I braced myself before entering the dining room. I knew what lay beyond that door and did not want to face what I knew await. But it was suppertime and I had to eat, so that meant I had no choice if I wanted to keep living. Taking a deep breath, I slowly pushed open the door.
The gloomy darkness engulfed me as soon as I stepped into the room. The only light source came from a small candle burning meekly in one of the chairs surrounding the circular table. What light it provided was obscured by the oppressive fog that hung about the room like cobwebs in an attic. I waved my hand in front of my face as if trying to clear some of the Anxiety that was suspended in front of me as I stepped forward towards my chair at the other side of the table. A sharp, menacing growl tore through the silence as I walked around one of the chairs. I jerked in surprise and caught a glimpse of the source of the growl. Red, glowing eyes glared at me. Fear was here. Quickly I scampered around it and kept hedging around the table.
A figure that looked oddly familiar appeared in the next chair as I approached. As I got closer, the distinguishing features of this figure became more distinct and I realized that Doubt was here too. Without fail he always managed to come to supper even though I always wished he wouldn’t. Doubt looked at me with my own creepily distorted features, and with a cool voice, commented, “You’re not worth it, and so you might as well quit trying.”
I closed my eyes and turned away. I picked up my pace and rushed to the next chair, which was, thankfully, mine. I quickly sat down, ready to be done with the experience. The oppressive fog of Anxiety settled into the far chair and appeared to look at me with expectation. Fear was drooling on its plate with hunger, its fangs highly visible and they looked dangerously sharp from my vantage point at the table. Doubt smiled oddly at me as if he knew what I was thinking and said again, “It’s not worth it, quit trying. Friendship, love, meaning, all of it is an illusion.”
I avoided looking at him and looked over to the other side of the table but I couldn’t see anything because my sight was distorted as tears welled up in my eyes. It didn’t seem fair. Nobody else seemed to have the same company for supper as I always had: anxiety, fear, and doubt. Outside the dining room, the other people I hung out with seemed to always to be in the company of joy, love, and confidence. They always seemed to have it all together. Why couldn’t I be so fortunate? Am I really not worth it? Maybe my lot in life is to be lonely…maybe friendship and love are really just illusions, just fruitless desires. The tears quickly fell from my eyes, as Doubt’s smile grew wider. “I knew you would feed me,” he sighed in contentment.
Fear and Anxiety both kept quiet as I fed them too. There was no need for them to say or do anything as I was doing all the work of feeding them myself. I swallowed hard. A decision seemed to have been made within me. It was pointless to continue doing this without a purpose. Life seemed hopeless. Love seemed unattainable. I wiped the tears from my eyes ready to end it, but looked up and caught sight of the small candle, which provided the only light source within the room. Wait… I stood up quickly and focused on it. Although the flame was tiny, it danced Joyfully around on its wick. The dancing flame captured my whole attention. My mind became utterly blank as I watched the dance. I smiled. Doubt scowled.
I walked over to the tiny candle and picked it up from the chair. The warmth of the flame rose and hugged my face. I smiled again. Doubt’s scowl deepened. With this new light source in my hand, I noticed that underneath the chair was a pile of kindling. Curiously, I peered at it and leaned down, picked some of it up, and put it on the chair. I used that Joyful little flame to light some of the wood and watched in fascination as the fire grew. It morphed into a rolling, jumping, dancing, Joy-filled fire on the chair. My heart seemed to dance with the fire as it Joyfully grew higher. The air in the room cleared and brightened as Anxiety was forced to retreat to its seat. It couldn’t fight against the fire.
With more light in the room, I turned and noticed two chairs that I hadn’t noticed before being occupied. In the first chair was a middle-aged man with long hair and a beard. He was in white garments and he smiled at me Lovingly. He stood up, rushed to me, and embraced me. Looking at me with great affection he said, “I died for you, what greater Love is there than that?” Fear, sitting in opposition, shrunk away and slouched in its chair dejected.
A mirror lay propped up in the last chair. I reached down and picked it up and looked into it. I saw myself, but there was something different. What I saw was Confidence. Confidence was staring back at me with a huge grin on his face. I realized I was grinning too. The image in the mirror showed me myself, as I truly was; I was not distorted whatsoever. The image in the mirror spoke to me and through his eyes, which were mine too, conveyed the message that friendship, love, and meaning are not only possible, but also a true certainty, even if it doesn’t appear so. Doubt averted his eyes and wouldn’t look at me, but continued to scowl, muttering under his breath, “liars…not worth it…meaningless…”
I stepped back to my original seat and surveyed the scene. My, what a drastic transformation the room had undergone! It was now bright and cheery with Joy licking the ceiling playfully with its flames. Love had no eyes for anything but me and smiled in such a way that I knew Love was true. Confidence mirrored myself back at me and showed me that I am worthy of love, friendship, and showed me that I do have meaning. Anxiety was a small pitiful cloud hovering in its chair, Fear slouched and was quiet and I noticed that it was much less intimidating now. Even Doubt lost the control that he had before and was staring at the floor.
I realized that Anxiety, Fear, and Doubt do not rule my life. They are always there, this is true; they are always at the supper table with me, but also present are Joy, Love, and Confidence. If only I had noticed this before! I realized that I had to accept all the members of my table. As much as I may want to, I can’t pick the company at the supper table of my mind, but I do have the power to choose whom to feed. Joy, Love, and Confidence needed my nourishment more than the others.
Now was the time to eat, so I smiled, sat down, and ate.