Several years ago my friends and I coined a phrase for a condition which, at the time, we believed was unique to us. We called it The Demons. We were in our late 20’s and we had begun to lose our fear of being judged by others so we were overjoyed to finally talk about this condition openly and honestly.
We were all successful, happy women, blessed with good families and good friends and pretty much without a worry in the world. Why, then, did we constantly get distracted and often lie awake at night unable to stop these demons from zooming around our heads. Demons which generally consisted of;
‘I shouldn’t have had that last glass of wine, I behaved like a dick’-‘I laughed too hard at my own jokes tonight’-‘I shouldn’t have said that mean thing about that girl’-‘my work is gonna find out I can’t really do my job’-‘I forgot to phone my mum again’-‘I should be doing something worthwhile with my life’-‘I’m never gonna find true love’ and the predominant question nicked from Eliza Doolittle – ‘what is to become of me?’
As you can imagine, it was exhausting! At an age where we should have been in our prime we were more lost than ever and couldn’t stop worrying about where life’s journey was going to take us. I have since found out that we were not alone and this is a common phenomenon. In fact The Demons is a well used phrase…. We were simply participating in this zeitgeist of shared first world problems if you will.
When you are having a demon day you don’t listen to Gorillaz of course, you listen to The Carpenters. I’ve seen grown men cry along to The Carpenters on demon days -I don’t think demons are solely a female issue. However, if you are a woman, you might also listen to Joni Mitchell and right now I wish I had a river I could skate away on – this last week has been the first time in a long time that these familiar demons have peeped their cheeky little heads above the parapet. Why can’t we just be grateful and happy with what we’ve got?
Although I never suffered with the demons as much as some of my friends I had thought I’d banished them forever when I changed the direction of my life last year and started to pursue my dream of becoming a writing rather than fantasising that I would one day get round to doing what I felt I should be doing and save some orphans.
But, a couple of weeks ago, I did what I had promised and sent my first piece of writing off to a website. Instead of the longed for rejection letter I got a note of enthusiasm… we love your piece! We want to publish it this week! You can imagine my surprise and fear and utter shock at this turn of events and I spent a lot of the week either just crying, yelping at strangers in the street with excitement or chewing my hand off in anticipation. When the piece
didn’t get published these feelings were inevitably accompanied by shrouds of self-doubt and reluctance to believe it would ever happen but I have decided to relax and just be happy that they liked it, THEY LIKED IT! But still the demons persist…
I’m starting to realise that the demons only appear when I engage with real life, when I put myself out there, when I risk criticism or hurt and I am reluctantly accepting that the glory of real life might be worth the demons.
Back when we ‘discovered’ this condition, and we were all suffering from varying degrees of demonization, two of my closest friends tried to run away from the demons by going to northern Spain for a few days. I couldn’t go – I think I was working – but something seemed to happen on that trip and they both came back from it having made decisions about their lives and their futures and in many ways having banished those particular demons forever. They now have other demons to face, but at least they have moved forward and dealt with the first round of demons which were holding them back.
I now need to move forward too…I have done a lot of running away in my time, but mostly to have fun, not to navel gaze, so maybe it’s time I started. I have a couple of weeks off work so I am going to see a dear friend in Portugal who has kindly offered to put me up in his parents beach house for the week. I plan to stare at the sea and hope these demons wash away to make space for new ones, the old ones are getting tired. But I know I mustn’t banish the demons forever, I need to understand them and embrace them for what they are – part of the glorious tapestry of living. Without the doubt and fear they encourage we’d all basically be even bigger self obsessed wankers than we are, and the (first) world would be an even shittier place.
Bring it on you demons! See you on the other side!