I have a tendency to look for validation from outside sources because I simply don’t have the confidence or self-worth to validate my own thoughts, actions, and life. I want to, don’t get me wrong, but it’s been pointed out and I’m seeing it in my daily life.
Here’s what happens at meetings. I share…. immediately afterward I doubt what I had to say, or think about how wrong it was, that it might hurt someone’s feelings, that everyone is thinking I’m an idiot, or worse, false. I’m in earnest when I talk right up until I’m done.
I go out to breakfast on a regular basis with a couple of friends. We meet 3-4 times a week, sometimes for dinner too, then go to meetings. They are amazing and we’ve been dubbed the three muskateers, or mouskateers as one of them asserted. I love it, I feel honored, loved, accepted. Yet I still question that whether I deserve their friendship, that I’m no one, I’m nothing.
One of the 10th step prayers is in asking that our old ideas be removed. My old idea is that I’m a worthless human being undeserving of the space I take up. This simply is no longer the case. One of the AA slogans is Let Go Let God. I don’t know how to let go. I try to let go and then take it all back. My old ideas are what helped me survive the world as I knew it; albeit in a very unhealthy way, but I did survive. I have a new way of living, a new design for life if you will; when I live it, I do really well. My anorexic mental obsession has been relieved but self-judgement as well as judging others is still a hindrance. I’m harshest on myself, as most of us are. When I find myself being judgmental of others I’m starting to take a look at what I’m trying not to see about my own life. Looking outward is easier than looking inward. Looking at others is easier than feeling my own pain. It’s an old idea.
I talked at length about this with Zack and Lilly. Zack asked why I wasn’t sharing this at the tables. Fear. It’s always fear. Sunday night I started to share. I wasn’t making much sense, as happens when I’m feeling vulnerable, opening myself up to harsh critsism, even if it is meant well. I started my share with, “If anyone says Time takes Time, I’m going to come over this table and slug them!” Everyone got a chuckle out of that. The messages I got were to keep things simple – a message I need to hear on a regular basis. I complicate things so much. In fact, most of the people in AA do the same thing which is why they can advise me to do that very thing. Someone else risked it but changed the words to God’s Time takes Time; too funny… I like that better than the orginal statement. The orginal statement is is an intellectual quagmire if you think about it.
Another person, someone with 35 years of sobriety and lots of words of wisdom, said that I’ve done quite a bit, come along way, and in fact am where he was 3 years into the program; I have 4 months. He’s the one who often says that his life didn’t get better but he did. That has always given me comfort because my life circumstances aren’t better. Some are worse. But I’ve gotten a little better and am doing quite a bit of laughing and having fun these days. I didn’t even know what that was before. Fun was something I didn’t really understand. I did fun things but didn’t feel what I feel now on the inside.
He also shared that one day he was complaining to his sponsor about all the tragic things happening in his life, “Why me?!” His sponsors response? “Why not you?” Well, that brings it to reality doesn’t. Am I so special that I ought to be relieved of tragedy and difficult times? I am no better than the next person. One thing AA does it make a person right sized. I realize now that that means in both directions. Being brought down from pride and rasied up from inferiority.
At the Monday meeting we read the pages on Step 4 – the resentment step. I didn’t share at first but near the end of the meeting I broke down and shared that one of my biggest resentments is at myself, my broken body. I will never physcially be the same and I’m to blame. I did this to myself. That is one reason it brings me joy when young people seek help from eating disorders. They may yet heal their bodies and have the opportunity to live a normal life. Even though I consider myself recovered, although not cured obviously, I will be living with the resulting damage I caused. The burden was too heavy to bear before I got into this program. Thank God I made it here, literally!
After the meeting one person took me aside and suggested I consider the yin/yang of it, so to speak. He said when one aspect of us changes, diminishes, another grows stronger to balance it out. Thinking about it my cognitive abilities have increased quite a bit over the last couple of years. I was so physical before that I didn’t, in restrospect, do much for me brain. Maybe I couldn’t because all my energy was being put in to being superwoman. I am able to read more and comprehend it, think through things, figure out stuff, communicate better, etc. Hmm, isn’t that interesting!
Another person said that for him, he realized that ‘regrets’ are actually self resentments and worked through it like that. The big book says that resentments are the number one killer. That is so true. Normal well adjusted people simply don’t do resentments like we do, like I do. I take a hold of it and obsess about it, blowing it up bigger and bigger till nursing the resentment is all I have.
My life today is learning to live without resentments, dishonesty, fear and self centeredness. I am certainly not perfect but I am better. Sometimes it’s a huge battle, other times it isn’t so much. I’m calmer than I was, I’m laughing more, and I am able to balance out my life toward health rather than stress.