Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Goodness Allergy

I have a real treat for my readers today. A guest contributor has graciously offered to allow me to use something he shared with me earlier today.

Before I hit "Copy - Paste" I should let you know a few background things that will make it easier to understand some of the things to which he refers. He is in a Twelve-Step program so he believes strongly in those Twelve Steps (as do I!) 

Since he refers to them frequently, I'm including a link to the 12 steps here. He also refers to the 3rd Step Prayer and the 7th Step Prayer, which can be found at this link to the AA prayers.

If his story touches you, please consider commenting on his submission below in the comment box provided. I believe that it's in telling our truth that we can be free ... and help to free others in the process. However, if we tell our story and nobody says, "Yeah, I can really relate," or "I really needed to hear that today," or whatever, then the good that telling our story does is swallowed up like a cup of water in the desert sand.

So, without further ado, here is his submission - or his admission, if you like. I will only preface it by saying that it is so honest and raw that it is sometimes uncomfortable for me to read, but in a way that challenges and inspires me to shed the facades and live a life of rigorous honesty - with myself, with God, and with others. 


I learned a valuable lesson today:   I have a virulent “goodness” allergy:  any time anything good happens in my life,   my body, and mind and spirit will immediately try to reject it and belittle it.    There appears to be no medication for it; it must just be recognized, partially treated on the spot and ... suffered through.

It can be easily seen if you examine a day’s events with an analytical eye.  Yesterday, I had what I called a “bad” day. Things did not work out in the manner and degree that I was expecting, some things happened over which I had no control and felt “put upon” as a result, leading to a pity party. And my youngest daughter and I had it out over numerous perceived problems at home leading to tears, angry words and confrontation…all of which I hate. 

A few good things happened as well.  My recent cold actually improved somewhat, no new bills came into the house, nothing broke down in or outside of the house, etc.

But in my reaction to those things, I learned a few key things…I can’t enjoy the good things that happen because my allergy flares up and won’t allow me to enjoy them. 

When my allergy kicks in, I find that I can`t focus on the good that is happening but will instead key in on all the bad things that happened in the midst of the good. By the time that I've berated others about the perceived bad and cursed God for allowing all this crud in my life, the good that was there is all shriveled up and just a fraction of the size that it was. And it is so surrounded and buried by the bad that I've heaped all over it, that it looks and tastes almost as the terrible as the bad that it is inside.  It is badly tainted.

My allergy is backwards looking as well. Even if there is no bad in the day that I'm living, if there was any bad in the previous day or week, my allergy will smear that all over the small bit of good to make it unpalatable as well.

My allergy stems from a small number of factors.

The most important one is that I consider myself to be bad and totally undeserving of any type of good in my life.  All my life, I've been taught that I'm awful, that I can't do anything right, that I'm a total failure and that no good thing can come from scum like me. So when something good does happen, I feel that it must be a mistake, that this happened not for me or because of me, but instead because of the others that I surround myself with or the place that I just happen, by chance, to be in. That if they were gone, the good would be as well, and this generally makes me angry. This is because I know that the only reason anyone, including God, could be doing good things for me is because they wish to earn brownie points for themselves or because some of the good that falls on me will spill over to the others, for whom this good is being done for in the first place.  And that makes me feel neglected and used.

Second is what I call the fear factor.  I am terrified that if I make a big thing and focus too much on the good that I`m having today, that it will be removed either by a God who loves to tease and annoy me, or by someone that gave it to me in the first place that I consider a friend who will snatch it away, out of spite, anger or pettiness.  I'm terrified that if someone finds out who the real me is, not the one that I`m allowing others to see, but the real inside me, that any good that I receive will dry up and never be allowed to come back. So if I don't make a big deal out of it at first, then I won`t be as disappointed when it goes away

And the third is the hatred factor. I hate myself at the primal level, at a point that I'm scared that God can`t or won`t reach, at a point that I rarely tap into because it hurts so much. Almost four years into recovery, and I still cannot look at myself in the mirror to shave my ugly face in the morning. I hate how I act, my personality, my looks, my memory, my "talents", etc. And when the me that I feel is there so prevalent on the inside acts up and takes control, then any good that comes my way is lost in the terrible disgust I feel for me.

I feel there are steps that I can take to help this.

  1. I must redo my Step 4. At the time that I did this step, I found that the negative feelings and mistakes and bad character traits that are so rampant in me were easy to list. But I forgot that the step also calls on me to list my good moral traits as well. I did not do this and must redo. 
  2. I have to make the Seventh Step prayer a real part of my life. It tells me to turn all of me, my bad side AND my good side over to God to let Him deal with things. Again, I found it so easy to dump my "lousy me" on God but never gave Him my "good me". I guess I'll have to find it first....
  3. I'll have to learn to trust God. I know in my head that God doesn't make junk, that He loves me, that He has a plan for my life in which I can help others through the thoughts in the Third Step prayer. But after four years. I still really do not believe this at the heart and feelings level. I must cry out to him to allow me to trust, to manipulate my life in the way and timing of his choosing to make the changes necessary in me to allow me to be  "shalom" - which means nothing broken; nothing lacking.
  4. And finally, and for me the most fundamental, I have to somehow not try to see myself as a bad person trying to learn how to be good……but instead, because of the imputed righteousness of God, as a good person, who is just sick, trying by doing all the right things that he can and knows how to do, to get well.

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What more can I add except to say that this touched me deeply.  I hope it touched you, too.

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