We oftentimes view the challenges of our lives as ‘monsters’, unwanted guests in our lives. What would happen, rather than fighting the difficult parts of your life – shame, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, doubt, confusion, anger, despair – instead you realize that they always come with gifts embedded in them? The following monster story from my book, Belonging to Life, speaks in a humorous way about how to be with your challenges so they may empower you rather than consume you.
Imagine coming home one day to find a monster sitting in your living room. “What are you doing here?” you ask with great indignation. Getting no response, irritation takes over, and you order him out of the house. He doesn’t move. Racing into the kitchen, you ask the other family members about this intruder, and nobody has a clue. Returning to the living room, you announce that you are going to call the police, and he still does not respond.
Calling 911 you say, “There is an emergency. A monster has moved into my house, and I want you to take him away.” Kindly but firmly, they tell you that this is not their job. You call social services, moving companies and even the zoo, hoping to get rid of this unwanted guest. Nothing works. In desperation, you even toy for a while with the idea of calling in a hit man (your Uncle Joey could probably arrange it), but that is too abhorrent for your tastes.
Being a good student of consciousness-raising practices, you decide that since you create your reality, he is only here because you have not yet figured something out. So off to counseling you go. You describe this stranger in your living room and the counselor takes you back into childhood, discovering a trauma there. You let go of a big chunk of self-judgment and, with a sense of relief, you go home, fully expecting that the monster will be gone. It isn’t.
So now you decide that it was bad karma from a past life. Off you go to be regressed and discover a life when you were the underdog and he represents all of the people who persecuted you. Things begin to make sense. This understanding brings deeper layers of mercy, and again, with great hope, you enter the living room, only to discover that the monster is still there! The sense that he would be gone if only you could figure it all out and understand how to ‘do’ this right begins to eat at your heart. The edges of despair flood your being, but with great strength you resolve that you will just try harder and then it will have to work.
Everything you have done so far has made it easier for you to live with him, but you still want him gone. Thinking that you are responsible for everything, you close your eyes and say powerful affirmations, repeating to yourself over and over again “I am healed, and this irritant is gone from my life.” You feel more empowered as you say these words and you know that he is evaporating right now as you speak. In a very confident move, you take a peek through your closed eyes, only to discover that he is still there!
One morning, sitting on the couch and doing all of the varied practices that promised to get rid of this uncomfortable visitor, the feelings of deep grief and rage at yourself begin to overwhelm you. “If I create my reality,” you say, “then I am a failure. Nobody else has a monster in their living room. (They all do, but they never speak about it.) And if I can’t get rid of mine, there must be something terribly wrong with me.” You collapse on the floor in a flood of tears, self-judgment and hopelessness.
In the middle of this storm you hear, very faintly, a melodious voice, “Ask me why I am here.” In shock, you look up at the monster. In this whole time he had never before spoken! “What did you say?” you ask in amazement. “Ask me why I am here,” he repeats. “Well, I don’t want to talk to you. You are the enemy. I didn’t invite you in to my home. You came unbidden and are deeply unwelcome,” you respond. In a huff you turn your back to him. “What have you got to lose?” he asks. “Nothing else has worked. I haven’t gone away.”
In your desperation, you realize that this is true. Picking yourself up out of the heap of self-failure you have fallen into, you slowly approach him. (This whole time you’ve never come any closer than 10 feet.) Your heart is racing wildly. “This is the enemy. What am I doing? I must be crazy. If I get close he will beat me, rape me and maybe even murder me.” But your desperation urges you on. As you sit down on the chair across from him, the question “What is?” bubbles up from the depth of your being. This takes you out of resistance to the monster and a surge of joy races through your body. You recognize the power of becoming curious about what the monster brings up inside of you rather than living in reaction.
As you hone your curiosity, the first thing you notice is that the monster has kind eyes! “Why, you have beautiful eyes,” you say. “And they are even twinkling with joy and laughter. Why have I never noticed before?” “Because you made me the enemy,” he says in his melodious and healing voice. “I am not your enemy. I am a part of your awakening. I am not here to disturb you, even though I do evoke that in your mind. I am not here to harm you, even though I do bring up your fear. I highlight the labyrinth of struggle that keeps you separate from all that you yearn for. If you listen to that which is upsetting in your life, it will teach you that there is no ‘there’ that you need to ‘get to,’ no mythical place where everything will finally be fixed, understood, managed and controlled. The healing is in learning how to show up for the dance exactly as it is appearing. Beneath all of this becoming, trying and doing that you live in most of the time, what you yearn for is right here, in present time. The way to get here is not to try to get here. It is to simply see the illusion of struggle that stands between you and the freedom that you are.” You give the monster a hug, and with a friendly wave, it leaves.
After the monster has left, something else it said finally becomes clear to you: “Life is for you.” Who you really are includes both the dark and the light, and it uses the dark as a tool of awakening. When you understand this, it becomes evident that your life – all of it – is trustable. It then is easier to be present for your life!
Image of Friendly Orange Monster by Nicole Newsted http://www.ugallery.com/acrylic-painting-friendly-orange-monster