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  • Writer's pictureShawna Baca

The Devil I Know

In the aftermath that followed last week’s Oscar stint by Will Smith in front of millions of viewers to a packed house of successful creatives, I cannot stay silent about the layers of disfunction this unveils masked underneath a highly successful individual that has become a household name, often described by many as a charming, funny, and dedicated family man.

I am not here to defame any one’s character or add to the narrative, but more so to explore and open the discussion on my point of view as it relates to mental health, underlying issues, emotional trauma, and circumstances that inhibit us from being totally free from it, and often a leave us as a slave to those emotional triggers that consume us at a given moment if triggered the right way.

What do we often get triggered by? How do triggers work? In my personal experience, mine was always associated with trauma and a theme to either an experience or an insecurity that I feel that makes me vulnerable. When that topic comes up, I am reminded by this trigger, it gets first validated by this person’s words, then it activates that bullying voice inside my head that would beat me up. Words have power and sometimes they have power over us.

As someone who has mastered many issues in my life over the course of many laboring years, I still given the right timing or the right situation can get triggered by something someone says and someone does. The difference now is I have a head full of knowledge and the tools to dismantle any negative emotion that seeps into my brain and distract it from making that trigger come alive or cause a reaction out of me. We often look at celebrities as these perfectly mastered people. We respect their work, their success, the triumphs and somehow live vicariously through them as we put them up on pedestals and consider them our role models. We often want to be like them and have their lifestyles. But, they are human and as Smith pointed out in his recently published memoir, he was traumatized by his father’s abusive nature and he fear of standing up for him.

The guilt has built up inside him for decades, yet, despite his maladies, he has gone on to become one of the greatest action heroes on screen. A mask and a role he may have secretly or subconsciously fantasized about, showing him as a dominant force, powerful, and a hero, while inside, this serves as a fantasy escapism of the boy who couldn’t help his mom.

With this news on everyone's feeds, on the news and media, I can't help but ponder about the workings of my own emotional state when I suffered from similar themed issues. When I was suffering, the thing that was the hardest thing for me to accept, was how to learn to love and accept myself and all my flaws. I had to work really hard at building my self-esteem and sense of self-worth and it took at least a decade to feel comfortable in my own skin.

Perhaps, Will Smith, had an inclination that it was possible that he could win this prestigious award and, he self-sabotaged that moment because he didn’t believe he deserved the award or accolade. Not the consciously famous, ego-bound man that the outer world sees but the inner child who hasn't healed or is trying really hard to work on himself. That bully, that inner voice inside his head that tells him he is not good enough to receive an award because he never helped his mother. (Now, I don't know if that is what he is going through, I can only relate this in a way that I know it from experience and relating it to how people process trauma.)

The worst part of trauma for me was the bully inside my head that kept me trapped in purgatory. That self-bullying voice inside our heads that tells us over and over again at every opportunity that we are not worthy of love, not worthy of that job, not worthy of that award – so we sabotage all things good out of fear or lack of self-worth, which is mostly lived in the subconscious level and brought out just at the right moment in time and we react to it on the conscious level.

This way of thinking and living becomes the devil we know. That voice that haunts us becomes the norm because we don’t know any better or how to navigate, get rid of, or control that voice. And until, we stand up to that voice and heal, learn how to change the narrative of that inner voice, and come to a complete closure so it doesn't haunt us, it will always be the devil we know.

* I am in no way a therapist or qualified professionally to assess someone's mental state, but the above serves as a share of one perspective on a situation that is multi-layered and complex. Violence is never acceptable, whether by physical force or mental abuse.


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