How often I was at the whim of the world, constantly waiting for permission to take care of myself. Perceiving I was under constant scrutiny from the outside world, it would seem I always waited for the world to take care of me. I waited for someone to say, “Well eat something!” or “Take a nap!” or “Do you want to go to the bathroom?”, or basically, “Yes, you have earned a reprieve. Go do what you need to do.”
The unfortunate consequence of my thinking this way often would lead to low blood sugar due to not eating, extreme lethargy and anger due to not sleeping, and even as a child, more than a few times, using the bathroom in my pants while standing up and in public.
The manifestations as an adult were often coupled with anger. I would never have admitted it at the time, but I would be angry at the person for not having read my mind. In fact, I would often even drop subtle cues like, “Gee. I haven’t had anything to eat since this morning.” or “the pee pee dance” or whatever the situation called for. I did it this way, not because I was manipulative, but because I had no voice.
From No or Little Voice to Developing my Voice
Today I have a voice. Today my voice is usually strong. If I need something or I want something, I take care of it or, if appropriate, let someone know. I have the courage to ask for help when I need it and I have the courage to do what I need to do to take care of myself. It was not always this way.
As I endeavored upon my path of Codependent recovery - and if you’re reading this article, you are probably endeavoring as well - my voice grew. In fact, up until yesterday, if you would have asked me where these agreements came from that I could not ask for what I wanted or state what I needed or announce what I was going to do, I would have told you I did not know. My family of origin had alcoholic rules going on so mind-reading was the name of the game but outside of that, I think that societal expectations are key.
I said in another article that I think codependent dis-ease is the fastest spread of all socially unhealthy thought memes and I stand by it.
Codependency is a way of life. It’s not a mutant genetic formation. It’s not an organic disease. You probably can catch it since I’ve never seen anything spread faster than this warped view, but it’s probably more of a social dis-ease in the form of bad ideas spreading.
Especially today. Now. The bad news is that I am having some feelings of anger over socially induced “expectations” as well as the social dis-ease of “blaming and shaming.” The good news, is I get to share my process with others who may go through it as well as having an opportunity of letting people be where they need to be, and the always worthwhile “test” where I get to practice what codependent recovery has taught me! If you think I sound a little excited over feeling anger and insecurity, in the face of this, you would be right! [Skip the below if gory details aren’t your cup o’ tea,]
What Happened: Today was a hard day for my beloved and I feel angry on behalf of him. I also feel angry on behalf of me. I also feel powerless to change some perceptions of manifested dis-ease and I even feel insecure at a deep level and, to be honest, wishing I was different. These yucky feelings were brought on because I chose - in the face of adversity - to “take care of myself” and to go to sleep while his parents were here.
My Defense: I even get angry, feeling I need to qualify myself and *justify* why it was okay for me to “take care of myself” in this manner. Watch how I do this; I have a condition called Epstein Barr to start with, that has me requiring sleep more than the average person. I have been known to share this openly with friends or people with whom I have softer boundaries. It’s usually no big deal and I only require a nap midday. [I think of myself as an old person - that’s it!] Then last night, for whatever reason, my insomnia kicked in and my brain would not shush down. So I got out of bed around 3:30 am and became productive. His parents woke around 7:00 and I got them coffee, we chatted, and then I helped them dry off the deck table and chairs whereupon I would come back to continue on solving a work-related mini-crisis.
At around 9:30 am it kicked in and my exhaustion had me dizzy and zoning out. Thank God that was my clue. Back in the old days I would have taken Vivarin or No-Doz and had a beer or 12. Not this time. This time I told my beloved I needed to go to sleep. This upset him and I knew why. His parents would require an answer. In fact, as it would turn out, his parents would not just require an answer, but an amendment. His parents would have expected I not go to sleep altogether. Not to mention his kid would, a few minutes later, start a marathon of screaming and crying. Everyone’s nerves were raw [except mine, as I was trying to sleep and even then being unsuccessful, due to her torrential screaming].
