Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed?
I’m sleeping with the enemy. And there’s more than one.
Oh, I don’t know them in the biblical sense, and I haven’t seen them, as such. Then who are they?
My personal demons, that’s who.
Yes. I am in bed with my demons.
United We Stand, Divided We Fall? Not Necessarily
For a very long time I confronted and fought them, tried to overcome them and drive them out. That’s what we’re encouraged to do. Right?
Like a good girl, I heeded the universal call to arms. But this was confusing because good girls are not supposed to be combative. Good girls are meant to make nice. ‘Make Nice’ was woman’s anthem … even as it was being challenged by ‘I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar’.
Boomer Rumour: ‘An Angry Man is Assertive. An Angry Woman is a Bitch!’
‘Roar’? Really? As a baby boomer child, I’d learned that anger was one ugly demon! I had the anger conditioned out of me, and sang the Make Nice anthem. I was a good girl with a good voice, which, ironically, meant I had no voice. Which meant I became … meh.
But then, bad things happened and the demons were in bed with me. I learned that safety in numbers was bullshit, so I stopped falling in line and instead, chose to read between them.
I learned that ‘Make Nice’ squashes and overlays anger; it doesn’t erase it. And a crushed impulse can fester and mutate. Anger misshapen into rage earns and reinforces its ugly reputation.
But I also learned that the raw, hot emotion is pretty cool—a natural and appropriate response to an injustice, it stimulates, strengthens and motivates. How could I fight my demons without it?
Then again, why was I fighting my demons? Because Big Brother said so?
The Whole Goddamned Truth
Well, in between those lines, I fell way back into the original stories. They showed me that demons are grossly misunderstood. Humankind has lied about them for the last seven thousand plus years.
The big fat lie:
demon n. 1. an evil spirit; fiend. 2. an evil passion or influence. 3. a wicked or cruel person. Persistently tormenting.
The naked truth:
demon n. c. 1200, from Latin daemon ‘spirit’, from Greek daimon ‘deity, divine power; lesser god; guiding spirit, tutelary deity’.
Obviously, demons—meaning instincts—were bastardised. And the darkness-denying ideologists became society’s self-appointed guiding spirits. Man played gods.
But how dumb is it, I thought, to be guided by someone else’s ‘how-to’ (without asking myself if it sits well with me)? How dumb is it, I thought, to be fighting the very forces that can guide me through my challenges? That’s not to say I shouldn’t fight. I just needed to pick my battles.
Make Love, Not War?
Uh, maybe not. I haven’t friended my demons, but we’re talking.
‘What’s this rant about?’ I ask Anger.
‘A situation you overreact to is not the source of the anger—the situation has sparked an old wound,’ it says.
And asking questions rocks boats.
‘Sorry I asked!’
But I’m not really sorry. With the old hurt a little more defused, there’s a blessed shift in perspective.
And so, I shall continue to go to bed with this demon—and all the others—and let it have its say. Then it doesn’t have to hiss and snarl (as much) by day from its shame-bound dungeon in my psyche. Instead, it’s freed up to do the guiding and healing work it’s meant to be doing.
Clearly, I’m singing a different tune. The fact that I no longer fight my demons is an up yours to convention.
Bad girl? Fine with me!