Accepting our Addictions and Vices
September 2, 2011
ACCEPTING OUR ADDICTIONS AND VICES
Addictions and Vices, we've all, or at least, most of us dealt with
those two culprits. Are they really culprits? Perhaps they are
our teachers and mentors and come to sup or dine with us to help us get more in touch with our inner self.
In late July of 2011 I looked at myself in the mirror one morning, and my stomach was rather bulging a bit. My friend Lenora said that I was
pregnant and my baby was growing. A lot of men, and some women too, hold excess weight in their 'stomach' or belly, and enough excess pounds
can make one look pregnant. I recall my oldest brother, Joe, who died
in 2004. He was a little fellow basically speaking, but due to excessive
drinking he had a 'very big' beer belly. As a matter of fact he looked like he was ready to give birth any moment.
As I looked in the mirror, I asked myself if I wanted to risk the same health disasters that Joe did, with skyrocketing blood pressure, diabetes, and
high cholesterol, all of which we are genetically predisposed to, due to these ailments running on both sides of our family. The more I thought, the more I realized that I most assuredly do not wish to increase my risks for heart disease and diabetes.
Back in 2008, at the young age of 51, working with a wholistic Homeopathic doctor, I had removed thirty pounds, and had gotten down to 160 lbs, well actually I was down to 157 and 158 twice, but that did not last. I got so excited that I celebrated at Golden Corral Restaurant and gained two lbs back. But at least I held my weight at 160 lbs. I felt 'sooo' much better. My waist was small, 32-inches, I could breathe better, and looked so much better. How do the little creepy crawler pounds creep back on us? Oh, let me remind you that our 'inner child' is very in touch with our vices and addictions. I think it's the neglect of the unmet needs of our inner child that leads to addictions and vices in the first place.
I believe that the 'soul'-that deeper part of us connected to God, Spirit, Higher Self, whatever names you wish to attribute to express our 'divine soul'-is very hungry for life. It seeks creative expression, sensuality, beauty, passion, comraderie, and can have tireless energy in its pursuit for happiness and fulfillment. Many of us are taught as children to repress our passions and to be good little boys and girls who are self-restrained, calm, poised and basically boring like monotonous lifeless robots and zombies. I remember being told that a proper little boy or girl always leaves a little food on the plate. This made absolutely no sense to me. My philosophy was that if it's good then it's good to the last drop, or morsel. I am not advocating piling one's plate with mashed potatoes and gravy so high that it takes a half loaf of bread to sop the platter clean. But I am saying there is nothing wrong with eating that 'decent serving' proportioned on our plate or that we pile on our plate. As long as we are not overdoing it, and believe me, the body will let us know when those fat grams are piling up, then I say go for it, and lick your platter clean as the nursery rhyme goes:
Jack Sprat could eat no fat.
His wife could eat no lean.
And so between the two of them,
They licked the platter clean."
I kept the excess weight off for over a year and then it slowly began to creep up again. In June of 2009 my publisher invited her new authors to a conference in Arkansas. We were put up in a fancy hotel and given breakfast and lunch vouchers for the four days we were there. Breakfast was not frugal by any means. It was a fantastic, fabulous feast. There was bacon, sausage, cream donuts, of several flavors: raspberry, blackberry, chocolate, lemon, and then some. The scrambled eggs had melting cheese on top and there was, of course, fried hash browns, fried apples, gravy and biscuits. Not to exclude fresh fruit, cereal, bagels and cream cheese, and yogurt for those wishing for some lighter food.
By the end of the conference I went from 170 pounds to 175 lbs and most of it went to my waist. As my friend Lenora would say, "My baby was growing and gaining momentum. As I say, "Excess food goes to waste/waist." What is that other line I love and often say, "I'm on a sea food diet. I see food and go for it." Or "I'm watching what I eat, I watch it and then I eat it." The humor is amusing, but carrying that excess weight was not amusing. I figured I'd just cut back once I got back home in Cincinnati, OH. Well, such did not happen. Two months later I was up to 180 and it was back and forth on the food see saw for the next year or so.
