“Anywhere you go, I’ll follow you down
Any place but those I know by heart.” – Gin Blossoms, Follow You Down
I was in an abusive relationship once. I found out, by refusing to play the victim, that this refusal is the essence of the phrase ‘freedom is not free’. True freedom is not obtained by blaming, by one-upmanship, by bullying, by pretending that poor behavior is really not that bad. It is also not obtained by laying down at the feet of these things and worshiping them out of fear. Freedom is created when someone walks right into hell’s fire and tranforms it into sparks of Enlightening Wisdom through sheer force of will.
I did not always refuse to be victimized in this relationship. There was a period of time when I was cowed, defeated. This was my mistake, my error: allowing myself to be treated like less than I deserved. But because I chose to focus on improving this error in myself rather than on putting energy towards renouncing the many shortcomings of my abuser, I began to experience the freedom of forgiveness much more quickly. First, I forgave myself for selling myself short. Then, with enough time and distance, I forgave him. We all make mistakes, sometimes terrible ones; yet redemption is always possible.
Blaming, finger pointing, bullying, manipulation, claiming sovereignty over another or allowing another to claim sovereignty over us – all of these are easier in the short term than transforming into a better version of ourselves. Yet they do nothing to help us access the Divine Flame of Love that is in each of us. Instead, they bind us into a state of fear that is so chaotic it appears that up is down and wrong is right.
To break free from such an illusion requires a Herculean effort. We now view Hercules as a hero, but the reality was that he had his own struggles to endure. Before he was legend, he was just a person. Just like him, any one of us can transform our lives from chaotic to peaceful, from controlled to empowered, from selfish to selfless, from dying in someone else’s version of us to living in our own Soul’s greatest imaginings.
To cross that bridge requires having the audacity to find our value beyond worldly signs of success. It means identifying the false siren’s call in the negative tactics of those folks who seem to have lots going for them on the outside, yet lack self-love. And it means going out into the desert, a place that has gotten a bad reputation for thirst and lack, in order to realize that it is actually a magical place where we meet the Hercules in ourselves. Only those who refuse the desert’s wealth of life, hidden just beneath the surface sands, go thirsty.
The strength required of worldly endeavors has nothing on the kind of courage it takes to walk into the inner desert of our own self-imposed limits and push past them to create cascading waters of pure fulfillment out of nothing but faith and passion. This is the space in which the peace that passes all understanding is born. This is how a life is saved.
The Divine Herculean spark is in us all. Perhaps it is buried beneath layers of actions that you wish weren’t tied to your name, as it once was for me. Only you can decide if those actions will be a short chapter in your book, or the entirety of your story.