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Fed Up With Perfectionism?

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“If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.”  — G.K. Chesterton

Ever turn a proverb upside down?  In “Way of All Flesh” by Samuel Butler, Ernest was annoyed and surprised at his parents for wanting him to be more religious all his life, and when he did, they were still not satisfied. He said to himself that a prophet was not without honors save in his own country, but he had gotten into an odious habit of turning proverbs upside down, and it occurred to him that a country is sometimes not without honor save for its own prophet.

It helps sometimes, to see what happens.    Many of us are brought up to believe that we have to do, excel, finish first, get on the team, do a good job, see it through, get it done on time, say it right, get ahead, and on and on, better and better as we go.  Why?  Maybe that’s the way Dad did it; and Grandma did it and that’s just the way it’s supposed to be.

And then, inevitably, we’d fail or fall. So we’d turn back on ourselves in shame, beat ourselves up, maybe turn to alcohol or drugs or some other addiction.  If we were failures in public, then many of us would make up our own private world where failure doesn’t exist.  In this little world fantasy ruled, and in fantasy there are only successes; everybody scores

But I have come to know that it doesn’t have to be so.  We can break the spell and stop beating ourselves, and get away from Father’s angry voice or that disappointed look on Mother’s face.  We can do things at our own speed, in our own unique way, on our own timeline, just for the joy of doing them.


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Willingness is Like Faith

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“The readiness is all.” – William Shakespeare

Willingness is like faith.  We know it’s real because we experience it, but we can’t define it.  Nonetheless, the sense of humility, surrender, and peace that accompany willingness are our indicators that it is real, indeed.

A recovering addict who recently finished treatment told this story: “I was walking downtown and I got at least three offers to buy drugs and have sex.  I said no.  My willingness at that moment was to say no.”

We move forward often without knowing where we’re going.  But in those rare, shining moments of willingness when we conform our will to the Universe’s, we see our direction clearly.  And we are transformed.


Just Be Honest

 

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“Just start being honest” my ex-partner was always telling me.  “It’s not that difficult Mark, just do it.”  For a large part of my adult life, I was dishonest with the people I said I loved.  My dishonesty grew as I became more involved with my addictions to crystal methamphetamine and sex.  My behaviors began to protect and hide my addictions from those I loved most: my significant love relationships, my family and my friends.  That is what I was fooling myself to believe anyway; that I was smarter than they were and that I was fooling them that I was not in fact a drug addicted, sex addicted person.  The real me was using drugs and having promiscuous sex outside the relationship, but telling them that I was a clean and sober person, committed to our monogamous relationship as we defined it.  Lies and dishonesty ruled my life.  I was smoking crystal meth in the bathroom, while my partner at the time was in the bedroom next door.  I was creating stories and drama that would seem to support or validate my excuses or reasons to be away from home.  I thought that my partner believed I was away for some legitimate reason, so that what I could really do is meet that hook up for sex behind his back. 

 

I began to not only get high from the drug, and get off on the sex, but I was also getting something out of the lies and deceptions I was creating.  I thought my partner was fooled by my tall tales and drama.  More drugs and more sex led to more lies, tales and drama creating two lives; two worlds.  I was living two separate lives; one life that was shallow and fake and filled with dishonesty and the one I wanted my partner to believe was going on opposed by the life of drugs and sex that I was in reality living.  It was when the two lives collided that everything began falling apart around me.  My partner, who I tried to fool myself to believe, was stupid and believing in my distortions and lies was actually fully aware of every mistruth of my words and my actions.  He knew all along when I was dishonest and sadly that was most of the time. 

 

When I finally became aware that I was the only one playing my game, and that I was fooling no one but myself and that I had lost everything and everyone important to me, I was at the lowest point of my entire life. Everything was gone and everything had changed.  I was lost, alone and afraid.  Confusion and delusion had ruled my life.  Everyone I loved now seemed like those scary looking clowns.  Alone, I prayed to my god, Mother Universe, and asked, “What have I done?”

 

It was only then that I could begin rebuilding my life.  Only this time, it would be a life that is real.  What I put out to the world, the person I presented myself as, would be authentic and honest.  If I said something, I wanted people to know that my word was good enough to take to the bank.  No more distortions, lies and no more drama. 

 

What a slow process this has been.  At least it seems slow going to me.  The hardest part has been getting honest with me.  It is unbelievable that I even thought of myself as a fool enough to believe my lies.  I have spent so much time becoming aware of how I wanted myself to be, versus how I was trying to fool myself I was.  I realized there was a tremendous amount of incongruity between my authentic self and the person I was really presenting myself as.  By taking small, gradual “baby steps” I am becoming comfortable in my own skin and thereby honest with myself.  Once honest with myself, I am honest with all others in my life. 

 

No one was, is or ever will be the ignorant asses I tried to convince them they were.  Not one person I had fed my lies to was stupid.  In my awareness, it hurts to see the self-doubt that my lies created in once confident and happy people.  What do I do now?  For starters, I practice forgiving myself.  To those I hurt through my dishonesty, I validate that their suspicions were correct and that they weren’t crazy, stupid or ignorant.  I apologize for the man I was and demonstrate authentic remorse for my actions.  I make amends.  Then, I only put out what is honest.  I just become honest.  It really is that simple.  I just do it. 

 

            I write this today because there is one person in my life who means so much to me that is right now at the exact point I was when I lost everything and was brought to my knees.  I have tried many times over to make it clear that I am no fool, I am not stupid and that I have been the player of his exact same game.  He seems to be holding on to the lies and distortions much tighter than I ever was.  This may not be his time for change yet.  However I am giving to him every opportunity I wasn’t given.  I want him to know that he is safe to be honest and can disclose fully his actions without fear of my reaction or retribution.  If he chooses honesty and to be his authentic self, I know we will have a long and happy life together.  If he chooses not be authentic, and continue the lies, distortions and drama, then I must begin that arduous and painful process of ending a relationship — and that breaks my heart.   Just be honest.  It’s not that hard.  Just do it.  Baby steps. 

Your Brain On Drugs

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Your Brain on Drugs