In January 2011 my friend Lenora went on some special weight reduction program, I hate the word diet, for as I say the first three letters are D.I.E. and the "T" is for trying. She weighed 195 lbs when she started. By April she was down to 175 and by July she weighed 165. By August she was down to 155 lbs. She said her goal is get down to 120 lbs, that which she weighed when she graduated from high school. I personally thought that 120 lbs will make her look like a bean pole, but to each their own.
The truth is that I was/am very proud of her and more importantly, I am surprised and proud that she has kept the weight off. I've seen her go on many 'weight reduction programs' and take off weight, only to gain it back, if not more.
Being impressed with her accomplishment (I do have a competitive streak in me) I decided to 'remove' or as I like to say G.I.T.T. U Give it to the universe some weight. Unlike Lenora, and many others, I prefer to remove weight my own way. My body and my little intuition birdy tell me what to do, or rather what 'not' to eat, and the weight begins to come off.
On July 22 my publisher sent me the galley for my new metaphysical book, God's Many Mansions. For three days I was on a non-stop editing marathon. I was a nervous wreck, because I'm obsessed with my fear that grammatical and punctuation and misspelled words will be rampant and I will come across as a total uneducated incompetent writer. So, I plugged away assiduously until by Saturday morning the words all started running together and I thought I was going bonkers. I made myself take some needed breaks and got the job done. When I sent the file to my publisher I was more tired than a one legged man in a butt kicking contest to quote, Dolly Parton from her movie 'Straight Talk'.
I also weighed 180 lbs which was no surprise as I had been bouncing back and forth between 180 lbs and 175 for the past year. I was so excited that my baby (my new book) was about to see the light of day and be given birth, that I had the feeling that I had to do something special to celebrate this soon to be reality. In my mind's eye I saw the image of a seamstress measuring my waist-line, and she said, hey there, you've dropped ten lbs since I last measured you. See, you will be a 32 inch waist again soon.
"Whoa," I blurted out. The vision or reverie seemed so real. I could even half smell the lady's very pleasant perfume.
My friend Lenora was very supportive. She was sporting a completely different attractive wardrobe due to dropping her fifty lbs and, I must say, she did/does look good. So, I meditated, said a prayer to my spirit guides, guardian angel/s and asked for guidance on removing weight. "GET BACK ON TRACK." I heard in my mind. "Oh, so I'm supposed to get my life back on track. Well, just how do I do that?"
"Get back on track," you silly boy. I mean literally. Start your jogging again on the Luncan airport nature trail. The exercise will be great for your body and it will also help curb your appetite."
"So, I'm to literally get back on track, like I ran track in college?" I said, amused by the pun.
And that is what I did. The next day I had my going out of business 'pigging out' sale, as my friend Elizabeth used to say when she was about to embark upon a major life changing journey. Lenora and I went to the Golden Corral Restaurant, the one with the fabulous buffet, where there is something, or rather plenty I should say, for everybody. I ate everything but the corral. The next morning, I was three pounds heavier. "But don't hang yourself on a cross," I told myself, "we need the wood," I said, to quote another saying that Dolly Parton uses in the movie 'Straight Talk'.
The next morning I woke up at 7 a.m. which is very unusual as I usually sleep in until 9 a.m. Being a self-employed entrepreneur I set my own hours. Well, not being able to fall back asleep, I took the 'wake up call' literally as a message from my guides telling me to get my 'booty' up and head to the Luncan airport nature trail. Besides, it was good that I woke up early because it had been so hot all summer that I would not dare jog in the sweltering sultry temperatures, lest I collapse or pass out.
I dressed and did some light stretching then drove the three miles to the trail. There were few people there at 7:30 a.m. so I enjoyed watching the bunnies and the deer who came out to graze and check me out. When I got back home, I stepped on the scale and had dropped two lbs. "Well, it's just water loss." I don't care," I said the scale is showing two lbs less and that is good enough for me.
I found that the exercise did indeed curb my appetite. So for the next month jogging a few times a week and eating, and drinking I might add (I'm a big vodka fan) less, paid off handsomely. I dropped 10 lbs. Two weeks ago, from today, let me add, I stepped on the scale and went from 180 lbs to 170 lbs and thank the powers that be, I'm holding it off with the goal of giving ten more lbs to the universe.
