I’ve found what matters most in life, is how well we walk through hell, no matter how many times we have to go through it. We all experience some form of suffering and no matter the heaviness, we’re forced to bring consistent light to our tragedies, our emptiness, our loneliness, and to our darkness. There is this silent drowning within both our beings and within our lives. Our minds continually looping on a ruminating carousel ride of trivialities. We are emotionally devoured by nothing. It’s no wonder why most survivors go bitter or numb.

Trauma forces us to be misunderstood and apathetic, not just in our lives, but in the lives of others. The level of expectations seems to get higher and more ridiculous the more extreme our circumstances, which makes success even more impossible to meet. We can’t be happy, or normal, we have to prove ourselves. To be loved, or valued, or something, means, we have to be the best. We must become ‘untouchable.’ As though there is some ultimate goal that once reached, the over-achievers will finally be at peace. I believe the thought here really isn’t one goal, but rather, those who are considered “people pleasers,” are so scared not be loved again that they become so overzealous they don’t carry the burden of feeling fundamentally flawed out of the possibility of disapproval. They would rather fully exhaust themselves trying to please you than hear you’re disappointed in them. The idea of not being ‘good enough’ will cause them to fixate on that fear for the rest of their lives. That critique will somehow become part of their preconceived identity and slowly eat away at them. That’s the cocaine that keeps them climbing.

Walking through fire doesn’t also mean recovering from it. So many people try to hide instead of heal and they’re broken because of it. Even in a penthouse suite with perfect skin, and a charming vocabulary, adorn with the best of everything, seated with their trusty Tibetan Mastiff, sits a self-loathing soul with a handsome 401k and suicidal tendencies. They wonder if they’re going to make it another day, if anyone cares about them, or if they just care about what they have, so they hold onto whatever they can, even if it’s just an image.

Society has built the notion it’s possible to love a person if you don’t know them well. I think that’s why so many people focus on appearances instead of putting the work into their character. That said, it should be obvious as to why reaching vulnerability within relationships, even openly within ourselves, is tantamount to torture. It is a true tragedy that we remain so untrusting, even when good people finally do come around, ready to love us. It’s really not them we’re rejecting, we’re just afraid of what they’ll see in us. We’ve been ruined for so long we’re not sure what’s behind the curtain anymore, and we can’t handle hearing any more of our flaws. After all, people have been so disappointing.

We just want to get out, get ahead, get anywhere but here. We want to be enough. It’s exhausting. The pressure of measuring up is exhausting itself, but understanding the scale in the first place, is nearly impossible. For instance, we will be inspired by adopted Olympic athletes, who are missing limbs and some other kind of set-backs, believing that if they win the gold, so should we. Make no mistake about it, people are not sympathetic to those who can’t overcome their circumstances so it’s no surprise that we aren’t either, even though we’re living through it and we still aren’t compassionate. Self-efficacy affects every area of human endeavor. That’s why we’re forced to be ashamed of our poor coping strategies when dealing with the overwhelming hurdles in our daily lives. We stuff it down until someone catches us and shames us for it. Then we hate ourselves and them too for noticing. Now we’re back on a new carousel ride. You’ll know someone is riding this cycle when they start crying while talking about their past trauma or a trigger and start getting mad or ashamed of it. It’s as if you can see their internal fight happening in front of you. A piece of them rising up to smother the part who is finally reaching out for help so they don’t have to deal with potential aftermath of what you “might” think or say as if you haven’t been there one thousand times yourself. At some point it became ugly to be open and frustrating to be human.

The real disappointment here is how fragile and dangerous people’s self-esteems are. People have ruined their entire lives because of it by becoming people pleasers, avoiding feedback, choosing ego over relationships, becoming narcissists, isolating, and being totally lost in life. They are doing anything and everything to avoid dealing with their insecurities in a healthy manner. The fire and spark I see motivating people is debilitating them. Their push forward towards improvement is mainly superficial and is honestly out of the fear of being average, which is in no way ‘thriving.’ Those that are stuck in this perpetual loop of self-hatred must understand that as children they were serving self-hating parents who didn’t get help, and then became self-hating adults who also need the same help. Choosing to cut corners and take the easy road over the high road isn’t a quick win in life, it’s a fall from grace.

In my own personal journey, I just wanted to be proud of myself. No one and no thing is going to love or cherish us the way we want for as long as we want. It’s an unfair ask, so we just have to appreciate what we’re given and be happy anyone likes us at all. We have to learn that we can be a lot of things, but our own detriment shouldn’t be one of them. Regardless, you’re the one inventing your life. You choose to flame it with rage or power, over and over again, until there’s nothing left. It begins the day you light the match. But understand the fire from it, is the daylight to your darkness and it exposes everything.

One thought on “Burning Brimstone

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