When I awoke around 2:30pm after finally gotten a few minutes of sleeping, he relays that there was a blow-out and his parents had said some stuff that invoked me and they don’t feel welcome because I always go to sleep either when we visit them or when they visit me. Anyway, they would leave in a self-righteous huff of anger.
What makes me further angry is that if I didn’t make them feel welcome, then what the hell is all my “running around” and trying to play hostess when I am awake, about? Why do I go with him to visit his parents in the first place? Why, if my effort is not received, do make an effort at all? You see? So that’s what happened and where I am emotionally.
Examples of Family of Origin or Societal Expectations and Thought Memes:
- Saying please and thank-you
- Not dancing or singing on a public street
- Women subserviating to their husband or boyfriend
- Women cook for their family
- Men mow the lawn
- Men fix the things around the house
- Teaching kids to do as *you say* rather than *as you do*
- Not openly discussing feelings
- Teaching girls to be nice to all people
- Family members having no boundaries with each other
- Women should want to get married and have children
- It’s natural for men to want to remain bachelors and child-free
- Women should not have a lot of sex or else they’re promiscuous
- Men should have a lot of sex or else they must be abnormal
- Not taking a nap when company [family of your beloved] stays the weekend?
These are just a few that exist or have existed in my world. Do some of them exist in yours? With no judgments on these memes or expectations, can you see how some of them can be harmful in your life? Some may be benign, but I maintain we should look at every agreement we find ourselves adapting - from our family of origin to society - and re-evaluate it for its worth in our life. A social rule of etiquette is not exactly why I live. How about you?
My Societal Expectations Exam - Spiritual Growth Tests
So my anger and insecurity are teaching me that I have an opportunity to display what I know. In fact, recovery is never as fun when life is going smoothly is it? I mean, can’t we all stay stopped drinking - or refrained from harmful behaviors - when nothing remarkable is going on?
I am a big believer in “universal tests” and not the kind that fundamentalists say: “God’s testing you.” That’s a gob of bullshit right there. My loving god does not invoke pain upon me! Why does she need to? My ego needs to be cracked and shed for me to enjoy serenity and spiritual growth so isn’t it more fitting to say that my ego causes my pain and I take my spiritual lessons and then my spiritual exam so that I can finally pass? [ie, Win against my ego? Shed another layer of ego so to speak?]
Universal tests are those “opportunities” we have to exemplify what we have learned so that when we have shown we’ve mastered it, we can adopt yet another *Zen Master* as we move up the “dharma karma chain”.
Sanity in the Simplicity - Who is my Master?
It’s as simple as this. Who is my Master? Societal Expectations [ie, Ego/Material World] or a Loving God [ie, My Spirit/the Who I am?]
Will I choose to revert back to a “people-pleaser” and in doing so, risk relapsing back into drinking, anorexia, and pills to stay awake while simultaneously making society or other people my highest power as my spiritual life becomes once again thwarted? OR Will I make the choice to not become a “people-pleaser” and, instead, remain a spiritual seeker and “God pleaser” where my highest good is had within my Spirit as I continue to seek God’s will for me in all things? So basically: Man’s World or God’s World is the choice.
It’s a choice we all can make. It’s not as easy as it looks. It all looks nice, written down or reading it here in my article. And in reading this now you probably no longer feel alone, like I no longer feel alone in sharing it with you. But the facts are more difficult. The reality of choosing is a lot more severe with as deep as you go in developing your Spiritual Life. This is my truth and this is the truth of others who have gone before me. [Think of the Bible story of Job for example. Or think of Gandhi getting beaten while actively remaining true to his spirit. Or think of Martin Luther King. Or even think of Jesus.]
In the reality, though, we walk alone. And sometimes, can feel our most alone in doing it. We may even feel lonely in doing it…and in feeling that loneliness, may question if we’re really even on the right path. And in the face of people staring at us or accusing us or calling us names or making judgments, or even chaos, can you see how choosing our spiritual path / God / God’s will / our highest good / our intuitive voice is not always so easy?
Sometimes it’s clear and simple but that’s not the same as easy is it?
