Slaying Dragons

  • April 29, 2021 |
  • 10:37 am |
  • Ed Nissen, MSW, LCSW

We can feel it when we get close to it. We feel it tug at us, but it’s too dark, too painful, and too filthy to look directly at it. Hence, our coping skills become avoidance-based, in nature, as a way to rise above our suffering, yet we call it “seeking serenity.” This seems to be an effective strategy until someone says something that reminds us of the darkness we cover up with “good vibes” and “positive energy.” When someone inadvertently brings up this dark place, we will point at it, but we won’t look at it; we acknowledge its existence yet dismiss its presence.

Much to our denial, the dark thing we so desperately seek to avoid is wreaking havoc under the surface, that is, all the areas in which we refuse to go. We keep running and moving to stay out of its immediate reach. Yet, we convince ourselves we’re making these moves to be our “best self.” Then, we seem surprised when we keep finding ourselves in undesirable circumstances and falling into the same traps we always do. Eventually, we begin to feel cursed, neglected by God, or as though our personality is too deeply flawed and that there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s a way of preserving our ego. We do this when we don’t want to face our demons. We are looking further and further away from the true source of pain in our justification of these things.

Two things are thus required of us to truly transform in this context. One is to turn courageously toward the dragon, face it directly, and slay it. The other is to hold our pain and suffering and ask it two questions: “What do you need from me?” and “What gift do you have for me?”

The thing we most need is found in the place we least want to look.