Our world has this idea that bad people are bad to the bone. As if they’re brain is wired for evil or they’re made of “bad people” DNA. But I couldn’t disagree more.
I grew up seeing a very different side of this of “bad people.” My teenage years were spent bouncing around between various group homes, foster homes, and so-called treatment centers. Each and every “bad kid” that I knew had an equally bad story to tell.
Actually, the things these kids did seemed like nothing compared to the suffering they came from. With group therapy twice a week, we got quite familiar with each other’s struggles. And when it came time for someone to read their written account of their lives, we got rather familiar with the gritty details of “dysfunctional” homes and families.
Hearing those stories, there was no room to consider the thought that the “badness” of these kids was caused by the nature of their DNA — “nurture” and the environment was the cause of their troubled and criminal ways. All that these kids (and myself) were doing was mimicking behaviors modeled by the adults in their lives, or they had picked up behaviors that allowed them to “cope” and survive.
Bottom line: They weren’t bad. They were just doing what they knew or doing what they had to do.
Group home kid or not, we’re all stuck thinking and behaving in ways that we may be completely unaware of. Because this stuff is burned into the deepest recesses of our subconscious. And we don’t know it until we experience the unknown or unseen (like, say, with relationships — but more on that later).
That can be a real pain because discovering the unknown requires us to learn as we go. We have to be willing to change everything about ourselves; thoughts, behavior, ideas, beliefs — even ideas about ideas, and beliefs about beliefs. Everything! Because we only know what we know, and we won’t know what we don’t know until we finally get to know the unknown.
Pulling this off is hard. Even harder than reading and understanding that last sentence. And this heavy, grueling work is exactly the kind of thing you don’t want to have to bear alone.
That’s where a significant other comes in. Exorcising our inner demons is scary shit. Who wants to walk to hell and back when they could try to recoup with a soul vacation via love and affection? Picnics and hikes in Hawaii trump hell any day.
But there’s a problem. Hawaii is only Hawaii so long as it’s getting hearty doses of the vital elements it requires. Should it be denied TLC through sun or rain, it will go from thriving to dying. Cut it off from these vital elements long enough, and the paradise will dry up and waste away into its very own version of hell. Just like that supposed soul-vacation relationship. Except now you’re going to hell with your demons — and they’re terrorizing everything they set their eyes on.
This gets so ugly- and painful – and really, really scary. Because now everything is working against us, and it calls into question everything we were sure we knew, and each and every thing we were so sure we believed in. Now, the only thing we know is that we’re confused and hurting and we don’t want anything to do with it. But we don’t know what to do because we’re scared shitless of change and we wouldn’t trust ourselves if our life depended on it (which it does).
To go, or not to go? That is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler to walk away, or to stay just one more day — the answer to that question is never clear or simple. Our only hope of finding clarity is through hindsight, and that ain’t happening until we make a choice that may or may not build us up (but will surely tear us apart). So, we find ourselves in hell after all.
But hell may not be what it’s cracked out to be. Actually, it may be a great thing. Because it takes getting what we don’t want, to know what we do want. And when we can relax into the heat and find ourselves a seat, we can figure out how we got there — and find the way out.
Finding that way out can make for a hell of a journey. But this return from hell is perfectly remedied by finding the ultimate armor to wear.
Armor which will protect our value. Armor which reflects what we want to feel, and guides our actions in creating the “how” and “why.” Armor created with the belief that you’re worthy of the very best version of your deepest heart’s desires. The kind of deep belief that infects every cell in our body, and pervades the very marrow of our bones, and tingles awake what can only be our soul.
And while we trudge our armored selves through hell and high water, we will come to see the beauty of destruction. Because the death of the old is precisely what makes way for the birth of the new. Skyscrapers weren’t built on the crumbling walls and broken foundations of buildings that had once been glorious. In order to build to new heights and delights, all those unnecessary and outdated materials had to be torn down and bulldozed on outta there. As old and familiar as it may be, it no longer serves its purpose. In fact, it may work against its purpose.
Which is precisely why destruction may be the perfect gateway to the ultimate creation. Because, sometimes, it takes a breakdown to let in the light for a breakthrough.
So, with the future ahead, there are few things which can be known for certain. But that isn’t a bad thing. What matters is that we learn and grow, and find something to believe in, and push to be the person we long to be… This is what makes life “life.”
Happiness gets the spotlight for glory, but the ability to transmute pain into wisdom and beauty may be the most glorious venture ever taken. So, why not em
brace it and see what unfolds?
This post was originally published on Mogul.