Although it’s my favorite, this blog is not my first born.
Almost three years before I began Persephone’s Sister this past October, I had birthed another blog also about the spiritual and soulful and human. (And now I’m deeply curious why Libra season is when I decide to write blogs….) The difference between the two, other than my matured wit, is the perspective of the writer, the point of view from which the topics are experienced. I see Persephone’s Sister as a retrospective, a reflection on what I’ve learned to value and explore. But Softsoap and Wishful Thinking is a blog of a young woman right in the middle of breaking open, an exposé of the way the human heart cracks-up when it realizes it is faulty. I was falling out of the Tower and surviving with the vaguely disguised coping mechanism of documenting the experience with feigned wisdom. But I’ll tell ya, sometimes what I wrote was damn beautiful.
Even though I’ve felt relatively cushy and distracted and uninterested in any crazy deep inner revolutions this week, the theme of change and transformation has somehow bombarded me, dragging me to the doorstep of my life three years ago and forcing me to listen to my old stories of metamorphosis. And there I rediscovered the C. S. Lewis quote that had changed me once upon a time: “If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth, only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.” I remembered that for months this quote bugged me. It dug into me. I wrote a poem about it. I named a blog after it. It became my Scorpian mantra. I had known instinctively that what C. S. Lewis meant was that the answer to everything is truth.
Somehow my twenty-five year-old self had accepted this realization without grievance. I recalled that every week I showed up ten minutes early for analysis (Jungians are too fancy for “therapy”), my dreams logged and printed, my active-imagination episodes sketched out, and optimistically prepared for whatever truths would surface. The wisdom I had gleaned from Mr. Lewis, at least at that moment of my life, was that there is no remedy for brokenness other than to examine each shattered piece, every honest fault and dent, and rebuild with care. The pain of not being in communion with myself, my soul, my inner truth, was unbearable to the emotionally wild me, and so the choice to face it simply necessary. What I didn’t understand then was how courageous that was, because I didn’t fully grasp how truth is brutal, and frightening, and bloody.
Now, in retrospect, I know that facing our truths makes us heroes for ourselves. And that’s the point. We are all on the hero’s journey, rushing toward individuation to reclaim the lost treasure (our souls) from the dragon who hordes it (the truth we are afraid to face, the shadow). When we hide from truth, look away, we temporarily feel safe, but are haunted. If we always choose soft soap and wishful thinking over bleach and vivid reality, we will perpetually feel that something is tragically off within ourselves. The dragon still growls in the cave, and we brew despair in the dark.
So here’s what I think the point is: we will never stop breaking if we don’t befriend the beast. So much of our inner tension and turmoil is just the fear of what’s there, just below the surface. And what’s more, that feeling won’t actually ever go away, no matter how self-actualized and loving-kindessed you are. There will never be a shortage of that irksome discomfort within ourselves, that unnamed voice that sneers, “You’ve lost the plot, my dear.” But we are not powerless! The creepy voice rising out of your gut like an insidious fog is the voice of truth, not of choice. It may seem that when something in us is revealed, it must be fixed. But life is never a rom-com, and we don’t have to sacrifice everything and fly across the world and sell our multi-million business and buy a puppy when we suddenly realize we love someone. We have time, and space, to make a choice after the truth is made conscious. We can choose to walk away, or to give it a try, or to do nothing at all. When you acknowledge the truth that you are manipulative and damaged (hi!), you don’t have to leave your partner out of shame, or write apology letters to everyone you know, or even change at all. You simply have to sit with that for a bit. You have to feel it, take it in, and accept it.
What comes next is a sense of peace, and this I promise. Because although the truth hurts like nothing else, at least it no longer scares you to death. And you will begin to feel the power of choice, which is change. You will believe you can change. If you can say, “I don’t love my girlfriend anymore” out loud, then you can do something about it. And that won’t necessarily be dump her. You will have the power to choose to maybe stay, to try, to understand what is different between you, or to take a fresh look at who you are together and decide that it’s wrong for you.
Something I am immensely proud of about myself is that I am not very afraid of the truth anymore. I try not to deny, and I never cower. And what that’s done for me is make change possible. Not easy! Possible. And I have changed, continuously, honestly, and imperfectly. I encourage you to try. I encourage you to accept your truths, and maybe find forgiveness, and maybe change, and maybe love.