Day Seven: Jealousy

In Breaking Free, Pia Mellody believes that jealousy is “a combination of shame and anger.” Shame because you feel that you are less than others and, therefore, worthless. Anger because you believe that your significant other is being pulled away from you for a more interesting person.

A cycle occurs where your significant other is constantly paranoid of making you upset and you are waiting for the next sign that they could care less about you. This takes security away from the relationship and hinders intimacy.

Being a love addict, I had an ongoing struggle with jealousy. I could find any excuse to believe that I was yesterday’s news for my significant other. I needed affirmation every day to have the assurance that my boyfriend was still interested in me. If he didn’t text me for a while, it was easy to assume that it was because he was talking to someone else. If I saw him in a picture with another girl, I immediately assumed they were connecting and that I’d be dumped for her.

Now, this didn’t come without foundation. I have been cheated on a few times and it really affects your psyche when it comes to relationships, trust, and intimacy. However, I was working in a system that held my significant other in a higher place than God. I had complete affirmation, love, and acceptance with God but wanted something else. God wasn’t good enough for me. That’s a sign of a sick person right there.

Over the past year, God has matured me greatly in the area of love addiction. I’m not “cured” by any means, but I am oh so aware now. It gets easier to catch myself drifting to an unhealthy place. Now, I can stop, remind myself of the facts, and surrender my love addiction to God. He is faithful and my life is peaceful. Misery is now something that comes and goes quickly. A year ago, it had been my daily since high school. It’s hard to imagine ever living like that again. Praise God for healing and recovery!

So, bottom line, surrender your shame, anger, and jealousy to God! Look to Him for all your needs and give your significant other a break.

Tomorrow: Insisting People Have Your Value System… Yikes

Advertisements

Day Six: Extreme Problem Solving

My history of extreme problem solving has mostly been in relationships, but crossed over into my jobs, as well. Basically, extreme problem solving comes from an inability to communicate openly with others. You don’t express how you feel and don’t give others the opportunity to express their true feelings either. Consequently, extreme outbursts or seemingly impulsive behaviors arise because of the lack of communication.

This can be damaging because you become unpredictable. If you thought it was hard reading people, try being on the other side of the relationship and think about how others calculate the best ways to handle or relate to you. Pia Mellody writes, “The other person may believer himself or herself to be falsely accused, misunderstood, or attacked for no apparent reason, and feel anger and pain about it. And your frequent threats to end the relationship leave the person fearful and unsure of your commitment.” (pg. 205, Breaking Free.)

Communicating my feelings in relationships has been a continuing theme in my life (until this past year). I used to drive myself crazy creating unspoken expectations and resenting my significant other for things he either had no control over or behavior that I found neglectful. In some instances, my significant others were neglectful or unhealthy, but I didn’t handle those situations well. My habit was breaking up with them out of nowhere and walking away while they were recovering from the hit. So many guys I’ve dated were left confused as to what went wrong and why.

My extreme problem solving when I am uncomfortable or hurt, is to leave. I did this with jobs, as well. If I got into an emotional rut that I felt trapped in, I sabotaged my work and found a way to exit the situation.

The result I’ve found for this type of behavior is a consequence of distrust and one wrong move after another. By not expressing how I feel or asking others how they feel, I end up running to escape the problem. Usually when running, one falls into the arms of another future mistake. It’s an art form.

This affects others because for some, they don’t know if they can trust me and for others, they don’t know the confusion and pain they’re about to experience (which will lead to future distrust). Put it all together and you will find a product of distance. Intimacy cannot be where insecurity, doubt, and distrust reside.

God has been teaching me that it’s okay to pause in life. If you’re unhappy with where you are, take some time to process, pray, and surrender it to God. Let Him direct your path. Ask Him for peace and clarity in the midst of your discontent.

If you are unsure of how someone feels about you, ask them. Talk. It’s way better than assuming and creating an opinion that has never been spoken. There’s no need for extreme problem solving when you have God. He has everything you need and He loves you. You can trust Him with where you are, your future, and your potential conflicts with others. God will grant you compassion and patience while you reach for understanding with those around you.

Tomorrow: Jealousy!

Day Five: Financial Problems

“You may not be aware of how to deal with money appropriately. You may overspend or refuse to spend enough to have the basic necessities for living plus enjoying meeting some wants.”
-Pia Mellody, Breaking Free

I can’t think of many things to say about this one because I do have a problem with finances and that’s about all I want to say about that.

However, I’ll indulge a little bit. Growing up, money was very tight. If we went shopping, it was always to the sales rack. There were few impulse buys and I found myself feeling confined it.

