Naming your dragons
(Written about when I decided to take control of my life back)
The conversation was rather simple really. It started with a few light comments, we were strangers actually, but the question was direct and pointed. The questions came in sequence and progressed from simple to the more complex. “I have never seen a pet like that.” Even though it was on a leash, you can understand the curiosity as the pet was a dragon. It was quite small, but still, it was a dragon. Pointy tail, scales small but powerful wings, pointy things on its head and green/yellow eyes. While it is not your normal leashed pet, there it was. “Does it have a name?” was next. That is when things took a turn.
“The name is Insecurity”, I said. “It is actually one of a litter, but I had left the remainder at home.” The look was curious, and the questions came with a new tone, inquisitive but more guarded this time. “Do they all have names?” was next. “Sure, there is Inadequate, Fear, Rejection, and Impotent all back home” I said easily. “That is quite a group, are there parent dragons?” was next. “Sure, Deception and Control are the mom and the dad” I said. What came next was a curious discussion that follows below.
The question of naming the dragons, how they were domesticated, and do they have teeth and breathe fire were all part of it. I will explain the process of the answer. The first time I knew there was a dragon was when I was on my face in the cold mud. I had been bested and Humiliation was standing with a foot on my neck. Inadequate was standing beside him. I had been trying to show off to a mate I was interested in and the dragon had used a teammate to trip me and I had tried to outwit the dude and slipped in the mud. Then I was down, and the mess was real. True story. Humiliation is a cousin to the litter that I have at home. The truth is that the purpose of finding a mate that was worthy was actually to complete my identity. I was not aware that I had been a quest of Deception to follow a path to identity that needed someone or something else. I had bought the lie that I was told. Lying in the mud my mind wandered about the list of other dragons I didn’t know that were dragons yet. Impotent, Inadequate, Rejection, and Fear were all standing in the circle of my muddy abode and were dancing in my head with my thoughts.
I got up and walked away in a state of shame, I didn’t know that Shame was a dragon cousin as well. I am not that smart so I had only my own thoughts to work through these ideas that had crawled into my brain because the reality is that with all of these dragons crawling in my head the idea of talking to another person just wasn’t on the list of things to do. Isolation is another cousin and one of their siblings is Embarrassment. This is a complicated stew of items that conspire to make you alone and burdened at the same time. A chunky soup of big parts that are distinct, but all add their flavor to the broth that is thick and has a flavor of its own, a place of Isolation and soon comes Resentment. Another cousin in the family.
Sitting at my feet in the office or the home, walking on a leash at the mall or sitting in the meeting at church, it is still the same; public. To pretend it is defeated or to send it to the basement when the friends which come to mingle, the result is the same. It grows and is fed by the obscurity and fear of exposure. The stimulation of being hidden and not mentioned is like a steroid to them. To show it in public and to talk openly of the times it subdued you is to make it weak and shrink into a place that is subject to Control. Although it is never done in fine company, the ability to speak of the times that you were beaten by it will maintain the humility that is needed to keep it small. It never stops being as it is, and it is important to remember that you need to continue to respect its power. This is both easy and impossible to accomplish. Easy, in that the simple step of humility is powerful enough to do the work. Impossible, in that the humility required is very slippery and able to escape any container you put it in. The vigilance required is quite high and the energy to do so is expensive on your resources. It needs to be acknowledged that doing this level of work is draining and eventually you will need a companion in the battle.
Groups of like-minded and wounded souls that have an ongoing time in the arena will gather periodically for support and strategy and to simply remind themselves that they are not alone. The easy ones are about the drug and alcohol or bereavement groups. They are public and understood. There is also the sexaholic groups for those with that dragon, though less public. But what of the lessor dragons of gossip and haughtiness and pride. The ones that are cleaner on the list of social ills, but just as draining of the soul when kept inside. The hoarders and the ones that have simply lost their way… the hopeless. The groups for them are called “friends” but most of the time the conversations are light or deflected away from topics of substance. These also fight the dragons alone, since one of them is called Isolation, and he is very skilled at his job.