My friend said something I’d never heard of before and I thought it was lovely: “Courage is fear that’s said its prayers.” And this is what is required for us to begin or continue travelling our, often lonely, path. And not to become too maudlin, but this path is not as lonely as it seems at first. Yes, often you may be or feel alone while you stand in your truth amid many people or groups who are “shoulding” all over you, but there are others. We just have to find them! :) [I found some by creating my HSP group on Stumble! I have friends on Newsvine who are like me. I go to 12 step recovery meetings! God, I believe, when we begin looking, will put others in our path who will teach us, mentor us, or even befriend or validate and affirm us! We just have to not remain in fear and open our eyes!]
But what about when People hate that I follow my Spirit?
Codependent recovery as well as Alcoholism recovery and every other 12 step recovery process teaches us that we’re powerless over other people. Now let’s not go extreme here. We’re not powerless when people come into our home and disrespect us. We’re not powerless over having friendships with people who dishonor us time and time again. Basically, do not confuse this to mean you don’t have any power *in* a relationship. The thought is there to teach us that we may not ultimately have power over other people, so that we can focus on what we *do* have power over, and that is ourselves.
If other people have anger about our doing what we need to do in order to take care of ourselves, it seems to me, then, that they are angry because we’re either not living up to their expectations, or they’re angry that they are powerless over us. In my world view oriented toward spiritual growth, both of these reasons are born and bred of dis-eased thinking. And this is the social dis-ease I have a problem with. This thought that has grown popular that we have power over other people or that we somehow should have power over other people.
Examples of expressions reflecting this popular social dis-ease:
- “What is wrong with you?” [Shaming, blaming mechanism.]
- “You should stay awake when my parents visit.” [Shoulding rhymes with shitting.]
- “You shouldn’t do that.” [Why not? Who says? But it’s healthy for me.]
- “You shouldn’t think that or feel that way.” [Why not? Who says? But I do.]
- “You made me angry.” [Blaming you for their feelings. Expecting you to solve them.]
- “It’s your fault that we…” [Blaming. Not taking responsibility for their own feelings, wants or needs.]
- “This is not normal.” [Way too many weird things for me to pick just one here!]
- “You are not normal.” [Shame, judging, labels.]
- “If you loved me at all you would…” [Emotional blackmail is manipulation.]
- “You need to…” or “You have to…” [Why? The real truth is all we have to do is die eventually.]
These statements are each reflecting dis-ease when said in the context of trying to control someone.
I think a lot of it comes from childhood. I really do. It comes from childhood, due to a child’s natural lack of autonomy. And also, maybe, due to the fact that if the child screams, cries, or yells and blames that she will eventually get what she wants. So as children we learn that we’re at the whims of our parents or adults, right? And to get what we want we have to throw fits. Our parents maybe used shaming techniques on us. Maybe we overhear them blaming the world. It’s natural we’d grow up to mimic that *authority* we view as *normal* and *correct.*
So when any of these statements are made, I know more about that person than they will ever know about me. I know this because they’re so self-involved with how everyone does things *wrong* that they lack the spiritual understanding necessary to see where their discomfort really comes from. [Hint: Their own mitote. Their own views. Their own needs and wants. These ideas have nothing to do with me, yet these people will blame me for not merging into their worldview of “propriety” or “normal” rather than taking responsibility for it being their world view.]
As well as myself, I have friends who tried hard to *be normal* and fit in with this world view that society is their higher power. Simultaneously trying to diminish or hide their own creativity and uniqueness, that they hid who they were “during the day” and drank or drugged or self-mutilated at night. Numbing up that voice in their head that *shoulded* and *shamed* them all day was the only way they knew how to gain a respite from the shackles of the world.
We gain our “normal” world view as children. We learn to associate authority with “correctness.” And who in our world has bothered to ever correct that perception? So when a child says, “You made me angry” instead of “I’m angry” we understand where that comes from - because the child actually does lack resources in which to understand her feelings are her own. But as she grows up, if she is not taught differently, she will be stuck in this dis-ease. She will outwardly continue to try to conform while her insides remain dispirited. How do I know this is dis-ease? Because if we really do expect the world to conform to us, we will forever be miserable, addicted, alcoholic, workaholic, controlling… Or we’ll kill ourselves to escape the lie we can’t seem to rise above.