When I got to college, money began to fly from my fingertips. Not in compulsive shopping, but experiences. Movies, concerts, and outings with friends were hardly ever turned down. My bank account was consistently close to overdraft status and made it there a few times. I had to call my dad and have him rescue me from $30 in debt, every once in a while.

After college, I began the phase of life where I had a series of random jobs that paid my bills and gave me a meager amount of free spending money (that continues to this day). However, including experiential purchasing, my sights did broaden to impulse shopping. I would go for a while without buying anything and splurge one day at my favorite clothing boutique. It was rough. The deprivation and then free spirited swoosh of my card left me in a roller coaster of financial ups and downs.

It was when I confessed these things to my counselor and went to a debt seminar at my church that God convicted me to the point of change.

I tend to go to opposite extremes – spend no money to spend everything. This hurts me because the cycle I have only creates more debt and less financial security. It hurts others because I’m not able to pay what I owe, I can’t be a generous giver when someone is in need, and my future is unstable with my month to month lifestyle.

I’ve created an expense tracking document and a bills checklist. Both of these things have helped me see where my money is going and how much I have left for the month. My financial habits aren’t the greatest, but they are improving. It shocks me to realize how much money I was spending on impulse buys just a few months ago. Thank God for redeeming our poor habits! My goal is to glorify God with my money and be a generous giver to those in need.

Up next: Extreme Problem Solving

Day “Four”: Helplessness

As my “ten day” challenge to myself progresses, it’s apparent that my definition of a day is not the 24-hour term, but more like a day in regards to a long period of time… which is great. So, here we go:

Helplessness! Here’s a great one: “Overwhelming others with your needs and wants.”

This one is for all the love addicts out there. Helplessness is not as obvious as it sounds (to the helpless one). If someone had told me I was acting out of helplessness, I would have denied it. Consciously, I’ve always defined myself as independent. I believed that if I had a need, I would take it straight to God and trust that He would take care of it.

Subconsciously, I was a big, melting blob of helplessness. When no one was looking and I could shed all the walls and defenses of the day, I would collapse into woe-is-me mode. I would beg God to fix my life, fix me, get me out of situations; help me. When I felt that He wasn’t doing a good or fast enough job,  I would dump all of that on the guy I was dating. Not upfront, but in nonverbal, in between the lines expectations.

Any time life got uncomfortable, I would expect my boyfriend to set things right. I needed his calm assurance, advise, prayer; time. If he didn’t text me properly, give me the right affection, or read my mind and show up at my house when needed, I took that as him not caring about me. If he did, somehow, come through for me, I was on top of the world. Life was perfect and hope-filled.

I know this sounds dramatic, and it was, but not outright. I could hold my crazy in pretty well. However, the roller coaster of the dating game was miserable. The continuous expectation that some guy could read my mind and fix all my problems was absurd… yet plausible at the time.

Pia Mellody writes that helplessness sabotages your life because others, “…may experience inadequacy and guilt at not being able to meet your needs,” “…may need to back off and escape such a huge responsibility,” and “…may experience pain when you react with resentment because they are not meeting all your needs.” What a heavy burden to carry for your significant other, friend, or family member! How can someone experience intimacy with a person that is always in heavy dependency?

The answer is: they can’t.

If people can’t help you in your helplessness, who can? What if I told you that there is someone who not only knows your dependent, but unconditionally loves you for it?

Dr. Glenn Kreider wrote in his book, God With Us, that God knew you would always be dependent on Him from the beginning, but He created you anyway. God is the only one you can be completely dependent on and also intimate with. He can handle your resentments, calm your crazy, and fill you with a companionship unlike any other. When you are filled with love and intimacy with God, you can have healthy relationships where you pour into instead of constantly drain.

I’ve been working through this character defect for a while and it has cleared away the miserable chaos from my life. Take your needs to God, ask Him to remove the gross feelings and replace them with His good character traits, and ask Him for forgiveness for not trusting Him. God is good and He wants you to be dependent on Him. So do it. 🙂

“Tomorrow”: Financial Problems… Ew.

 

Day Three: Your Reality

So, I thought I struggled with “Striving for Power” as a character defect, but after studying it more… I don’t think I do. Striving for Power is a different kind of control than people-pleasing or perfection. It’s more combative. My personality is more chill and passive.

The next defect I can relate to is “Blaming Others for Your Reality and Taking Responsibility for the Reality of Others.” The problem with this is that in your reality, you’re either blaming people for your pain or believing that you caused their behavior or feelings. This defect also distorts truth because a person struggling with this has a hard time believing people.

