I picked up Geneen Roth again today. Her newest book is called “Women, Food and God”. In the section I opened to she is writing about The Voice.
This isn’t unique to people with food issues or eating addictions. All addicts have a version of The Voice. Many non-addicted people have The Voice too—those of us in recovery recognized somewhere along the way that we were eating, drinking, shopping, starving, exercising or manically pleasing other people to quiet or mollify The Voice.
Roth writes that, “The Voice feels and sounds so much like you that you believe it is you. You think you are telling yourself the truth…the intention of the Voice is to stun you not to activate your intelligence…Its intent is to keep you from being thrown out of whatever it perceives as the circle of love.”
I’ve come to understand that my Voice is young—a younger part of me—kind of mixed with my mother’s fears and some crazy reasoning I cooked up as a kid—a young part of me that figured out—in a kid’s way of figuring—that if I could be prettier, thinner, smarter, then I would be loved. If loved then not left. If not left then safe.
Of course that young self only had access to limited experience and experiences that I saw thru its eyes and didn’t really understand. So I concocted a set of ideas that are still broadcasting into a 57 year-old head. It’s kind of charming and sweet in a way—that is when it’s not making me quite crazy or insisting that I have to keep EVERYBODY happy or else just use whatever is handy to not feel at all.
In AA we sometimes hear comments like, “My head will try to kill me”, or “My best thinking got me here.” Both true but not because the Voice is malevolent—it’s young, it thinks it can help, but we know better. That’s why we don’t give car keys and chain saws to six year olds.
Roth writes, “The Voice usurps your strength, passion and energy.”
Is there an antidote? Harry Potter learned one: Don’t listen to The Dementors. Don’t believe what they say; change your thinking when the dementors are around.
Writer Byron Katie has another way. She says, “I love my thoughts. I’m just not tempted to believe them.”
In AA when we hear someone new or a bit misguided we laugh and say, “Thanks for sharing” We can say that to the Voice also, and “Keep coming back.”