"The flogging will continue until moral improves." How many years did I subscribe to this philosophy when dealing with myself? How often I beat myself up over something small and petty. Why was it so important that I do everything perfectly? Why when I continually failed to meet this standard did I submerse myself in the food for comfort for not being perfect? Where does this expectation come from?
I see it in myself trying to be the "good" parent. Trying to propel my child forward, urging her to "do her best", but always it seems the "best" is that thing of being perfect. Did my parents do the same thing? Were they just trying to get me to do my best and I interpreted it as them wanting me to be "perfect"? My daughter received a very high grade on a project for her history class, she spent a substantial amount of time on it, and her grade reflected it, but it was a 98 instead of a 100 - but my first thought and the words out of my mouth before I could stop them were, "Did you ask the teacher what would have been needed in order to get a 100?" Now my motive was to seek out the teacher's expectation, to evaluate what was missing that would have made the project better, but the look on my kid's face told me I had just slapped her, that she was not good enough, and my heart broke for her at that moment.... There seemed no way to save that moment, to correct it, no amount of praise will take away the sting, though of course I tried. I am so proud of her and yet this overwhelming drive for perfection, however noble the motive might be, is a real source of pain and anxiety at times. I believe this is a personality trait that is genetic, it lives in me as well as my two daughters, one was raised with her mother in another family, and my current teenager, and my older daughter now sees how much the family genetics affects her. She has recognized in herself many more traits from my side of the family than the one she was raised in, she now has a better understanding of her feelings, saying that now when these things come up, she just knows she got that from me, and not her mom or step-dad. ;)
Understanding the why's of it can be enlightening, but mostly it just raises more questions in me. I know I am this way, I know I react to life in this manner, and only through the power of God can I ever hope to be changed from it. The problem is that it is not ALL bad. Driven people change the world, but is it worth the price? I question that always. What is the payoff for being or seeking to be perfect? Praise? Acceptance? Status? It feeds into all those things we humans desire on a fundamental level, raising ourselves up in the eyes of our fellow community members, the herd if you will. My desire to be thought well of, to be thought a leader, to be valued, these are the things that drive me. Praise for my offspring is a reflection on me, so I am happy when she does well, receives praise from others because it does reflect on me. Self-centered of me isn't it? You bet, but I have come to know me pretty well, to accept that I am this way, and hopefully to see the positive as well as the negative aspects of who I am. Do I want to remain here, no, but while here, I have tried to make peace with it, ready to be changed, willing to be changed, but accepting of where I am.
When I am in a good place spiritually, I am more humble, more grateful, more in awe of the grace of my Higher Power, but when I am into "me", I am full of anxiety, drive to excel in order to receive the praise and adulation I have desired all my life. I became a performer in order to fulfill that overwhelming need for love and acceptance, to bathe in the applause because that was love to me. However brief, I would drink it up, but it was never enough, I always wanted more, and however good it felt it was like a drug, like the food, even as I was receiving, I wanted more and more. Isn't that our disease? I think so.
In doing Step Four and Five I learned a lot about the "exact nature" of my shortcomings. It is not just a list of the things I DID, but a list of the underlying causes of WHY I did them. The nature of my wrongs were always motivated by lust for power, pride, selfish desires, but mostly and foremost for me it was FEAR, fear I would not receive "enough", and if I did receive any gifts, fear that I would lose them, that I would be left adrift, alone in the universe, insignificant. So I used my "drugs" to fill me, to comfort me, to relieve this overwhelming feeling of being nothing. The applause filled it. The food filled it. I tried drugs, I tried drinking, I tried just about everything, but I discovered that for me, the food "did it"... we do not choose our addiction, we "discover" it by searching it out, and once we find it we use it till we either die from it, or recovery from it. I choose to recovery from it.
My spiritual life has proven as fulfilling as any of my addictions, and more permanent, longer lasting in it's effects, but still it requires my continued effort to maintain it. I can so easily, it seems, slip back into my old habits, and ways of thinking if I neglect my contact with HP. I have been changed in the last four years, and for the better, but if I do not continue to work this program, I could lose it all, and that is a fear worthy of my concern. It is still my main driving force, the fear of loss, but I am beginning to see it as a good thing. It is not what happens to me, but how I react to what happens to me. Fear can be a healthy thing I think, depending on what I do with the feelings it produces. I can seek refuge from the feelings or seek to understand them and live with them, it's all what I do with it that matters.
There are days that I feel like I'm running from things, and other days I feel as though I'm being drawn TO things... Depending on where that "force" is coming from determines a lot. When I am in a good place spiritually, I feel I am being drawn instead of pushed. Engulfed in the warm embrace of my HP, instead of being pursued and running for my life.
Knowing all these things and seeing the positive value of living in this way, and still the food calls to me sometimes, still I grab that extra bit of food, still I think it's going to "fix" something in me. It is baffling at times, and I must continually be willing to say no to these desires and thoughts. I'll admit that the last two weeks have been really testing me and my resolve, Why? I keep asking myself this question. Why is this happening now? Why am I not perfect yet? ;) Four years working this program, four years of amazing changes in my life, back into the work force after years of isolation, regaining my physical abilities and looking forward to interactions with people again, and NOW I am having trouble saying no to that impulse to take that little bit extra. It baffles me.
I will keep coming back, the alternative is too devastating to think about, to remember where I came from is so important, so I can avoid going back there. I am floating gently upon the water right now, instead of paddling my ass off trying to avoid the waterfall, but there are corrections that still need to be made, and now is the time, now while it's easier, instead of waiting for the crisis to be upon me.
Have a great abstinent day!
love and hugs,
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