First off, I’d like to thank the many of you for your kind and gracious words in response to my last post and now that the holidays (which I spent with my wife and kids) and I have my computer back (it was sick), I continue on to explore my journey through the aid of writing.
While I moved out about two weeks ago now and am still (of course) dealing with a heck of a lot of emotional upsurge and quite a bit of fear, I should go back a little bit to a point before I left home, for there occurred a significant inner change before the big external change.
It happened maybe a week or so before I left. I’d bought a book called Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends and in that book, the author, Bruce Fisher, refers to another book called Loving Choices: An Experience in Growing Relationships. I drove a good 40 minutes to find it at the lone used book store in town that had a copy. And boy, it was probably one of the most important drives in my life, for in beginning to read the book and applying what it said in the first couple chapters, things began to change inside.
So if you are at all like me, you probably have a voice inside that isn’t all too nice. The one that says very very mean things
about ourselves. Some refer to it as the inner-critic. Well I’ve got quite the harsh one and believe you me, I’ve listened to it a heck of a lot of my life. And in trying to combat that voice, I’ve tried my best to be “perfect”–at least appear perfect on the outside. The more I fought it and tried to ignore it, it only got louder and more hostile to the point that sometimes no longer living seemed better than having to continue to listen.
Maybe how to deal with this voice is obvious to many out there, but what I read in this book was completely revolutionary. It said, in essence, to sit quietly and listen.
Because the voice has something to say. Something it needs to say.
Well duh, right? It’s been saying all sorts of shit my entire life.
But Dr. Fisher said that given time, the voice will mellow and the reason it acts as it does is because it’s been ignored for so long. Have you ever been upset when you feel like you’re being ignored, so you raise your voice to get attention? Kind of like that.
Needless to say I experienced a bit of trepidation, but considering I was staring the loss of my family straight in the eye, I didn’t really care anymore. I was desperate.
The point of the book is to learn how to effectively communicate with others in the endeavor of establishing and maintaining healthy relationships. Of course that’s all I wanted: a healthy, loving, and intimate relationship with my wife, kids, and others. But I could never really do so, not to any depth at least.
Now I’ve known for some time there are several different elements to the person I am. Different aspects, different people. There is the aforementioned critical side, and there is a softer, kinder, much more loving and gentle side. One masculine, the other feminine. Of course I’d much rather come from a place of kindness, love, and compassion in my relationships with others, but then that critical side of me ain’t havin’ none of that shit.
Then there is the child, who has for so long been scared, has for so long felt rejected and abandoned.
There is, as I would soon discover through this process, another–and I am sure there are many many more.
So I laid down, having put it to myself that I would at least try what Dr. Fisher suggested, and lo and behold before long, that voice that I’d spent so long ignoring or hiding from, began to soften in its approach. I could feel it come down.
I say come down because I usually hear that voice in my head; the others, the loving and the scared, I feel in my heart. So down it came from its “throne” wanting to talk. I laid there, in my bed, and listened to the conversations. Of course the critic apologized and the feminine aspect, standing firm, with that little child behind began a little wary, but there was a love there nonetheless and a willingness to listen.
Having a background in archetypal psychology, I always imagined that inner critic as the “king”–a tyrant king. Boy was I wrong, for as I came to listen, I came to understand this voice not as a tyrant, but as an aspect of myself that wanted to protect that child. Sure, that child has for a long time needed protection from this so-called king and that’s what I was hiding, scared, from–or so I thought.
So as I listened to this inner critic say he was not the king, the feminine voice asked who the king was. Then–it was weird–sensed this huge fortress well up inside me. And there was someone up there. The inner critic voice said, “that is the king.”
At this point I must refer to my previous post just a little, for as I would soon discover as I lay in my bed, that the part of me was up in that fortress was none other than the person with whom I’d placed all my trust. The man who ended up abusing me.
Now this is not to say that he, that man, is that part of me, but as I came to understand, there is a part of myself that has aligned with my abuser. And that shit is scary.
And there is part of me that wants that–that power, that is attracted by it. Now that shit is scary too.
And the part of me that is attracted to that?
That little child.
Now that’s even scarier.
I could feel it, I could feel that child try to pull away and go toward that fortress, to that motherfucker up there, to be with him.
That’s when the inner critic, who I began to realize was always out for my best interests, began to plead with child and did his best to convince the child that that “person” up there was no good. Yes, it’s powerful and yes, it’s attractive, but no you can’t go up there because it’s not what it appears to be. So the child relented and the feminine aspect softened and there was embrace, loving embrace.
It was love.
I couldn’t fucking believe it. A genuine sense of love in my heart. And it was strong.
I’ve felt that before, don’t get me wrong, but it was always directed outward toward others.
This was the first time in my life I can remember actually feeling love inside toward my inside.
I had begun, in other words, to relate to myself.
And I continue to do so.
The thing is, that one up there in the fortress, I know, is still there and has to be dealt with. Part of me wants to go up there–and it will be a long journey to get there before I can even go up–and kill the bastard.
But I know that’s not right. That part of me got that way because it is sick and in need of healing. And as much as I’d like to say that when I finally get face to face with that shadow, that I won’t kill it, that I would prefer to transform it with forgiveness, love, and compassion–time will only tell. That, at least I can say, is my hope.
As many of you who have read my previous posts, you might have figured I actively participate in programs aimed at helping me remain sober. Well these kinds of programs promise a spiritual experience. For all intents and purposes, these are defined as complete change in perspective–a psychic change.
Well one night, as I brushed my teeth, I looked in the mirror and didn’t immediately cast my eyes down.
Now I should say that one of the ways I’ve long combated the critical voice that, to keep it somewhat clean, calls me a piece of shit is by trying my best to convince myself that I am not a piece of shit, that I am good. But all the convincing in the world never amounted to anything.
But having begun the process by which to establish a healthy relationship with myself, as I looked at myself I heard a voice–and not the one I’d use to convince myself I wasn’t a horrible person–the following:
“You are a good man.”
And that was my spiritual experience, my psychic change.