Thursday, August 21, 2014

When Monsters Win

So what really happens when monsters win? And sometimes, yes, they do.

When monsters win, it doesn't kill you. It destroys you. What's the difference? You get to keep living.

See, monsters take you to the edge of yourself and just a little bit beyond. They get at that thing that you can't handle any more, that place where you've run out of strength. You've even run out of ideas and now, you're just subject to whatever's going on.

It's weird how this happens because most people think when they run out of themselves, it's over. It's done. They cannot go on. Anyone who has dared to wrestle with monsters knows that there comes a point where it is very clear you have run out of yourself. It is so painfully obvious you could mark it on a map. Right here. This is the point where I've got nothing. And that very moment, that very moment of complete emptiness and exhaustion, is also the place where curiosity begins.

This curiosity begins in the self because when you realize you've run out of yourself, often, you realize you went further than you could have imagined. Your edges aren't what your edges used to be. You have discovered that the words of Pooh are true: You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. You had more to bring to the fight than you thought you did, and as a result, you have learned something about yourself. You have learned where you end, at least for now.

And yet, you have not ended there. Have you? You have come to the end of yourself and now, you are beyond you and yet, you are still breathing. Maybe you're not fighting any more; maybe you don't know how. But you're standing there and taking it.

That's rough. Your monsters will tear into you. They will rip you open and expose every vulnerable thing you've ever been, every broken thing you ever were, every broken thing you still are. It's messy. It's painful. It hurts beyond what words could ever describe. I'm sorry. At some point, you'll black out. You'll disconnect. The battle rages on, but it doesn't even feel like you any more. And you start to ask the question, How much more?

This is the second curiosity. You start to wonder just how much more there could possibly be, what exists outside of you that you never knew about, that you never made space for. Because we all know that monsters begin in our imaginations. They're a product of us. You're literally fighting against your own darknesses. Which means you're coming to understand more of yourself just after you've run out of yourself, and it's very healing.

This, however, is the critical time for most people. Particularly as relates to suicide. This is that moment. This is when you understand that you've run out of you and yet there is more, and you decide whether you live or die. It's tricky. It's hard because at precisely this moment, when the pain gets to be too much and you black out, when you give in and the monsters overtake you (and it happens. Don't think it doesn't), it feels like everything has run out. It doesn't feel like you any more. It feels like...nothingness, which is so different than feeling like nothing at all. It's pure emptiness. It's pure otherness. It's pure nothingness. It feels like there isn't anything so what's to stick around for?

But there is something: (You're not gonna like this.) There are monsters.

There are things you'd never face head-on if you were in your right mind. It's too hard. It's too painful. Thankfully, once you've reach this point of disconnection, you're firmly out of your right mind. Ironically, the pain has driven you there. (Didn't you fear that it would?) But the very thing you feared the most has happened, and it has brought you to a place where now, you can actually deal with it. Not in your tools and your mechanisms and your mechanics, but in the depth of your heart, where the monsters themselves live. It's beautiful.

And it won't kill you.

It destroys you for the sake of inviting you back into your life. It takes away all that you are and exposes beyond your borders so you understand, at the same time, both a bigger and smaller view of yourself. It does not, as the saying goes, make you stronger. It makes you weaker. It makes you weak enough to see your strength. It makes you vulnerable enough to see your courage. It makes you open enough to see your closedness.

If you're a person of faith, it is these things that drive you back to God. It is these things that drive you to prayer. It is these things that start to give a meaning and a structure and a form, even a hope, to the fear. To the pain. To the agony.

I don't pretend any of this is easy. It's not. It hurts. But it has to hurt that bad if you ever hope to heal.

Your monsters destroy you not because they win, but because you do. 

So what happens? What happens to the monsters when all is said and done? I'll tell you tomorrow.

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