The Two-Step Beat Down Waltz


heart-vs-mind

There is a dance that gets played out in the ballroom of me every day.

There is a wager that is slapped down daily in the off-track betting kiosk that is me.

There is a sword tip-into-the-soiled-dirt battle cry that gets carried out by the winds of my inner climate.

Heart on one side, Mind the other.

The odd couple, Felix and Oscar.  Tom and Dick Smothers. Caesar and Brutus. Holmes and Moriarty.

Often enough, they are in check. They play nicely.  They bow to one another before any sort of friendly spar.  They tap out when tired.  They wrestle on the soft grass and not on the firm, hard concrete.  They tussle with a smile, like siblings in a jumpy castle.  Usually.

But there are times when they get cross and wrangle with bravado.  There are times when the big guns come out and it’s not about crying Uncle, but about crying, period.  Rough and tumble.  Sticks and stones.  Crushing shots.  Rabbit punches.  Fists of fury. A two-step beat down waltz.

And at the risk of taking sides, I have to say one thing – Mind is a bully.

ego-heart-brain

Sorry Heart.  I know that hurts, as much of you was bred to hurt, in some ways.  You hurt for a long time, my pet.  I know, because I was there.  I felt it in my chest as much as the pain bruised my spirit and battered my soul.  I felt it when you felt it.  We were in ICU together, it seemed at times.  You – broken and spent, but not ever giving up.  Ever.  That’s your strength, isn’t it?  Perseverance.  Looking up and never down.  Limping and fading, you never see defeat…just a new chance to get up.

Mind, what can I say?  You know things, you help me during the day, you make spectacular thoughts and bizarre dreams and you get as excited as a pup seeing a leash and ball and you never seem to rest.  You are the watchdog and the lifter of lofty ideals and solver of crosswords and the orator of skill.  You please as much as you can.

But the lines gets too deep, Mind, sometimes.  Ego emboldens you, it courses through the very fabric and fibre of you and it brings out the darker side.  It’s the brass knuckles that finally takes down Heart in the last round.  It brutalizes Heart.  It terrorizes.  It demands and insists. It plays large in the pool of small and light.  It takes you outside of you. I don’t recognize you when you’re like that, and yet, that’s part of what was bred for you too, wasn’t it?

Brain-and-heart

My mind has always been in the driver’s seat.  Heart the mindful, polite, but beleaguered passenger.  Mind always threatened to pull body over and give Heart a thrashing for daring to give directions now and then.  Mind told Heart that without Mind, Heart was useless.  Mind told Heart that Mind ruled.  Sure, Mind let Heart win a few times, to keep the peace.  To make nice, but Mind was the alpha.  Top canine.  Purina® endorsement worthy.

That is how my life was ruled for so very long.  Mind taking us on wild road trips.  Through scraggly brush and minefield-laden roads.  Through ego-laden flights of fancy.  Through depression-sodden mud trails. And drinks.  Lots and lots of drinks.  Drinks to suppress Heart’s wishes. Drinks to drown out Heart’s desires.  Drinks to shut Mind from Mind’s own whistling and humming in the dark.  Drinks to remind Mind that Mind was in charge.  Drinks to numb out both Heart…and Mind.

Mind hated when Heart spoke up.  When Heart had enough and wailed on Mind.  Mind especially hated Heart when Heart finally found an ally in Something Greater and wrestled drinks out of Mind’s hands.  When Heart finally held sway and broke free from the shackles of Mind’s sweet pillow talk and teethy barks.

Mind started to mind his p’s and q’s.  Proclamations and questions.  Power and Quests.

artworks-000037686520-8gs0zt-original

Heart quenched the thirst of Mind’s ravaging fires through cool waters and quiet contemplation.  Heart opened Mind to new experiences.  Heart reached out to others who in turn reached out to even more.  Heart serenaded Mind into stillness.  Mind in turn brought justice to Heart.  Mind in turn learned about the things Heart felt deeply about.  Mind in turn handed the wheel over during stop overs.

