Jack’s Homily at the Easter Vigil Eucharist

This liturgy is the celebration of the victory of light over darkness, truth over lies, integrity over sin, good over evil.

Lent began with the temptation in the desert. We saw in our reflection on that account that Satan is not some abstract power that occasionally visits some hapless soul from time to time. Rather, it is a power within each of us, who tempts us to give up who we are in the image and likeness of God. It is the power that causes us to miss the point, knocks us off course in our lives by telling us we have no value in the core of our being. Because we believe what it says to us, it tricks us into not doing that which we will to do and to do that which we don’t want.

The law of the Power of Darkness states: The only way to salvation, i.e. the only way to a sense of Self-worth, is to trick others into loving you is through their acceptance and approval. The way you do that is to do and become whatever I tell you the other wants of you so they will like you. Any mistake you might make will alienate you from the love and approval of the other which is your damnation. So no mistakes are allowed.

Jesus, on the other hand, didn’t seem to be too concerned about mistake making. On the third Sunday in Lent, we stood with Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman who was married five times and was living with a sixth man who was not her husband. Certainly there are many mistakes there. Similarly there are other stories of Jesus with mistake makers, sinners as in Zaccheus the tax collector, the woman caught in adultery as well as the story of the prodigal son. Likewise, in the story of the restoring of the sight of the man blind from birth, Jesus reassures the disciples that his blindness is not a result of the man’s or his parents’ sin, but rather his blindness was to show forth the works of God in him. In other words, all people are the object of God’s love, regardless of whether we possess all our faculties and in spite of our mistakes, bad choices and even our meanness.

It was Jesus’ at easiness with our limitedness, our capacity to make bad choices, our meanness and “sin-filled-ness” that outrages the religious leaders who opposed him. Because of that opposition, they represent the Power of Darkness that undermines our ability to love our imaged likeness in God. As that Power, it was these men who connived the murder of Jesus on the Cross.

Through Baptism, we die, as Jesus did, to the apparent absolute power the Dark One exercises over us. Instead of death, however, we are brought to a resurrection in spirit because through Jesus the Christ’s rising from the Dead, the absolute power of the Dark One has been broken forever. Our personal participation in the Resurrection is witnessed in the raising of Lazarus as one of us from the dead.

With the Resurrection and Baptism that flows out of it, we have tonight the birth of the Church, which represents and is the presence of the Incarnate God in the here and now. As members of the Church, the Body of Christ, we are here t help each other in the daily journey of our struggles against the Power of Darkness toward the resurrection. Just as we are sisters and brothers in Christ, so too are we godparents to each other in our Baptism. As godparents, it is our responsibility to provide for each other a nurturing environment by being compassionate, caring, listening, encouraging as well as challenging and questioning when someone might be off-track without being overbearing or taking over.

Finally, during this Lenten journey, we were reminded of Jesus’ Transfiguration: “This is my Son in whom I am well pleases.” Our raiment too can be as “white as snow” if we allow that we are pleasing to God as the adoptive daughters and sons of God. So let’s believe and live it! And let’s support each other as our brothers and sisters in the Lord struggle to die to the Power of Darkness and live in the Kingdom of Light.

The Discovery of the Inner Other

An excerpt from the book, HEALING THE FRACTURED SELF by Jack Walters. Seabury Press, 1985

Some years ago, as I sat listening to a client, Dana, talk about her sense of isolation and immobilization, I began to become aware of the way she referred to herself. It sounded as though she was an outsider-another person. She’d say, “You have to clean the house today! ” or “You’d better do the shopping! ” When I asked her about this, she explained, “When I hear those commands, I dig my heels in and don’t get anything done!” She did not refer to herself in the first person: “I” want to do the cleaning or “I” want to do the shopping; moreover, it sounded as though she was being ordered around from within herself by another: an unseen but powerful speaker. She herself described it as a rebellion going on inside.

