It’s the time of year where scary things get their time to shine. Halloween is coming and everyone’s imaginations are dialed up as they ready themselves to don costumes representing their wildest dreams, their funniest jokes, or their worst nightmares. Some participants are tiptoeing through haunted houses and watching horror films, taunting fear as a form of entertainment. I’m a huge chicken so I stay on the lighter side of Halloween, but it got me thinking about the scary stuff we deal with every day.
Every other day of the year we live with terrifying realities that we can’t seem to shake. The bad decisions we’ve made in the past have taken the form of zombies. The undead things come after us, dragging themselves along, gray and putrid. The terror that it might catch up with us, bite a big ass chunk out of our lives and now we have become that thing we were trying leave behind us. The past or the truth comes out, and everyone sees the ugliness. For better or worse, the choices we make in life, move us like tokens on a game board until we reach the end of our time here. We are all bound to make some craptastic decisions at some points along the way. Some of those are things we’ve done that we wish could stay buried. Maybe no one even knows you did it, but there’s a fear that lives within, reminding you, just when you were on the edge of forgetting it ever happened. The zombie whispers, what would they think of you if they knew the truth.
Zombies don’t even friggin’ run and they still catch up to us. You can run like The Flash, dive between obstacles, hide under tables, and somehow you look up and that gimping asshole is two feet away, reaching out with his gnarled, blackened fingertips grazing the back of your neck. Zombie lore teaches us that the only way to kill a zombie is to destroy its brain to render it motionless. Maybe coming to terms with the mistakes of our past is what will take out that brain. Instead of running from it, what if we faced it, head on? If we can own our uglier moments in life, because we all have them, maybe they can’t chase us anymore. It’s a bit like the Making Amends step in a 12-Step Program. I don’t think that making amends and coming to terms with the things you’ve done is even for the other person. I think its for us. To finally stop hiding and running and burying our misteps, but to look them in the face a take a spiked bat to the head of that particular zombie.
I know I’ve lived with ghosts. My Ghosts were the ever present consequences of what I’d done wrong. They remained in my everyday life. Ghosts are fleeting and ethereal. Many times felt but unseen. The life of a situation has ended but the essence of it stays behind. Ghosts can be heart-attack-scary when the spirit of an awful period of time in your life haunts you every night. It can make us so fragile and broken from living in constant fear of something that should have already ended, but leaves its spooky fingerprints on your foggy bathroom mirror.
Most movies about the supernatural lead us to a place where we realize the ghosts are waiting to be set free. There’s a message they are waiting to send or unfinished business that once accomplished, allows them to be in peace, and the once-haunted victim moves on stronger and wiser. I don’t live with many ghosts anymore. As I’ve grown older and seek to seem like a well-adjusted human being, I’ve taken inventory of the shitty parts of my life and pulled value from them. When my first marriage ended, I felt a brokenness that made me abhor the ideals of romantic relationships. I no longer knew how to trust. There was a rage that boiled a cauldron full of everything I felt was stolen from me: happiness, security, other options, years of my life. But somewhere along the way, I began to understand those scary ghosts that haunted me. It was like I had found the missing pieces in the story of how the ghosts came to be and I knew what they needed to be exorcised from my life. I had to embrace the lessons to make me a better person. I learned what I needed to be able to avoid repeating the same mistakes. I took responsibility for the times the red flags were waving right in front of my face but failed to acknowledge. I suddenly saw all of the opportunities that I had to avoid the road we went down, and had to admit to myself that I was the one that had ripped off the caution tape and walked into my own house of horrors.
Sure, my ex was standing outside of the macabre scene with a tray of cookies, beckoning me to come in and have some tea, but I saw the ramshackle farce of our relationship. Still I said, this seems legit, and walked right in, throwing my middle finger to everyone who tried to point out the obvious error in my judgment. Once I began to take the things that haunted me and face them head on, turning them into lessons learned and acceptance of my reality, things weren’t so scary. One day, none of it even mattered anymore. My life was able to start anew and I could move on happier than ever. My ghosts have been put to rest.
Some of us have monsters. We’ve learned to live with them although they keep us from living a normal life. We’ve adapted to figure out how not to anger them as much as possible. Don’t stir them up or it will make it worse. It’s existing in fear. These monsters can be jobs that suck the life out of us, but we are afraid to leave. It could be an abusive relationship with a family member. Possibly, it’s a mental health issue that someone isn’t getting help for. The only way to beat a monster is to figure out it’s weak spot and attack it head on.
I’m such a scaredy cat when it comes to the things that I know aren’t even real. I’ve always been in awe of the people who can waltz into a haunted house and come out laughing. I can’t even imagine what its like to watch a scary movie and not have nightmares or be afraid of your own house for weeks. Its the terrors we walk with every day that I’m much more willing to face… except going to the dentist. Now THAT is my personal hell.