We go way back. Don’t get me wrong, I go way back with the other parts too, but you are the one I remember the most.
You are the one I always heard, always followed, always believed. Honestly, you are the one I thought was me. You sound exactly like me, or at least I thought you did. You are so logical and rational. You sound just like all the other adults I know. You know all the rules of society. You know the laws. You know how to avoid the pitfalls of life. You sound just like what I was told I should be. Why wouldn’t I think you were me?
Of course, I know you ARE me. You are the part who took all the messed up experiences and created the perfect mask for me to use when I faced the horrible, evil, untrustworthy world. You use incredibly detail-oriented skills to watch the world like very few can. You are the best project manager ever (if I do say so myself). You never miss an appointment. You are never late. You make things happen no matter what. Honestly, you are impressive.
But there were issues. You know what I mean. How many times did the boss compare you to a “bull in a china shop”? He would laugh, but we knew he meant it. There is a dark side to your regime. You don’t do relationships. You don’t do people. It would be fair to say you chew them up and spit them out. If they get in your way, you plow right through them. You don’t care who likes you and who doesn’t. It is about finishing what you start, getting stuff done, beating the clock. The people don’t matter.
And it is the same way on the inside. The other parts don’t stand a chance. They are suppressed over and over again to avoid any vulnerability and weakness. When mean kid escapes, you clean it up by blaming everyone else. You keep me from getting too close to people in case a part escapes at the wrong time and creates a mess. For years, you held down all the pain, all the memories, all the inner children and other defenders who so desperately needed to be heard. All this work was in the name of appearances and safety.
But none of it worked, did it? Even you, my controller-extraordinaire, cannot deny the failures. This approach led to sleepless nights of wondering what little detail I missed and how I might pay for it. This approach led to isolation from others who saw me as a snobby, uptight person who didn’t know how to treat other people or make a connection. This approach led to a couple of years of militant parenting of which I am hoping to erase the effects. But it also led to “take-overs” from parts who would not be held down any longer. And that was a mess.
I know you know it is time for a different technique. It is time for a partnership in this journey. I need you, but I need the others too. I still want you to bring the detail-oriented, “get down to business” approach to life, but that can’t be the only way. We need to be flexible. We need to be creative. We need to be intuitive. We need to be vulnerable. And yes. I can already see you rolling your eyes. Those words don’t mean anything to you. You hate those words. They are silly and pointless. But I promise to help you with that stuff. I will show you how those words can make life better than it was before recovery. I will show you how the other parts can bring their strengths to life and we can be better for it.
While I know you ran the show on your own for a long time, I was hoping we could find a way to work together. I know you haven’t been a big fan of my approach, but you have admitted it hasn’t been a complete mess (like you originally predicted). Maybe we could try bringing a little more faith to our perspective and a little more cooperation with the other parts. I promise you matter more than ever. But you don’t have to try to hold up a house of cards. You can focus on what you do best and I will pull in the others for what they do best.
So what do you say? Can we give this a try? One day, you might really like me. Who knows? It could happen.
That really obnoxious adult self that drives you crazy
Written By Elisabeth Corey, MSW