Everyone knows how to make a sculpture of an elephant. You take a block of rock and ship away at everything that isn’t ‘elephant’. I love this metaphor for how to fix me, or how to find me more specifically. I was a ‘boy’, they told me, when I began my journey but didn’t really explain what that meant.
I was a catholic, they said. “But I don’t like Catholics!”, I rebelled and furthermore, “I don’t like labels of any sort”. Trying to be a ‘good Catholic boy’ was very tough work. I soon got tired of being confused.
When I grew up to being ‘A man’, I wasn’t any the wiser on being a man than I was with being a boy. Now, no longer a catholic, I was a dad and a husband and an employee. Stumbling around and into others who were men, dads, husbands and employees of all sorts of companies and governments, I was getting tired of being angry and confused. One of the troubles with this state was, I was often angry at the easiest thing to get angry at – which has at least three negative consequences. One, I became angry and had to suffer. Two, the person I was angry at had to suffer. Three, the thing I was supposed to be angry at didn’t get attention at all. From this time forth, all things which got no attention were labelled, “The Elephant in The Room”.
It’s like unrequited anger, isn’t it?
Avoidance strategies take many different guises but typically include these three tactics. Running at a problem, running from, or hiding. My strategy was drinking, gambling with concurrent or interim smoking of cigarettes. This generally kept me from the higher level management practices – homicide and suicide. Working and womanising were my pastimes which also shielded me from dealing with TEITR (The Elephant in The Room).
How can I succeed in sculpturing TEITR when I can’t see it or name it? Well I chipped away at everything that wasn’t TEITR until all that remained was TEITR. Rock bottom I call it. There was nothing left in regards to physical prowess, material possessions or relationships with others. But the Elephant was still there.
There is a quaint saying abounding social media that goes like, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the ONLY option you have”. At rock bottom there is not much strength left – usually only the strength of others and maybe a Higher Power. So with the help of others and a Higher Power I found a way out of rock bottom holding hands with the Elephant, the only thing that survived the long descent and the subsequent, inevitable crash. Good old Elephant!
Eventually, with the help of my new-found friends and a Higher Power, TEITR was revealed – slowly and vaguely at first and then more clearly. Anger and Ignorance was it’s qualities. Two sides of the same coin. Ignorance of not understanding who I was and what is expected of me and Anger at why this is so.
What did I do wrong? Who is responsible?
These two questions epitomise the quest for sanity and were largely never answered, at least not to my satisfaction. And with no where left to go and with the resources availed me through the love of others (whom I had been too proud to avail previously) I was able to begin the task of peeling back the stuff that’s not elephant. I call my elephant Delusions now. His qualities are Anger and Ignorance and Attachment. With some help and a lot of practice Delusions is getting smaller.