Better to dance with the devil you know than the angel you do not. That is what “They Say”. It is often a perfectly reasonable excuse when a person returns to people or situations that cause suffering rather than attempt the new thing—the hard thing—that *could* bring the person contentment.
Essentially, the old behavior is comfortable and even if it causes harm it is better than trying something new because you are already familiar with that particular brand of pain. Furthermore, a person could not possibly know the outcome of dancing with the angel you do not know. It could be horrible. I get that, I have had plenty of horrible dances in my day. If you were to ask me any day of the week, I would most likely tell you that I would prefer to dance with the devil I do know than the angel I do not.
It takes a lot of courage to dance with the angel you do not know. You are taking a chance, so by definition there are multiple possible outcomes. Say you do this courageous thing and dance with the angel you do not know, now what? Change is a possibility, a high one in fact.
“You can’t go back home”. That is what “They Say” when a person really changes. Think Hero’s Journey level changes. When a person makes great strides in their personal development it can often cause friction with those closest to them. If you went away to college after high school try to remember your first time back in your hometown, it was probably Thanksgiving. You are home and your mind has opened in ways you never could never have imagined. This is attained through both your coursework and more importantly those first life experiences outside your home unit. It is like getting glasses and being able to see the individual leaves on a tree , or finally figuring out the correct drug cocktail+ therapy + self care regimen and for the first time in what feels like forever feeling an unfamiliar will to live.
I guess that is my point, except that it took way longer than I expected to get here. See, when you pair The Gift Of The Gab with being a Certified Late Bloomer you tend to be pretty verbose. I actually almost think they go hand in hand because The Gift Of The Gab comes in handy when you need to distract someone (or yourself) from taking the next step in your life. Then it becomes a habit and suddenly you are in your late twenties and it is just your reality.
Anyway, “I’ve been afraid of changing because I built my life around you”, that is what Stevie Nicks Says. For me the “you” is not a person or a habit per say, it is my mental illness. Up until right around my 28th birthday I had been mentally unwell for as long as I could remember. Then, (you may assume) almost miraculously, I was well. Except if you assumed it was miraculous you would be wrong because it was not miraculous or divine, although it was absolutely about damn time.
It is strange to be well for the first time in your adult life during a global pandemic. I knew I was genuinely doing well because I did not even fall into the victim trap of thinking: “How unfair! I am finally well and our entire way of life has completely shifted in a matter of months! I cannot see the people I love! The planet is on fire and we do not even have Mr. Rogers around to comfort us!”
I did eventually fall back into the victim trap, which is where I got the Mr. Rogers line. After nearly a year of progress I started to coast. I wasn’t making my mental health a priority and it was all downhill from there.
“You can’t go back home”. That is what “They Say” when a person really changes. I had really changed and I was better for it, but I happen to love self destruction and a challenge so I proved those naysayers wrong and returned to my depression den that I had decorated with disquietude.
(I know one person in particular is going to ask me what disquietude means so here ya go: it is a ~phophisticated way of saying anxiety. I needed a synonym that began with a “D” for the alliteration moment)
So, I’m back home living the life I had built around my mental illness when I realize I actually would much prefer to dance with the angel I don’t know than the devil I do. Quite often it is reasonable to avoid changes as a means of self protection, but I have recently discovered just because it is reasonable does not mean it is right. I have also realized I would rather be happy than be right. I now know it is better to learn the lesson and change and grow than to remain the same sad sack.
That said, I honestly do not know how long I will be able to stay dancing with the angel I do not know, but I have hope it will become easier and eventually with enough time the angel I did not know will become the angel I do know. That is the goal, right? To dance with “the angel you know”. That’s what I say, anyway.