stretched to extreme limits to accomplish the major set back of depression. It looks for it …. LIVES for it … the K.O. of helpless ones is the very reason for why it preservers to push your buttons. Ladies and Gentlemen…….presenting the A.R.F monster:
ABANDONMENT ….. REJECTION…. & FEAR ….
“Many live in denial that this monster exists or doubt they’ll ever feel the effects of this hideous beast.”
Others are ignorantly oblivious to its devices until they’re hit hard and left in critical care wondering how they ever got here. And yet, the greatest tragedy for far too many is that A.R.F is all they know. They were raised in it, fed with it and feel extremely uncomfortable operating in anything outside of it.
I know this monster well. We’ve been acquainted for years. Far more acquainted than I first realized. It started with fear – a fear of dogs, a fear of failure, a fear of embarrassment, a fear of standing out, a fear of punishment, a fear of being alone…. With time rejection became a part of the mix – rejection from social circles, rejection from jobs, rejection from crushes, rejection from family. Then abandonment reared it’s ugly head – shying away from company, wanting to be alone during the holidays, feeling as if I had no one in the world who really cared. How I processed love and care came in the understanding that if you cared you wouldn’t leave…. Not that this is entirely true, but in my overall reality I’d experienced time after time those who told me they loved me the most walking out, disappearing, pulling me away from others I loved, or just ceasing to communicate. With each blow I would feel more and more detached from life and what I needed to be doing in order to live and make the most out of it. Not only this, but I was starting to become the things and people who inflicted me with wounds in the first place…. I’d become the monster.
“Isn’t it funny how what hurts us becomes a part of us in more ways than one?”
Hands down this has proven to be one of the harshest and most frightening realities of my existence. So terribly had this hideous foe impacted my way of life that my ability to keep going at several life junctures would painstakingly be brought to a crashing halt and my ability to progress rendered faulty.
- The divorce of my parents.
- Embracing and then un embracing step parents / parental figures / role models / mentors because of drama, fear or discovering their flaws at a time when I was ill prepared.
- Falling out with my parents because we weren’t finding common ground of understanding.
- Public humiliation from those who found me to be awkward.
- Being made the joke and told ‘it’s ok to laugh’ but no mutual establishment of trust existed for me to feel it’s ok to laugh with those who were laughing.
- Having my hopes raised and then dashed by those who I thought cared and could give me love / support / friendship / a relationship.
- Not being able to embrace my difference because I believed the lies of naysayers.
- Relying on the blindness of those around me to help me see myself, when they failed to celebrate me or just didn’t care to.
By my late 20’s relationship with this monster had reached a love/hate state. I was comfortable enough in my hurt and behaving out of my weakness but desiring to be better and stop hurting those who wanted me to be free. My catch 22 of living blind sighted by comfort and complacency was that I would always only get but so far before being knocked right back all over again. Additionally, much harsher bumps and bruises than the prior encounter were inflicted, and I’d find it more difficult and painful to get back up. In some cases it didn’t even take much, just the reminder of a prior thing that hurt me / made me fearful / didn’t want me.
If you’re destined to be great, eventually all of this gets very old, and then maybe like me you start to get angry with yourself because it seems like your flesh just has a mind of its own. You don’t want to act out as the monster but you don’t feel strong enough to fight. If at some point or another you DID have a dream for your life and you DID desire to be more than who you presently are and where you’re presently at, then like me you must be brave enough to face what lurks in your darkness.
We always hear talk about ‘facing your demons’, but the truth of the matter is being effective and soaring in the truest form of your greatness can only be when we are well within. Just Google the connection between being a creative and suffering from depression. Several written pieces that delve into the minds of entertainment’s best & brightest highlighted that even at the height of their success and great acclaim they lacked inner peace. They battled monsters.
There’s much I am learning as I dig into what’s lurking in my dark places and taking hold to wholeness and healing for my best self. Here are some things I am putting into practice:
- Confess your monsters to Christ & a trusted, mature confident if you have one – there’s no shame in this game. But acknowledgment is key.
- Note your patterns – what’s good, what’s bad? (the kind of friendships you formulate, food choices, your sleeping routine, what are you doing with your free time / does your mind wander a lot). Everything adds up to make or undo who you are and who you’re becoming. How can you strengthen what’s good and wean yourself from what’s bad?
- If you keep falling prey to the same hang up/s note where the hurt is coming from and then check your foundation – what principles do you stand on, how do you define personal convictions, do you understand yourself and what you’re created to do?
- As a believer in Jesus Christ, ensure you have strong, stable and solid resources to pull strength from in times of great pressure, stress, upset so that you don’t / are less likely to crumble –
- The Bible (use scriptures to combat feelings)
- Get disciplined in prayer
- Accountability support –
- support group
- life coach
- asses those who are ‘yes’ people, evaluate their place in your life
- People who speak truth to power –
- TD Jakes has a series of sermons out about the Grace to be Grounded, being Grounded in Faith and Ground Level Zero.
- Pastor Rick Warren stated in a study on ‘God’s dream for your life’ that thinking positive is not faith, it’s merely wishful thinking and can be helpful when we are dealing with situations we can control. Faith in God supersedes a positive mental attitude because He can control it when you can’t.
Which brings me to my final point for this particular segment. My greatest hang up in my battle with the A.R.F monster was feeling I needed to control it all and that I had the ability to make it all go away. Which inevitably always left me insecure and unsatisfied because my self seeking desires would always be left unfulfilled and unsuccessful. I had to learn that I can’t pick the process and I can’t rely on / look to others to fix it.
It is only through the power of Jesus Christ and my continuous and deliberate submitting to His will that He will take me through my process and free me from my monster and/or give me strength to fight/endure/overcome.
“But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 15:57 NLT