Trying Too Hard?

Just before I entered fifth grade, my family moved to a new city.  It was summertime, no school was in session.  I was an only child and a little shy, so I didn’t make friends right away.  But my parents encouraged me to go out and play and find new friends.  I came back, day after day, having met no one and feeling dejected.  My mom asked me why I hadn’t met any kids and I lashed out with, “But I’m TRYing.”  She just said, “Maybe you’re trying too hard.”

My mom was right, I was trying too hard.  I have tried too hard my whole life.  I struggled with depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, bulimia, and bingeing.  All through those battles I would declare in exasperation, “But I’m TRYing!” Just like a dejected fifth grader.

Even with the knowledge that I made lots of mistakes, though, I don’t regret anything I experienced to get where I am today.  I’m just happy I am here now in this moment.  Of course all the good stuff happened when I stopped trying so hard.  And to stop trying so hard, I had to acquire a new mindset.

This mindset is based on the knowledge that I am valuable simply because I exist.  For me, as a Christian, the realization that God endows every human being with the same dignity, gave me the strength to begin to trust myself and understand my worth.  My genetics, my background, my character –none of these affect my value as a person.

From this foundation, I can simply build the life I want to live.  And by ‘simply’, I don’t mean easy, I mean uncomplicated -that I don’t need to force things to happen.  Knowing  I am worthy makes the process of doing the right thing natural.  I become responsible for my actions and add meaning to my life when I learn to respect myself.

This doesn’t mean I am perfect.  It means I am okay with being me and I accept myself. This, in turn, frees up space in my psyche that was previously used for self-bashing.  And with the extra room in my brain, I can concentrate on making the changes necessary to enhance my life.

Can I learn how to feel valuable when I feel like a failure and do the same stupid things over and over again?

If you’ve read any of my posts, you know I believe wholeheartedly that we can learn just about anything.  So, yes, knowing your value can be learned.  Let me rephrase that –you can unlearn all the bad stuff that obscures your feelings of worthiness.  Everyone is born with self-esteem and a knowledge of their worth.  When we were babies, we were never too embarrassed to cry when hungry, and we learned to walk without giving a second thought to what our thighs looked like or wondering if anyone was talking about us behind our back.  So, the foundation is already there.  Just be honest with yourself about what it means to be a worthy person.

One thing which can be unlearned is believing what others have said about you or to you.  It’s easy to believe someone when they keep telling you how bad you are.  If you had a troubled childhood, it’s easy to believe that what happened to you defines you as a person.  But you don’t have to believe that these things define you.  You can create your own truth.  And your truth is more real than what anyone says about you or how anyone treated you in the past.

When I went through this process, I had to come to terms that my truth had nothing to do with my looks, talent, or accomplishments.  The world uses these things as indicators of value.  But don’t confuse these with your worth.  Your truth and value stands on its own, regardless of your looks, talent, successes or failures.

And if you think you don’t have any accomplishments or talents or beauty, that will change when you see yourself as a worthy human being.  Once I gained the knowledge of my value, I no longer felt like I didn’t ‘fit in’ and was able to stop trying so hard to do just that.  I made positive changes since there was no reason to keep myself down.  I was no longer second rate and began to accept the weird stuff in my life.  I now know that my dignity, as a human being, is no more or less than any other person on this earth.

This does not mean that everyone is the same.  We are each valuable in unique ways. That’s the beauty of knowing our worth. We can share our uniqueness without worrying about what everyone else thinks.  We can help make our lives, and the lives of others, better.  We can stop trying so hard.

Read more about overcoming binge eating:     Binge Free- The Beginning                                                                                                                   Binge Free- First Steps

“Even if I didn’t believe in God, I would have a good case for the significance of life.  We are all made from the same stuff as the universe. Who am I to think that I am any less than anyone else, or even the universe?” MD

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Loved Ones, Addiction, Happiness

God chose me to be the mother of the children I have.  They are not mine.  They are God’s children.  Just as I am God’s child.  He will take care of them as he has taken care of me.  They have everything they need to be everything they were meant to be in this world.  All that happens, unfolds in God’s time and through his mercy.  There will no one thing that defeats them or me. 

I don’t pretend to understand the divine connection, or why God does anything he does, or even if God ‘does’ anything in the sense we understand the word ‘doing’, but I respect it.  Just last week, I wrote an article about being happy regardless of your circumstances.  I was writing from a place of peace and contentment.  Everything in my life was humming along just fine.

And even though I’m not sure why, or even if, God would test me, I am writing this new article on happiness while one of my children is on a path of destruction.  This child of mine, now an adult, is missing, not physically, but mentally.  He is trying to hide feelings, but all his actions and words point to the futility he feels about life.  He is beaten down, given up.  He’s mired in self-degradation and pity.

He’s been bouncing between the sober world of striving to build a good life and the wasted world of alcohol, drugs and self-sabotage.  In both worlds, he is a good man, but he does not know this.  He thinks he must earn his value as a person, although I cannot really say what he is thinking.  I just know that whatever it is, it is self-destructive.

I recognize this because I have been through it.  I didn’t go as far with alcohol and drugs, but food and body issues were my pacifiers for many years.  Of course, this is no consolation for me because it can lead me to believe that in some way, this is my fault.  If only I had raised him differently, or if I had only taken him to church when he was little, or if only I had my shit together much sooner in life.  But it occurs to me that this type of thinking only puts me back on that same old path of self-pity.

If I blame myself for my children’s failures, that means I must take credit for their accomplishments, of which they all, including him, have many.  And this is just not the case.  All my children are great people in their own right, and even though I am proud of them, I take no credit or blame for what they do.  They live the lives they want to live, and if I passed any bad traits down, I was passing them from my own genetics and experiences, just as they were passed down to me.  And for as many bad characteristics and behaviors that were passed down, there were more good qualities, from both their dad and me.

So, what do you do when you see someone you love in self-wrecking mode?
I used to think I had to be the one to make everything better, to help.  But I know now that helping is just a nice word for enabling.  And I have done my share of enabling.  This is something an addict must work out on his own.  It may not work out the way I want it to, or in the time I want it to, but something in my soul tells me that, no matter what happens, life will work itself out for the best.  So, the answer to the question is, stay in faith.  Don’t get despondent. Keep your cool.

Being happy in this kind of situation does not mean I do not care or that I am shoving it all down and trying to just push through the pain.  Yes, I worry a little, and I have let that worry color my interactions.  And I could speculate about why events occur the way they do, but no matter how much I ruminate, I cannot change the past or read the mind of God to know the future.  So I don’t do this.  I make myself stronger by reading encouraging works, writing, and interacting with others.

My heart feels physically heavy, almost to the point of breaking, but I am still happy with my life and everything in it that I am privileged to be a part of.  My core of joy, though getting a work out right now, is based on a faith that God’s love envelopes me and my children, no matter what is going on.

You can be the happiest person you know. click here

featured image from Pixabay

 

“Your value is intrinsic.  It is not determined by what you do.  When you realize this, you can function fully.”

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