Posted by: innerpilgrimage | January 5, 2011

Deserve is a Dirty Word

      This morning, I was writing in my pen-and-paper journal, trying to work recovery on a recent issue I’ve been having regarding living in the future (I have a few upcoming events at the end of January and mid-February which are causing me stress), and I came to realize that I still think in terms of “deserve”.

      This began with a sense that I do not deserve to say no to people outright. That would imply then, that I should be arguing to myself that I deserve to say no in order to maintain my recovery. Instead, I considered that “deserve” is a loaded word that implies I need to be worthy or I need to have earned it. That immediately sent up red flags.
      See, recovery is about my self-approval, not about seeking others’ approval–even my Higher Power’s (not like it grants worthiness, since it’s reality and it has no opinions or will for me–which would imply it is a discrete intelligent entity outside of me). If my Higher Power gave approval, I’d already have it. So, moving on.
      Deserve empowers everyone but me. If I say, “I deserve respect!”, it implies that I am relying on others to consider me worthy of respect then give it to me unerringly. Well, people aren’t perfect–including me. There’s no such thing as a person who is perfectly loving and loyal all of the time. We can work toward love and loyalty and potentially can do it most of the time, but sometimes we unintentionally hurt people due to situations out of and in our control.
      I cannot control others’ feelings about me. Even if I am respectful to others in my dealings with them, the other person may have something–in their past, in their psyche, even in their recent dealings–which will affect how they deal with me. Respect, also, may look different to different people. One person may try to pander to me in order to give me authority over him or her; another, challenge me in order to show me respect of my perceived ability to rise to his or her challenge with grace and skill.
      The only sure way for me to have respect is to respect myself. I can keep strong boundaries. I can listen but do not apply intentionally or unintentionally hurtful words to my emotional core. I can show respect to others how I want to be respected–setting the tone of interactions with me. And I can remove “deserve” from my active vocabulary.
      I am empowered when I don’t give into an entitlement mindset. Every no can be treated like a potential yes within boundaries. Anything and anyone can evolve and change.
      I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed, not wanting any more to have the discomfort of having to deal with the consequences of my choices while I was in active addiction. I want to have a clean slate, to have a do-over. But there are no do-overs. There is asking forgiveness, receiving it, and moving on. I guess when I have accepted that my suffering has everything to do with trying to hold desperately to the things I want to believe I cannot live without, I will be more ready to complete what I need to do.
      I’m one of those people who intellectualizes my Fourth Step. It’s a means to get a wall between me and what needs to be done–the art of procrastination. The biggest bar to it is that my computer is accessible (even though the Fourth Step Inventory is password protected) to others in my family. I suppose when I am facing a time when I am in full solitude and am faced with just me to deal with, I may finally be able to get some real work done toward it. This is such a personal thing for me. I feel vulnerable, and I don’t want people seeing me as I do this . . . even the aftereffects of it. But I also worry that vulnerability will put me in a bad position.
      It is time to do my Fourth Step–to start and finish it. As much as I fear completing it then walking slowly toward my Step Eight amends, I know this is freeing. As long as I grip to my secrets, I hang on to my addiction with an equally tight grip. I am having issues remembering things, as well. I think perhaps I should just do what I can with the revelations I am getting, meditate on the names then go on, really allow myself to put down what I can remember. “The Best of My Ability” means that some things are still hidden in the recesses of my mind because I cannot handle them yet. I want it to be over, however; I don’t want to chase down people again and again to apologize yet again for something I don’t recall doing.
      But . . . I am supposed to be in my Fourth Step, not projecting into tomorrow and my Fifth, Eighth, and Ninth Steps. But I have intellectualized the path, I see what’s coming, and I fear it. I fear the possibility of loss so much.
      Then again, I could lose everything just as easily if I can’t resolve the pain that keeps resurfacing in my life. I know the past is shaking up my present; I can feel it, as if events reach backward and grab something from my childhood. Traces or wide ribbons of childhood emotions jump out of “nowhere” (out of my past, actually, but they feel like “nowhere” because the past is simply shadows of what was).
      Maybe that’s why I am turning my head toward tomorrow; today’s pressing need to listen to my history is so terrifying that I don’t want to live in today. That I don’t want to be vulnerable in today.
      Yuck. It’s a good eating day, and a decent approval-seeking day. But I feel the fear of touching yesterday and potentially crying as I go backward. I don’t want to so very, very much. I want to get lost in fiction-writing and fiction reading. I want to be anywhere but here.
      This is the point where the serenity prayer comes in handy, where giving things over to my Higher Power helps, where remembering that I gain more through adversity than pleasant times.
      I want more than that for my life and the lives of people I interact with. I want to actively recover, to live in courage instead of fear.
      My name is Jess, and I’m a food and approval addict. I feel the nausea of terror, which means something is about to happen . . . if I let the emotion wash over me and do its thing. If I sit in the terror, as I am doing right now as I wrote, it cannot pass.


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