Inner Brat versus Inner Child
"Restless, irritable and discontented." That's how the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous describes people like me. I'm certainly living up to that description, which is a dangerous place of the mind for a food addict. I don't need a "reason" to eat addictively; the behavior is an automatic response to living, as it seems. But my Inner Brat keeps creating drama with her insistence that I DO SOMETHING,so that addictive eating appears to be a comforting option. That's in spite of the reinforcement of the message "Stay, Angela. Be still. God is your Employer now, and your job is to recover."
5:O SON OF BEING! Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee. Know this, O servant. from the Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah, translated from Arabic.
My Inner Brat kicks in big time with that one: "Yeah, but God doesn't pay the rent, AT&T and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District!" "How am I supposed to recover if I can't buy the food I'm supposed to eat!" "I'm supposed to be a full grown adult, able to work and earn my way through life!" (The irony of that last statement, coming from my Inner Brat, is pretty amusing.)
Those of you who have read my blog in the past have met my Inner Brat a few times. She makes an appearance here every now and then to rage about the inherent injustices of life. I'd rather let her have a temper tantrum on this blog instead giving her what she really wants--several trips to the "all you can eat" buffet, and an endless supply of gift certificates for goodies from Freeport Bakery.
I can't remember the name of the bubble-gum chewing little girl who was never satisfied with anything except more candy in the movie, "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory", but my Inner Brat is very much like her. And she was that way before the movie ever came out--chronically insatiable.
17: O SON OF MAN! Be thou content with Me and seek no other helper. For none but Me can ever suffice thee. from the Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah, translated from Arabic.
The longer I remain abstinent, the more aware I am of several "versions" of myself who collectively represent my experiences in life. (That seems so schizophrenic, doesn't it?) There's the child, Angie (no one calls me that anymore except family and friends who have known me longer than 30 years), the teen aged Angie/Angela (aptly named, as the teen years are a combination of childish behavior and attitudes coupled with growing awareness of adult responsibilities),the young adult Angela (whose identity was mostly college student, journalist and then, "Mom"), and the newly emerging (finally)adult Angela.
And then there's the perennial tag team, the Inner Brat and the addict, who I alternatively refer to as "the beast" or "the monster" because of its undeniably powerful ability to lay waste to all of my wishes, hopes and plans for my future, and make a pretty fair mess of my present. Godzilla ain't got nothin' on my addict monster. Actually, I've read articles about how Godzilla is a representation of man's destructive capacity and lower animal nature. But that's a blog for another time.
I used to follow pro-wrestling quite faithfully (mostly because I had a huge crush on Bret "The Hitman" Hart), and I learned that the best tag teams in the World Wrestling Federation made good use of each team members' strengths and weaknesses, and used that knowledge to increase the team's effectiveness. During the height of the The Hart Foundation's years as one of the premier tag teams in the WWF, Bret Hart was the skilled technician of the team, whose knowledge of wrestling maneuvers and ring psychology along with speed and accuracy made him a formidable opponent. He lacked the size and power of the huge guys, but he found ways to work around them. Bret's partner, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, had none of those abilities in the ring. He was a big, strong lumberjack type man with very few moves, but he didn't need them. His job was to hurt folks after Bret tired them out with all of those moves. Then the two of them moved in for the kill, or as they say in pro-wrestling, the one, two, three in the center of the ring. Yes, of course it was fake. I'm not disputing that. I'm just referring to the story that was portrayed on T.V. and at live matches. That's what pro-wrestling is--storytelling. And I had a lot of fun watching it with my son, Marc.
My Inner Brat/addict monster-beast works very much like the Hart Foundation. The Brat is very skilled in manipulation, and seeks only to get her desires (not needs, as I have discovered), met. Just like the Hitman, she has a vast arsenal of tactics to accomplish her goals. Her favorite is wearing down the opposition--screaming, shrieking, kicking, biting and throwing a fit so loudly and for so long that she gets wants she wants, if only to shut her up.
If you don't think this is effective, just wander into your local "Toy R Us" or KB toy store. Or the candy, cereal, or snack food aisle of your friendly neighborhood supermarket. Watch what children from ages 2 to 6 years old do when they want something very badly, and the parent (s) won't or can't get it. Amazing, isn't it? The child either has to be threatened with bodily harm (or done bodily harm, a tool that seems to be favored by African American parents, I hate to say), or subdued somehow so the parent can somehow escape the embarrassment of having a child behave like the devil's spawn in public. In a way, part of the child's mission is accomplished--the parent pays attention to the child. The second part is getting those desires met.
In my own case, I learned in childhood that I had to find a way to get whatever it was I desired. My parents were very good at making sure that my needs were met, but when I expressed a desire, it was quickly and effectively silenced, usually with my mother's stunningly accurate slap across the face. That ended my outward expression of the desire, but it didn't silence it. Thus, the birth of my Inner Brat. Since she couldn't openly express her wants, she kept them safely hidden. Then she developed ingenious ways of applying stealth and strategy to get what she wanted. (The old "I'll show you, Mom; I'm gonna do it anyway!" syndrome.)The planning and manipulating of events increased the pull of my desires for whatever it was at the time, which led to impatience, frustration, and anger--my inner tantrum.