So, when our family or friends or even strangers seem to have a problem with what we are doing, let them have it! [The problem, that is!] It’s their problem, why would you want to pick it up and take responsibility for it? You are simply doing what you need or want to do while here, following your path. You’re listening to your intuitive voice or following your spirit. You, my dear, are taking care of yourself! So, if valuing your parents opinions over your life and you can never seem to please them - have you counted the times you tried bending over backwards? - then why don’t you go on ahead and examine how that’s working for you? If not working too well, then what’s better? Feeling bad because you can’t be “good” or “normal” enough no matter how you try and bend over backwards trying to pretend to be how they think you ought? Or feeling at least good enough about living in your own skin and happy in your spirit even though you may feel momentarily sad that, this too, they disapprove of?
So for people who may hate that I follow my spirit, that is too bad. :) In fact, if they use it to their advantage, they may begin evolving as well because ”When I am taking care of myself to the best of my ability, you cannot help but to take care of yourself.” In this, they have an opportunity to grow. But for others, they will simply sink lower in trying to exert more control or play the martyr or stay drunk. At least, though, you are giving them the opportunity of choice! In short, by bending over backwards and playing up to dis-eased thinking, we do no one any favors; Most of all, ourselves.
How to Evolve to follow my Spirit - Rise
An evolved or evolving spirit who recognizes this world for the dis-ease it has, realizes that every person here is to be honored for the path they are on. They will probably also recognize that people are not only entitled but should be encouraged to continue following along their own spiritual growth! A person recovering from dis-ease of this world did not get here by accident.
In my experience, no one has ever woken up one morning and said, “Oh hey! Trying to conform to the world is misery because it’s all based on a lie - an illusion! I think I’ll change and evolve above that!” That would be nice and maybe it’s happened with some…but even the Buddha had to take notice of what was going on the world before he began his journey to enlightenment. For me, it happened with my alcoholism and subsequent codependent issues.
So that when I gave up drinking because my life was guttered and I was afraid of ending in suicide, I knew then I had to make some life changes. Not outward ones; internal ones. The biggest one was releasing my old ideas. That meant re-evaluating every one that caused me distress in some way. The natural side effect is that my internal ideas naturally change my external ways of doing things - and yes, often at the chagrin and displeasure of family, other people or society. But I have a saying: “Keep up or get out of the way.” Those are their only choices because a human will not hinder me today. I will rise.
I talk about concepts like “mitote” and “re-evaluating my former agreements” and it’s because of The Four Agreements. There are other books - and even some more spiritually adept - but this is the book that I read after I became involved with alcoholic recovery. There is probably no need to buy the book if you follow my articles, because since the concepts became seeded and eventually took root in me, there is nothing I can discuss or be a part of that will not have some of the concepts of this book coming out.
It was after this book and a year of alcoholic recovery that I would become a part of Codependent Recovery by way of the Twelve Steps. And besides other outside literature dealing with spiritual matters, I would then seek out the wisdom of Melody Beattie, a woman who also having been an alcoholic mess, began her own journey of healing from the opinions and whims of other people. And again I have to say, because the concepts were planted inside of me and took root, little will I say or ways I behave that will not have it’s origination in codependent recovery.
Begin Taking Care of Yourself
So we Rise. Sometimes Quickly. Sometimes Slowly. But we Rise.
We take care of ourselves because no one is as invested in our own serenity, usefulness, and happiness as we are. We take care of ourselves because our path is individual and someone else on a different path may be stunted and we do not want to follow them, knowing that if we do, we will be stunted. We gain courage by recognizing that fear is normal when we’re about to embark on change but that we can feel the fear and do it anyway! We will understand that sometimes we may feel alone and even often lonely but know that though we may walk our path sometimes alone, we are never truly alone; There are others walking this path too.
We understand that agreements in this life can change anytime we need to; Anytime we realize these agreements have quit working or never did. We acknowledge and get that there will be people in this life who disagree with our path and though it may be disappointing or even hurt, we rise anyway.
Until Next Time.
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