To what will come hope? Exposure is the only cure. The question then is on who’s terms? To admit the flaw is to take control of even one aspect of your life. To be exposed suddenly and without planning to be is to then allow shame to do its work as well. The idea of having your weaknesses compounded is to also hasten the collapse of hope. The hope that you could “keep it together” long enough to “make things better”. It is the cry of the drunk and the gambler and the thief, as well as the one that believes that they can become “good enough” to earn someone’s love. If they don’t love you now, they won’t love you later for your “good deeds”, this too is part of the plan of Deception. You will always fall short of their moving goals.
Lean into and touch the Dragons. This is always the best plan. Self-exposure, humility, call them to the front and turn the tables of exposure. “I am this and that, not that I am proud of them but that I am weak and broken.” That sentence will shock less of your friends than you think, for most will already know. Some private struggles will surprise some that you tell, but for the most part, you are the one that will be surprised by the words, as well as the freedom that comes with the speaking of it… The liberty to own the thing you have denied will result in an unexpected gift of clarity and attention to the dragons that wish to return. They will not let the exposure stand if possible, and will bring their support minions as well, so then will come the peripheral exposure of things unexpected. You are strong enough for this as well, you simply didn’t know it.
Exhaustion is a thing. Depletion is as well. It is the reason we need friends. It is why others call us friend. It is part of being a social animal group. Start now, start close, start small. You need to train your friends to be ready for the tests that will come. It is a test for you to be open and humble about your flaws. Make jabs at your foibles and you will be ready for the larger dragons yet to come. You will also make room for your companions to tell of their own. By this you will grow stronger. By this you will become free. Free to take your dragon to the mall, like a comfort pet you will walk with it, in stride with your steps, through the park or in the class room. It is not the only one and it will soon be met with others that have subdued their dragon cousins. You will see it in the eyes of the recently made free, and the strong ones that give hope. You will be strong enough to tell of your brokenness to those in need of hope. You will call on the wise ones to come help, to raise you up from your last beating by a dragon with which you are in current battle. To be strong is to be weak. To be weak is to be strong. Claim the exposure and do not hide from it. This is the path to better. This is the path to wisdom. This is the place of the wise, to claim frailty instead of rights. To accept responsibility instead of justification, humility instead of pride.
My questioner was more understanding after our discussion, and now knows of the need to walk my dragon in public. They can now tell of the dragons that they have confronted, and the ones they know need to be. They may not be aware, yet, of the ones they are not quite aware of, but they know that they may be in the hidden places. The idea that the surprise will only be in style and magnitude, but not that it is a surprise, not anymore. This I am certain of.
I carry the scars of my battles, some visible and some not. When the warriors of other battles I am to meet, randomly in a store or on the road to someplace else, It is a common vibration in our souls that resonates and awakens us to the knowledge that they too have done battle with that which I know. Some successfully and some still in the arena, but that harmonic is that which also stirs in me. We both know that we both know…. Sometimes with tears. The common smell of defeat and the pain of getting back up after a thrashing. The reality that you know that you are once engaged it is not to be stopped, regardless of the exposure. To resubmit is to die the death of the coward, and that is worse than the exposure and embarrassment of this fight. It is known now, and must be finished, so I will continue.
Here is a curious thing though. It is in this place of fatigue and defeat that the defenses are worn down, you often will find the deeper truths. The truth of resolve and commitment in your strength unknown before, but also a deeper fear or unknown deception that is only now made clear. Had you abandoned the fight or walked into mediocrity this would still have been unknown. The fight itself has revealed these things, and had you not engaged you would not know. That being the case, you can now go forth with a new and stronger disposition toward facing the next dragons. You know for the very act of doing so you will yet grow and find new strength that was previously hidden. This is new knowledge. Powerful stuff of the past legends, the tale of which you had not known at this level. You are that which you had yearned to be but had dared not believe… able to summon from far away the strength to withstand that which comes. At times, simply the friend that will attend to your wounds. At times the strength of the experienced warrior that will not be subdued by this anymore. You are both and also one more, the one summoned to the side of the vanquished needing a companion of merit. To wash the mud and dry the tears and hold the one that you love that has fallen. This is the strength that you have. Tender, valiant, resolved. This is that which others see. Your task is to look in the mirror with them as they describe it to you, and to believe.
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