The tantrum summoned the emergence of that lower aspect of my being that is within all of us--the animal, the beast. It is the part of our lives that every major religion in the world, and probably every school of philosophy warns us about. Once it is unleashed and takes firm control of our daily lives, it is extremely difficult to resist, and to an even greater degree, subdue. The addict monster-beast does not respond logic or emotional appeals to cease and desist, nor is it concerned with the health and safety of the physical body being threatened by the ongoing desire-fulfillment-increased desire cycle. The beast views the fulfillment of desire as survival, and it will use its raw strength and power to fight any force that tries to thwart its basic need to survive.
22: O SON OF SPIRIT! Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created.from the Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah, translated from Arabic.
This is how my addict monster-beast tag teams with my Inner Brat. Together, they have won countless championships. After all, winning is everything, no matter what the cost, right? In my case, "winning" has meant almost losing my life. It brings to mind a phrase that Bret Hart used when he was in the WWF: "Winning and losing, both are confusing." My life resembles that remark.
So, you might ask yourself, how does one beat the unbeatable tag team of the Inner Brat/addict monster-beast? The truth is, I have no idea. All I know is that *I* can't beat them. I've tried, over and over again with all kinds of diets, developing my "willpower" hypnotherapy, exercise classes, metaphysics, private counseling, self-help books, holistic and alternative medicine, Overeater's Anonymous (which helped somewhat, but ultimately doesn't work for the type of addict that I am), and finally, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery. I thought gastric bypass would be my final victory over the tag team champions. Instead, it was my most humiliating defeat.
12:O SON OF BEING! With the hands of power I made thee and with the fingers of strength I created thee; and within thee have I placed the essence of My light. Be thou content with it and seek naught else, for My work is perfect and My command is binding. Question it not, nor have a doubt thereof. from the Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah, translated from Arabic.
This leads me to where I am today. Today, my body is losing its excess weight, and therefore "winning". (Again, the paradox.) But *I* am not defeating the tag team. I don't have that kind of power. Here's what the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous has to say about winning a battle of this sort:
There is a solution.
Almost none of us liked the self-searching, the leveling of our pride, the confession of shortcomings which the process requires for its successful consummation. But we saw that it really worked in others, and we had come to believe in the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it. When, therefore, we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet. We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had never even dreamed.
In a later chapter, the Big Book states that "But there is One who has all power--that One is God." I thought I knew about God. Not as much as some, but certainly more than most! Well, I had to find out through that leveling of pride thing that AA folks talk about that I had no idea how powerful God is. Until I had to pray, meditate, trust and depend on Him to get me from one meal to the next, even though the tag team was pounding incessantly on my brain, I never realized that God could resolve my on-going battle with my Inner Brat and addict monster-beast. My best efforts never silenced them; only a Force far greater than me could, and does whenever I ask. And I ask A LOT.
4:O SON OF MAN! I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life.from the Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah, translated from Arabic.
Now I'm getting to know Angie, my Inner Child. I never knew her before, even when I was attending Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings. I spent most of my time there scoffing at grown up folks hugging teddy bears. (They no longer do that, by the way.) My Inner Child is quite different from what I saw in the ACA meetings, mainly because I'm not seeing life through the eyes of that resentful Inner Brat as much. Angie, my Inner Child, intuitively believes and wholeheartedly trusts in God, and feels very connected to Him. She is innately curious about the world, loves to learn new things, has a lot of compassion for others and a very playful, adventurous soul. She will play hard and try almost anything once, as long as the situation feels safe to her. Feeling safe is very important, and she must sense it before proceeding with an activity. If she doesn't feel safe, there's a chance that the Inner Brat will take over if she allows other people to convince her to engage in something that isn't right for her. The Brat thrives on impulse, and the result is always disastrous. Most of all, Angie is very, very loving to God, herself and others, not suspicious and defensive like the Brat. She sees no need to constantly engage in war when there is so much love in the world.
Angie likes to keep things simple and close to God at all times. She uses her senses to provide her with important information that will take care of her body. "Am I tired?" Take a nap. "Am I really hungry?" Pray and ask God if it is food that you really want. He will answer. "Is that my tummy hurting?" Lay down, rest, and take the medicine the doctor gave you. You will get a chance to go outside and play explorer later. Right now, we have to make our tummy feel better.
I'm looking forward to getting to know my Inner Child a lot better. While I am not a child anymore, today I can acknowledge and welcome Angie as an important part of my life. She's a sweet child of God, as we all are, but just don't know it,yet. Hopefully, we will.
34: O SON OF SPIRIT! The spirit of holiness beareth unto thee the joyful tidings of reunion; wherefore dost thou 12 grieve? The spirit of power confirmeth thee in His cause; why dost thou veil thyself? The light of His countenance doth lead thee; how canst thou go astray?from the Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah, translated from Arabic.