Thursday, August 14, 2008

Do-It-Yourself Recovery

Hello again,

Summer is almost complete, which I'm not ready for at this point. Even though I'm looking forward to venturing back into the jungle of counseling at Sturgeon Bay High School, I'm in the midst of major remodeling and wiring on our house, which I'm doing myself.

For years I've complained to my patient wife, Jeanna, "I can't do wiring; I'll electrocute myself!" or "Tearing our the kitchen wall? I don't know about this. What if I..." and the list went on and on. But after discovering what our fantastic local library had available for home improvement resources, with lots of large glossy pictures (visual learner), and dogged encouragement from Jeanna, I finally decided to get my feet wet on a small project (changing the oil in my car) many years ago, and I did it! Taking the risk and being successful built my confidence tremendously. I discovered I could save a boat load of money by doing things myself around the house. My fear of failure was only that--a fear. It had no basis in fact to my problem solving ability and handyman resourcefulness I inherited from my father.

Recovering from an eating disorder is like that. The fear of failure and those dreaded excuses "I can't do that. It will be too hard. It will be..." keeps a person in check from making progress that, in reality, is only at an arm's length to reach out and grab. When a person refuses to listen to their fear of failure or thoughts of being incompetent or unworthy, and instead grits their teeth and pushes ahead to take a risk and try something new, the door to a grand new world of confidence can open up. The IT (degrading "voice" in our head) will continue to badger a person with "I can'ts" or "You don't deserve tos". This will not change. So many people keep holding onto the irrational idea that a magic word from their therapist, a book, or whatever will (without any difficult changes on their part) automatically switch their ED lifestyle for the magic land of happiness. What needs to change is a person's choice--a direct act of the will--not to listen or believe IT, and learn to substitute IT for another motivation.

For example, when I had my ED, my motivation came from the comfort of controlling my ED lifestyle. Today, my source of self-esteem rests in my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I must admit, in this politically correct driven society, I've often been scared to publically acknowledge my faith for fear of what others would think. But it's a reality I've learned I can't deny. Knowing that I'm dearly loved by God, despite my failures and shortcomings, is a comforting feeling and sure-footed reality unmatched by anything else I've ever known.

Even so, this just didn't happen out of the blue. There was a time when God didn't mean much to me, and was exemplified by a policeman looking down from heaven and shaking His finger at everything I did wrong. But certain experiences happened that forced me to take a strong look at what I truely believed about God. I took the risk and made the choice to do some heavy soul searching, which was different than my routine, uncomfortable at times, and challenged me to go out of my comfort zone. The more research I did, I was humbled and my mind was pried open. Now I continue to build this relationship with hard work and keep it alive.

I hope your summer is coming to a pleasant close. Feel free to say "hey" if you get the chance.

Well, back to wiring our new over-the-range microwave with 12-2 wire on its own 20 amp circuit...

Till next time,