Welcome back to another edition of My HeroQuest: A Nerds Guide to Self Help. It’s been quite some time since my last posting and we will talk about why in this weeks, Broken Pieces. Last session we took a look at Overcoming Obstacles and the negative and positive aspects of them. If this is your first time here, I invite you to take a look at how all this got started in my First Post.
Carefully Forward in Pieces
The broken pieces of goblin lie in scattered remnants on the cold stone floor, Braun shaking his head toward the group after having thoroughly sifting through the remains. Nothing. It wasn’t expected that the rotten goblins would have much, but they had hoped for at least a couple of copper pieces to make it all worthwhile.
Eric, the wizard smiled a heartfelt gratitude to Elomir for removing the arrow from his shoulder. The company pushed themselves back onto their feet. “We must be more careful”, Gorn exclaims. “Yes, Gorn, you’re right. You should take point from here on out. Your keen nose will keep us moving in the right direction.” Eric ceded. The party reorganized with Gorn at the front, followed by Eric and Elomir, leaving Braun protecting the rear.
The party continued forward. The beat of their footsteps and the rustling of armor the only noise echoing off the stone. Time passed. The hallway around them seemingly extending to no end. “We’ve been walking forever” Braun complained. Indeed, the dungeon seemed to be going on and on with no sight of another corridor or cross-section. Were they making any progress? How could they tell? “Is this some magical trick?”, Elomir questioned. Eric shook his head. Though he was still a young, inexperienced wizard, he knew enough about the magical arts to sense its presence when it was near. Didn’t he? The corridor grew darker with every step.
The Shadow Grows
Eric’s wand was having difficulty casting light beyond the shadow, Gorn’s back becoming harder and harder to see. A silhouette in the night. Eric knew he was right in front, but the illumination of his wand didn’t extend beyond his hand. The fall of footsteps around him fell silent. Eric reaches out to grab onto Gorn’s shoulder, so he wouldn’t lose him in the dark, but there was nothing but emptiness. Eric flails his hand in the darkness, grasping at the cool air around him.
“Gorn? Elomir? Braun?” he calls out. No answer. Even his voice seems to be trapped by the surrounding darkness. He panics and strides forward and backwards, swiping at the air, hoping to snag a familiar hand full of cloth or chink of armor, a dread spreading throughout his body. There wasn’t even anything to his sides. What had happened to the walls, which moments before were closing in around them?
He ran. He ran in all directions, calling out. His footsteps didn’t echo, his clothes made no noise, the familiar rush of air that would call against his ears was absent. Tired and out of breath he couldn’t even hear the gasping from his lungs. He falls to the floor. A floor of darkness in a void of nothing. He sits for as long as he can keeping his eyes open, until exhaustion overcomes him and he slips into unconsciousness. Just before sleep takes him, he swears he hears a soft, sweet voice calling out in the black.
The Beginning Again
“Eric”, a voice suddenly bursts through his ears, followed by the feeling of being shaken. Opening his eyes, Eric stares at an old solid door. “Are we going in or are we going to stand here all day?” Eric turns his head toward the familiar voice. Gorn stands with anticipation along with his other companions, but it was beyond them that gave Eric a start. The Prison Road, stretching behind them off into the hills and the Wildwood beyond. The blue sky and white puffy clouds above.
Eric turns back toward the old door as horror sets in. He was back at the beginning. Had he failed? Was he starting all over again?
Picking Up The Pieces
I stopped writing for a while because like Eric the wizard, I too had lost my way, but this time it was different. Unlike Eric, it was my fault and this time there was the promise of something beautiful, which turned out to be false. Afterwards, I was left standing in the darkness again, alone with the broken pieces of the practices that I had previously been building for myself. Was I back at the beginning? Did those months of self discovery mean nothing? No, it was all still there, and I knew I only had myself to blame for the darkness.
In past articles, I realized that my writing took on a prescriptive nature. I would speak on an issue from a position of authority, which was false and misleading. Even though I spoke from a sincere place of novice learning, it still walked the line of “let me tell you how this works.” I know no more about how these subjects work in our lives than any other man or woman. I only know what I believe and what I’ve read or learned from others and my own experience.
Self-Help is a complicated mess, because there’s a lot of prescriptive information out there. I’ve read some, though not nearly enough. Much of what I’ve read involves someone telling you how they made themselves better, picked up their own broken pieces and how it can work for you. There’s a lot of well meaning people, but there are a lot of false idols as well. Some are truly writing in hopes of helping others, while others only writing in hopes of filling their pockets. It is a billion dollar business after all as Mark Manson eloquently puts in his 5 Problems with the Self-Help Industry.
