I just heard the song “Demons” by Imagine Dragons on the radio for the millionth time and I had to ask myself, why am not sick of this song yet? The answer is perfectly obvious. Everyone loves this song because everyone has demons.
I have a feeling I’m going to get a bit dark and deep here today, a bit insane like I do in my novels and stories because it is my intention to state exactly what those demons are, but stick with me. I promise there’s a light side to all this. At least, I think there is. Everyone says they have demons, that they fight with them, wrestle with them or have to figure out a way to manage them but no one will say what they are. They wouldn't dare. I’m going to try to name them.
There’s a funny meme that goes something like, “I don’t just mess up once. I mess up at least five times just to make sure.” A friend of mine saw this and said that he usually gets it the first time he makes a mistake which is a great trait to have. I honestly said, “yeah, me too except this one thing.”
He replied, honestly as well, “actually, I have some things like that and they can be pretty devastating.”
Thus the demon hides in some karmic flaw, that one thing we just can’t fix. Everyone knows we have this flaw that we can’t change it, yet it can be “pretty devastating.” It’s that lesson God or nature keeps throwing at you and because you never learn it, you have to keep reliving it. It’s not a punishment per se. You burned your hand countless of times, but you keep putting your hand in the flame because you just can’t help it. You like fire. Over time you hate yourself and some people resent you for being this way. How many times do we have to tell you to stop putting your damn hand in the fire? But there it is.
That’s just one kind of demon. There are also those horrible childhood memories of abandonment or abuse. There are those past lovers or friends who jilted you or betrayed your trust. Are these demons? I gave it some thought and I guess maybe they can be demons. More than that, our fear and insecurity that stems from such situations are demons. Our fears and insecurities are probably our greatest demons of all, which is why we keep putting our hand in the fire. Maybe we’re just afraid not to because the fire is all we know.
Demons love fear and insecurities. Why else do we overly possess and protect our kids and lovers to the point of pain? Why else do people cheat and keep lovers, little safety nets on the side? Why else do people hang on to addictions as their own escape from a realty that is too frightful to face? Anger is just a reaction to fear. We fight and get aggressive because we sense danger, thus making stupid decisions. Fear and insecurity is like an open invitation for our demons to arrive. Demons really dig that stuff.
I thought a bit about what demons might look like. I figure, they could be really scary because they’re our worst fears, the kind we just can’t overcome. So they might be like a dark blob that cover us and we can’t see clearly because we are bathing in fear and stormy emotions.
But then I thought that maybe demons look the opposite. They are like the most beautiful things ever, like a trillion dollars or a ton of ice cream that we just can’t get enough of, until we realize that we had too much and we just want to puke. They are so beautiful that we can’t turn away. Reality seems so boring or they are the addictions we cling to so we can escape a reality that is much scarier.
There are the shadow demons, the shadow of our parents, ancestors or culture. These demons demand that you live up to the shadows of your elders or live down the infamy of their sins. Will you continue the cycle of violence that your family has created? Will you live up to your father’s expectations? Will you make up for the disappointments they had in themselves? Are you really as useless as they all make you feel you are? Why couldn't you make that soccer goal? The shadow demons pressure us to be someone we’re not and make us desperate to find out who is in there, beyond the shadow.
Then there are those invisible demons, the ones we never knew were there, until we do something totally stupid, hurt someone we love, act out in violence, risk something we know is really important or burn our bridges just so we could satisfy our ego. Then we wonder, what the hell was I thinking? Where did that come from?
There are so many things that demons can be but one thing is for sure, we struggle with them and they haunt us. We’re not always a hundred percent sure what they are but we know they’re there.
So what’s the light side to this? Well, I figure we’re all in this together. We just have to remember that. We have to accept the fact that we all have demons. We can’t judge each other by them. Sure, some people have more demons than others but we are all fighting our own battles and when we look at each other, we should accept that.
No one is one hundred percent innocent and we shouldn't expect ourselves to be, nor should we expect that from others. We can encourage each other to keep trying to be better but if you look at everyone with eyes that are trying to measure them up for morality, that’s your demon. Give me someone who puts on a mask of moral purity and I see someone who has the darkest demons to hide. Look at Bill Cosby and what is happening to him now. No one is innocent, not even the king of family values and wholesome comedy.
You can’t fight demons with demons. You can’t end demonic possession with anger or judgment or fear. Demons just feed off of that stuff. They love wars and insecurities and fights and anger. It just makes them bigger and more powerful.
From what I've gleaned in life and I've seen more than I let on, the only thing that tames a demon is forgiveness. The only angels I've ever seen are those who accept people, for who they are, give them a big hug and say, “I forgive you. It’s okay. We can work through this.”
I’m not saying that you have to let demonically possessed people walk all over you. If you have to keep your distance for your own safety, do so. But forgive them. Don’t burden them or yourself with more anger and more demons. Forgiveness is that higher ground that people are always talking about. I’ve had to forgive some horrible things in my life, things I can’t mention and it really was the only way out, the only escape from something that will suck you dry and keep you mired in one place for the rest of your life if you don’t move on. You have to forgive yourself too, because demons love nothing more than someone writhing in their own disgust and self hatred. Sometimes we have to just admit that we’re insecure, broken or afraid and so is everyone else. We’re in this together.