None of us are without demons. I am not talking about ghosts, goblins or the minions of Satan and I am not arguing whether these are real or not. I am talking simply about the demons of our minds. In her book ‘Feeding Your Demons’, Tsultrim Allione defines demons this way: “Our demons are our present preoccupations, the issues in our lives blocking our experience of freedom.”
In an essay by Larry Cappel called ‘Working with Our Demons in Modern Life’ he says “our thoughts and emotions are like demons. They seem to possess us and control our behaviour. When we believe we can’t tolerate our anger, sadness and fear we either try to suppress them or we act them out. This is the energy that is behind all self-destructive behaviour, be it eating disorders, addictions, excessive television watching or any of the other myriad of ways we all have of checking out and not being fully present to our experience. “
Have you ever gotten really excited about something, ready to take action and then you let yourself get sidetracked with negative thinking and self doubt to the point of doing absolutely nothing? I have – countless times – and often just as I am about to be my best self. Like writing an article – that I’m inspired to write and then allowing some thought to take hold and snuff our any enthusiasm that I might have – a thought not necessarily related to my writing per se but to me as person. Be it my own shortcomings, what I am not doing, what I should be doing and I descend into a puddle and slink away from the computer – letting the idea disintegrate – and comforting myself that perhaps tomorrow I’ll be in a better place to write.
This solution may appear compassionate on the surface but the truth is that while I would like to battle with all my demons and snuff them out totally and THEN be the person that I was meant to show up as in this world – I find that not expressing myself is also killing me softly.
So – which pain is greater? Which pain can we live with? Can we be rid of the pain?
I do believe that we have to allow the pain of our insecurity and self doubt to surface and get some air. I do believe that we must face with courage that which we fear the most. But I also believe that we must give expression to our gifts and not let them die in us. Even as we struggle with and want to suppress our emotions out of shame because we feel we SHOULDN’T feel the way we do…
A friend phoned me to ask if I had heard “the news?” He was referring to Whitney Houston’s death. I looked and listened. First disbelieving and then realizing the truth that “yes” she was no longer with us. Everyone being interviewed, including Simon Cowell and Smokey Robinson kept expressing how great Whitney was as a singer and that we should remember THAT and not her battle with drug addiction. On CBS the commentary posited that people are sad now, and then there’ll be the eulogy and then let’s just remember Whitney for the music that she left.
I feel compassion for Whitney but I remind myself that she was able to use her gift – the gift of her voice – her music – her adaptations – her interpretations and her applications. To many she is their coach – even though she never knew them and now will never know them but will certainly continue to influence lives for decades to come. Whitney was able to express herself and share her gifts.
In a beautiful poem by Dr. Joan Borysenko called ‘We are all relations’ there is a verse that I totally relate to… “Listening to a lover’s lament, tears over a gentle man with roots as yet too shallow to drink in the full sun of her being without wilting in the light…” That line “with roots as yet too shallow to drink in the full sun of her being without wilting in the light” speaks to me of Whitney’s experience – speaks to me of so many women and men who struggle with their own demons – some of us dying with our gifts inside – dying – even though we are not dead yet!
Battling with our demons is ongoing. Don’t avoid feeling your feelings, because sooner or later those disowned feelings make themselves known, often in dramatic ways. As you grow into the authentic you – make sure that you have ‘deep roots’ so that you can sustain the bright lights of an ‘external sun’ that can sometimes be so intoxicating that you forget that the brightest light is the sun within your being.
Many expressed that perhaps Whitney was caught up in ‘bad company.’ That it is so important to surround yourself with like-minded, positive people. Let us not be afraid to reach out for help. Let us not be afraid to say that we’re afraid. But let us also be aware that we have been given free will to choose. Simon Cowell said it of Whitney – that at the end of the day it was her choice. Sometimes the help we need is right next to us but we have to choose to accept it. CHOICE is always operating in our lives.
From the Gospel of St. Thomas we are reminded, “If you call forth that which is in you it will save you. If you do not call forth what is in you, it will destroy you.” Please make the right choice and use your gifts – despite your demons!