For years I carried a billy club in my back pocket. At the slightest perceived violation of unwritten or written rules, I would reach back, pull it out, and proceed to beat myself up. With every bop on the head, words like: “You dope, you jerk, you idiot, you dork, you dufis,” would fly out of my mind’s mouth and hit me smack in the head.
I say unwritten because much of the time I was beating myself up for breaking rules that only existed in my fantasies. They weren’t real. I would create elaborate scenarios where everyone was looking to see what I did next, said next, how I would screw up next. For years I actually had a soundtrack running through my mind because I lived steeped in such fantasy that I thought my life was a movie—a summer blockbuster that everyone was watching. And when I did something or said something I deemed an offense, out came the billy club.
Of course, I used the billy club when I broke real rules too, but usually only for dramatic effect. When I broke real rules—it was usually because I felt entitled to do so and wanted to get out of doing something hard—like work. I acted guilty in front of you so you’d think I was humble and contrite.
I know now I would make up rules just so I could beat myself up more. I know now I beat myself up not simply because I was beaten and abused as a child, and that “the alcoholic life is the only normal one.” I also used the billy club to justify using my addictive behaviors. Those elaborate movie scenes that played on the screen of my mind served as an excuse for me to say, “You don’t understand what I go through; how hard I have it; the pain I’m in.” And then I could slowly slink off to my little cave of self-indulgent behaviors, smiling a sneaky little smile as I looked at the ground blinking back well trained tears.
I was so grandiosely self-centered that I thought God couldn’t (or wouldn’t) help me. I was so bad, that the All Mighty, All Merciful, All Forgiving, All Loving, Omnipotent Creator of the Universe couldn’t forgive me. Now that’s self-centered grandiosity.
I know today that being abused—emotionally, sexually, and physically, led me to retreat into self to be safe. I needed fantasy to survive. It was wisdom that created an inner place to revel in, for a while at least, the attention and acceptance I so desperately sought after in my abusers. But those same behaviors had hooks in them. They clung, like claws in my soul, and held on for dear life. Consequently, my dreams and true imagination were stuck—like a pieces of fabric snagged on a thorn bush. They couldn’t be used for anything helpful.
So what is it like today? Do I still carry a billy club? Have I been released from the fantasies? Come back tomorrow and I’ll share how I got free from letting the billy club and self-centered fantasies own my life.
Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog