THE HEART OF A MANEATER. By Laura Edgar
The dime store psychologist.
Did the Primary teaching voice of your formative years often sound like this? (granted most people don’t remember until they spend years in therapy, meditation, and prayer coupled with self-awareness exercises.)
“You’re a Bad little girl/boy! How could you do such a thing, again? Don’t do that, don’t act like that, don’t be like that and don’t feel like that! You’re wrong, wrong, wrong everything that comes from your little heart is wrong”. And then here’s the worst quote of all folks: “You shouldn’t FEEL that way! Your feelings are wrong! Your ideas are stupid and you should be ashamed of yourself. Don’t cry! Cry baby! That’s nothing to cry about! That’s nothing to be afraid of! Chicken shit…scaredy cat..and worse. We are programmed to hide our fears, weaknesses, and hearts truths.
And so we/I shutdown my basic healthy emotional processes that I so desperately needed to be and feel well being.
And so my self identity sucked at the tender age of 4 just for being who I was created to be “a child”. (this doesn’t include the effects of regular beatings and humiliations at a physical level that were administered for my own good of course (sarcasm)).
“Okay if you say so Dad, sure I’ll buy that information about myself. I am not as good as you or anyone else.” Right? What a way to start a new life! Feeling like you’re at the bottom of the barrel of human worthlessness. I had no idea at the time my father had convinced me I was inferior to all of mankind. Why? Hell-if-I-know except maybe he was just passing on what his father taught him about himself and so on.
So I went through my young life believing what I was taught by those who I loved and trusted most.
What does the Big Book say about dealing with being wronged? Well first I have to look at “my part” of my emotional trauma…oh boy, ya right, I am sure I deserved all that abuse. Okay that was sarcasm again-unacceptable!
My part is that I held onto the pain. But why? I had no idea how to get past the insecurities and fears surrounding what I was taught about myself. I didn’t know what healthy emotions were. And I sure as hell didn’t know how to vent and process the emotional ramifications of what dear old dad had instilled in me. So, what then?
Result-YEARS OF SHAME BASED LIVING coupled with attempts at dulling my horrible rancid feelings. ADDICTION.
Shame is a healthy quality if it keeps us in line with “do unto others as we would have done to us”. But when shame becomes social we project it. We try to please and manipulate people so we won’t feel ashamed of ourselves. We second guess ourselves. We start and don’t finish. We isolate. We sabotage sobriety and relationships. And as we struggle to receive ego-stroking false self esteem our relationships get dysfunctional.
The Big Book reads “We realized the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick too.” Right Bill W. Keep telling yourself that and let me know how it works out regarding your emotional condition (okay I broke my own rule of no sarcasm). Sorry folks but this intellectually based knowledge will not grant us the validation and healing that we addicts so desperately need to truly overcome addiction. ON THE CONTRARY. Minimizing the damage my father did to me and stuffing down the sheer hurt, rejections, and emotional trauma of those events is quite literally what got me sick in the first place. And so the way to heal is by sharing that pain, crying, screaming, writing, beat the bag, get physical, direct my repressed hurt and anger into physical and emotional exercises that release from my bowels my oh-so-toxic pain. This is what we call “causes and conditions” in AA.
I spent my life living under a cloud of shame. Becoming aware of what that shame did to me was a wake up call. I was blind for years and covered up every aspect of my father’s betrayal and sickness. The pack mentality had blinded me. Now I know exactly why I drank and drugged.
Low self worth will do many things to feel valid, pretty, loved, and of value, especially with the boys. Firstly I am pretty damn certain that ALL ADDICTS ARE EMOTIONALLY WOUNDED VICTIMS and seldom know it. SECOND= PLEASE DON’T UNDERESTIMATE HOW IMPORTANT OUR EMOTIONAL CONDITION IS AND WHAT A HUGE PART IT PLAYS IN OUR OVERALL WELL BEING.
