You’ve been practicing these habits for a long time and it will be hard work replacing them.
So said a good counselor after hearing another summary of my neurotic accommodations to life’s challenges.
While “normal” life invites us to try out personal training in dysfunctional thinking and behavior, care giving pretty much necessitates it.
Are you angry? Practice holding it in because if you get loud or take a tone it will upset the person in your care.
Are you a people pleaser with crummy boundaries? Keep pulling down your fences and pushing open your gates because you’re Just So Needed. Where will those loved ones be without your sacrificial efforts? I mean, the whole world might come off its axis if you stop. And It’s All Your Fault.
Are you the addictive type? Eat, drink, smoke or otherwise imbibe comfort, ‘cuz you ain’t gonna get it from healthy relationships (of which, it should be said over and over, you’re manifestly unworthy.)
A friend sent me this pro wrestling poster from our younger days. Pro wrestling is a good simile for what I’m talking about here. Yes, they train hard. But it is to produce a product that is fake.
Hey, it draws cheers from the crowd if you do it right. Even if all the pretense might leave you crippled.
My big discovery this week is that things are worse than I thought. Why do you try to play God and take the world on your shoulders?, I’ve been asked more than once about my care-giving-supplemented anti-health training.
But that would be easy to address, wouldn’t it? I mean, it’s a simple confession that my pride is taking on stuff beyond what a normal being can do, so the path of repentance is clear: identify the over-the-top stuff and leave it to God.
But what I realized this week is that I’m not playing God: I’m worshiping a false god, an idol.
Trying to make everybody happy and ensure good outcomes, the focus of my relentless training, IS NOT SOMETHING THE REAL GOD CLAIMS TO DO.
It is a fake god, a demon. I’m not stepping into the middle of the universe to play God, which reality quickly corrects. I’m wandering around in a phony universe, a simulation that maintains the lie and never delivers on what it promises and promises and promises.
Although a humiliating discovery, when I was able to express it I felt about 500 lbs. lighter. Some restoration of health and sanity is already underway.
I wish I could say that it was like an exorcism and now the idol is gone and I’m back to reality and can’t we all just get along? But there’s much more to do.
My working name for the idol is “FEAR.” Fear goes back a long way in my life, taking up residence (at least as far as I can consciously regress) in childhood trauma that I’m not going to dump here.
But it now pervades everything. It warps decisions, it mocks every thought and stalks every experience. It casts a smoggy haze over relationships. Decades of care giving, with all the could-go-wrongs and worries that accompany it, helped FEAR embed and enlarge in my soul.
So I need to change my exercise program. I need to pull down and smash the stones of which this great idol is built.
When people were dazzled by a great ancient temple, where political power and profit had displaced prayer and the presence of God, Jesus of Nazareth said, Yes, look at these great buildings. But they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another! (Mark 13:2, New Living Translation)
I’ve been repeating that – not one stone left on top of another – as the voice from the FEAR altar snarls in my consciousness. My resistance training now must be pushing and pulling down worries and expectations over which I have no control, and stepping up to action where I can be responsible. Saying NO more often. Speaking for myself instead of bouncing back what I think someone expects me to say.
I hope this reaches some folks at the start of their care giving years. Please, please, please: don’t smash yourself. Smash the stones that are piling up – the false expectations that ask you to do things that aren’t necessary and/or by which you hope to gain some kind of elusive approval from the universe.
Smash your idol before its temple gets built.