Heart knows what is best for Heart and Mind.  Mind knows what is best for Mind only.  And Mind doesn’t know that yet.  Not sure if Mind will ever understand that.  So in the battle of Heart and Mind, Mind may overpower, but Heart eventually rules.  Like in Bridge, Heart needs to trump.  And during this drink-free Heart ruling era, Mind has been tamed a bit.  Peace has nested into my spirit and built a home.  A home it never had.

I bring this up because lately these days, Mind has been licking at the edges of Heart’s kingdom.  Mind has been talking to ego again and they have a plan, a notion, a sort of Tom Sawyer-eque escapade in Mind.  Nothing nefarious or dangerous.  Just plans.  I don’t even know what they are. Heart has been quiet.  Heart has been mourning something I don’t know what, but it’s been in the recesses of it’s space and finding a place to sit.  And that has been throwing me off.  I am hoping Heart comes back with something.  Hoping that Heart opens up to Mind and me and brings us the treasures that it always brings forth. Because as much as Heart was bred to feel hurt, it was also created to nourish and enrich.  That’s what it likes to do.  And I need it as much as anyone else.

BrainHeart

Mind hurts me and others.  Heart heals.  Mind hurts heart.  Heart heals.

See how that works?

The bully is the one who ends up being soothed.  The once dominant hand is quieted by the warm energy of Heart. Something Greater has taught Heart to overcome.

And this is about overcoming, isn’t it?

This whole dance we do in our lives, between us and others, between our spirit and those surrounding us, between the two ears…it’s about overcoming with love and peace.

Not an easy lesson.  Some days I get the beat down.

And then other days I get up.

I hope to get up soon.

heart-mind

36 responses to “The Two-Step Beat Down Waltz

    • Thanks. It was more of a cathartic type post for me. Needed to just voice something within, I suppose, as opposed to my usual chattering 🙂

      Glad it resonated with you.

      Love and light,
      Paul

  1. Paul
    I copied this from a website that cited BB chap 2.

    First, a correction: A.A., as an organization/entity, does not, it seems, itself use the phrase “ego deflation at depth” in any of its official literature. That phrase was apparently used by Bill Wilson in a talk he gave before the New York City Medical Society on Alcoholism in 1958 – and he was referring, specifically, to the initial approach to the still-drinking alcoholic.

    Here’s the quote itself; Wilson’s talking about an alcoholic patient of Carl Jung’s – a man who had tried for many years to stop drink but had found it impossible.

    In substances, Dr. Jung said, “For some time after you came here, I continued to believe that you might be one of those rare cases who could make a recovery. But, I must now frankly admit that I have never seen a single case recover through the psychiatric art where the neurosis is so severe as yours. Medicine has done all that it can for you, and that’s where you stand.

    Mr. R.’s depression deepened. He asked: “is there no exception; is this really the end of the line for me?”

    “Well,” replied the doctor, “There are some exceptions, a very few. Here and there, once in a while, alcoholics have had what are called vital spiritual experiences. They appear to be in the nature of huge emotional displacements and rearrangements. Ideas, emotions and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them. In fact, I have been trying to produce some such emotional rearrangement within you. With many types of neurotics, the methods which I employ are successful, but I have never been successful with an alcoholic of your description.”

    “But,” protested the patient, “I’m a religious man, and I still have faith.” To this Dr. Jung replied, “Ordinary religious faith isn’t enough. What I’m talking about is a transforming experience, a conversion experience, if you like. I can only recommend that you place yourself in the religious atmosphere of your own choice, that you recognize your personal hopelessness, and that you cast yourself upon whatever God you think there is. The lightening of the transforming experience may then strike you. This you must try- it is your only way out.” So spoke a great and humble physician.

    For the AA-to- be, this was a ten-strike. Science had pronounced Mr. R. virtually hopeless. Dr. Jung ‘ s words had struck him at great depth, producing an immense deflation of his ego. Deflation at depth is today a cornerstone principle of AA. There in Dr. Jung’s office it was first employed in our behalf.

    Pauly
    Emotional sobriety is the trick to staying sober. It takes time.
    You are in the middle of the ’emotional displacements and rearrangements’ mode. Keep working at it bro. Gotta surrender to win.

    Hang in there

    • It was Roland Hazzard that sought out Mr. Jung, if memory serves me right. Talked about the conversion experience. Bill W and Mr. Jung exchanged letters at some point, discussing this a little bit.