Now, has the battle of the bulge been won? For the time being yes, but this brings up something else-our inner child. Like I said before, we tend to overindulge or numb ourselves with food, drink, sex, sleep, work, you name it, when something is missing in our life or we are unhappy.
And if we don't get to the root and cause of our addiction/s our inner child will simply get out of control and we will gain the weight back, remain depressed etc. As my therapist used to say, if we don't let all of the power and passion inside us out and give it creative expression and outlets, then we have to numb it. I knew that dropping the weight was just the first part of this new adventure and change. Once we've dropped the weight, it is time to do some serious soul searching and check in with our inner child, or children. A therapist friend of mine says, she has several inner children. These parts of our self can drive us bonkers and nearly up the wall with their moaning, groaning, whining, complaining if we neglect or don't listen to their hurts, pains, fears and so forth.
How do we have an inner child or children some skeptics will ask? Some even consider the notion absurd. I think that with the work of John Bradshaw and other pioneers in the field of Psychology, counseling and inner child work, that more people are becoming more educated and aware of this area of Psychology. The Transactional Analysis Psychology movement of the seventies placed a lot of emphasis on confronting, healing and dealing with our inner child.
It's really not very difficult to see that 'inner child' look. Just look at a man or woman who just won the lottery and see that look of glee and joy in their eyes as they dance about, hoop and holler and rejoice in their success. Think of somebody like George Burns who is known for telling God that he could not die until he was one hundred because he was booked at the Palladium. Up into his eighties and later he had the glee and mischievous look of a little boy written all over his face. I think of my first day in Bloomington, Indiana when I moved there from my small college town. Indiana University had won the N.C.A.A. People were screaming and hollering up and down the streets. It was a mad house. People were hanging out of cars screaming. People were kissing and hugging total strangers yelling "We're number one. We're number one. I know the liquor stores made a lot of money that night as most of them partied all night. Now that was a bunch of 'inner children' having the time of their life.
Look at a woman who will pout or cry when he boyfriend stands her up or says mean things to her. He has hooked her inner child. We are only asking for lots of problems if we try to repress our inner child's feelings. I say that there are many hurt children are out there in the world feeling lost, abandoned and unloved and many of them are over twenty-one years of age.
Just read the newspapers and see all of the violent rampages, murders and crimes that are taking place at unprecedented rates. Many of those criminals are 'pissed' off hurt little kids who were abused and discounted by people who should have empowered, and loved them.
Not knowing how to deal with and heal their internal rage and deep pain, many take out their rage, often on innocent victims in the most destructive crimes one can imagine. I think of the famous 'Children Learn What They Live' poem. "If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn. If children live with hostility, they learn to fight." This is a beautiful poem that every parent should have posted on their frig. How, it breaks my heart to see so many criminals of all ages-some are even teen-agers and we are seeing more violent crimes in the schools and colleges than ever before. I think of a psychiatrist who told me when I was fourteen, "If I had been through what you have, I'd be a mess too." But you can change if you are willing to do the work." That 'shrink' inspired me to work for change and healing.
Children are naturally very full of life, curiosity, and passion for life and they are not ashamed to express it. They laugh in total abandon. They cry in total abandon or a baby screams when it is unhappy. Children will usually forgive and forget while some bitter adults hang onto grudges and take them to the grave. For the little children, everyday is a day of wonder, exploration and discovery. When parents or relatives, teachers, etc try to squelch that love of life, they can wound that child emotionally for life. This is what my father did to me. My inner child was deeply wounded for many years. It took many years and lots of determination, therapy and patience for me to get in touch with that magical inner child inside me again. I went from a scared, angry, suspicious, anxious boy to a man who can be the biggest kid and life of the party.