In this time of silence, I realized that I don’t want to be the type of person who tells you that my way is the right way to put back your own broken pieces. I realize that each individual has to discover this for themselves. What I can do is try and write honestly and sincerely about things I don’t want to talk about and maybe, just maybe, it’ll ring true for someone else. I want to be genuine, allowing others to read what I write, realize they are not alone in their feelings, and leave it for discussion.
No longer will I be explaining the discipline I’ll be developing, because it’s mine and mine alone. If and when something truly works, I may share it in an open discussion, but not in a post where the words could be read as “the way” or “the answer”, because the truth is, it’s going to be different for everyone. You have to find your own way of working through your pain. I can only share how my pain affects me.
Putting the Pieces Back Together
To start, I will talk about how I feel in this moment and will continue to do so in future articles. Hopefully, in peeling back my layers on the page, I can discover my personal demons and begin to work on them truthfully and privately without a prescribed method. I want to put my broken pieces back into a better and more beautiful me.
This week, I’ve been dealing with loneliness and heartache, among other things. The beautiful distraction that I spoke of previously was a lady who came into my life, unexpectedly, as they do. I’ve dated off and on for years, but it has been nearly five years since my last “relationship”. I know I’m a jaded man. I do have some reason to be. Many of my relationships of the past have not ended well and I was left feeling betrayed, stripped naked, cold on the floor.
Through time though, I always find many ways in which the fault was also with me, but it never makes it easier. The jade still continues to crystallize over my heart. After the last, My heart grew cold. I was also starting to develop, in other areas of my life, this broken figure that writes to you today. Growing jaded in love, jaded in my dreams, jaded in life. I pushed everything and everyone around me away and kept new possibilities at an arms length. I met new people, spoke pleasantries, but failed to form new friendships, dated and fucked with little emotion, and watched my career struggle not realizing that it was my internal machine that was full of broken pieces that needed mending.
Recently, I took a chance and opened my heart only to have it rejected again. A part of me actually wasn’t surprised, there were signs, but the other half was angry, resentful, and hurt. Sitting in that moment I did what I have always done. I was calm, understanding and nearly speechless. I left without fuss, trying to be considerate, knowing I would need to process my thoughts even though I would likely never get a chance to express them. In that time after, I also did what I always do. I replayed that scenario, but saying all the things I wanted to say or couldn’t think to say or would never say. The clever questions, the hard truths.
There was a moment when I was going to leave, but she wanted to talk. There was a glimmer of a different me. A glimmer of that jaded man I had become wanting to lash out, but his voice was snuffed. He wanted to say “What’s the point? You’ve made it clear you don’t want to be with me, so why should I stay? To give you peace?” There were other moments in that short conversation that followed in which the bitter man inside wanted to lash out, be cruel. These feelings weren’t going to help me overcome this heartbreak.
Kindness Is King
I’ve been told my whole life I’m a kind person, but in that moment I wanted to forgo that. I wanted to be mean because I was tired. Tired of feeling like broken pieces. Tired of being kind. Isn’t that horrible? I was tired of being kind, because I felt it wasn’t being rewarded, but being taken advantage of. Yet, that bitter man didn’t come out, because she didn’t deserve that. After all, it wasn’t her fault. The signs were there, but I chose to ignore them. I knew she was on her own singular path, knew she was resistant to the idea of a relationship, and knew she was leaving and I wasn’t ready to go. Not yet. Maybe by the time that day came I would be, maybe not, but I was already unconsciously putting that pressure on myself because I wanted to be with someone so desperately.
It didn’t help that she was good to me. Made me feel wanted and cared for. She challenged me and taught me new things that I can use to try and mend some of these broken pieces with. I tried to do the same for her. I think I succeed in some ways. Her life hasn’t been easy and I wanted to be the gift she asked the universe for. Perhaps I was in a way, perhaps I wasn’t. Perhaps I’m full of shit and don’t actually know anything and all of what I’m saying is wrong. It’s only my point of view after all. I have my path and she has hers.
Remembering My Own Path
My biggest mistake was ignoring my own path. When I meet the next, I hope to stay on my path and maybe, hers will cross mine often enough that we can make it work. It should never be the same path, but paths that compliment the main road of life for the both of us.
In the end I was left standing at the door to the entrance of my personal dungeon, broken pieces in hand, some lost, some yet to be found. I had lost track of time in a moment of bliss and I was left back at the beginning or so I thought. Turns out, I’m never at the beginning. It just sometimes seems that way.
I’ll continue to pickup the broken pieces that were already scattered and forage forward. Hopefully, on the way I’ll continue to thank the universe for sending me something beautiful, even if for a brief moment. I may be tired of being kind, but I’ll never not be. Maybe I’m jaded, but I’ll never be that spiteful man who wanted to lash out in anger. I will work against the bitterness that likes to creep its way into my veins. Kindness is too important. I’ll force myself to look at my own shortcomings because I’m on a journey to my best self and it’s a long and murky road filled with failure.
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