Daily Life

Brain Squatters

By: DL

Anyone in recovery knows who they are -- hell, that's the reason they're there.  I'm not referring to the likes of Left Side and Right Side.  That's a whole-lot-a-trouble in their own right.  No, I'm referring to a different kind of resident, the ones that are there illegally, yet we allow them to stay there -- rent free.  Kinda contradictory, I know.  But it's true.  And they take up valuable space between our ears.

But it doesn't have to be like that.  At least, that's the conclusion I've come to several times today.  And by several, I mean after long-hour-after-hour-sessions-multiple-times-throughout-the-day, several.  Ya.

I ran into an issue recently, where I had really upset someone I care about.  A lot.  I could go on and on about the details of the event, except... it doesn't really matter.  I really hurt this person.  I just didn't know exactly how, and that left a vacancy, one that Left Side and Right Side wanted nothing to do with... well, except for inviting in the BS.

Brain Squatters.

They're a whole complicated set of their own, because usually, a resolution to the problem can't ever be reached.  At least with Left Side and Right Side, there always seemed to be a conclusion to the arguments, typically ones that ended pretty poorly, or with lots of beatings.  But it's not so with the BS.  With the BS, the argument just lingers. Who's the right one?  And why?  And what about when they [this] or [that]? And what about the inventory of the other party involved?  When are they going to clean up their act?  I forgave them then, and they didn't even know it bothered me! (Well, that's a different problem entirely... anyway.)

The obsession to find the answer I want by arguing with "them" grows so strong that I can think of little more than how the conversation should go, or how it would go if it were happening right here, right now, in front of me... if only the other person was in the room. I'd explain why it was okay to act like I did, I could justify what I did, and prove that "I was right after all, damn it!"  If only they were here... in front of me.


But they weren't, the Brain Squatters were.


brain squat·ter

  1. the imagined person or event, whether created or real, that occupies an otherwise docile and unwonted portion of an individual's time in thought and emotion whilst having a discussion or argument that is not actually taking place
  2. a thought process involving a particular person or event, or a set of related people and events, that one thinks about continually in an attempt to define a solution to a perceived problem, whether or not the issue truly exists

No matter how many times I searched and questioned and requested and argued and begged and pleaded inside my own head to create my solution, all I got -- at best -- were hunches and possibilities, but no settlement.  I could find no resolution to the problem that, by this time, had grown into a huge fight for survival between them... and me.

Having been in the various programs for a little bit of time now, and being a believer in step work, I knew my answer lay in my heart, not my brain; I can't get answers from someone that simply isn't in the same room.  Not that I didn't try, mind you.  But this is where I win with the various programs I currently work, because it is using them that I meditate to calm my mind, clear the unnecessary thought pollution, and work through the process -- from my side of the street.  Where had I been wrong in what had happened? Where had I contributed to the misunderstanding or the skewed perception of the intention at hand?  What was my part in all of this? -- and then see either 1) that I was indeed in the wrong, or that 2), "shit happens, crap occurs" as my father would say.  Maybe nobody was at fault.

I mean, really, it is possible that no one is at fault for the issue, it simply happened.  Someone misunderstood a comment or an intention.  I wouldn't call that a fault, I'd call that a "happen."  But in my heart, I know that's a scapegoat most of the time, and sadly, reluctantly, option one was beginning to stare me in the eyes.

It's funny.  I'd run into this conclusion multiple times during this process, and yet I reworked and reworked the problems, determined to gain control and demonstrate how and why I was in the right; or at least, not in the wrong -- that maybe shit did just happen, and crap did just occur -- yet I wound up back here every time.

As it turns out, I found many answers working through the steps. It still took me a while to get past the petty crap that the Brain Squatters were lying to me about -- especially when Left Side and Right Side began to chime in, reminding me of what they thought about who I was and why the BSs were actually correct. Interestingly, I didn't react to them this time, I responded -- I sent them back to their corners and then let go of the Brain Squatters.  Ya. It turns out that I was holding them more hostage than they were me. Once I let go, things just began to work out.  Imagine that.

Seeing what my part was and where it was at was a difficult argument to have, and the end results were even more difficult to swallow -- but you know what? I was finally able to continue my day and go to sleep that night.  The next step was the hard one, because I didn't know what to expect. But we've talked about expectations before.