Friday, 17 July 2009

Sexy Beast

Don first emerged briefly and explosively in 1976 in Tokyo. My girlfriend and I were having an argument about a dirty spoon. “OK! OK!! Maybe it was my spoon, but you could have cleaned it for me! You are so selfish and so controlling. You never think of me. I always have to do everything for myself!” Jean shouted. Yet again I was under attack. I tried to stay cool and behave rationally, but her words had penetrated my defences. “For god’s sake calm down,” I parried, “It’s only a spoon. Why do you always need to get so emotional about every little thing!?”

We were both feeling vulnerable. Our relationship was cracking under the strain of having spent eight months together backpacking overland from Europe to Asia. We had hitchhiked from London to Istanbul and then taken local buses and trains across Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Arriving in south East Asia we had visited Burma, Thailand, Malaysia and Hong Kong before reaching our final destination, Japan.

Amazing as it had been, the heat, the cheap hotels, lack of sleep, unusual food and bouts of sickness had all taken their toll. We were very different personalities. When we had first met these differences had seemed strangely attractive but by the time we had arrived in Japan we had by become polarised and argumentative. I was identified with control, order, rationality and respect, whereas Jean was a rebel - spontaneous, emotional and assertive. The spoon was merely a lightening rod for the clash of our primary selves.

As the argument geared up I felt backed into a corner. It seemed like I had nowhere to hide. My usually solid defences were incapable of protecting me against her tirade and I felt I was being overwhelmed by the tsunami of her negative energy.

Suddenly something snapped and before I knew what I was doing I grabbed a chair, raised it above my head and threw it at her. “You fucking bitch!!!” It missed and went crashing through a window. Jean screamed and fled into the bathroom, locking the door behind her. I raced after her and, frustrated at not being able to get at her, I kicked at the frosted glass panel of the door until it shattered. It was as if I had been taken over by some terrifying spirit.

The sound of Jean’s sobs and a loud knocking on the front door brought me back to reality. Alarmed by the shouting and the sound of breaking glass, our downstairs neighbours wanted to know what on earth was happening.

I felt totally ashamed. The voice of my Inner Critic resounded in my head telling me what a terrible person I was. I felt guilty and contrite. Was that really me? I had never in my life behaved in such a violent way. How could I have done such a thing? It was unforgivable. I felt shell-shocked and exhausted.

I apologised profusely to the neighbours for the disturbance, to the landlord for the damage and of course to Jean for the disrespect. It was the beginning of the end of our relationship.

In 2000 the actor Ben Kingsley starred in a film called Sexy Beast. Kingsley had famously won the best actor Oscar in 1983 for his role as Mahatma Ghandi. In Sexy Beast he took on a very different part - a brutal underworld criminal, instinctual, confrontational, and not to be crossed. When I saw the film I was mesmerised by his character. I found him repulsive, but at the same time strangely attractive. His name was Don Logan.

Soon after seeing the film I did a Voice Dialogue session with an experienced facilitator. I spoke at length from a primary part of me that hated arguments. It would rather have me stay in bed all day with the covers pulled over my head than risk a confrontation. When I separated from this self and moved back to the central place of the Aware Ego I began to feel a very different energy stirring inside me.

The facilitator invited me to find a place in the room where this energy could best show itself. Without a moment’s hesitation I moved my chair to one side and sat bolt upright, legs open and feet planted firmly on the floor. A surge of energy coursed through me. Every muscle in my body felt primed for action. I was focussed and alert. I glared at the facilitator and snarled, “What the fuck do you want?!”

I had become Don Logan.

With deep respect and acceptance, the facilitator allowed this buried part of me to speak. Don was my very disowned killer energy. He hated weakness and was upset at what he considered to be the “soft, effeminate” parts of me that ran my life. They had no backbone and no courage. They were weak and let people walk all over me. If he was in charge there was no way he would ever allow me to be a victim. As he saw it, other people had too much power over me. They needed to be slapped around a bit, put in their place and told what to do! He was fearless and fearsome, intimidating and vicious, and would slaughter anyone who got in his way.

Suddenly I realised what had happened in Tokyo all those years before. It was Don who had come forward to shield me from Jean’s attack. I had been so physically and emotionally depleted that my primary selves had been unable to defend me. Don was my last line of defence and had leapt forward, taken me over and had me physically strike out against her. I now understood that in his way he was protecting my vulnerability.

Recently I heard an interview in which Ben Kingsley described how he had approached the role of Don Logan: “I recognised him and his violent plea to be loved, to be seen and to be embraced… to be let in.” For most of my life I had disowned Don and locked him away. It had taken extreme circumstances for him to break through.

As I have learned to accept and embraced him, his highly confrontational energy has lessened and I have discovered the great gifts that he brings me. With him by my side I am able to set clear boundaries. I can say “No” and people understand that I mean it. He enables me to project physical confidence and courage, and in dangerous situations I can bring forward his energy and no one messes with me.

Shortly after the Voice Dialogue session in which Don spoke, I decided to grow a goatee beard. At the next session a couple of weeks later the facilitator commented on my new appearance. “I see you are wearing Don’s beard now!” I was shocked. I had forgotten that Ben Kingsley had worn a goatee in the film. I realised that it was Don’s way of reminding me that he was around and was not about to be locked away again. As soon as I got home I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. “You sexy beast!” I growled.

1 comment:

mdyak said...

John,

What a great story! You offered us a wonderful illustration of the difference between consciously holding killer energy and having it unconsciously take over. If all of us would embrace our "sexy beasts," the world would be a much better and safer place for everyone.

Miriam