January 9, 2014

Why We Need to Listen to Our Inner Brat (Even When She is Screaming).

The rain is thick, hard, relentless.

Streets are slick, patterned with reflections of trees that are clearer than they ought to be. Even at 11am the sky holds the same dull grey tone as it does at half-dusk.

It’s morning, but it may as well be any time.

Often when I wake to such a typical Vancouver day I feel immediately weighed down. This is especially true when I know I’ve been holding a heavy heart and full, half-processed thoughts for a few days, abstract ideas half-assedly converted into scattered notes that are now strewn about my (real, digital and metaphorical) spaces.

Yet I woke up this morning with more clarity than I’ve had for a while. No matter what has been in my head for the past few days, no matter what kind of turmoil is swirling around, I am still grateful.

Even though my ‘brat’ is yelling, it doesn’t mean I am not aware of how good my life is.

I have this day.

My ‘brat’ (let’s call her ‘Stompy’) has been a bit noisy lately. She’s had the gall to ask questions like this:

Why does she get to have two awesome partners and I don’t even get one?

“Don’t I deserve to have more/better (fill-in-the-blank)?

“Why does (person X) appear to have more agency (money, power, choice) than I do to make the big changes that I have been wanting to make for so long?”

“Why do I often feel like I’m lacking in agency when it comes to (intimate) relationships and career?”

Okay, enough already: if I don’t want to listen to her any more, you sure as hell don’t either. Especially because these things come up while I simultaneously know that I have so, so, so much, right nowI am comfortable, loved, and supported.

Still, this voice of entitlement keeps rearing her ugly head, somehow implying that I want or deserve something more.

In saying this, I’m not meaning to project resent or anger towards any particular person or situation; I recognize that I’m responsible for directing my life and managing my own emotions.

Spiritually, I am tempted to shut that brat up, telling myself to accept my situation and be present. I tell myself repeatedly that wanting something more or different is somehow bad.

But if we didn’t sometimes recognize our overall dissatisfaction, how would we figure out what we really want?

If we never asked ourselves these things, how would we move forward into more fulfilling places in our lives?

Don’t we all have these feelings of entitlement now and again, no matter how self-righteous it may seem?

So today I decided to stop judging myself about it. I decided to say fuckit (yes, that’s supposed to be one word). I decided to let that voice just be a voice, the voice that says ‘I’m tired of settling for less than I deserve.’ I am not saying yes or no to it, just letting it do it’s thing.

Stompy (I picture her as a chubby Looney Tunes style cartoon baby, with exaggerated squinty eyes, safety-pin cloth diapers and a silly-cute little blonde curl sitting in the middle of her forehead) is going to be hanging around with me for the rest of my life.

Despite the fact that I’ve been getting better at asking for what I want, and better at balancing as the days progress, she’s going to stick around.

And I’m going to listen to her. Not concede, not agree, just listen. Because she is a part of me, and so she has a purpose.

Today I gave her a doughnut which shut her up for a while. Then I saw the doctor that actually listened, and bought some healthy food. Then back to my cozy, messy living room, lit some candles and listened to some Ani DiFranco, Fiona Apple, Leonard Cohen, Supertramp (yes, I said Supertramp).

I checked in with myself just to see what Stompy was really up to, then came to this: there is nothing wrong with asking whether we deserve more, because if we don’t, we risk settling into some sort of semi-fake complacency, complete with rainbows and bubble gum and everything-is-perfect blinders.

I don’t want rainbows and bubble gum. I want real. And real is sometimes about expressing our (seemingly unreasonable) wants. And it’s okay to sit beside our restless, whiny, bratty selves, just as a good friend might understand and not judge.

We all want to be happy and calm and Zen. But a part of this is loving ourselves, brat and all. If we always shut her up or try too hard to be perfect, we wouldn’t realize how the anger that it stems from is there to teach us. Not to direct towards others, but to acknowledge and release in healthy ways.

Just the action of acknowledging this restlessness is what keeps us feeling. The brat is there asking questions to help us figure out how to give ourselves more of what we need. She is there—sometimes screaming—to reveal the things in our lives that need changing.

She’s there to help us remember what we are truly passionate about. And sometimes she has to scream to make sure that we hear her clearly, because we are really good at fooling ourselves into thinking that we are truly fulfilled when in fact we are just getting by.

There is nothing wrong with wanting something different. So the next time your own version of Stompy starts getting a little bit fidgety, the next time she starts to whine—maybe settle her down and listen, but don’t ignore her all together. Maybe calm her down, but don’t send her to her room until you’ve fully heard her out.

It’s possible that in all her apparent silliness, she may be trying to tell you something of utmost importance.


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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: 55 Laney 69 flickr 


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