      Sounds like a malady of some kind, eh? lol

      Was going through a bad few days there, Mike. Found my center today. Prayer, readings and reaching out. Gratitude adjustment, frankly. I enjoy what Bill W also wrote about emotional sobriety in Grapevine, 1958:

      “I think that many oldsters who have put our AA “booze cure” to severe but successful tests still find they often lack emotional sobriety. Perhaps they will be the spearhead for the next major development in AA—the development of much more real maturity and balance (which is to say, humility) in our relations with ourselves, with our fellows, and with God.

      Those adolescent urges that so many of us have for top approval, perfect security, and perfect romance—urges quite appropriate to age seventeen—prove to be an impossible way of life when we are at age forty-seven or fifty-seven.

      Since AA began, I’ve taken immense wallops in all these areas because of my failure to grow up, emotionally and spiritually. My God, how painful it is to keep demanding the impossible, and how very painful to discover finally, that all along we have had the cart before the horse! Then comes the final agony of seeing how awfully wrong we have been, but still finding ourselves unable to get off the emotional merry-go-round.

      How to translate a right mental conviction into a right emotional result, and so into easy, happy, and good living—well, that’s not only the neurotic’s problem, it’s the problem of life itself for all of us who have got to the point of real willingness to hew to right principles in all our affairs.

      Even then, as we hew away, peace and joy may still elude us. That’s the place so many of us AA oldsters have come to. And it’s a hell of a spot, literally. How shall our unconscious—from which so many of our fears, compulsions and phony aspirations still stream—be brought into line with what we actually believe, know and want! How to convince our dumb, raging and hidden “Mr. Hyde” becomes our main task.

      I’ve recently come to believe that this can be achieved. I believe so because I begin to see many benighted ones—folks like you and me—commencing to get results. Last autumn [several years back – ed.] depression, having no really rational cause at all, almost took me to the cleaners. I began to be scared that I was in for another long chronic spell. Considering the grief I’ve had with depressions, it wasn’t a bright prospect.

      I kept asking myself, “Why can’t the Twelve Steps work to release depression?” By the hour, I stared at the St. Francis Prayer…”It’s better to comfort than to be the comforted.” Here was the formula, all right. But why didn’t it work?

      Suddenly I realized what the matter was. My basic flaw had always been dependence – almost absolute dependence – on people or circumstances to supply me with prestige, security, and the like. Failing to get these things according to my perfectionist dreams and specifications, I had fought for them. And when defeat came, so did my depression.

      There wasn’t a chance of making the outgoing love of St. Francis a workable and joyous way of life until these fatal and almost absolute dependencies were cut away.

      Because I had over the years undergone a little spiritual development, the absolute quality of these frightful dependencies had never before been so starkly revealed. Reinforced by what Grace I could secure in prayer, I found I had to exert every ounce of will and action to cut off these faulty emotional dependencies upon people, upon AA, indeed, upon any set of circumstances whatsoever.

      Then only could I be free to love as Francis had. Emotional and instinctual satisfactions, I saw, were really the extra dividends of having love, offering love, and expressing a love appropriate to each relation of life.

      Plainly, I could not avail myself of God’s love until I was able to offer it back to Him by loving others as He would have me. And I couldn’t possibly do that so long as I was victimized by false dependencies.

      For my dependency meant demand—a demand for the possession and control of the people and the conditions surrounding me.

      While those words “absolute demand” may look like a gimmick, they were the ones that helped to trigger my release into my present degree of stability and quietness of mind, qualities which I am now trying to consolidate by offering love to others regardless of the return to me.

      This seems to be the primary healing circuit: an outgoing love of God’s creation and His people, by means of which we avail ourselves of His love for us. It is most clear that the current can’t flow until our paralyzing dependencies are broken, and broken at depth. Only then can we possibly have a glimmer of what adult love really is.

