Saturday, September 20, 2014

My Schizophrenic Spiritual Self

At a recent AA meeting I shared about how I refer to my lower mind as Felix. As I described Felix and his temper tantrums, his dismal outlook on life, his black-or-white or win-or-lose approach to living, the chorus of voices in my head that can comprise his presence, his belief in lack, and his perception that all my problems are “out there,” I received a lot of laughs. People were not laughing at me, however. They were laughing with me because they recognized the same chatter in themselves. I felt accepted, which is always a good feeling for me, given my struggle with toxic shame. I had shared some rather intimate details about who I am and their laughter confirmed that I was not mad or crazy – I was a rather normal alcoholic. I have come to believe that each of us is addicted to something (drugs, gambling, shopping, helping others (whether they need it or not), religion, the “stories” about ourselves we have constructed through our selectively remembered past) that helps insulate us from ourselves and keep our problems “out there.” I believe I am rather normal – period.
Several went on to share about their version of a “lower mind,” including their relationship to their Inner Child. It got me to thinking about my experiences getting to know my Inner Child and my description of Felix and Little Donnie, or my lower and higher mind, or A Course in Miracles’ (ACIM’s) use of the terms ego and higher self. Are these “titles” consistent? At odds? Confusing? Clarifying?
After discussing this with a men’s group I attend I have come to terms with the fact that both my Felix and Little Donnie are of my ego. However, Little Donnie is open to the whispers of the Holy Spirit and is more active in seeking His voice. Often, now, I will find myself in the middle of an argument and will actually pause my mind for a while asking, “I need a little help here.”
In light of Freud’s Id, Ego and Super-Ego, our contemporary language of psychoanalysis, based on the book “I’m Okay, You’re Okay, now uses the terms Child, Adult and Parent. Thinking of my egoic self as two parts, Felix and Little Donnie, Felix consists of Child-Felix and Parent-Felix and Little Donnie consists of Child-Donnie and Parent-Donnie. I see inside myself the part of me that is Child-Ish, as well as the part that is Child-Like. Jesus’ guidance to become as a little child refers to being child-like not childish. Inside me, however, it often doesn’t take much to flip my child-likeness into childishness.
My Child-Felix is a childish, fearful, aggressive, hostile, self-centered, temper-tantrum-prone little boy. For him it’s a “my way or the highway” pattern of behavior. He perceives people and events in terms of self-gratification and of black or white with little shades of gray. He has internalized many of Parent-Felix’s beliefs and principles – but with the perception and implementation of a little child. He is deathly afraid of embarrassing Parent-Felix.
My Parent-Felix is overly strict and unforgiving. He religiously follows adherence to his rules, He operates on the premise that good behavior is equal to being a good person (which means obeying him). He is convinced Child-Felix is an extension of himself. He controls the Child-Felix by withholding love or bestowing gifts/treats, by punishing or rewarding, and by being overly critical while being exceptionally sensitive to criticism. Parent-Felix is not a joy to be around.
These two rigid facets make up my Felix – my lower mind. They are very entrenched in my make-up. They compliment one another. They reinforce one another. Yet, most often, they seem to be at war with one another.
My Child-Donnie is what I came to know in AA as my precious little boy. I wrote about him in my book, though I didn’t have the insight I have now. Child-Donnie is my child-like source of creativity, my memories, curiosity, joy, love, acceptance, delight, and Life-In-The-Now. My Child-Donnie is like a little dog: lovable, impish, easily satisfied, reasonably undemanding, and ever curious.
My Parent-Donnie is honest, open, and willing (AA’s HOW), unbelievably grateful for my sobriety and for the knowledge and acceptance he found in AA and in ACIM. He wants to fully nurture Child-Donnie, although he sometimes doesn’t know how to do that. He is the source of really wanting to see events and people with compassion. He is the portal through which the Holy Spirit can whisper and he is the ear through which he hears Him.
Child-Donnie and Parent-Donnie, make up the part of me I call Little Donnie, or my higher mind. The more I define myself in terms of Little Donnie the more angry and fearful Felix becomes. Felix will charge out of the gate, as does a thoroughbred racehorse at the sound of the bell.
If any of this description of how I see myself resonates with you, find something that meaningfully speaks to your Child-or-Parent-Donnie and learn, follow, and practice nurturing them as the most significant thing you can do. It has been a wonderful (though often humbling and painful) experience to become able to identify what part of myself I am dealing with – Felix or Little Donnie. It has truly opened a big, wide door to recognize who is my egoic “I,” whether it’s Felix or Little Donnie. Having recognized it, I can release my attention to it and relax as I wait for guidance. Enjoy your journey!
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#3 September 2014

Copyright, 2014

1 comment:

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