INTRODUCING THE MANEATER
Most women who are emotionally wounded develop exquisite emotional survival skills to make up for the self esteem deficit. These skills, dysfunctional as they may be protect us from going insane, even if the skills are hurtful/twisted toward us and others. But hey, the ego picks up where the broken heart drops the ball. The broken heart is just that…it’s broken. So our intellect takes the lead and tells us “we must become someone else”. Someone who isn’t worthless. Someone who takes her cues from watching other people. We then grasp the only self worth we can see. We spoon feed ourselves compliments and any kind of attention we can get. We create our alter egos. TA-DA-In walks “The survivor”, in walks “The Bad-Ass Tough Girl”.
The tough girl is horrible at honest level communication. Why? Because she cannot reveal any part of the person who she believes is so bad and worthless. So sharing true feelings and true heartfelt thoughts IS TOTALLY OFF THE TABLE for the survivor. She is a pro at sarcasm. She can cut you to the quick. She can take her inner shame, wad it up in a tight ball, and fling it right into your heart baby! She is poison. She is skilled at getting what she wants and NOW. “She’s so good with her stiletto you won’t even mind the pain…you won’t mind the pain. She cuts you once, she cuts you twice, still you believe..(love that Billy Joel song).
And how bout “Maneater” by Hall & Oates. YES! That’s me, you say excitedly.
The one we are deceiving the most when we engage our ego to run the show is ourselves.
Getting clean & sober brings up the original pain. Raw and torrent (a sudden, violent, and copious outpouring ) is that pain.
The maneaters triggers are any semblance of rejection, abandonment, or belittling. Don’t even remotely put her down because at that time she will relive her original pain. And projecting that pain onto you (her beast of burden) is her skill. Remember it’s you (she strongly believes) who are responsible for her feelings The original pain is fresh in her heart. She gets triggered by anything that makes her feel inferior and takes her back to daddy’s ridicule. You, boy are responsible for her feelings and don’t you forget it! (she projects this onto you).
Temporarily her gut wrenching emotional denial, blindness, and manipulation coupled with knee-jerk responses to the many heart level triggers she endures day to day can guard her from the devastating truths she so desperately needs to hide about herself….that truth she thinks is that she really is unlovable. (the great lie)
So the wounded child’s present life turns into a play act time loop featuring “The princess and her shitty childhood” day in and day out she is tortured by her past. It’s no wonder she medicates her feelings! Are you kidding? She is emotionally tortured yet has no idea why. The star of her show is always “The Princess”. And the co-star will be whomever she casts as her “beast of burden”. Oh ya, gotta have someone to blame for her feelings/always. That’s ego-fencing 101.
In AA we like to say “we don’t give a shit about what anybody thinks of us” cause we are so self confident and secure! Total bullshit! Healthy social behavior not only cares about it’s reputation but it works at building a good one. It’s the extreme “FEAR” of what people think of us that becomes dysfunctional not the “care”.
Recovering addicts tend to go to extremes unknowingly with their healthy lessons of recovery and the “I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks of me” is clearly a red flag that screams quite the opposite. Doing “the next right thing” (AA slogan) in AA is all about building renewed self-worth. We must begin accomplishing things for ourselves by becoming independent both emotionally and financially to break the princess syndrome. See my article on care vs. fear of people here.
SOLUTION: SEXUAL INVENTORY
I remember when I first got sober in 2006 and started my first healthy relationship with the man I am still with today. I spent a year in group therapy sharing every aspect of my new relationship. In group we learned communication skills absent of sarcasm and lies, absent of blame, and manipulation. Healthy is a relationship that says “you are not responsible for my feelings, nor are you supposed to take on any of my responsibilities.” I have a choice to sleep with a man/woman. If I am going to somehow charge him (now you owe me bitch) for sex as a service he has a right to know it before hand.
This does not mean a man cannot wrong me or hurt me, on the contrary. But all he can do is apologize. It’s up to me to process my own pain and feelings when they are deep and severe. Learning to process openly with a like minded empathic and validating listener who will give encouraging feedback is healing.
Shedding the princess syndrome was one of the most painful processes I underwent in my recovery from addiction and shame.
