If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you are recovering from an affair or struggle with depression or you know someone who is. Each of us has a battle we fight every day. It’s the fight against the doubts and fears in our head. Most of us refer to them as demons or some similar name. Depending on the kind of day we’re having, they might be easy to fight off or they might be hard, but they’re pretty much always there looking for a weakness to exploit. If they find one, they run wild and wreck a lot of things.
For me, there’s a time of day where this is especially likely. I call it the hour of the wolf. It’s a classical reference to the middle of the night around 2 or 3 when you’re helpless and at the mercy of the black thing. You start listening to those voices inside your head and you lose hope.
I have a lot of demons and they have a lot to talk about. My past mistakes – all of them going back to my childhood, remembered in perfect, excruciating detail. Feeling like I’m not going to recover from my mistakes. Feeling like my life has just been a series of one failure after another. Worry that people will find out I’m not really who I pretend to be. Worry that people won’t like me when they finally see who I really am. I’m a procrastinator. I’m lazy. I’m selfish. I’m a liar. I’m untrustworthy. I’m impatient. I’m quick to anger. I judge to quickly and usually wrong. I’m not smart enough. I’m not good enough. I’m going crazy. I don’t belong anywhere on this earth. The real me will never fit in and my mask is wearing thin. My God, I fucked another woman and I don’t know if I could resist her or some other woman if the opportunity arose. What if I’m a terrible father and I’m ruining my kids? Remember that time I said something stupid and rash? I bet everybody hates me. I bet they talk about what an idiot I am. I bet they pity me for being so pathetic, or maybe they don’t even do that. My wife doesn’t really love me. She probably thinks I’m ugly and a terrible lover. I bet she’s already found someone else.
Every horrible thing that could happen or has happened. All my character flaws laid bare. I’m unlikable, unlovable, stupid, a burden, a bad man who should just go away and make the world a better place. These are the things that fill my head in the dead of night. Those are the accusations and whisperings when all else I hear is my own heartbeat.
I could be having a great day and I could be ending it with a drink and some music or a little quiet contemplation. But then I suddenly find myself up too late and the wolf comes to devour me. I’m not strong enough to shut out all those things I don’t want to hear. Then I turn to thoughts not of bed and sleep, but of rope and escape.
I’ve never believed that early to bed and early to rise will make a man healthy and wise. But there is wisdom in being safely asleep in bed when the wolf awakens. You can’t beat him, so you’d better not be around when he comes calling. Better to face your fears and failures in the light of day than to die by a thousand cuts in the hour of the wolf.