      Spiritual calculus, you say? Not a bit of it. Watch any AA of six months working with a new Twelfth Step case. If the case says “To the devil with you,” the Twelfth Stepper only smiles and turns to another case. He doesn’t feel frustrated or rejected. If his next case responds, and in turn starts to give love and attention to other alcoholics, yet gives none back to him, the sponsor is happy about it anyway. He still doesn’t feel rejected; instead he rejoices that his one-time prospect is sober and happy. And if his next following case turns out in later time to be his best friend (or romance) then the sponsor is most joyful. But he well knows that his happiness is a by-product—the extra dividend of giving without any demand for a return.

      The really stabilizing thing for him was having and offering love to that strange drunk on his doorstep. That was Francis at work, powerful and practical, minus dependency and minus demand.

      In the first six months of my own sobriety, I worked hard with many alcoholics. Not a one responded. Yet this work kept me sober. It wasn’t a question of those alcoholics giving me anything. My stability came out of trying to give, not out of demanding that I receive.

      Thus I think it can work out with emotional sobriety. If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependency and its consequent unhealthy demand. Let us, with God’s help, continually surrender these hobbling demands. Then we can be set free to live and love; we may then be able to Twelfth Step ourselves and others into emotional sobriety.

      Of course I haven’t offered you a really new idea—only a gimmick that has started to unhook several of my own “hexes” at depth. Nowadays my brain no longer races compulsively in either elation, grandiosity or depression. I have been given a quiet place in bright sunshine.”

      It’s something that I keep with me and look at when I start to get that self-pity and self-centeredness start happening. Or when I lose True North on my compass. Looking at things like St. Francis – understand, not be understood, forgive, not be forgiven, etc. is where things start to come back to me. Understanding who is in charge. I have had the psychic change and the obsession lifted – just have to keep doing what has worked for me until now. Straying from the script doesn’t serve me well.

      Thanks again Mike – you bring a whole new complexion to things.

      Paul

  2. Hey Paul.
    I understand that we are two unique individuals that handle a problem that binds us, as it does many, and that all of us afflicted cope in our own, very personal ways. Whatever your way is I know that you find it but I hope you find it before your heart aches in dark recesses for too long.
    Much love Paul.

    • Hi Glenn – thanks for all your support. This is what happens when I don’t do what I need to do. I sometimes spin out hard left when I was looking dead center…lol. I can usually reign it in and see the pitfalls ahead. Other times, not so much. There is also something to be said of having a few bad days. We’re not special in that way. I think the greater part of this is that I have to recognize that there is still some healing to be done. Not sure where this comes from, but sounds like it’s inventory time for this cat.

      Thanks again, my friend.

      Big hug,
      Paul

  3. Hi Paul, first, I hope you heart soothes your mind soon, I am praying for you! And I would bet the very act of writing this post has gone a long way towards the healing you need.

    This is an intriguing idea that I need to ponder… the mind and the heart battling it out. As one who has always considered herself as running on too much heart and not enough head, it feels contradictory to my beliefs. Yet, I am thinking it is just semantics, because I can totally relate to the push and pull between two opposing forces within myself… that is a very regular struggle (and one that frequently give me content for my own blog!).

    Either way, both heart and mind have been enriched by reading this post, and so both thank you, Paul!

    • You are so right Josie – I did feel a lot better putting this down in a way that brought me to another sense of this. As I mentioned to Glenn, it’s probably a good opportunity for some inventory, or left-handed journaling that I haven’t done in a while (I can explain that one to you – it’s marvellous)

      Thank you for being here, as usual, Josie. You’re presence here today has made a big difference, believe it or not. I need to often swallow the pill of “we’re never alone”.

      Love and light,
      Paul

  4. I get what you are saying about the brain and the heart. When I was a teenager there was a poem written in Teen magazine by a reader. I wrote and rewrote it, hung it on my mirror and 30 years later I still remember it. “Thoughts and feelings; one is like a boulder on a baby.”

    Funny, I haven’t thought of that in years; but I’ve always struggled with this topic.

    Fern

    • Boulder on a baby…ouch. But I get it. I really do. Felt like we carried an entire dump truck of boulders in our addiction, eh? I have found that lightening the heart up to be much more beneficial than lightening up the mind. both have benefits, of course. The mental obsession getting removed had to be first. Then healing the hurts of the heart of the past was next. So it’s a balancing act. sometimes I get thrown off, and am not sure where I stand. But good folks here and offline, and my HP, guide me back 🙂

      Thanks Fern for being here 🙂

      Blessings and hugs,
      Paul

  5. Poet Paul,
    Your words continue to mesmerize and enlighten. Another post of yours that I’ll have to bookmark and read frequently. The metaphors, the catharsis–I’m sure all of which were intended to help and guide you–and instead, did provided 100-fold for me. Thank you!

