Everyday Mythology

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Every morning, before even reading my meditation, I read from my current book: 1491.

In the 1400s, in central Mexico, lived the Mexica.  Their people’s history was of poverty and humility, and as their culture advanced and thrived, their leader called for the rewriting of their history.  Poverty was written out and their role as “keepers of the cosmic order” written in.

Their gods then became part of a celestial hierarchy.  One such god had four sons who wrestled for supremacy since the beginning of time.  One ends up attaching himself to the sun.  This became part of their culture’s mythology about why and how the sun rises and falls–the daily struggle between night and day.

But it also laid the groundwork for human sacrifice: for this brother to maintain his strength–so that the sun may not falter and all the world perish–he needed to “feast” on the blood of men.

Today’s meditation addresses spirituality.  The Twelve Steps of CoDA does not depend on any religious belief.  It’s a spiritual path that is very personal, one that we must create in ways meaningful to us.

In my CoDA group, we have people who are open about their belief in God, and there is a woman who describes herself as a witch. Still, there are many who have not openly shared their spiritual beliefs.

But what I find most interesting is that, like the Mexica and their mythology about how the sun rises and falls each day–and the things they had to do to ensure its continued cycle, we create and abide by endless mythology ourselves.

Specifically, we create “if then” myths that then dictate how we operate within our own lives.

If a mother stays home with her children, then she is a good mother.

If I lose 40 pounds, then I will be more attractive.

If I refuse to have sex before marriage, then he will marry me that much more quickly.

If he stops loving me, then there must be something wrong with me.

If I stop making him breakfast each morning, then he’ll think I do not care for him anymore.

If I drop the ball on this project at work, then my boss will feel I’m not as valuable to him anymore.

Arguably, most of these myths scream codependency, but I would also argue that even “non-codependent” people have myths like these and operate accordingly.

Social media, for example, is a hot bed of “if then” mentality.  If my post gets a lot of likes, then it was good.  If it does not, then it was bad.

These mythologies breed not only a mental state of constant comparison, but it puts notions of self-worth into the pockets of other people to define for us through their actions and reactions, and it gives rise to a false belief that we can control the actions and reactions of those other people.

Attaching our self-worth to another’s approval is not unlike the Mexica myth of a godly entity attaching itself to the sun. Just as the sun rises and falls as he struggles against his brothers, our self-worth rises and falls on the praise or criticism by others.

It is easy to have the knowledge of our universe’s structure, planetary orbits, and the scientific principles we know are behind the “rise and fall” of the sun each day.  Having this knowledge as we read about the Mexica’s beliefs makes their mythology seem creative and quaint, but so wholly untrue.

However, unless jolted out of our own mythologies, it’s harder to get a different perspective. It’s harder to see the fallacy in our logic.  We don’t know any better, abiding by the “if then” myths feels good–when they work–and so we find ourselves still mired in a practice of constant human sacrifice.  However, our sacrifice is ourselves.

If the Mexica had one day decided not to make a human sacrifice to the god who wrestled to keep the sun aloft, I can only imagine the intense anxiety they would have felt.  Life in their cities would have stopped for a day or more as they warily watched the sun fade into the horizon.  The night that followed would have been the longest of their lives as they worried about whether the sun would rise again. Arguments may have broken out about the foolishness of the decision to cease sacrifices.  Surely, some would push for the ritual to resume–immediately and perhaps in greater numbers–to appease the gods.

But here is a new “if then”:

But if they resisted, if they stood their ground in taking a chance that human sacrifice was not necessary to ensure the sun’s life-giving to the world below, and if they waited patiently through that ‘long’ night, then they would see that the sun would rise again and would continue to rise each and every morning. 

Recovery is a lot like living in that ‘long’ night.  It’s filled with anxiety and doubt as you struggle against your instinct to sacrifice your time, your wants, your needs to appease others, to fit into another’s standards or ideals, to control another person because you believe that will guarantee the outcome you so desperately “need.”

And then…somehow, the sun rises.

Followed by another anxiety-filled night.

And then, the sun rises again.

As each day and night pass, it becomes easier to rest. Your trust in the sun rising every day strengthens. Your ability to sleep at night becomes easier.  And at some point, you realize that you’re still alive. And while the ways you do things may have changed.  And some standby habits may have disappeared (along with some people), you’re happier.  You are you again. No sacrifice required.





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