My brain has bouncers. I think most people’s brains have bouncers. They stand between the thoughts or feelings that crop up naturally, and the things we really believe or do. For instance, you may see a box of doughnuts on the table, and your instincts say, oh I want to eat all the doughnuts! I love doughnuts! But time and experience, and possibly the voice of your mother, have given you a bouncer that usually stops you from eating all the doughnuts. And, if we are wise, we have a bouncer in front of our mouths that stops us from saying things like the “I didn’t know you were pregnant!” comment. 😛
The thing is, none of us were BORN with bouncers in our heads. All of us had to hire them (for many of us, the main ones were hired by our parents when we were very small), and they had to be trained, and bulked up in the gym of learning and self-discipline to be able to deal with things like the powerful urge to tell your neighbor where they should put that drumset they practice on at 1 a.m.
When you deal with mental illness as I do, I have found that I had to hire and train a whole new set of bouncers. Lots of the training comes from counselors, but the bulking up comes from repeated, daily practicing their skills. These bouncers, instead of sitting in front of my mouth (where the bouncer is often off on a bathroom break) or stopping me from eating something bad (where the bouncer is off on their own snack break far too often), sit between the broken part of my brain and the active, conscious part. Unlike most of the other bouncers, these I had to hire and train a lot later in my life. Because they are newer, they require a lot more supervision, and because they are additional hires, it means I have less resources to devote to the original bouncers (though sometimes they fill in for that slacker at Club Mouth). But they are super important, because they protect The Boss. The little baddies that creep in from the bad part go straight for the Boss, because they know if they take her down, the whole system is going down.
Here is an example of a day in the life of my most important Brain Bouncers:
Little baddie, trying to escape the corrupted part, gets stopped at the gate. Looks up at bouncer, and says, “Hey, me and the boys were just noticing that no one has called in like a week. We gotta tell The Boss about it, so she knows everybody hates her.”
Bouncer checks The List of Allowed Guests, shakes his head.
Little baddie: But she’s gotta KNOW.
Bouncer: To what purpose?
Little baddie, with shifty eyes: Um, so she can…um…be properly worried?
Bouncer brings Fist of Righteousness down on Little Baddie’s head and kicks him back into the pit.
2 minutes later:
Medium baddie comes to the gate. “Let me through! I gots important news for Da Boss!”
Expressionless bouncer: “State the nature of the emergency.”
Medium baddie: “I have a list from a very reliable source of everything Da Boss has done wrong today. And she is in BIG TROUBLE. This, along with the list of past failures, needs to be dealt with right away!”
Bouncer: “Who, exactly, is she in Big Trouble with?”
Medium baddie: “You know! Them!”
Bouncer: Fist of Righteousness. Boot.
90 seconds later:
Slick, fancy-dressed baddie comes to gate. “Hello, my good man. I’m here to assist your Superior in future planning.”
Bouncer raises an eyebrow. “Oh yeah? How do you plan on doing that?”
Slick, pulling out fancy-looking notebook and pen: “I have a comprehensive list of everything she should be doing and should have get done before her next birthday. With complete cross-referencing to what Everyone Else has accomplished by the same age, and everything she Should Have Finished fifteen years ago.” Closes notebook with condescending smile.
Bouncer sighs. Fist of Righteousness, yadda yadda.
Bouncer also has to regularly sic the dogs on the Booleaders, which are kind of like Cheerleaders but the opposite, who chant crap like “Who Can’t! You Can’t! Siss Boom Bah!” all the livelong day.
So, what I’m saying is this: a lot of us feel these things and similar destructive thoughts. But they don’t have to rule us. Hire bouncers. Train them. Bulk them up. It takes time and effort and mental resources. But they keep your noggin safe.