    Not knowing your your taste in music (but seeing the nod to two-step!), thought I’d include a very small part of a song by Lady Antebellum,

    “Compass”

    “So let your heart, sweet heart
    Be your compass when you’re lost
    And you should follow it wherever it may go
    When it’s all said and done
    You can walk instead of run
    Because no matter what you’ll never be alone (never be alone)”

    Having lived in an early childhood/adult world where we were taught to let brain trump heart, it’s comforting to find a community and space in life where the heart is in charge. A much more fulfilling and authentic ‘true north.’

    Keep the words coming…

    • Wow, thank you for the wonderful and kind words…and sharing those lyrics.
      I ain’t no poet (see how terrible the start of this sentence is?), but I love me some wording…and I am so glad that I am able to read yours…wonderful 🙂

      I am trying to get that balance…but heart driven. My mind needs to do it’s thing…but as you said, it’s more fulfilling going deeper, rather than more intellectually.

      Blessings,
      Paul

  6. Wow, Paul… I just read your post on your other site and was pretty impressed by the inner psyche approach and discovery but this one, man, you did it again.

    In all honesty, I’ve never heard a more pristine and well thought-out way of comparing these two partners and ultimately, final anchors for one another; for reals my friend=)

    For so many years, I can’t tell you how much my mind painted a façade for my heart to follow. Mind: “Here, drink this and you will feel this way…. ahhh gotcha!” Heart: “But you promised I would feel loved and romanced and all those tickly and fanciful things we both watch on television together. You tricked me again!”

    For so many years, my mind and heart battled but the mind always one. I’ve learned that because it was controlled by one of the scariest demons known to man (yes alcohol) it was hard for my mind to find a straight path. I remember waking up every single morning of my life and telling myself that I wouldn’t drink that day. I wouldn’t go to the liquor store and pick up those 2 or 3 bottles of wine for that night and beyond. But for some reason, there was always something in the back of my mind which physically controlled my ability to not be able to say no. It’s almost as though when I woke up in the morning, it was my heart that was doing the thinking but then as memories and excuses began to manifest during the daytime at work and what not, the mind just ended up wining the waging battle and I would end up at the local wine shop or liquor store by the end of one, two, three punch knock-out.

    Take the alcohol away and we take the ugliness and bully out of the equation. Heart wins because in the end, love conquers all. It might not seem this way for many suffering from alcohol and addiction, but that’s what the journey is about. Showing others what we have learned by letting our mind and hearts collide and grow instead of battle and falter.

    Beautiful piece, Paul…. enlightening and touching in all of the right places!

    • thank you Gina…you are so very kind and generous with your spirit here and on your corner of the world. You are right on – love conquers all. I don’t mean in a Disney or sitcom-y kind of way. But love in terms of intention. Of action. of coming to the world based on love, and not on fear. It is said that there are only two real things that we base everything else on, and that’s love and fear. Fear begets anger which begets…well we know. Booze is in the mix. Booze doesn’t come from love. Addiction doesn’t come from love. It’s the opposite.

      My mind was my greatest enemy in drinking – not alcohol. Alcohol was just the agent, just the symbol for it. But my mind…wow, could it’ get me into trouble! And you use a wonderful example of that.

      You’re inspire me, Gina…so glad you’re here 🙂

      Blessings and hugs,
      Paul

  7. What an awesome post Paul. Very creative indeed. And I love the pictures. Where did you find them?

    I have always been very ‘heart’. I mean VERY ‘heart’. It’s a good thing I married the man that I did because he is all ‘mind’. Opposites truly do attract. I have learned so much from him, because the heart and feeling can be so deceptive sometimes. When the heart is stronger then the mind, it doesn’t know how to make good, conscious and sane choices. I have learned that I can’t make decisions based on feelings. If I did that, I would no longer be married and who knows what type of deep, dark, dreary depression I would be in right now. We really need a balance between the two. Don’t you think?