I wondered if she was conscious of the way she referred to herself. At first she was puzzled by my observation. But, with the help of my tape recorder, I was able to replay those parts of our conversation. She listened. When the playback ended, I asked her to describe what had been going on inside of her each time she used “you” instead of “I.” She paused a moment to think, then smiled wryly. “The ‘you’ . . . it’s like a stern voice in my head yelling at me,” she said. “It’s a voice that commands me at every turn and makes decisions as to what to do, what to feel, and who to be. It’s this voice I’m constantly battling.”

It seemed that there was more here than an individual’s quirk, and my hunch paid off. I began listening to others for the same or similar speech patterns, and soon discovered that they were shared by a number of people. Significantly, they seemed to agree with each other in their perceptions of the cause: “It’s like a voice inside my head talking to me.” I explored the patterns further and found that these “inner voices” did more than talk.

More often than not the tone of these “voices’ was demanding, mean-spirited, and abusive. Most of us have experienced the phenomenon of talking to ourselves. For some, however, the effects have dire consequences. Those who are most severely controlled by “inner voices” suffer debilitating psychological as well as physiological symptoms: profound depression; a sense of inner void and worthlessness; physical immobilization; anxiety; the compulsion to overwork; alcoholism; drug abuse; isolation; fear of relationships; a recognizable pattern in the breakdown of relationships; and a wide range of physical disorders, including stomach and intestinal disorders, chronic muscular tension, particularly of the neck and shoulders, headaches, and a high susceptibility to colds and other infections. But more significantly, these people experience a severely impoverished quality of life: a radical sense of being outside of the mainstream of the nourishing existence that others enjoy.

It’s important to present a clear picture of this internal struggle as I’ve seen it, it’s just as important to me to recreate the sense of drama involved when a person becomes conscious of this struggle and attempts to deal with it. Above all, I want to avoid becoming locked in technical jargon and abstract theory. To reap the benefits of both, so to speak, this book is structured around the histories of two former clients, Dana and Chris, who suffered considerably in response to these inner voices. Wherever possible, I have incorporated transcripts of their sessions into the text.

While we might understand and sympathize with Dana and Chris, we could dismiss them as unique: as individuals who were suffering from conditions peculiar to them. I do not find that to be true, though. When listening carefully to most people, I find that the substitution of “you” for “I” is incredibly common. Furthermore, when I explore the deeper significance of this with those who have just used it, their responses are strikingly similar. So, while Dana and Chris provide the real-life experiences, which come about as a result of this struggle, in the end it’s important to remember that they are prototypes and represent similar conditions in each of us, which vary from person to person, from history to history.

When Dana and Chris first approached me, they were both locked in internal conflicts. However, their psychological reactions differed in significant ways. It’s for this reason that I’ve selected Dana and Chris; because, while they were both dealing with a very similar kind of internal process, their different responses in reaction to their own internal voices offer us a clear picture of the many avenues available to the Self in its struggle against the dictates of the internal monitor. Both Dana and Chris suffered from a great deal of psychological pain, and both of them, with a great deal of effort, courage, and an increased understanding and appreciation of their conflicts, successfully traveled the road to psychological health.

This book is the result of the many years I spent in an effort to penetrate and understand the causative processes behind this struggle: “the battle within. ” When and how does this phenomenon begin in most people? What steps can be taken to defuse the incredible and seemingly awesome power that these “inner voices” exert over the will of the Self?

It’s been my hope that Dana and Chris’s success would encourage others. Maybe within these pages lies the inspiration for you to take steps to defuse the power of your own internal monitor. Dana and Chris discovered that psychological autonomy can be attained, and they learned that, once they succeeded in winning out over their “internal authority,” they were then able to have a comfortable interpersonal relationship-something they had desired for a long time. Their journey toward self-discovery mirrors that desire in all of us: a passionate urge to come to grips with our own realities. So maybe, just maybe, these stories will ignite that urge in you and propel you on your own journey into “the heart of darkness” and out again into the assurance and warmth of self-discovery.

THE RAGE CYCLE: UNDERSTANDING IT FROM INSIDE

A fundamental law about feelings is, “All feelings have a reason to be.” That is, if we feel a feeling, there is reason that feeling is being generated. There is no feeling exempt from this law, even rage, jealousy, hatred or whatever feeling it is we may find difficult to admit to our Selves we are experiencing.

