Disclaimer: I wrote this piece during a part of my healing process when I was reviving my own fight response. While I think the distinctions made have merit, I no longer feel the need to inhabit this emotional and mental space. Though I reserve my right to self defense without shame, I am most interested in reducing the number of experiences during which I need to defend myself. I have found that the number of people with truly villainous intentions is a great deal smaller than I imagined when it seemed my whole world was made of opportunities to prove my metal on the emotional battlefield of life.
This recent Facebook post more accurately reflects the nuance I bring to this subject matter now:
I HAVE TO BE RIGHT
When we start healing from complex trauma, we often have to wake up into the fight response and we often have to reclaim our "truth."
During this phase of our healing, we trust no one but ourselves. We give ourselves permission to fight off anything that feels wrong. We run. Finally we run.
But this is not an endpoint.
We have to actually move from this to the place of exploring the vast array of perspectives, personalities, intentions, etc. that people hold. Some of these will be absolutely innocent relative to what we imagine. Some will be inspired by different cultures and imperatives that we cannot see.
Life is complex. On the other side of claiming permission to fight for ourselves, there is a vast playing field in which we are not in danger and we can afford to explore all the glorious complexity.
When we can do this, we are very far along the way towards a full creative rebirth. No longer do we fear our emotions. No longer can our sense of self be manipulated by others. Hence there is very little to lose in this exploration.
But there is oh so much to be gained in personal and creative power, in curiosity, in an expanded mind that can release the habitual red flags of danger that are rooted in our worst experiences and which are contaminating our best hopes.
Oh, and until we get to this place, we are largely having a one-sided conversation with life and with our own past traumas. How boring is that?
CORE TRUAMA LIE: I must rely on my own rightness all the time. I must be omniscient or I will perish.
Pray with me:
Goddess of Wisdom, expand the playing field. Take me into vast explorations of curiosity. Give me a stable sense of myself and my value and an identity of plenitude so I can afford to experiment. Unlock the cage of repetition and release me into newness.
As you read this piece, I want you to know that it is my dream to live in a world that supports the blossoming of human potential. I have devoted my life to supporting people as they end their pain and move into living their purpose with power and clarity. My work is collaborative in nature. In addition, I am striving to build collaborative communities around me and my work.
Yet, I recognize that we live in a broader context that supports domination and exploitation interpersonally and globally. Collaboration often shows up in this context only as a means to an end rather than a joyful way of being together.
Further, I accept that there are people who are capable of tremendous horror. In fact, there are those who revel in creating terror and in violating other people. There are still others who don't embrace horror for its own sake, but rather for their gain.
It is to that reality that I now speak.
It is in the midst of that reality that I now proclaim my own right to and capacity for villainy.
Part I ∞ I'm No Dudley Do-Right
We like to break the world into neat categories of heroes and villains. In the common narrative, we set the villain up as someone who opposes the hero in the battle over society or over some damsel in distress. The hero is the one who vanquishes the villain and thereby saves Gotham. He is the Dudley Do-Right who comes along and unlashes the helpless Penelope Pitstop from the train tracks thereby foiling Snidely Whiplash’s evil plan again. The hero lives in a black and white world where s/he is the embodiment of good and the villain the embodiment of evil.
It is the face of the hero that George W. Bush attempted to wear when he declared his intentions to create regime change in all those countries he counted as part of the "Axis of Evil." For that matter, it is the face of the hero that ISIS (the Islamic Sate of Iraq & Syria) attempts to claim as it murders everyone who doesn't succumb to its brand of religious tyranny. ISIS fancies itself the hero of Islam. To hear ISIS tell it, everyone who does not accept its mandate is the great Satan and must be destroyed, raped, forcefully converted, or sold into slavery.
The hero always acts from the platform of moral superiority and in this way hides a multitude of sins. We frame the hero up to be one who fights, kills, and destroys for the right reasons and so we white wash whatever s/he does. The hero is on the side of the righteous.
If I take up the mantle of the hero, I do not have to own and account for what I do. I am protected by the veil of societal legitimacy. I get to tell a tall tale about the evil that resides out there somewhere in a person, a mission or a group of people. If people believe me then everything I do is justified by the fantasy that evil can be destroyed. Some people believe ISIS. Some people believed George W. Bush.
By aiming my guns at the fictitious face of so-called evil, I get to wear the cloak of impunity. I get to use words like collateral damage and justifiable war to make the slaughter of criminals and innocents alike more palatable.
No thank you!
I do not need this cloak of impunity nor the veil of legitimacy. I will go forward on the naked merits of my choices. I will own them, in my heart, where it counts.
Part II ∞ In the Villain's Game
Then why, you might be wondering, do I need a villain at all?
Because I live in harmony with the world!
I accept what is as it is rather than trying to dress everything up in the shiny veneer of a just and fair universe, or even a benevolent one.
I do not project love onto those who do not love me.
I do not waste my time trying to love tyranny into a better frame of mind.
I also do not believe there is some scale in the sky that will eventually even the score.
Besides, even if there were, when the raping and plundering (whether of spirit or body) is complete, tales of far off remedies on some distant judgment day always offer cold comfort.
So, when I find myself in a villain’s game, I play by the villain’s rules if that is what suits the moment. I do not do this as a hero. I do it out of a profound inner richness that does not deny me access to anything. If I am faced with villainy, I may choose to play the part of the villain too. I will not do this to vanquish evil but to vanquish that which I do not desire and to protect that which I hold dear.
My villain is my intentional shadow.
She was once the repository of my greatest wounds. Now she holds the poisonous darts of those wounds externalized and refined into discernment and self protection. She is part of my personal practice of self love.
My villain strikes without pity or mercy when necessary.
She does not use empathy to excuse, but only to understand what kind of strike is required. For this reason, she may appear to be without compassion. Yet nothing could be farther from the truth. My villain is absolutely full of compassion for me and for the world around me.
Do not mistake compassion for license.
My villain is also unapologetically wrathful. If you bring her treachery, she knows how to hand it back to you. If you dare to look into her steely eyes you may find your treachery has been magnified tenfold. Then again, you may find yourself confused by what you see there, neither love nor hatred, but rather, a simple clarity.
Love and hate do not interest me.
I concern myself only with effectively addressing that which is harmful or deadly to my spirit, my potential, my body…
I make no apologies for my villainous ways.
In fact, I claim the potential in my wrath. It is the doorway to plenty. My villain guards my space. She decides what enters and what must die in the road. She is a scorpion lying in wait: patient, focused.
My villain also has an uncanny ability to flush out the truth. She sees. But beyond seeing, she seduces. In her presence, you will feel inexplicably compelled to reveal yourself and your intentions. She will believe you when you do—the first time!
My villainous scorpion guards my heart. In this space, I am liberated from violation and liberated into my blossoming. My focus is no longer wasted in hyper-vigilant watching.
I no longer waste energy and time trying to love things better.
I have a new focus: the full realization of my potential and of my heart’s desires.
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