The Journey Begins
“I don’t want to be making the same mistakes ten years from now that I’m making now.”Me in 2019
I threw the above ultimatum in my new therapist’s face during the first meeting. In the three years since then, she and I have fought through a slew of old beliefs, negative thoughts, and sometimes my own downright idiocy.
At that moment, though, I terrified myself with my own call to adventure. I had demons to defeat and lessons to learn, and I didn’t know the half of it.
In these sometimes twice-weekly meetings, I relearned how to feel. Sounds easy, right? Just let the fierce ravages of emotion be what they are. Stop trying to force them to be thoughts. Simple, certainly. Easy? Not a chance.
My demons fought me every step of the way.
Make the feeling into a thought. Make certain the thought doesn’t matter.
Not an authentic way to live, friends. Intellectualizing damaged my relationship with my core self. Fortunately, that damage has proved reparable with time and training. I became my own hero.
What is a Hero?
The dictionary defines a hero as “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” Granted, that’s a vague definition. It has to be. The values of different cultures change the meaning of “noble qualities” and “outstanding achievements”.
The phrase “idealized for courage” stands out to me, though. Ernest Hemingway identified courage as grace under pressure. Carl von Clausewitz called it the first quality of a warrior.
For me, courage is the will and ability to keep learning in the face of personal adversity. Let’s say I have a thought habit plaguing me, like the idea that my happiness holds no importance. Try arguing with beliefs like that posing as truth.
Such attempts rarely work the first time.
So, I have to keep contending with my inner demons. Every time I think my happiness or feelings are insignificant; I must remind myself that people have value and I am people. So, what does this all have to do with the Hero’s Journey? Why compare my ordeals to the master story template? Because it serves as an excellent reference. I’ll show you why.
Three Phases of the Hero’s Journey
Remember the story with the lead character caught unawares and dragged into a daunting exploit? The one that comes close to the lead’s death at least twice before they win the day? My favorite story like that is Lord of the Rings.
A young hobbit called to destroy a trinket holding the fate of the world.
Not every story brings consequences ready to end the whole world. Often, they simply end the world the character begins the story in. So, what are the phases of the Hero’s Journey?
Every main character starts here. A nagging irritation that interrupts day-to-day life.
“It’s dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step off onto the road and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you’ll be swept off to.”Bilbo Baggins
I didn’t keep my feet. Instead, the road I stepped onto swept me away as I worked with my therapist on the opening ultimatum. She became, and still is, my mentor during Phases 2 and 3.
Coming of age or dragon-slaying, Initiation is the second act of the Hero’s Journey. Time to take the plunge into a whole new world of mystery, magic, and mayhem.
This is the reality of healing. Digging into the darkest pits of the soul and bringing light to the sludge rotting within. Often, I found treasures of my core-self buried in that gunk. And let us not forget the pain.
Grief. Hate. Rage. Knowing people would be better off without me. I began with neither glory nor honor. I began with agony. With my mentor’s help, I dove deep into the pits and pulled up the bits that clung to my hesitant hands.
A friend’s spare room became home until I found a place of my own. The five other girls in the house drifted in and out of my life like passing phantoms. A new job forced me into my future in-laws’ spare room.
The whole time I rocked back and forth between hope and despair. Hope that my new boyfriend didn’t secretly despise me. Hope that somehow, I was worth my own love. Despair that the reverse of both was true.
My breaking point hit just after our wedding. I spent three days in a behavioral center for my issues. Not a cure. That trial gave me a deeper respect for my bipolar and just how treacherous the condition can be without proper treatment, though. So why write this five months out from that hospitalization?
Shocking confession. As of this writing, I’m not perfect. I admit now that my skewed standard is unattainable in this mortal world. Excellence is better than excuses, and perfectionism produces nothing but procrastination.
After thousands of words and tens of hours hammering the intended post into an ideal form, I nearly trashed it. The resulting clinical piece of offal is useful only for my own reference. Through that process, I forgot why I write.
I write to make sense of the world’s pieces when they don’t fit. I write to help you, my reader, see the world through a different lens.
I have come through one Supreme Ordeal in my life and for now, won the day. Now is the time to share wisdom from that experience with everyone I can. Will it help you? I can’t say. Only you can decide that.
So, What’s the Point?
The only one who can live your life is you. Be your own hero! Discover a whole world of wonder, joy, and peace. Live an incredible story. Join me. Learn to heal your old wounds and become the living flame you were born to be.
I invite you to join me as I begin this new life quest. Follow along as I blog my way through the muck. I’ve planned a weekly deep dive into the various steps of the Hero’s Journey and how it relates to my healing specifically.
So, what do you think? Is the Hero’s Journey a mirror for the road to healing? What can this master story template teach? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll see you next week!