    Blessings Paul =)
    Staci

    • Thanks Staci…the pics is just a cannonball into the minefield that is Google Images. I admit I spent just as much time picture hunting as I do writing…I have a lot of fun with it.

      Love what you mention about marrying someone who is more “mind”. It’s amazing how we find someone to balance us, eh? <—-Cdn usage.
      My wife is a good balance herself, but more heart. I was more mind. We both have helped each other to a more centered way of being…more balanced. I have the larger learning curve, that's for sure. Add into that my alcoholism and neither my heart nor my mind were entirely healthy…especially mind. and anything my heart crept towards was corrupted by impaired judgements and thoughts.

      You sound like you have a good "head" on your shoulders, Staci 🙂

      Thank you for your wonderful words…here and there.

      Blessings,
      Paul

      • Hey Paul, thanks a ton for the nice compliment. I hope that now-a-day my ‘head’ is getting better. I know that in the past I was an emotional basket case. Full of troubles, anxieties and garbage that needed to be healed up. Thank you God for doing so.
        I can totally understand the heart and mind not being entirely healthy because of alcoholism. My dad was an extreme alcoholic and full of problems. Really sad actually. It ended up taking his life, but thankfully he came to peace with God before passing on into eternity. I struggled with drug dependence for just over a year as well. But I called out to God and asked him to take me away from this type of crazy life. Soon after is when my life radically changed.

        Oh, and yes, the Canadian usage. Great. Even to this day, here in Brazil, in Portuguese, there’s an expression very similar. I use it all the time and my hubby makes fun of me because of it. The funny thing too is the word is “neh”.

        I really appreciate you and am glad we ‘met’ (virtually)

        Blessings Paul =)

    • thank you Ann – I have been enjoying your work (I am have been lurking and liking…will chime in sooner than later!). I too am so glad that our paths have crossed!

      Blessings,
      Paul

  8. I hope you get up soon too! Actually…I know you will.

    If I had written this (which there is no way I could have done it justice like you have here), the roles would have been reversed. My heart is the alpha…it leads…gets me in trouble. It can be a bully and tell the mind to shut up when I KNOW I should listen.

    But it has also given me rewards that are too numerous to count because you’re right, at the end of the day it’s the heart’s job to heal and soothe and love.

    Great post my friend.

    Sherry

    • Feel like I am almost up, Sherry. Not sure what has been going on with me, but I am not entirely liking it. But gotta take my medicine, right? ugh…lol. It’s funny that you mention that you lead from the heart, and the trouble it gives you, but then I read what you just wrote in your blog…and I see that it has shown you profound insight and healing and power in a situation where the mind would have sunk.

      Amazing how it all works, eh?

      Thank you for being here, Sherry…you always make my day when I see you here 🙂

      Blessings,
      Paul

  9. This was such an enjoyable read, about something so simple but truly profound and life-changing. (I guess most life-changing things are shocking in their core clarity, huh, even if the mists that swirl around them seem tricky?) I especially enjoyed the artwork – that first image is just beautiful.

    • Thanks Jennie – I have to remember that the simplest stuff is usually the most profound, as you wisely mention. I like to complicate things. Make them less user-friendly, then wonder why I am all twisted up. I can be my own worst enemy, so getting down to brass tacks and getting clarity on it all…that is where I need to lay my head down on, or I am sunk!

      Thanks for the insightful words, my friend. Glad you’re here.

      And yeah, the pics were quite touching and poignant. I take no credit. I can’t draw a stick man to save my life. But there are so many wonderful images out there.

      Blessings,
      Paul

  10. Hi Paul just popping over to say a quick hello .. this is indeed another fabulous well thought out and brilliantly crafted post from you. I think you have a real gift and way with words.. which combined with your incredible warmth and generosity makes you a shining star in this blogging world. I so appreciate you. Sending love from New Zealand xxx

    • Thanks Mrs D! Thank you for your words..means a lot. Believe me, I have been going through a bit of a dumpster dive in some ways, and this just moved my spirit. You rock…you did more than you can imagine.

      Hugs
      Paul

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