How to get the most out of sharing in a safe place. We must trust someone regardless of our well-founded trust issues, that we may fully heal: We need at least one person whom we can tell ANYTHING.
- I am afraid because
- I feel shame because
- I feel guilt because
- I feel insecure because
- I feel vulnerable because
- I feel angry because
- I feel hurt because
- I feel alone or lonely because
- I feel weak because
- I feel embarrassed (shame) because
- I feel tempted because
- I feel ugly because
- I feel gross because
- I feel stupid because
If I say “I am” preceding any verb it should be something positive. Yes I use negative words to describe my feelings but not to label myself as always “being” unchangably negative. Watch the “I am” statements they have power. By the same token watch the “you are” statements.
The “I feel” statements to the right person can liberate us absolutely. Also these statements are some of the hardest things for us humans to admit and share. The truth will set us free but it must be the right truth. Hours of heinous bitching about other people is counter-productive on the most part until we get to the part where we share how it made us feel. Granted it’s important to share traumatic wrongs done to us in the “he” or “they” context. But not to get carried away in blame or condemnation. There is a balance to achieve for healing to occur. I need to share how the trauma made me feel. I need to process the fear and shame. The insecurities and the feelings ABSENT THE INTELLECT. Feelings do not have to make sense. If I only share what makes intellectual sense it won’t be enough. Our intellect shuts down what our heart needs to share by saying to us in a loud voice “that doesn’t make sense your feelings don’t make sense” and so often we shut our heart down with a black ink stamper that reads “NOT VALID KEEP SILENT”!
We render ourselves naked before our trusted friend. We must have at least one person we can tell anythinG.
There tend to be two types of sponsors in A.A. 1. Call you on your shit sponsor. 2. Empathic listener validating sponsor. Seldom will a “call you on your shit” type sponsor work for an addicts wounded heart. Why? Because addicts are their own worst enemy, they/we need empathy not condemnation to heal. And there’s a terrible trend in Alcoholics Anonymous that labels ever deep feeling a “character flaw”. Self pity I say! Yes that’s what’s wrong with you! You desperately and emphatically feel sorry for yourself.
Well I am not saying that doesn’t happen. But it’s a toxic mess to mistake the healthy emotional process for a character flaw. That’s when A.A. can make a body sicker instead of better. Again “balance” grasshopper, balance. We need relating, caring, and mirroring of our feelings and ideas. We need validation and we need to learn to share our deep truths that come from our heart of hearts. We need a safe place where we can be who we really are to regain our radiantly blessed self-innocence.
Are you one of those people who often turns red when you speak (bottled up fear and pain coming out)? Do you like to isolate? Hell ya, we addicts like to isolate; why be around people who can trigger our original wound? It hurts like hell. So we create our own world in our own environment but still somehow we get triggered. In recovery we need to share our story over and over and over. ‘What it was like, what happened, and what it’s like now’, from our heart of hearts. Each time we share and work Step Twelve in speaker meetings, jails, and institutions we process a little more of our original pain. We realize a little more just how far we have really come in our recovery.
Try an organic live food diet. I promise you will be absolutely amazed by what happens. When you engage a high oxygen diet of live food, essential oils, organic cold pressed parent oils (flax, coconut, apricot seed), and regular sunlight and exercise along with good oxygenated (no fluoride, or chlorine) water your brain will wake up. Diet alone can kick start your recovery to the fifth dimension. Don’t underestimate what The Creator has provided for His/Her/Its creatures.
Step ten is not enough. If all I do is generally go over my wrongs and ask forgiveness, keep my side of the street clean that’s great and necessary, but it won’t get me the healing I so desperately need to stay clean and sober and to shed my addict mentality.
