I have two voices in my head. One speaks to me from a place of love, abundance, and safety; that's my Inner Being, my true self. It reminds me that I am creative and powerful, as is everyone else. The other voice is the Inner Bully and it's always so damn serious. It lives in the past or future, and speaks from fear, lack and insecurity. This voice can be incredibly cruel and competitive. It likes to tell me that I am powerless and so is everybody else, and I'd be wise to be defensive or go on the offensive, before someone takes advantage.
My Inner Bully has been having a field day with me lately.
A little background first. Pauly and I had a wildly fun hobby remodeling old houses. It's something we've done with some assistance from his dad and brother over the last 20 years. We do nearly all of the work ourselves, from the demolition to the design and then the rebuild. The first three houses were a thrill! Renovating offered us just the right amount of physical challenge (we love to get sweaty!) plus it was creatively satisfying work which even made us some extra moolah. But then came Fixer Upper #4 aka Fern.
The whole thing started off badly. I did not want to buy it. The fixer upper (#2) that we were living in still needed lots of work, we'd recently sold Fixer Upper #3 and I wanted to focus on finishing our house. But Pauly really wanted this tiny, rundown 1916 cottage on Fern Ave because it had a magnificent view of Lake Superior and was within our price range. He was jumping up and down in the yard with excitement and all I could feel was complete dread.
I'd never seen him so excited about anything; he was so over the moon that he refused to go home and discuss it. He wanted that house NOW! I didn't but because I also didn't want to be a dream killer, I reluctantly agreed to purchase it without any discussion at all. I cried as we drove home after writing the purchase agreement in the front yard (we're doomed!) and I cried even harder when the realtor called and said that the house was ours.
In my opinion, the following three years were the worst three years of our marriage. We disagreed on nearly every decision about the house. He wanted the fancy products, I wanted to go simple. I screamed and hollered (for three straight years!) about how we were literally flushing all of our hard-earned money down the toilet and somehow he won each and every time. My juicy drama queen self even started calling Fern "the other woman". I'd never felt so miserable and betrayed in my marriage (we didn't even go to counseling because we were worried about time and money) and I truly doubted we'd ever remodel again.
Although the home came out beautifully and it's the most eco-friendly and technologically advanced house we've ever done, we didn't make a dime on our three years of labor when we sold in 2010. Plus we lost a huge chunk of change to boot. Over the last five years I couldn't even drive by Fern without feeling intense shame for agreeing to buy it, extreme loss, deep regret and also terribly sorry for my poor poor self. As far as I was concerned the entire time we'd spent there was a total waste.
A few years later the people living right next door to us in our current home, Fixer Upper #2, were foreclosed on. The cute, little rundown house next to us has been sitting empty for the last one and a half years and we knew that if it came up for sale, we'd be silly not to buy it since it was close and it'd be relatively easy to do. Pauly's been super jacked about the possibility since the neighbors moved out. I've been extremely cautious.
Several months ago, out of the blue, we were offered a loan to purchase this house, so it seemed as if things were lining up to buy it. And five days ago we bought Fixer Upper #5. As mentioned in my last post, I've been so serious about this project and focused on lack and loss, that I made myself physically ill.
I've occasionally been able to talk myself into being excited about this new project but mostly my Inner Bully has been telling me terrible things. It has continually repeated that Pauly will not listen to my sensible remodeling advice, he'll go rogue again and do outrageously expensive updates just like he did at Fern, and we'll end up living in a van down by the river!
My Inner Being knows that all is well. It knows that there is no such thing as a mistake, there are only opportunities for growth and expansion. But I've barely been able to hear my Inner Being. My Inner Bully has been screaming so loud!
Every time Pauly moved tools into the house the first few days we owned it, I'd go berserk. I was sure that he'd jam it so full of stuff that we'd barely be able to work in there, which I found to be the case at Fern. Each time he'd mention making a change to the house that seemed extravagant to me, I'd lose it and start hollering.
"Everything you judge you fear." This is true. I became terrified for my financial health, my mental health, my physical health, my marriage, pretty much everything. In short, my Inner Bully had me convinced that my sweet husband was trying to kill me, which is exactly what I thought the entire time we owned Fern.
If I weren't living in the past and listening to the Inner Bully, I'd be happy and chill. I would know that Pauly and I are going to be able to work together in harmony and that we're going to have fun doing it.
This is why my friend, Marian, has suggested meditation so many times, so I can build my mental muscles and pause whenever a thought crosses my mind. Then I could determine by feel if this was a thought from the Inner Bully or the Inner Being before I reacted with seriousness. I'd also pause when someone else was speaking to me from their Inner Bully. I wouldn't react to their fear-based bullshit either.
I'm learning as I go. And the value of the practices that help me tune into my Inner Being, like writing, dancing, meditation and Jin Shin Jyutsu self-help holds, has become much clearer. On the days I don't practice, I can tell the difference. So the incentive to use these tools is getting greater.
If there are practices you use that help you tune into your true self, let me know in the comments. (Or comment about anything!) Different people utilize various tools to boost up their play in this game of life. There's not one particular practice that's meant for everyone.
After writing the draft of this post, I was able to drive by Fern for the first time in five years and not feel anything but appreciation. It's a miracle! Fern helped me discern (in an extreme way) the difference between feeling good and feeling bad. And those feelings let me know exactly which voice in my head I'm listening to.
As long as I'm in a human body, the Inner Bully will continue it's fear-based, serious talk and keep saying that Pauly is out to get me. When I forget and choose to believe it, however, I can rest knowing that Pauly still has to get past my super sharp, savage teeth and that ain't happenin'!