Funny thing – inner demons aren’t nearly as ugly or scary when light is shining on them.
I saw this comment on the internet today:
I stopped fighting my inner demons. We’re on the same side now.
It reminded me of a deep conversation once with a wise woman who told me: “To be at peace, we must make a friend of the horror.”
I used to have a distinct aversion to feeling anything that was unpleasant, to the point of using anything I could think of to emotionally and mentally run away.
My inner demons – those skeletons in my closet that haunted me in the deepest places, the monsters lurking in the darkest corners of my soul, shackled to crumbling walls, cold and sordid.
At one time I was afraid of my inner demons, closing my ears to their haunting moans, ignoring their rumblings. Humming and skipping through life, wanting to see an idealistic and unrealistic version of life filled with only happiness and sunshine. Pretending the demons didn’t exist. If I just ignore them, I don’t have to deal with them.
Thing about inner demons, I can only ignore them for so long. Eventually they begin to bust out of their chains, pounding on the door of my consciousness, their screaming becoming more bloodcurdling with every moment ignored.
Stopped running from my inner demons
Until the day I met the wise woman who would offer me words that would rattle my beliefs and the way I looked at the world… and myself.
“Make a friend of the horror.”
Simple. Said with a knowing smile, looking deep into my eyes, into my soul.
I understood. For the first time I knew that, in order to be free of the horrors of those demons, I needed to stop running from them, stop pretending they’re not there. I needed to do exactly the opposite… bring them into the light, sit down with them, talk with them. Invite the inner demons to tea. Befriend them, treat them kindly, listen to them.
I changed in that moment. I grew up a little. I realized that thoughts and feelings, however uncomfortable, are just that – uncomfortable. They’re not going to kill me. I pulled on my big girl panties and, with courage and quiet grace, decided to befriend the horrors within.
I learned something astonishing.
Inner demons aren’t that scary
When the door is creaked open and light beams brightly into the remote corners of that inner dungeon, I see all the horrors of those inner demons in a whole new way. Suddenly, what had terrified me is now fully bathed in the light of acknowledgement, and funny thing – inner demons aren’t nearly as ugly or scary when light is shining on them.
So I call down to them, ask them to come out, release them from this repressive dungeon and invite them to sit with me awhile.
I’d been afraid of all the terror, anger, fear and pain that would be unleashed. I now realized that trying to enslave these demons in my secret, fortified inner chamber so they wouldn’t affect me only served to enslave me to them. I was allowing them to eat away at my spirit from the inside out.
Making friends with the horror: self-compassion
So I befriended them.
Instead of my familiar tact of repression, I began to soothe them just as I would any other friend in heartache.
I was shocked to learn that, for all the time I was terrified of them, my inner demons actually were quite vulnerable and soft. Unbelievably, they had a story to tell. An important story to tell. They just wanted someone to listen. And it was essential that someone was ME.
I stopped running, literally and figuratively.
Slowing myself down, I made space to make a friend of these horrors.
Using mindfulness, turned off the phone, locked the door, covered the clocks, had a soothing bath, kept my journal at the ready, made hot tea, lit candles.
Created my own sacred, quiet space. Settled into it for as long as would be needed.
And then, the writer in me began to ask the questions I’d once dreaded.
Hello, demons. Welcome to my soothing space. Please, come sit with me awhile. Tell me… what do you most need to say?
I sit quietly with pen in hand, allowing thoughts to slip away, noticing my mind and emotions but without attachment to them. Create spaciousness within for the innermost horrors to surface and breathe. Allow whatever needs to be written to appear on the page.
I begin to write. It may be minutes, may be hours. I’m not concerned with time. I’m in another place, a zone where nothing blocks my flow of nurturing my own need for expression of the things I’d been repressing.
And magic begins to happen.
For the first time ever, I have chosen to conquer my fear by facing it head on.
I know what it means to be an adult caring for the child-like part of myself in a responsible, honourable, kind way. I finally understand self-compassion. I understand grace.
I am walking with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.
A new beginning.
I am no longer cowering in terror. I have made a friend of the horror. My inner demons and I are finally on the same side. I can now move forward, and healing can happen.
I am so thankful to be at peace. Finally.