Monday, August 5, 2013

Self imposed Penance

     “How was your week David?”
     Fine. I know that answer tells people that it maybe wasn’t fine and that I may be trying to avoid answering the question or not thinking about it. Fine is an evasive answer and most people seem to know it.
     So if people ask me something like this, I pretend to consider for a moment and nod my head and say “It was alright… yeah it was good,” with a tone of realization.
     If I had a crumby week I don’t like to complain about it. If I had a good week then I’m telling the truth. And it saves me the trouble of trying to think back and reflect on things.
     One of my favorite answers to how I am is: “I can’t complain.” That’s always truthful. On the surface is implies that I have nothing to complain about. With deeper reflection someone might think I’m saying that complaining does no good anyway.
     It might sound like I’m boasting here about how savvy I think I am at being deceptive and false. But I have used my blog for this in the past. I’m trying to come clean. Confessing here may not make me stop, but I am hoping that by admitting it, then it’s not a secret anymore. And posting here gives people permission to call me on things that don’t sound sincere.
     So how has my week been? Busy. I worked six days this week. The first day was for only about five hours, the last two were about 9 hour days. Now that I’ve come clean I want to state that I am still being truthful here when I say that I had a great week. I don’t know if it’s a character flaw by wanting to be kept busy. But I like feeling needed. I like thinking that people rely on me. The first night I worked one small thing I did was make copies of forms. I had a key to the office and could work the copier. How many other people could do that? Quite a few actually. But I was there and available and willing.
     And here it is. I think that this desire to feel like people rely on me might go back to when I wasn’t so reliable. I’ve come clean once today, here is a little more confession.
     A few years ago I used to get home from work at 11 and stay up and watch TV. Prajna would go to work at 5 the next morning and I would sleep until 10 or 11. The kids? Oh yeah. They would get up and fix breakfast and walk the dog and homeschool themselves. I felt I needed to unwind after a long day at work and of course I needed my beauty sleep so I slept in. I usually woke up to the sound of Harrison banging out Maple Leaf Rag on the piano. I would get up and eat something. Then I would hang around the house until it was time to go to work. Prajna would get home usually a little before lunch. The kids were overjoyed at that. We didn’t see too much of each other.
     Eventually things got worse. More stuff happened and I finally hit bottom. I started going to Celebrate Recovery. I started getting up earlier. Then I got a new job with new hours. Now I get home from work at 10pm and try to get to bed as soon as I can. I get up at 6 or earlier and am responsible for breakfast. And I don’t feel right unless I’m doing something.
     I want to feel reliable. I want to be responsible. I wasn’t always like this. There was a time in my life when I was anything but that. I was irresponsible and selfish. I think I still feel like I need to make amends for that. I don’t get a lot of sleep anymore. Even though I am a morning person, sometimes it feels like self imposed penance.
     This is codependent behavior. When I was not doing well and sleeping in and being a negligent husband and father I felt rotten about myself. And now I try to be just the opposite of that, hoping that it will produce a feeling of satisfaction and wellbeing. But it doesn’t work that way. Typical of a codependent, I am looking for validation and contentment in giving of myself. When it doesn’t fulfill me, I start to feel like a failure and want to give up. But I fear that I will turn into the self-regarding swine I used to be. That keeps me from giving up. Sometimes I withdraw and just get snarky. Sometimes I share how I’m feeling with a safe person or group. Not often enough though. And here I am posting it on my blog.
     What is the point in my sharing this? First of all, I want to be truthful and real. This blog is about who I am. I’ve made it no secret that I’m working on a memoir now and I have had some startling revelations in the process of it. This deep stuff is on my mind.
     And second, some people don’t know what codependency is. They might struggle with it and not know or they might have to deal with someone with it. This entry was a glimpse of one manifestation of it, just a glimpse.
     I can’t cure myself of codependency. I can try to live a healthy life with good boundaries. That, like other life issues, can be an everyday struggle with some days being better than others.
     This has been someone healing to me to get this out in the open. I still have some stuff I don’t write about. I will be sharing my testimony at least twice before the year is up. Those in the San Bernardino area can come to the Celebrate Recovery meeting and hear it if they want.
     There is healing in disclosure. I also want there to be hope for anyone who hears it.
Nothing is impossible. Someone might need to know that.

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