She jumps out and pretends to be me when I'm weakened like when I'm sick, tired, drunk, fearful or overwhelmed. She does awful stuff like shouting at my children, putting down my partner, embarrassing me at parties, erupting into rage on the road and spreading rumours about people.
And after those horrible thing have happened I feel shocked and bewildered. I think to myself "what happened? why did I do that? that's not who I am". I'm right (thankfully) - that's not who I am. My evil twin is not me but she was created by me (boo!) so it's up to me to deal with her and the only way to do that is with a whole lot of love.
What? Love her - that bitch that did all that stuff? Ohhhh yes - this is isn't an easy thing to do but it's worth it, if you're keen. So why did I create an evil twin persona? Well it seemed like a good idea at the time and "at the time" was actually when I was between the years of 3 and 6. What I've learned is, it's in those years that you're furiously trying to work out how to navigate life on this planet. Your working out (in the words of Super Nanny) what's acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. Problem is - we aren't able to tell the difference between bad behaviour and being a bad person at that age. So when an adult yelled at us, shamed us, threatened us because of something we did - we thought it was because of who we are.
For instance, say I was at a birthday party when I was 4 and there was a plate of cookies that I just love and I excitedly started grabbing fistfuls of cookies. An adult might have yelled at me for being selfish, greedy and not thinking of others rather than calmly teaching me the gift of sharing. In that moment of shame and embarrassment I might have made a split decision that going after what I want is bad, being spontaneous and following impulses is bad, eating cookies is bad, making sure everyone else is happy before having what I want is good.
So then maybe I became an adult who always put everyone else's needs ahead of my own while allowing resentment to slowly simmer underneath. Then BANG! One day I'm tired, frustrated, I'm hungry and who shows ups? My evil twin! She goes and blows $50 at the grocery store on treats including wine, chocolate, ice cream and of course cookies. She gets home and my partner is mad at my impulse spending when things are tight so my evil twin lays into him about every single time she went without and she puts on the full display complete with red glowing eyes and fire breath for effect. The end result is a cry in the shower feeling ashamed and sick from eating too many cookies.
Here's the thing I discovered - there really isn't a way to stop the creation of your evil twin but there is something to be learned from her. The parts of me that I locked away so that I could be seen as acceptable hold some of my greatest gifts. For instance, I locked away a part of me that I deemed selfish but there is a positive side in being selfish. Selfish is about meeting my needs and yes, sometimes that means meeting my needs first before I am truly able to help another. And if I embraced being selfish, I would take care of myself, not become resentful and less likely to die from a cookie induced coma.
There are all these parts of ourselves that we locked away at that young age in the hopes that we would never get yelled at again but as we chopped these bits of ourselves off and hid them away - we've created a life where we're not expressing who we truly are . Plus we've created this pressure cooker of unacceptable parts that if left to simmer, burst open in the form of the evil twin and cause havoc in our lives.
My suggestion is - if you have characteristics that you think are bad and have locked up behind a door, you need to let them out. Sounds like a terrible idea doesn't it? Like Pandora's box? You can almost visualise that door - out of some sort of scary haunted house. It's old, paint peeling, ornate door handle, maybe a green glow around the edges with bugs and snakes coming out the cracks. I assure you - nothing is trapped behind that door except a lost, scared 4 year old version of you that thinks she's bad and if you don't let her out she and all the other trapped children will join forces and bust their way out in the form of your evil twin.
So....how do you know what parts of you are locked away and unacceptable? Easy - what kind of person do you turn into when you're in evil twin mode? The characteristics of your evil twin are the characteristics you need to make peace with, for example - you may have decided as a child that getting angry is bad or crying is bad. Yes getting angry and/or crying can be uncomfortable but either can be beneficial when released instead of swallowed down and locked away.
Another sure way to tell what parts of you have been locked away is to notice what characteristics in other people really get up your nose. If you really hate loud people then there's a part of you that wants to be loud/heard that you've locked away. Best to practice speaking up now rather than waiting till you're at the work Christmas party, have had a few too many wines and decide to tell your boss what you really think of the business plan (aka evil twin take over).
Looking at all my "bad" qualities has helped me realise that they're not bad at all. There are moments in life where these "bad" qualities are very useful, i.e. it's good to call on your anger when someone is abusing you rather than allowing yourself to be pushed around. Also, sometimes this "bad" quality is just a positive quality gone a little too far, i.e. arrogance could be seen as confidence gone too far.
Deciding to look in the mirror, to look deep within myself, see all my "flaws" and embrace every one of them takes a lot of courage, it's terrifying and hugely rewarding.
Love Bron (I'm the one without the glowing red eyes)
P.S. If you're ready - I suggest reading 'The Shadow Effect' by Deepak Chopra, Debbie Ford and Marianne Williamson. It's what got me started and I haven't looked back except to give my evil twin (i.e.shadow self) a smile.