Feelings function to keep us aware of what is going on around us so that we can be rest in relationship to the environment (well-being feelings) or to correct a problem that may endanger our Selves (warning feelings). That seems to be pretty straight forward, so what’s the problem?

In prior articles we have talked about how we dump the warning feelings which we tend to label as “bad” into an internal container. The container into which we dump these “unwanted” feelings has another name – it can also be called the unconscious.

In the world of the unconscious, there is a very complex arrangement and interaction of internal personae. In that inner world, created between the developmental years of 2-5, there is the internal parent, the Inner Other, who prohibits the expression of the forbidden feelings.

The forbidden feelings are themselves entities who exist in the condition of the developmental time in which they were cut off from the main developing Self. So if the child was 3 years old when he/she learned anger could not be expressed, that part of the Self exists in the condition of a three year old. The forbidden feelings, then, exist as personae themselves who, because they live in the condition of children, are called Inner Children.

In addition to the disowned feeling parts of the Self, there also lives in this inner world of the unconscious another Child persona. This is the part of the Self, who believes the parental person is absolutely essential to the survival of the Self. This is the part of the Self who allies her/himself with the internalized parent. This Inner Child slavishly obeys the orders of the Inner Other Parent.

Because of this alliance, a good name for this part of the Self is the Ally-Of-The-Inner-Other, Ally for short. It is because of this alliance of the Ally and the Inner Other that the prohibited feelings are kept out of sight and mind.

Both kinds of Inner Children, the repressed feelings (Instinctual Children), and the Ally, notify the adult part of the Self, the Central I, that the Self is in danger from each of their perspectives through anxiety or some other communication.

In the rage-aholic system, Anger being consistently ignored, experiences the Self in ever increasing danger because the proper actions to protect the Self cannot be taken. To correct this situation, it sends out signals of anxiety to the Central I. When the anxiety becomes intense enough, the Center I shifts her/his attention to that source of anxiety and lets Anger out of the “cage”.

However, because so much pressure has built up in the anger “place”, Anger comes out with great intensity (rage). That alerts the Ally that the Inner Other’s prohibitions have been transcended and the Self is in danger of losing the “all important other”. This in turn triggers anxiety, guilt and shame coming from the Ally that gets the Central I to once again put Anger back in jail. And the cycle begins all over again.

In the depressive system, a prohibited feeling like anger is rarely let out. The result is that the person feels depression, which, when looked at more closely, contains an amalgam of feelings which often includes anxiety, anger at Self, guilt, shame, worthlessness, physical pain and maybe a few others added in from time to time. All of those feelings are the repressed feelings’ attempt to communicate the problem, “the something that is wrong about what’s happening.”

Because of this inner place of the unconscious and its arrangement and power structure, we live in two realities. One reality is the “outside” reality – the one in which I relate to you and you relate back to me. That’s the straightforward one. The other is the internal reality – the one in which all these inner personae of the unconscious are interacting with each other and because of the interaction all kinds of feelings are being generated.

It is because we exist simultaneously within these two realities and because one them is be definition unconscious we often don’t know to what some of our feelings are a response. As a result, we often direct them at persons or events where they don’t belong. And that is shy we have trouble with our feelings because often we are dealing “with only half the deck”.

If we are able to discern more clearly where the feelings are coming from, what they are a response to an, as result, we understand better how they might be able to be used to deal with the problem (usually internal) that is present then, “All feelings have a reason to be” makes sense.

In the next installment, we will look at how it is possible to address this inner world in a new way as a way to resolve some of the difficulties we have with the feelings that emanate from the unconscious place.

The Inner Child Versus the Inner Other

“You naughty little girl!” Mary said angrily as she spanked what had been identified as her favorite doll.

All afternoon I had been somewhat at dis-ease with the way Jane, Mary’s mother, had been on her case since they arrived, constantly checking up on Mary and criticizing her. Finally, Jane harshly and unnecessarily yelled at Mary for using a pen of mine which is what precipitated the spanking of the doll.