My inner child comes out a lot now and has since I went back, found him, bonded and 'championed him' as John Bradshaw says in his wonderful New York Times best-selling book, "Homecoming-Reclaiming and Championing your inner child." Now, my little child often comes out. When I perform a singing telegram dressed up like a jester, joking, laughing and performing my antics, that is my inner child having a great time. When a grown man or woman cries dries their tears when the operatic heroine takes her life near the end of the opera, Madama Butterfly, that is 'the feeling inner child' that is expressing them self. In the nursing home, when my grand-mother would lick her vanilla ice cream cone in total absorption, and wink at me and lean forward and say, "Michael, boy, do you think you can go swipe me another one." That was her inner child wishing for another treat.
Just as children in a family are different with their own likes, dislikes, preferences, talents, weaknesses, etc. such applies to our inner children. For example, one of my inner children is a poet. He loves to write verses and recite them. Another part of me does not even believe in human love because I've been hurt many times. I remember saying to a friend one day, "Human love sucks."
She reached for a book on the table called Dawn's Kiss and read a few poems to me. What do you think of those poems?" she asked.
"I think they are beautiful."
"And who wrote them?"
I bowed my head low and meekly said, "I did."
"And who thought they were good enough and published over 250 of them?"
"My publisher did."
My friend reminded me that some part of me truly did/does believe in human love; otherwise, how could I write such moving love poetry? When I need some humor, I'll say well, you are right. One of me believes that human love and romance suck while another me believes in love" I think of the day I was telling Lenora that, and she just smiled. After she left I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and in my mind I heard, "The old me is dying, the new me is being born. You are such a gift to me, Dawn's Kiss to the morn." Dawn's Kiss to the morn," I repeated, feeling something stir in my soul. When I submitted the poems to a publisher in North Carolina, the editor said, "Michael, these love poems are exquisite. We want to publish them and can we simply call the book, "Dawn's Kiss." I was thrilled. So now when I get bombarded with so many different 'me's, I just say, "Well you know what they say, "schizophrenia sure beats dining alone!"
I think part of healing and integration involve finding a 'balance' with our inner child/ren just like a mother and father must endeavor to teach their children responsibility and so forth.
I love the scene in the movie 'Friend Green Tomatoes' where Kathy Bates says something to the effect to Jessica Tandy, "I eat candy bars. "You can have a candy bar, honey," Jessica says in so many words.
"Yeah, but what about when you eat ten or more."
Then Jessica says something like, "well you might be a little out of control."
It's the inner child part of us who can get out of control. If we don't take charge and pull the reigns they can really get us into trouble, such as the forty year old divorcee who sleeps around in an effort to find love. It's our inner child that is hungry for love, sensuality, fun and passion.
How do we know that our inner child/children are unhappy or unfulfilled? When we find ourselves stuck in a rut. When we just can't seem to get excited about life, or anything for that matter. When we are filled with loneliness, depression, apathy and other negative emotions.
My therapist taught me that all of those so-called negative emotions are not our foes, they are indeed our friends. That took awhile to swallow and assimilate, but in time as I worked with my inner child, I began to tune into a completely different world and way of looking at the world. I discovered that my inner child believes in magic and wonder. He is extremely creative and sensual and loving. He has a passion for poetry, singing and having Christmas decorations up all year no matter what others may say. My clients love my 'mini North Pole' as I call my den-the Christmas room. Several bring me decorations and they all smile like children and say 'my Christmas room makes them feel like a child again. I think of many Christmas songs that say things like that, "At Christmas time we are all children. Or the "Christmas Song recorded by Nat King Cole that says, And so I'm offering this simple phrase from kids to one to ninety-two."
I have been told that people are a mirror for us, that we attract different people in our life depending on what we are going through. In the past two or three weeks, I noticed that I was attracting all kinds of 'needy clients' in my psychic spiritual counseling business. Clients were calling wanting advice then and there and for free on the telephone to tide them over until their next appointment. This almost never happens as I'm pretty good at establishing and maintaining healthy professional boundaries with clients. Otherwise, they would be calling all hours of the night and I'd wind up in the loony bin.
So, instead of allowing myself to feel like a 'victim' and to tell them to stop bugging me at inappropriate hours, and wanting my services for free, I turned my energies inward and tuned into my inner child. "What is up, my little Michael?" I asked. "Something is going on. I can feel it. As a matter of fact I've felt whacked for about a month. I've been an emotional basket case.
