Archives: Summa Amare

The Divine Comedy: Three Cycles of Self Discovery

I feel terribly low at the moment after my recent discovery that old wounds were not yet fully healed, that it is much harder to move forward when someone who mistreated and humiliated me is rewarded despite feeling no remorse. I have discovered, however, that this is not the first time I have felt this way because of him, on the contrary it appears as though I am in the third cycle. It is a feeling that has been present for quite sometime, present but dormant like an illness hidden until the conditions were right before emerging. A dream – or rather a nightmare – that I had this morning left me in a cold sweat that reminded me of the previous cycle. I had suffered the same heartache, searched for the same renewal to motivate me to move on from the pain and found myself back in the same place again.

While it may explain progressive stages of coping with grief and how weaving through these phases verifies our psychological resilience, being caught in this cycle of repetition is a process that slowly steps us through several phases that one completes once they are ready to move onto the next cycle. How do we navigate through the depths of the vestibule of this unknown and illustrate the raw authenticity of our mental states, to journey through the land of the dead until we find the right guidance back and into the peacefulness of heaven? Perhaps Dante can help explain.

Inferno

Gustave_Dore_Inferno32

O human race, born to fly upward,
Wherefore at a little wind dost thou so fall?

I wandered into the dark forest and there I encountered a three-headed beast; one of a leopard, one of a lion and the other a wolf, enormous and raging with the hunger of lust, pride and avarice. He was thirsty for chaos that never seemed to cease, his appetite to torment me unyielding as he ripped out my heart. He is unrepentant, without a soul and resides in the darkness of error. This terrifying experience left me lost and in a state of limbo, descending into the depths of a frozen hell in search of my heart while warding off his lustful attacks, his treachery and wrath, aggression and finally his cunning.

Men who think that they can play a game with love do not understand love. Some men fraudulently shower their partner with persuading compliments where a man loses himself as he manipulates and convinces his woman to believe that she is in love. He is rewarded for his efforts but remains perpetually unsatisfied, locked in a submissive state where he is controlled by her like Sisyphus is controlled by the boulder because he has to constantly feed her false affection in order to keep her. Other men force women to submit through fear, reminding through his wrath and the threat of violence that she must believe there are no other possibilities other than staying with him. It is a man creating the conditions that control women, removing any authenticity or affection where one is attracted to someone because they admire mutual qualities to instead have a deluded couple tied to one another through lies. Women who identify with such men, who feel comfortable and acknowledge terrible behaviour as though it were acceptable are vicariously liable for perpetuating bad behaviour and are just as liable to blame. While there is indeed a larger schema of social pressure that infects people with these toxic patterns of expected behaviour, both Adam and Eve had fallen from heaven.

In this first phase, I was coming to terms with each of the experiences I had with a bad man behaving badly. This is where it all began and there were so many things he did that left me terribly confused. He gossiped and slandered me, he lusted after me and lied about me and about himself, he intentionally manipulated people against me, but worst of all was the continuous indirect threats he made over my life making me afraid that he was going to physically hurt me or rape me.

In order to reach a state of mind that would enable me to filter through the repeated and continuous effects of his attacks toward me, where I was filled with fear and anxiety, all I needed to do was to make it stop. This meant escaping, leaving the toxicity and going into hiding until I was at capacity to be free of him in order to have the capacity to focus.

  • Phase One: The Cessation of the Torment
    • You are actually experiencing the terrible and you need to get through it and out for the experience to end. I did it both by being forcibly removed from the toxic environment following a car accident, but also making him think things about me that were untrue so he can willingly stop. This is the most challenging.

Purgatorio

dante

The man who lies asleep will never waken fame,
And his desire and all his life drift past him like a dream,
And the traces of his memory fade from time like smoke in air,
Or ripples on a stream.

The beast followed me down the nine circles of hell until I reached the feet of the devil, the very place Satan had landed when tossed out of heaven and there I stood at the base of a great mountain that I was required to climb. The terraces of my own sins towered above me and I saw my broken heart – now pieced together – protected in a glass cabinet beaming with golden light at the very peak, waiting for my arrival. The beast lingered behind me and whispered mischievous and bitter remarks deep into my own soul but despite the gaping emptiness and weakness I felt, I needed to climb that mountain. I needed to understand and articulate who I was, what I understood of myself, of love and of morality. The mountain was me.

While I was no longer in his presence and there was no direct danger anymore, he continued to inflict violence and did so online by messaging me while pretending to be other people, driving around my home, otherwise humiliating me with deceitful behaviour that caused me incredible stress. The worst part was that despite being vulnerable and conscious that I was alone and in need of a friend, he used that advantageously to frighten me even further. By pretending to be other people, he stole my identity and my voice because I was too frightened to be myself, struggling to cope with feelings of humiliation especially when at the same time people were telling me about his slanders at work. He took away the reality that I was funny, kind, fiercely intelligent and instead forced his own assumptions of me by trying to prove to himself that I was not a good person. He never allowed me the chance to be myself and to show and explain who I really was.

The question at this point was what did he want exactly? Did he think that I was going to like it? Does he believe it was even remotely acceptable behaviour?

This was a lengthy period of time that I needed to heal and the climb was indeed long and arduous, discovering along the way who I was, what I wanted and gradually finding inner empowerment. It was a period of travel, especially to Italy where I was reminded of who I was and I started to take care of my health, quit smoking and stopped following other people. It was a time of solitude and although I risked slipping and falling off the cliff many times, I learnt the importance of virtue and leading a virtuous life. I mirrored myself against his evil and thus was able to reflect moral goodness, to articulate what I wanted in myself and in others, which was everything that he was not. I stopped running away from my enemies and started to face them, for them to see me and remember that I was not overcome by their evil. It was a time of exposing my vulnerabilities, dealing with acceptance and failure, disclosing my secrets and gaining a sense of courage.

In this cycle, I had no choice but to form a defense mechanism where in order to cope with the avalanche of terrible things that I had experienced, I shifted most of his wrongdoing into a repressed and quite place. I told myself that I liked him and that maybe he liked me, that he was not bad and within me lingered the hope or possibility that he would apologise, that he would regret his behaviour and feel some repentance. I did not really understand or accept who he was just yet and created the delusion and the hope that he would be my friend. I was protecting myself from the tremendous hurt that he inflicted and so I remained confused about my feelings toward him during this period. I needed to take care of me first.

  • Phase Two: The Long and Arduous Climb
    • You have moved past the anxiety and the fear and so comes the great task of trying to articulate both your own pain, the reasons for the misconduct and abuse you experienced, and finally your own wrongdoing. It is a period of healing.

Paradiso

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Here to us, thou art the noon and scope
Of Love revealed; and among mortal men,
the living fountain of eternal hope.

I reached the summit of this mountain of self-discovery and the transparent cube in which my beating heart lay ascended up towards the moon as the mountain collapsed below me and I flew high above as the clouds, Earth, the planets all melted away. I watched as my heart exploded into a supernova and created the most illuminating star that showed just as how much I love. Despite all I had been through from my parents, to my siblings, to my friends, to him and to me, I loved with the greatest love and had a deep and unyielding passion. My suffering became clear. I had no one to love and so I love God and God is everything. I need to commit myself to divine justice, to commit myself to a life of contemplation and prayer while also making a difference to show just how much I love. I hold in my hand the rose of peace and I had that to the three-headed beast.

Having our vulnerabilities exposed is not easy, on the contrary doing so is courageous and a type of strength that enables resilience to deal effectively with heartache. As tears roll down my cheek, I have been confronted with a ferocious reality that I had repressed the real person that he was in order to climb that mountain and find that healing. I created an idealism that had hope he would apologise and be my friend, that he would find the courage to be honest to me and everyone else and I only did this as a defense mechanism to cope with the fact that he hated me so much and that I was undeserving of such hatred. I actually really wished from the bottom of my heart that he would find that courage to help us reconciliate and it has been a terrible feeling to realise that I was only imagining this.

He gives honour and respect to undeserving people and mistreated a kind and loving person without any sense of shame. He never acknowledged me or allowed me to be me. Anything that I ever said before about liking him, hating him, none of it was real, it was an illusion I created as I was working toward mending my broken heart and why I have been chipping away on the subject of authenticity over this period. I see a three-headed beast who has created a false facade in order to trick people around him to make him think that he is a good person and so make him trick himself that he was justified for his bad behaviour.

If he told himself that something is wrong with me – despite him harassing and antagonising me that put me into a very awful position – and made other people believe it, he did this under false pretenses and having people believe him does not make these beliefs in anyway true. It breaks my heart so deeply that he never gave me a chance to be myself and that he stole my voice, my real identity, and threw it away. I am tremendously sad that he failed me as a person, as a colleague, as a friend, that he could not have the courage to admit to me his errors and that I am unworthy of even being looked at. This really hurts right now.

I am not at Premum Mobil just yet, I have only just awoken to this the last few days and when I think of him a pain suddenly stabs me in the side of my rib-cage as though the emotion were physically real. I am new to this phase but I understand what is coming. What I do know is that I need to find the courage to commit myself entirely to what I should have a long time ago and that requires the courage to be completely honest with myself. To make a promise and I know even now that I am afraid of this promise, like getting married knowing it is for life, I need to make that decision about who I am and what I want to achieve for the rest of my life.

  • Phase Three: A Lifelong Promise
    • Reality as it is and not as you imagine it, making you present in a real world. It is time to make a life-long decision about what you really want to do, to be and to commit yourself to that. It is about ‘you’ and not others anymore.
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