Face to Face with the Demons

James Anthony Ellis 
Legacy Magazine Editor

So many opportunities to flee.

So many chances to take the cowardly path. into denial, distraction. disassociation, avoidance.

It’s easy to list the scary and spooky places I have attempted to escape in order to go to my “happy place.”

  • Certain bills that come in the mail
  • Online bank account tallies
  • The e-mail from one maniac tenant
  • The certified mail from the mortgage company demanding that I admit I am receiving their love notes
  • The conversations in which it appears hopeless that I would be heard
  • Looking in the mirror at the need for some teeth-work
  • The belly – like the virus stats – that won’t flatten out
  • The nightmares where I run and run and run away from the monsters chasing me

Sometimes, I just want to run away. And hide.

And sometimes I do. Through my infinite unenlightened intelligence, I am able to find some awesome distractions, such as YouTube, jerking off, Facebook surfing or maybe even a well-placed nap. Or all the above.

Even with the avoidance, what is most definite is no matter how much I hide or avoid, whatever it is that I’m running from … will never completely stop. Like a balloon tied to my ankle, it tends to run behind me as fast as I run on “ahead.”

And so what happens when I don’t run? What happens when I choose to stop the avoiding and just stand my ground, turn around and face the demon chasing me?

I’ll tell ya, it’s pretty darn anti-climactic. For the drama is complete. The car chase has ended. Show is over. And what a bore it has become.

  • Reviewing the online banking? OK, I know what I need to do to handle this situation. At least I have a target now to reach.
  • Looking in the mirror at the belly and teeth? Hmmm, no problem. I think I’ll run a few times this week.
  • Opening the mail? Well, that wasn’t so bad. And man, I feel so much better having organized the bills and thrown away the excess envelopes and paperwork.

What happens once I stand up to the fears and simply face what I’ve been avoiding? I feel tons lighter.

YOU MEAN I could have done that earlier? Oh well, that’s the way it goes with fear I imagine. Looking straight at it mitigates its delusional power over us.

It’s like that bully who cowers once you stand up to him, showing he really had nothing of worth backing him up. His insecurity (and fear) was just a fucking bluff. Fuck him.

I would say “fuck fear” here, but perhaps that is not the attitude to take. Even fighting fear may not be the best approach. We already know that avoiding it or running from it only makes it more real. Fighting it may do the same thing.

In the end, perhaps the best thing we can do is approach fear like an old friend, asking it what it wants to say. If the expression is absurd, we correct it. If insightful to some actual threat, we thank it and shift our actions accordingly. If attempting to shut us down in fright, we stand up to it and simply say, “No thank you. I’ve got things to do.”

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James Anthony Ellis is an award-winning playwright, journalist and filmmaker, who is the author of eight books, including the men-focused “The Honor Book” available HERE. His blog “Holy Shit” can be found HERE.

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