There and Back Again by Anca I.

Also known as ‘The Protector of Light’ short story

After weak and quite superficial, yet decent investigation on how the brain works, I’ve come to define it as a machinery of thoughts with controllable and uncontrollable parts. An ever-evolving and transforming machinery, not always to our own benefit. A very loud one, as well. It’s full of whatifs and backthens and notenoughs, maybe. And it can get overwhelming, specifically in hard times.

So I hereby present you a dialogue from the inside of my head, which I need to transcribe here just to mock up this machinery and find ways of coping with its deceitful ways of functioning. Because once you recognize the uselessness of a thought, it starts to lose value — even though not immediately. Hence… whenever you feel like walking into Mordor, although one might not simply walk into it, maybe the below will help bring some perspective.

“ — So…. you’re lonely, you’re going back to your lonely house, it’s so sad, right? Your body feels heavy like a boulder washed by rain and this boulder has a throat filled in with smaller stones. Heavy heart, heavy mind. Just feeling helpless and desperate. Hey remember this thing which used to be part of happier times? Brings back such painful memories ugh just stirring the knife even deeper into the heart. Yes, so dramatic, it’s almost like the end of the world but yeah …so what to do with this sadness now? Drowning in it sounds like a great idea. Maybe don’t get out of bed…scroll endlessly on social media and just cry it out for God’s sake. Cry little girl, cry as long as you want. Remember the better times which are now not good at all. Everything is shitty and will be shitty. Life is pain and whatnot. What will you do with it? Remember that horrible quote from One Tree Hill, People always leave? Yeah, so they do, get used to it. Even the ones currently in your life will… you have to think about that, they’ll be gone one day, in a few years. They won’t be the first or the last. So sad and terrifying, just PICTURE IT! And you’ll be lonely and sad. Did I mention lonely? Again…what are you going to do now? What does it matter anyway…

(Now imagine something like Gandalf the White with a glowing beamer staff walking on the blue sea of sadness; something like Jesus. Personal Jesus…yeah pun intended)

- Ok, I’m gonna have to stop you right there. I’m The Protector of Light and I do not allow such things to be spoken. Not now. Just crawl back to your place and stay there. Don’t you see how ridiculous you are? Don’t you see there are no regrets here? How dare you?

- Yes, but the sadness, the memories, the possibilities, and let’s not forget the REGRETS which you say don’t exist

- Hey hey! What did I just say? We’re not going to let this stream poison the calm sea, as calm as it is, surely… You are nothing but a petty thought and there’s little room for you here. You are not welcome.

-(evil laugh) Do you think it’s so easy to let me go away? Do you think I’ll just ‘leave and never come back? It’s not so easy, you fool. I’m hungry, I need to feed on something.

-I think you should chew on your own raw edges, you have plentiful. No, I don’t want you gone. I want you to become small, insignificant, not able to do harm. Yes, for sure you’ll still exist, but at our own conditions.

-Our own?

The Protector of Light points gently to a girl in the corner, big teary eyes, looking scared.

-Yes, our own. So here’s the thing — each time you attempt something hurtful, bringing back any past, any memory, any remorse, and sad and treacherous piece of imagination, we’re going to blind you so badly until you learn not to show up here so often anymore.

-You can’t do that! I HAVE THE POWER!

-You silly. You have no idea how small that power is. Just watch.

(the sounds of darkness become muffled in the background and we can’t hear that anymore)

The Protector of Lights approaches the little girl and starts speaking softly:

-Now….we shall think about small things we can do today. Folding clothes? Let’s do it. Riding the bike, going out for a run, increasing a bit the endorphins of this vessel? Sure. What else?

The girl approves, slowly tilting her head, still confused, with the vast sea of sadness in her eyes on the edge of spilling out.

-It’s also ok to cry, if that’s what you feel like. But not for long — as you see it’s draining your energy. And we need that energy to rebuild, ok? We need it to eat, sleep properly, not get sick. Seems probably dumb, but it’s how it works and you know it very well, you’re a smart girl.

Also — as much as I am Protector of the Light, I shall not be destroyer of the darkness. Not because I don’t want to, but I cannot.

There will always be less illuminated thoughts and feelings. But if we protect the light casting these shadows….we will have a good chance at being slightly better than before. So… what say you? Give me your hand and let’s work together. I’m your ally.

-Ok. Let’s do it.

-You are so very brave!”

At this point, I seriously hope you had some voice interchanges in that dialogue. Though ‘imaginary’, these are real mechanisms of the brain, as real as they can get, without us having the ability to touch them. However, we can alter them. For my part, it’s what I’m trying to train and cope with in these hard times, in this awful year, but perhaps not the first, nor the least awful year of my life. Maybe the most awful one will be the one I die in, but that’s a terrible idea to think about for now.

It’s hard, it really is. On the other hand, it’s easy to say life is just pain and question and ponder every decision we ever make and feel empty, especially after heartbreaking shattering moments in our life, when we maybe lose something or someone. This is why I’m learning to not only live with my brain, but to educate my brain in choosing better attitudes. I cannot teach my brain how to make better decisions because we might never know if a decision was good or not — maybe only with the passing of time, as we’re not fully aware of possible consequences. I can, however, help my brain in summoning all the rational mechanisms I can pull in trying to soothe the avalanche of emotions. Not stopping them, but protecting what is more valuable than negative traits: the light, the hope. The trust that somehow there is and will be beauty, and that things will never remain the same. They are bound to change, sooner or later, hopefully for a better future. There are so many ways, so many doors… not worth it to get stuck. Sure we can get stuck for a while — pretty normal and somewhat healthy. In the end, though, we cannot live our life in fear. And self-fulfilling prophecies like this one or other inner dialogues might help if I’m struggling, if we’re struggling.

This conversation is more or less repeated every time, maybe with different patterns, but it’s not a one-time show. It’s an everyday show of the healing process. A process for which we must show up.

Thank you for reading this humble piece of myself. I wish it was useful for something and yes, if you’ve gotten so far, I do hope you realize the obvious LOTR references in this article. It’s something that’s been inspiring to me for more than half of my life. Good to have such levers to pull when one’s down.

Take care,

A.

Art, sustainability, biking, travelling enthusiast. I write for and with pleasure. I think life’s just a perspective. You read my name as *you’re the keskoo*.