Wednesday, February 29, 2012

One Day At A Time

The other day I got my hair trimmed; I'd been thinking about it for over a month and finally got it done.  It turned out nicely.  At least I was pleased with it.  

The new coiffure did wonders for my appearance.  At least, according to one source.  

And if it had ended there, that would have been a nice memory.  

But no - the person wouldn't let go, and went on to try to convince me to do a lot more to change my appearance, to the point of pushiness.  I warned that I often react badly (as in the opposite to what the intent is) to pressure like that; then, I found myself being psychoanalyzed.  

This was one occasion where I had laid out a boundary and it was ignored.  The person really thought this "advice" was helping.  It wasn't.  It was making me all the more determined to NOT do the strongly suggested /insisted-upon thing.  

So ... I deflected - purely a temporary psychological survival mechanism.  And I relied on my recovery skills to set an internal boundary, reminding myself that the person had all the zeal of a new convert, and that I didn't need to make a decision about this right away - if ever.  I got out of the uncomfortable situation without shedding blood (grin), and then was able to promise myself that I would process my feelings afterward, after I had had time to detach.  Breathe.  Unhook.  Ask myself what I was feeling, and why... whether this went far deeper than just someone's criticism advice.  

Once away from the situation, I realized that part of the reason why I felt so threatened was that the person was suggesting radical, wide-spread changes in my entire lifestyle, changes for which I was not yet ready.  I envisioned ahead of me an interminable life-sentence of misery because the advised changes would involve giving up something that I absolutely love doing ... and risking becoming like (or at least being accepted by) people I cannot stand to be around.  

Part of it, too, was the fact that I have always been a people-pleaser, and it bothers me when I feel like I don't measure up to someone's expectations of me. I don't even have to like the person very much for his or her opinion to eat away at me. I'm working on that; it's a great deal better than it was as my self-esteem improves.

Another - perhaps much larger - part was the same feeling I frequently got as a child when I was just getting up from the living room sofa to come and volunteer my help in the kitchen without being asked, and my mother would impatiently call out to me to come give her "a little help with these dishes."  I was already on my way to do it of my own free will, and she robbed me of the satisfaction of doing it on my own initiative by jumping all over me verbally before I even had the chance to let her know my intentions.  

My eventual reaction was to arrange to disappear when the dishes were being washed so that I wouldn't have to be reminded yet again what a (expletive deleted)-poor excuse for a daughter I was.  How I'd never amount to anything.  How I was lazy and useless.  How, even when I did help out, I always did it wrong (i.e., not the way she would do it).  So telling me to do something I had already wanted to do just made me not want to do it anymore.  I've done that with everything ever since, with everyone from passing acquaintances to preachers.

I was still rather upset about the whole current "advice / criticism" incident ... and knew I had to find some sort of closure, or it would keep me from sleeping well tonight.  

What came to me as I mulled this over ... was yet another recovery strategy that is so easy for me to forget:  practicing gratitude for the changes that I've already gone through, and taking one day at a time, not taking on tomorrow's tasks (or next year's) but focusing on today's.  I had felt, when this person was giving me advice, that the changes of the past were dismissed as being worth nothing ... and that I wasn't acceptable to this person the way I was.  (Might I say that this individual told me that this wasn't the case - yet - one can't turn off feelings like a faucet.) I also had to remember that the advice-giver is extremely attractive, appeared to have an extremely good self-image (though I may be wrong in that regard; I don't know), and also didn't know what it was like to struggle with any of the major abuse issues that I only started facing a short time ago.  

I had to remind myself of that which I say so often: "Real healing happens from the inside out.  If it doesn't, it will only be temporary. Only God can heal the heart."  And I want my transformation to happen at its own rate, as directed by God - and nobody else.  One day at a time.  It's already changed me in ways I can't begin to describe.  And it will continue to do that.  I don't need to let what someone else thinks I should do, dictate to me what I WILL do.  Or WON'T do!!  

I decide.  There is more to life than just the exterior; I choose the interior.

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