So I take meditation very seriously. Why? Its vital I get to know my Higher Power(s) to grow and become enlightened. Also when I am still I can feel the original pain rising up inside me as if it had taken on a life of it’s own. It’s electric. That ball of toxic hurt is something that every addict carries. And if we don’t expel most of it in recovery then we are “only an arm’s length away from the next drink.” Meditation helps to expel it by whatever way feels natural. And believe me expelling original pain won’t be a pretty sight it’s best done where no one will freak out and call you crazy. I remember one of my sponsors said she threw up many times expelling her inner ball of disgust. Another therapist and friend of mine suggested “guttural sounds” moans, groans, screams, cries, and tears to expel the original pain. Believe this; there is a level of pain that tears cannot harness. Tears are not enough, it takes guttural demonic sounding moans and groans to expel it. I myself used to beat a tree out back with a whip to expel anger. And I screamed in my car many times during the first three years of sobriety. Each time I got a rush of endorphins that filled my body with healing comfort afterwards. Wouldn’t you rather be able to say with confidence “I am recovered” instead of requiring AA type distractions from your original pain for the rest of your life? The only people who can say they are recovered are those who have gotten a complete supernatural healing by white light experience or those who have expelled all their demons of original pain by healthy expression, prayer, meditations, and a series of awakenings. But not just that, we also work to build new patterns of behavior. That is where A.A. and the steps come in along with emotional tools of expression and listening. Healthy patterns of emotional processing are vital. Wholesome fellowship is one of the cures. Healthy communing is opposite of our sick family and toxic relationship interactions that drain us like an emotional vampire drains it’s prey. See article EMOTIONAL VAMPIRES.
In sobriety setting goals and having dreams we aspire toward is also vital. It doesn’t matter so much what the outcome of our goals are. What matters is that we have goals and dreams. When one dream crashes we build another one. And they will crash and burn. Not all dreams and goals will be successfully fulfilled.
Dreams just like goals are very important to have and to keep. To work toward a goal is fulfilling. To have hope and dreams is spiritual because “hope” itself is one of the spiritual gifts from the creator of spirituality itself (hope, faith, Love 3 greatest gifts). Having goals and fulfilling them is vital to our self-worth. Our very life depends on having goals to attain and accomplishing tasks and feats. When mankind retires from his work often times he /her just die partly because of feeling worthless for a lack of purpose. If a man feels he has no purpose he may just lay down and die.
Early recovery is a cycle of forcing ourselves to do things we won’t FEEL like doing. Processing feelings and allowing feelings to control us are two different things. Recovery is all about ignoring the voice that would isolate us and listening to the healthy encouraging voice. Yes we have a good voice and a bad voice inside our head. Our alone time is important. Isolation is a long lasting pattern to abstain from social settings. I have been a pro at isolation both inside and outside of sobriety. I feed myself positive energy in my alone time to stay healthy. But not all the time. Few people do the right thing at all times I suppose.
Earthing is the practice of connecting with the Earth by going barefoot nearly naked in the sun which resets our electrical and magnetic fields that have been discombobulated by cell phone towers, electrical fields, wifi signals and god knows what else. It’s important to do all aspects of recovery and include Earthing. Something about attaching our feet to the soil and grass under the sun that resets our electrical “M” fields with good bistatic flows. Don’t get your aluminum foil hats out yet, more research is needed.
There is nothing new under the sun where sin is concerned. Most fourth steps are full of sexual debauchery, murders, violence, back stabbing, betraying, hatefulness, lies, and secrets, fraud contempt, and embezzlement that we believe will ruin us if our secrets are ever exposed. Please don’t share legal incriminations with the wrong person and end up in jail. And don’t think going to jail will fix you either. The thing I have been hiding at soul level by desperate measures is the secret that needs to be exposed the most. You know the one. Why? For my/your own well being. You would be surprised at how quickly a sponsor forgets your painstaking fourth step. The world really doesn’t revolve around our belly buttons. Nobody cares what we did, at least not for long, especially our fellow self consumed addicts. Time and time again I have seen people leave the 12 step program at step three vowing to never reveal that debilitating fifth step secret that is poisoning their soul. Oh hell no! We scream at the top of our lungs. There is no fucking way I am telling anybody that one! So the secret continues to hold power over us, that is, until we let it out of the box. It’s your choice.