“You’re fighting back, don’t know what you’ve been thinking.
A walking burden, can’t you see you’re sinking?
Hiding in shadows, can you fight your demons?
Can you face yourself?”
So…I’m actually a long-time The Legend of Zelda fan. Maybe I’ll write about it one day (maybe).
For many reasons, Ocarina of Time was a big influence on me as a little girl, something that helped me cope with all the things that were happening around me, to me, that I didn’t understand, as I immersed myself in the world of Hyrule playing as the hero, Link.
There was one dungeon called the Water Temple which just about everyone hated, but I rather liked it; it had a lot of puzzles based on adjusting the water level, and let you explore the flooded levels.
My favorite part about it, though, had to be this: you enter this vast, misty room with shallow water that acted as a giant mirror on the floor. The only thing you see is the entrance, the exit, and this little island occupied by a dead tree. You pass the island towards the exit, and as you do, you realize your reflection is missing. The exit is locked shut, as it would when there’s an enemy you have to beat to unlock the room, so you turn back to see a dark figure under the dead tree.
It doesn’t move from its spot by the tree until you get close enough. It waits for you to make the first move. One could therefore avoid facing it by not approaching, but there’s no way out of the room until you do, as the entrance has also locked. You’re trapped in that room with this shadow until then, unable to go back or to go forward. When you do decide to get closer, you learn where your reflection disappeared to, as familiar features can be recognized in the dark figure. Get closer, and it draws its sword and shield, circling as you’d circle, guard as you’d guard, strike as you would.
“Conquer yourself!” is the only hint you get.
I think this illustrates so well the healing process; you have to face yourself, your history, the things you did that you regret, and the things that happened to you that probably had a big hand in what you did… basically, all the things you just don’t ever want to look at. There are some of us who struggle with even looking in a mirror; it’s the same fear, of seeing the unsightly things there as well as the things that we fear are there but not necessarily are there. All the same, you can’t heal if you don’t look, and instead cover it up, run from it, numb yourself of it, and everything else we do to avoid the sight. Until you do, you can’t break the spell, nor can you unlock the door that leads to the treasure waiting on the other side, something that you can’t advance without.
The difference is, especially when trauma was present, that while that dark reflection was a one-time enemy in that game, it’s something we have to keep doing as the lies, the distorted reflections keeps coming back. I was talking to a friend tonight how I did just that, still do just that; I don’t want to face how I feel, so I busy myself, get lost on the internet, isolate, or whatever, just so long as I don’t have to face how I feel. I did that today; I couldn’t see my doctor today because of the garage door in my building being repaired for a good chunk of the day left me unable to go anywhere with my car, so I went to the mall, went to the craft store, the grocery store, busied myself on a way to watch a show I recently got back into. It wasn’t until I sat down, and the two of us started talking that I admitted to myself what I already knew deep down, that I was trying to escape all the things I was going to talk about in therapy today.
That’s how it looks for me most of the time. I’d also get stuck in survival mode instead of living with a purpose (which requires a more positive, yet just as frightening, sort of introspection), or I’d get lost in these false identities of being someone who attracts/causes abuse, is a troublemaker or attention-seeker, is spoiled, etc…I don’t see the real me. I’d forget what I look like, forget my name. In the latter case, I’d do things that reflects those false reflections, acting out self-destructively, or even outwardly destructive, with thinking all kinds of hatred at people or kicking things to beat away the darkness that’s trying to come out.
Likewise, that reflection of Link in the game, known simply as Dark Link, isn’t a true reflection; it knows most of the sword moves Link knows, has the same shape, height, and built, but it’s all dark and demonic, its voice being a deep, distorted version of his. Other games with Dark Link in it would go further to say that it’s evil where Link is good, it’s cowardly where Link is brave. That’s kind of how my false selves would look like; me but not me, me that’s not so much a fragment as it is what my abusers or people who otherwise wounded me claimed me to be. When you hear something being said about you enough, especially as a child, you’re going to believe it.
Eventually, though, you see the truth. You see virtues or talents you have, see the progress you’ve made (and are making!) towards healing. It’s in those moments that you remember your true self hiding under all of that. The only move, after all, that Dark Link couldn’t do was the spin attack, something only the hero can do with his sword of Evil’s Bane. I think you could use your other weapons to try and beat it, but that’s how I did it, sword against sword.
I sure hope the day I can make the final blow on those false identities and lies will come soon. Some would argue that I should just try to accept it all as me, but I don’t want that. That’s good, but also bad in the sense that I want it now. I want healing now, I want wisdom now, I want to be saint now. Acceptance, though, is not condoning, nor giving up. I might not like what I see in the mirror now, but if I can see that true self at my core that doesn’t go away…I can find the compassion to not fear what I see, maybe even one day love what I see.
We don’t like seeing someone hurting, or sick, or angry, or destitute; that’s not how we want them to be. We want them to be whole, healed, at peace, and stable. Love is needed for that at the core of the healing. The newly canonized Mother Teresa saw that.
If only I can remember this, when those false identities and lies attack! If only I can remember this, it could be a much less frightening fight.
“Patience,” something in me whispers. “I’m here.“