Searching for the Battle and Other Wastes of Time

March 14, 2020 4 min read

As a kid I had a few plans for my future: I would go to medical school; follow Ernest Hemingway’s lead and move to France to be a writer; become an actress; and last, I would be a warrior of some sort, basing my training regimen on what I learned from watching The Bionic Woman.

In a sense I have fulfilled my childhood dreams, unbeknownst to me while I was fulfilling them. I studied French in high school, college, and post-grad. My undergraduate major at USC was Humanities with a theatre focus. I was an epidemiologist for public health and am now a functional medicine health coach. I have always been writing, most of it closeted.

Throughlines contain a horde of information, don’t they? I like this definition of a throughline: an invisible thread that binds the story together.

Sometimes late at night, I wake and wonder what I should be doing with my life which makes me smile as I write this. Apparently, my life seemed to know what it should be doing with me. It is good to get some distance from the beginning (aka age) because it is then when the invisible threads throw shadows.

Still, there are puzzle pieces to put together even when the path begins to make sense. Yesterday I was pondering the warrior side of my psyche and how that has evolved since childhood. As a kid, I imagined a great battle atop a hill. While I did not know where or when it would take place, I was following my intuition and would be prepared mentally, spiritually and physically for that hilltop confrontation.

Throughout my life I have sought the battles externally, sometimes venturing into enemy territory too soon without battle plans or backup. Risky choices were made out of curiosity and an ego that thought I could handle all things. Some of these choices did not end well but left me with hard-earned lessons. I have been steamrolled, thundered, humbled, and outclassed along the way but I like to say that I have a good chin.

What I did not know was that I never needed to look for the battles because they would come to me: teen motherhood; living with my father and son as Dad descended into Alzheimer’s Disease; a marriage not made in heaven; grief; and the constant underlying call to keep going in the search to fulfill my purpose regardless of obstacles, self-made or circumstantial.

The battle I was preparing for was not out there but instead, inside of here. Many times I would have preferred an external one with a tangible enemy instead of venturing into the deep dark places inside of my psyche: into the parts that hold me back from being who I want to be; the parts that want me to stay small; the parts that work to tear me down when I try for something up there.

I used to kick myself in the heart for the  myriad seemingly wrong turns I took but now, I have such gratitude for each of them. I certainly do not want to be in those places again, but my heart and soul are vaster because of them.

I had a dream last night that I was in an epic battle against many demons. Upon vanquishing one, another would show itself, often more terrifying than the last. Upon realizing in my dream that physical strength was not a useful weapon there, I called upon my theatre training to dramatically and emphatically beckon God, my ancestors, and all of the strength within my soul to beat those buggers. I even had a good attitude about it in the dream because at one point I said, “Oh, there is a ruckus going on here!”

When I woke, I let out a sigh of relief and also wondered if I needed to call a therapist pronto. Aside from that, I think the dream was about the internal battle to overcome the negative aspects of a psyche, the parts that hold us back and act to hinder us from moving forward.

Why would one want to engage in this internal battle? Why would one want to face the demons, the self-destructive thoughts and tendencies? Why would one want to see the parts that have been suffocated? There is terror there. So then, why?

Because the pain of not living fully is an existential wound, a severing, a bloodbath. We feel it in all we do not do, in the quiet moments when we wish for sound, in the actions we don’t take, and the words we won’t speak. 

I know because I have lived it, made obvious by that dream. And still they persist, my little demons! I am not afraid to keep them close as reminders of where I have been; of reminders to stay vigilant to this question put forth by Clarissa Pinkola Estés in Women who Run with the Wolves: “What of me has been killed or lies dying?” Ask that question and you may just find your next battle.

Notes of Inspiration