Dancing with Dreams and Demons

The core of who I am is unchanging, but my truth at any given moment depends on my mood. Today, I am riding a wave of personal power. I don’t know where it will lead or how long it will last, but today is one of those days where nothing about my single status is grating. I like who I am, I like my space, and I’m enjoying my life.

Other days? Maybe not so much. That’s the thing about our lives: we feel like happiness is this thing we’re supposed to feel every minute of every day. If we’re married or in a relationship, we’re actually allowed to be unhappy, as if that’s just expected sometimes. But if we’re single and unhappy? People don’t like it. They’ll come at you with a stream of unsolicited- and likely unwanted- advice. We’re not allowed to just sit around and feel bad because it’s what is authentic to us in that moment.

On other days, I’m not happy being single. I have days when I feel lonely and days when I’m angry that my past relationships were so disappointing. I don’t want to hear about how it happened for someone else or how it will happen for me, too. Some days, I just need to sit with the struggle.

I’m an incurable romantic: of course I want an epic love story of my own. This is balanced by the fact that I’m also an introvert. I enjoy my time and have come to feel protective of it. I don’t want to give it up without getting anything back that I need. I’ve come to understand that no relationship is so much better than having one that can’t or won’t meet us where we are.

Life is often riding this wave between our dreams and our demons. We may have days where it seems like we’re closer to those dreams. I don’t mean dreams of a relationship, although that can happen, too. I mean the dreams of who we are and what we want for our lives outside of our relationships. On those days, this life may seem like flying high. Whether or not we’re in romantic relationships seems to fade into the background. We can even find the entertainment inside the saga that is a romantic pursuit.

Other days, we’re battling with too many demons to count. Ourselves. Our feelings of inadequacy. Childhood scars and ex-lovers we can’t even remember why we tried so hard to keep. The flaws we have and work on and the ones we have but aren’t brave enough to approach. Heartache and disappointment and- oh!- the fears inside of it all.

It seems strange that today, of all days, I would be on the upside of that curve because last night I had an impossible dream that brought some of those demons to the surface. I had a wave of insight that I didn’t have before: about my past, about what I want now, and about the way we sometimes allow our demons to play with our dreams. I didn’t even realize I’d been doing that: allowing hurting parts of my past to control aspects of my future. I know that I hold on too tightly and too long, but I never realized how I had tied myself up in strings I was sure I’d severed.

But today, my growth game is strong. Other days? Maybe not so much. I’m coming to understand that and to find acceptance for it. I’m even learning that I don’t need to try to bolster myself on those down days because if I lean into them they will pass. I need those days, too. I need days where it’s hard to believe things will be good. It gives me the chance to explore those thoughts that are just below the surface of regular days. It helps me face my demons, to see them, and even to show compassion for them. And if I can face them, really see them, and be compassionate? Then I can use them to help me grow.

I need days like today, too- where nothing in the world can break my stride, where power is running lightly across the surface of my skin. Days like today help me through the other kind. They propel me forward, but they also help me fully enjoy the present moment without wishing it away. On these days, I’m strong and centered in my power, and I can embrace the life I’m living with open arms.

We can choose to be ruled only by our demons or to ignore them in favor of our dreams alone. But I think most of us hang somewhere in the balance, if we’re honest. We might see it as being caught between them, but I think maybe it’s just the ebb and flow of this thing called life, a beautiful dance that needs the give and take of that dark juxtaposed with the light. We cannot stay in the crest of a wave forever. We have to break against the shoreline sometimes.

I’ve always loved the sea. I guess I’m starting to love the sea changes in me, even on the days when it doesn’t feel wonderful. Even on days when it feels like I’m drowning. Because I haven’t been a strong swimmer, but I’m learning. Some of that learning has been the strength that’s come with the struggle just to stay afloat. I’m embracing this ebb and flow- my dreams and my demons. It’s all me, and today I can see the power in that. If you can’t, that’s fine. Keep going. Maybe tomorrow you will.

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