Rebels With a Cause

By Brett ElenaMarch 6, 2023

Rebels with a cause. And that cause is fighting for our souls.

But rebels, really?
Because one would hope, in an ideal world, that such a thing would be the norm, not the exception.
Or, perhaps, one wouldn’t need to “fight” to find the space to be human.

…perhaps that is quite idealized, indeed.

The phrase stemmed from an ongoing conversation I had bantered through with a friend. Something to the effect of our monthly existential crises, questioning and reexamining current roles/positions/behaviors, etc, in the context of our close-held values.

Y’know, casual, everyday topics. Cocktail party fare, really.

I joke but having walked through quite a dark time several years past, in a sense, making the space for these conversations WAS progress. Through persistent struggle and perseverance, I had fought my way through the muck and mire of others’ expectations, my own shadow work, and generational baggage to arrive to another side—clear, free. Not perfect, not complete, no. Not unchanged.

But wild once more. A little unfettered. A little goofy. A little scarred, with memories tucked away in surprising, unlikely corners. But free to create, free to wonder.

Free to be.

In my mind, throughout those years of super fun excavation, I had always pictured myself laying a foundation for a new home, a new life: a stable, well-constructed, intentional foundation of self-love. Not one comprised of all of the cultural/family intricacies that we inadvertently place on children, but one of my choosing. I joked (but I wasn’t joking) that I could get myself into a codependent relationship and have them “fix” me, or I could get a dog and do the work myself.

I got the dog.

These days, though, I’m much kinder to myself. I’m still not going to compare myself to Mother Theresa or other paragons of virtue—but I am better. And, having “completed” this foundation, I’ve been thinking of what next I would like to add to my home, this little creation I’ve nurtured.

What will be the pillars, the cornerstones?
Love? (Or is that just supposed to waft in the air, like the smell of baking bread?)

Imagine my discomfort, then, to revisit a behavior that had previously rocked my world—just like a T-Rex unexpectedly appearing, rushing up to maul the Jurassic Park Jeep.
Sometimes these moments come at us unexpectedly.
Sometimes we choose them, for reasons best known to ourselves.
The resulting effect is quite similar. Chomping jaws, greedy claws. Chaos and confusion.
What will the result be?
Is this new, fragile home destroyed?
Do we return to past behaviors, past ways of being?
Cower and hide, duck and roll?
Because the reactive conditioning is still there, encoded into our DNA—the fear, the anxiety.

…and yet.
And yet.

What about those rebels, fighting for their souls?
What about that defiance?

Or what about fatigue, when we have no more energy?
Is “fighting” the only way?

(The shock of having a T-rex arrive is, after all, quite exhausting. Especially when he’s been a repeat, unwelcome visitor in the past.)

Ultimately, I would argue there’s time and space for both.
Often, it’s the young and foolhardy who react instantly—who rush out the door, brave but unprepared.
In B-movie terms, I find these are usually the ones eaten first.

After the initial upset, though (i.e., after George gets eaten, and the frenetic, energy-intense panic dissipates), I would argue there is a time for sipping tea or hot cocoa with a friend, in the shelter of their homes, their love. Letting Rexy rampage outside, as we spend away the hours in comfort. Fully aware of their presence but choosing to rest.

For now, at least.

Because eventually—we do have to come to the door.
We do need that confrontation, that reckoning. That coming to terms with past behaviors, past fears.

And in that moment, are our new homes destroyed? Do we let the fear in, let Rexy break everything we’ve built? All of the “musts,” “shoulds,” the “shalls,” the catastrophizing? Will his roar drown us out, even at our own front doors?

… it might. Drug overdoses killed over 106K in the US in 2021 alone. Suicide killed 47K.

And every one of them has a story.

But then again…
Maybe it won’t.

Because those friends did more than give us hot cocoa—they gave us time to rest.
To regroup.
To plan, to choose the time and circumstances of our reckoning.

That time allowed the shock to drain from our bodies, and our higher cortex to kick in.
We did do this work.
We did lay this foundation of self-love. We laid it with time, and care, and precision, and much, much effort.
And we get to decide who is allowed to come in.

Boundaries are no longer a buzzword, no longer an imaginary line in the sand: they become our new bylines for how we allow ourselves to be treated.

Rexy can come in, sure—but he has to behave politely.
Or, alternatively—he can remain outside the boundaries of our homes, like a misbehaving, particularly yappy, poodle.

Rampage away, Rex—do your worst.
But not here.
Not anymore.

Because we built these homes.

With love. With respect.
With time, and care, and help from friends.

And yes, we might have run away from the raging Tyrannosaurus before, when we were ill-prepared and taken by surprise. (Who wouldn’t?)
But that was another day.
Another version of ourselves, when we were still lost in the wilds of our own minds.

Now we have homes.
Now we have rules.
And Rampaging Rexy is no longer welcome.

People need other people. You are not weak for wanting or needing support. If you’re seeking professional help, we encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. If it’s encouragement or a listening ear that you need, email our team at [email protected].

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