Posted by: innerpilgrimage | January 8, 2011


      After learning to handle even the more challenging people in my life, I am left with two people who I just can’t seem to reconcile my need to receive approval from: my parents.

      What makes them different? Recovery says they’re like me–imperfect, human. I just can’t shake that sense of authority they have over me, however. Something within me keeps nagging, keeps singing this same tune that I’ve memorized from childhood: “If they accept me, I will finally be perfect.”
      Recovered thinking reminds me of some important realities as I face off with my inability to manage this codependent relationship with my parents (and it is codependent–I can’t function outside of it, dreading the rare visits and yearly Christmas communications). Is it hope that I am feeling, that when they communicate positively with me, I can achieve the peace of acceptance from them? Recovery tells me peace comes from within me, from that Higher-Powered source of self-acceptance.
      I blamed them (and sometimes still do) for the foundation of my addict behavior. Yet . . . perhaps the anger at them reflects an anger at myself, as well. No, not perhaps. It does. I don’t want to face the truth that of the two people who live in the world, I have gone out of my way to do harm to them in order to justify my existence.
      Perhaps that’s it. The ugliness of my life, of my choices, of a life I want to leave behind is brought up when they resurface in my life. All of my mistakes–perceived and real–are lain before me when I consider them. Perhaps it has more to do with wanting forgiveness than acceptance and fearing I will not receive it. Or perhaps, as Inigo Montoya found when he finally achieved his goal of ending Count Ruger for killing his father, that my purpose (which I recognize is not the same as Inigo Montoya’s) is gone and I do not really know what comes after.
      I don’t want my purpose to be to make two people suffer. I mean, I recognize I don’t have control over what they let in and what they let go. But I do recognize that the years we have spent together have made me pretty aware of the little things which push their buttons and trigger them into sadness and anger. And possibly even fear. If they want my acceptance–which it felt sometimes that they did–I withheld it from them. I wanted life to be equally unfair to everyone for the pain I blame on them.
      I feel intense guilt for being so angry at them. I feel intense shame for wanting them to know my pain intimately. And perhaps that drives me to martyr myself, to lay myself prostrate before them in order to beg forgiveness for acts I am realizing I would have planned on keeping doing because I have that childish drive to share the hurt.
      I also have the childish drive to care, however. That, unfortunately, can raise the addict-minded pity. In my deluded mind, I rise above them when I pity them. I become better than them. And in the process, I harm my recovery and my sense of peace when I do so.
      I’ve said this (even screamed this) so many times in my life, “Why am I not good enough?”
      Perhaps I should consider that the question is the problem. To be “good enough” implies someone or something external must judge me soundly acceptable. And the minute I seek the external, I am in the mental state which drives the active addiction. At some point, the pain would get bad enough that I would turn toward my old frenemy–food. I would want to numb the hurt, even for a few moments.
      I think this where that dirty d-word (deserve) may be sneaking in through the crack under the door. I feel I do not deserve forgiveness for consciously attempting to trigger their own unhappinesses. What kind of daughter am I, that I am not humbly thankful they fed and clothed and housed me for years?
      Well, then, I guess a thank you is in order. That’s all I can do about that part of it. The next part is choosing to cease the behavior of trying to wreak vengeance upon them by trying to even out the scales of pain to my liking. If I don’t want to have to face the self-loathing that I do not deserve forgiveness? Then I have to change. The behavior has to stop, so I can show myself I changed.
      Why is showing myself that I’ve changed so important? Because I am asking myself for the forgiveness of the pain I attempted to cause. And if I am seeking forgiveness, if I am to make amends, the first action must be to show that the amends have value. That I am not living like that any longer. That I am not seeking to feel worthy in all three of our eyes.
      I don’t need to lose weight. I’m okay as I am, despite realizing I don’t have the physical strength and endurance I want to take into tomorrow. Well, if I want that, I have to change and not worry about what clothing looks like on this body. Considering that even average people have a bad time trying to find clothing which is cut right (one would think that the average height, average weight woman would be able to pull clothing off the rack in her size without even trying it on–but that’s not how it goes), I have to accept that what’s out there is made for none of us.
      I, for example, have several pairs of the same-sized, same brand pants. Yet between two of them, there is a discrepancy in waist size of about two inches. Seriously. I used a tape measure. There’s a marked difference, and that doesn’t even count the fact that the actual waist size is three inches larger than the sizing chart says they are.
      But this only changes one thing–I need to take a tape measure with me when I go buy pants and measure the waist on each pair I plan to take up to the register.
      More time I feel is wasted, though once I have found clothing which fits that I like, I don’t tend to let them go for years. So, I guess there’s value in taking a little extra time and making sure that what I bought to wear fits me consistently–even among the same size and brand and make of what I’m buying multiples of.
      Reality doesn’t work how I want it to. That’s just, well, reality. And I need to let go control and have faith things will be okay. They will be okay. And I need to accept that the people who make the clothing (which seems to fit perfectly on one piece won’t fit on a theoretically identical piece) are imperfect and human, too. Letting go of control of this is just one more way I can help myself find lasting, lifelong recovery.
      Forgiveness. Acceptance.
      Easy words to say and define, but hard words to practice.
      My name is Jess; I am a food control addict and approval addict. I feel better, less stressed about my parents’ upcoming visit. It may just be for today, but the more I know about my disease, the better off I end up.
      Whether or not I “deserve” it.



  1. Not so easy, I agree! None of us would still be addicts if it was easy. Just don’t try to do it on your own, realize what needs to change in us, then pray for God to do so. Sounds easy, but I guess it’s not. I watch the problems my wife has with sizing womens clothes. It’s not such a problem with mens, I wonder why the difference?

    • I would love to have a legal standard put in place for women’s sizing. Or maybe simply treat our clothes like men’s clothes–waist and inseam. But that’s not how it works, which cannot just be frustrating for me, since I see women my height in ill-fitting clothes simply because there isn’t anything else.

      The greatest thing about program is seeing, again and again, that every time I go it on my own? I end up exhausted and at the mercy of my childhood coping mechanisms. I actually find comfort in turning away from the bingeing and the approval addiction because I know it makes me miserable. The lesson for this year seems to be accepting the food restricting and the social anorexia make me miserable, as well.

      I have hope, however. The program works for people who think like me, and (more importantly) I feel it working for me. It’s slow progress, but it is progress. And as long as I am even reaching forward (despite sometimes sliding backward) to take group members’ hands and to listen to my HP, I am still making progress.

  2. […] cohesive here. For now, I’ll introduce myself. My name is Andi and I’m a food addict, approval addict, social misanthrope, and compulsive overeater.  I’ve hurt a lot of people, and a core few, […]

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