This is a problem that I have, thankfully, largely been freed from. Praise. The. Lord. Last year, I was plagued by this issue of reality. Without any hard evidence, I assumed I knew what people were thinking about me. I also would not take responsibility for my own misery. It was always someone else’s fault. I lived in a fantasy world of misinformation.

My counselor gave me a powerful statement that I now refer to when I catch myself going into fantasy: You don’t know that. I’ll explain to my counselor why someone doesn’t like me. She’ll ask, How do you know that. When I give her some reasons, she gives it to me straight: You don’t know that. When I assume a guy likes or doesn’t like me because his text sounded like this or that, she’ll say, You don’t know that.

Bottom line: Unless a person tells you how they feel, it’s impossible for you to truly know. Assumptions can only go so far.

In my life, I have allowed my reality to be distorted by skewed ideas of what guys were thinking or feeling about me. It was torturous and I liked guys for waaayyyyy longer than they deserved. I also blew instances at work out of proportion and got sick over what new situations would get me fired. I would blame the illness on my poor work environment (and not own up to the fact that I was living in an alternate, painful universe created by wonderful imagination).

Exiting my fantasy life was liberating. It was my red pill to get out of the miserable fiction world I was living in. Surrendering my made up world to God was awesome and ’bout time. I’m not completely cured of this character defect, but I testify to a new life of freedom and excitement. Clear joy!

Remember all:

“You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” -Morpheus 
(Take the red pill.)
Next time: Helplessness (Overwhelming others with your needs and wants)

Day Two: Perfectionism

“Perfectionism is that compulsive drive to do things perfectly, leaving no detail imperfect.” – Pia Mellody, Breaking Free

If I were in a meeting where we were ‘fessing up to being perfectionists, I’m not sure I could 100% raise my hand. I can see my parents throwing their heads back in laughter at the idea of me being a perfectionist… my roommates in college would probably have a good laugh, as well.

I believe my tendency towards perfectionism came when I got into a demanding job and felt out of control. In the chaos, it became crucial that my bed was made, room clean, and living areas neat. After working at that job, I developed a sensitivity to making mistakes. If I mess up, I try and fix it on my own before anyone finds out. If someone confronts me on a mistake, I have extreme emotions to their discovery.

This is harmful because it keeps me from allowing myself to be truly known by others. I have found that with my people-pleasing and perfectionism combined, I feel the need to hide certain parts of myself from people. This affects others because they cannot fully connect with me.

I would really love to let go of my perfectionist tendencies and allow God to show me what a freer life looks like.

Up next: Striving for Power. Man, am I a control freak or what?

Day One: People-Pleasing

I’m an hour away from not meeting the deadline for the first day of my challenge. But! I have an hour, so here’s to day one!

According to the Breaking Free workbook, people-pleasing produces three results: dishonesty, unnecessary arguments, and resentment. This character defect creates a sick cycle where you cater to others and expect them to reciprocate your generous neutrality. You’ve done your roommate’s dishes three times in a row now, so why won’t they do yours when you’ve had a busy day?

The problem is we do things with or for another person without giving them all the information. We don’t fill them in on the fact that we don’t like certain things but we’re doing them because we care for the other person. They assume that we enjoy everything they do and have an open schedule to help them any time they ask.

When we withhold how we really feel from people, we don’t allow them to truly know us. We create expectations for them that they can never meet.

The questions that each character defect covers are as follows:

How does people-pleasing harm you and keep you from being in recovery?
How does it affect others adversely and block intimacy?
Are you ready to have [God] remove this defect and learn to live without it?
If not, what are you gaining by holding on to it?

I think people-pleasing has harmed me and affected others because they don’t have a clear view of who I am. However, it has only been this past year that I have started the recovery process to clearly see my identity. I’m ready for God to remove this defect and I’m curious as to how that will look in my life. People-pleasing is so engrained into my daily that I’m not even sure about when I’m doing it. It provides comfort because neutrality or saying ‘yes’ to everything prevents awkward conflict. I’m not sure I’m gaining much but a packed planner and resentment toward obligations.

I’d like to see myself living freely in my identity and letting people connect with me. I want to communicate the necessary information with others and not leave them guessing as to why I’m upset or acting a certain way. I hope that as I process through this defect in my life, I’m able to say I can find no benefit to people-pleasing in this unhealthy fashion.

Tomorrow! Perfectionism – another way to hold me back and keep me on edge. A good processing will be taking place tomorrow afternoon…