I want to share a short free-write that was my response to the prompt, “wrestle,” given in a writing group I’m in. I’ll explain why I’m sending this to you after you read it …
In the middle of the night I wrestle the proverbial demons. You know them. The ones who say, “Your shoes are wrong, you do not belong, the cake is dry, your eyelids sag, this isn’t good enough, the foundation is dust, the key is lost, the paint is cracked, there are scorpions in your flower box, you are not good enough.”
They make a slideshow for me of all my failings. The highlight reel includes near misses of big success, unwritten works, other people’s shiny trophies, awards lost at sea, moments of pleasure buried in the sand on remote islands impossible to reach.
They scratch their threats in the granite bed I am lying on. Their favorite is, “you will die with everything stillborn.”
They pound single words on the back of my neck with heavy hammers of shame, aiming for places where the vertebrae are weakest. Fraud. Fake. Klutz. Cardboard. Mouse.
Sometimes they grab hold of my hands and twirl me around until I’m dizzy with fear. They breathe thick, foul breath of confusion. Strangled black flowers whose petals curl and wilt.
They lead me, blindfolded, to steep cliffs and behind my back they whisper about the beauty of the lilac sunset, an eagle soaring, and the way the waves crash against the rocks. They sing about the color blue in a language I cannot understand. They hide my favorite hat and pretend my dog has run away.
I wrestle in the dark; I try to avoid the thick skin of all those snakes writhing between the sheets. I swat the spiders, black bellies large as lemons, away, away, away.
Lying in bed, pitch black darkness, thick as tar, and I am wrestling with fog. With carbon monoxide. With the smell of burning rubber when something in the engine is not quite right.
And then, you see, I get it. The art of wrestling demons always comes down to this: turn on the light + look around.
No spiders. No snakes. No blindfold cliff. No dead flowers. No ropes. No chains.
No monsters in the child’s closet.
Just me. Human. Hands extended with fistfuls of wanting. Pockets full of slips of paper with reminders of who I want to be. Me, like the trained elephant that thought she couldn’t simply walk away. Body, full of juice, full of lust, perfumed and ready. Music starting, lover’s feet already waltzing, already inviting.
There are no lit up scoreboards. No standings. No holds. No takedown. No newspaper accounts of who has won.
The wrestling match is over. The dance has just begun.
So, why in the heck is your Simply Celebrate lady sending you this piece about darkness and demons?
Because I want you to remember THE LIGHT.
The light is always just within reach, ready for us to turn it on.
The light is always here. Where we are.
We are the light.
Listen, do the demons ever come after you in the middle of the night? Those incessant and cruel voices-in-the-head that try to keep you from peaceful sleep? The ones that have nothing helpful to say, in fact they are downright cruel, but for some reason, they catch your attention anyway?
When this happens, I want you to think about this piece I wrote.
I want you to remember that all that scary stuff in your head in the dark is not real.
You have to turn on the light.
Literally, for one thing. That helps.
But turning on the light can also be using every bit of strength you have to wrest your attention away from what’s going on in your head and turn it toward something else. Something that is supportive and loving.
Could be you make a list of everyone you love. Maybe you also list all the colors you love. Smells you love. Words you love. Anything.
Maybe you read yourself a poem out loud.
Maybe you call a friend or wake up someone in the house. (People love to be asked for help! It makes us feel good. Don’t worry; they’ll ask you for support someday, too.)
Give yourself music, a bubble bath, mint tea, a Netflix comedy show.
Do not lie there in the dark and take it. No wrestling.
Turn on the light.
Dance with your own kindness and care.
Be the light you know you are.
P.S. That nightlight pic up above is used with permission from Karine at an Etsy store, Veille SurToi. Cute, eh? That’ll keep your heart bright in the middle of the night.