I could see the look of this little boy in my mind's eye as clearly as I could see my reflection in the mirror when I was a child. The image was of a scared little boy. "What is it?" I asked, this part of me.
"I'm scared of success. Daddy always said I'm a piece of you know what, a piece of s...it like mommy and I'll never get anywhere in life. Success scares me because it makes me think Daddy will hate me and will not approve of me."
I listened to my inner child go on for about twenty minutes. Then, with tears streaming down my face," I said, "I understand how you feel. Dad sure gave you/me/us a rough time, didn't he? And you know something, he did that because he had nobody to love or believe in him. He was put down and ridiculed for wearing blue jeans with holes in them so he quit school and reviled that which he once loved-education. His mother and father fought all of the time so that is what he learned as appropriate behavior. He did the best he could. By putting you and me down he was really putting himself down and striking at himself."
"Really?" my inner child asked.
"Yes, really. I want you to know something. I am your new father now. There is a nurturing parent in all of us and we can develop it. I have spent years in therapy, reading countless self-help and psychology books, journaling, and working on myself. We have come a long way you and me. We are now a published writer and we've dropped this weight. I just can't stand 'the heaviness' anymore that I've carried around. Life is really starting to bless us, you and me, with good things, success and opportunities and we ought to give thanks and tell the spirit guides and powers that be, to please bring more success, love, and prosperity. We will pray for dad, and send him love and positive energy in Heaven where he is somewhere."
"And will we see him again someday?" my inner child asked.
"I'm sure we will and by then I'm sure dad will have healed and made progress so that he does not have to hang onto bitterness, hatred, anger and the need for blaming everybody and being the victim, the way he lived his life."
After that session with my inner child I felt lighter than a feather. I looked in the mirror and saw my reduced waist size. It felt great to be lighter. Then I moved forward and spoke gently to myself. "It's really okay to be lighter. You don't have to keep the unneeded weight. It's time to manifest more success and happiness. It's time to live instead of just surviving. This is the time for realizing hopes and dreams and not just hoping and dreaming.
"Sounds good to me, I heard."
Often times we get tested (by our own higher self and guides I think) to see if we are serious about the positive changes we are undergoing. I was to be no exception. The next day another needy client emailed me and said, "why don't you come over and visit me when you are in the neighborhood."
I emailed her and thanked her and said, I was too busy. I didn't want to hurt her feelings so I politely blew her off. Another client called and set up an appointment for a session. We set it for four days later as I was pretty booked up. She called an hour later and said, "Michael, I just have to know something." At first I felt the tinge of anger at feeling my time and privacy were violated and my inner child wanted to tell her off. Instead, I took a deep breath, and said, "Julia, I've a very hectic week and I'm exhausted. I cannot pick up on your concerns today. Please, take some deep breaths, and hang in there until your appointment.
Another client kept emailing and scheduling an appointment and then she would 'no show.' Then she'd email a few days later and repeat the same pattern. After three times, enough was enough. I emailed her back and said, Marilyn, you have stood me up three times. That is very inconsiderate and downright rude as I could have given your spot to somebody else. She emailed back and apologized and said she should be more respectful of my time.
I noticed as I was beginning to set more healthy boundaries with myself regarding eating and drinking and exercising, that I was doing the same thing with my clients. Thank goodness that test is done. I'm sure there will be more as there always are. But I feel stronger now and more healed and more in touch with my inner self. So, when and if that urge to pig out or drink too much comes upon me, I will address it asap and not ignore my inner child's fears and concerns like my friend Mary who called the other day nearly in tears.
"Michael, I worked so hard to drop the forty pounds this Spring. I have already gained twenty back and I'm out of control. I can't stop eating."
I sympathized and offered what consolation I could and said, silently, "there by the grace of God and the guides, go I. Mary is one of many examples of what can happen when we don't befriend our addictions and vices and learn from them. They can turn on us in very insidious subtle ways that we are not even aware of. But when we feel depleted, drained, and depressed, that is a sure sign as Hamlet says that "something is rotten in the state of Denmark."
May we come to honor and respect our addictions and vices as the potential friends they are meant to be, lest they become foes!