Sometimes things in life happen very spontaneously and randomly. Or so it seems. A couple of days ago this “spontaneous thing” was the subject of my conversation with my dear husband about the similarities between writing and therapy. You see, my husband is a writer and sometimes it amazes us how much these two activities – therapy and writing – have in common.
One point in particular struck me: “The Heroes Journey.” My husband’s latest discovery and subject of study is the so-called “monomyth.” This term was coined by James Campbell in application to storytelling. The monomyth is the journey of a human that is the foundation of every fairytale, book or movie ever made. Wikipedia says that the monomyth “involves a hero who goes on an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed.” They say that art reflects life and if we look closely, we will find this monomyth in all human endeavors.
This is what I was thinking yesterday while I was sitting with my client. Every client’s journey follows the steps of the whole of humanity and of each individual separately.
When we are born, we are completely innocent, full of life and joy, connected to all that is. We can even say that new born babies are one with the totality of life, they are life itself. And then…Human “life” happens, with “bad parenting,” pain, trauma and “all that other stuff.” In an effort to survive, to avoid pain we close up to life and joy. And this is how our “human journey” begins – with its struggle and suffering.
Then, there comes a point when suffering reaches its peak. Or some circumstances occur where we just can’t live as before. And here starts another leg of our journey – what I call “the journey home.” Do you remember the bible Parable of the Lost Son? He left his father, went out, experienced life and then came back, humble and grateful. This is what happens to us too. And this is what I am seeing with my clients. The following story is way too common in the agency where I work. The story goes like this.
She too had to go through her journey. A painful childhood with problems in the family, abuse and trauma. Not being able to deal with it all she got into drugs. Drugs became a prison she was stuck in for several years, unable to escape even though she heard several calls to quit. Finally, the last straw happened when Child Protective Services took her kids away. This became her wake up call. Now she embarked on a journey back to herself, back to her sanity, back to a sober life – on another level, more conscious and intentional.
In order to really get grounded in sobriety, in complete wholeness, it’s necessary to heal the past pain – which means facing it in order to stop running away from it. This is where the main act of heroism happens. For someone who used to run away from pain all their life, purposely feeling it takes courage. We have to fight our demons, our fears, illuminate our shadows and bring light to the darkest corners of our soul. This is the main battle on our Heroes Journeys – resolving the inner conflict between our innate impulse for growth, for unfolding… and the fear of change, of the unknown, of pain. It’s a conflict between our longing for love and for connection versus a fear of being hurt, rejected, betrayed.
So many people lose the battle and go back to complacency, to the familiar and automatic living instead of pushing themselves forwards through the fog of their own doubts, uncertainty, despair and loneliness. But others push forward no matter what. They choose to stop running and fight their Dragons. If they persevere, they win the battle and reap the reward – attaining the state of being totally alive, creative and free – free from suffering and struggle. And thus, “The Hero’s Journey” is completed.
And what about you? Will you hear YOUR call? Will you follow YOUR destiny to complete YOUR journey home?