A few moments earlier, Mary had been sitting at the coffee table drawing on a pieces of paper with a felt tip pen. At one point, she began to make dots by jabbing at the paper with the pen. I was about to show her how to use the pen without ruining it, but begore I could get anything out of my mouth, Jane was yelling at the four year old. Initially, Mary looked up in shock which quickly turned to a look of anger.

As the adult conversation continued, I watched Mary out of the corner of my eye. About sixty seconds later, she picked up her favorite doll, took paper on which she had been drawing, rolled it up into a cone, stuck it into the doll’s mouth and then spanked and admonished the doll.

This interaction that had unfolded before me was one that had happened to all of us personally at one time or another during our childhood. But it is not an event that happens and is over with. Rather, what I saw happening to Mary was a process in which she was creating within herself and internal person who took on the psychological shape of the mother as Mary experienced her; someone who was constantly, nervously monitoring every movement she made (this was confirmed in my follow-up conversation with Jane, who realized that is what she was doing with the little girl but couldn’t seem to stop). As Mary was creating an internal mother who would watch and interrupt her activity as the real mother did, she was, at the same time, disowning the part of herself she understood was not acceptable to her mother onto the doll. This part was then shoved into some deep, dark recess of her psyche. In essence, then, Mary was creating within her Inner world a reality in which she herself was splitting into disparate parts that, in turn, were to be ruled over by an Inner foreigner.

This Inner process is one which we all undergo. Depending on our experience of our Important others during our childhood and how much internal altering we believed we had to do in order to keep their love, is the degree to which we are intact inside or not. Those of us for whom this internal fracturing is moderate to severe, we experience a general malaise about life, an anxiety about failing to make the “right decision” and fear of making the “wrong” one, difficulty in relating to others because we fear we always have to give the other what they want from us or that the other will take us over and we will disappear. Further, this inner splintering is usually accompanied by a broad spectrum of physical pain such as back, neck, head and general body aches as well as intestinal disorders.

All of these kinds of internal and interpersonal strife are caused by these inner other voices that undermine our internal sense of beauty and peache and indeed split it apart to replace it with lines like: “Who do you think you are?” “If you do that, it might not be right and if you’re not right you know that you are nothing.” “If you tell them you can’t come, they won’t like you.” “If you tell him/her you are angry about that, he/she will think you are an awful person.”

What we must do is face those internal demons who tell us these kinds of things and tell them that we refuse to give them power over us any longer. At the same time, we must enter into the place where the parts of ourselves that were cut off a long time ago, to claim them back even though it might mean we have to experience the ancient pain of the exiled internal child.

If we don’t, the internal battle that is constantly waged between the true self of the inner child and the false self of the inner other will continue. The result will that the conscious self is yanked in one direction or the other by these two internal adversaries, never being fully in charge of itself and always being in a state of confusion about who it is and what it need to do in order to be fulfilled in life.

If, however, we decide that we no longer want to suffer the pain of being divided from within, then the malaise, general anxiety, chronic guilt and shame and physical disability can begin to shift. This inner other will continue to attempt to seduce us by telling us that to be ourselves will leaves us rejected by the world and thus entirely alone and desolate. But it is that belief that keeps us enslaved and in pain. It is an unbelievable irony that, when we give ourselves over to our inner others, although we do it to gain acceptance of others, we lose our connection with others because we lose ourselves. Once we are lost to ourselves, we have nothing inside to be connected to others.

But by being faithful to one’s true self we can feel true inner peace and wholeness and a sense of real connection with the outer world of others. The sense of inner void that is bred by the inner other is replaced by a profound sense of the I AM in which we are the image and likeness of God. Once we have arrived at that internal space can we be full within and be truly listening and responsive to the world of others for we are not projecting onto them what we think they want but rather hear what they want because we are truly listening to them!

Jack Walters is a pastor and Co-Director of the IAM Center for Creative Healing in New Albany, PA. He can be reached by calling 570-363-2808. Jack has also authored the book, “Healing The Fractured Self” published by Harper and Row.