Forgiving yourself as you grow


I am new to the world. Really, I am. I have hibernated so long and hidden behind my defense mechanism that now, I consider myself reborn. New. That’s great and wonderful, and yet, there are many times when I do not feel equipped to deal with normal situations. Being exposed like this makes me feel uneasy.

I have taken a job teaching two writing courses at a community college. I have also gone back to grad school. I have added these things to my life as part of a recovery goal. It was high time I start to live and do things for myself and take action in my recovery. But when you pile these new responsibilities upon someone who already had a pretty full life (with two kids, a new relationship, and a full-time job), there’s bound to be crisis in time management, let alone a whole mess of problems during the adaptation phase. To top it off, when you add occasional low self-esteem, waxing and waning confidence and not a lot of experience in the outside world, it’s disaster. And quite frankly, that’s what it feels like it’s been; a disaster. In reality, I am keeping it together.

At this point, however, I feel like I’ve made a huge mistake. I recognize now that I’ve taken on MORE than I should have. I should have entered into the world a little more slowly, and not like a CEO who has been managing a million things at once for most of his adult life. The reason I say this is because now, I am overwhelmed. And when I am overwhelmed my old defense mechanism kicks in: run away! Problem is, I can’t run away. I can’t even take a day off to regroup. This has me feeling TRAPPED, like a caged animal and all my old insecurities are creepy up on me. To add more to my burgeoning emotional highs and lows, I had a garage door come crashing down on my head last Saturday, leaving me foggy, dizzy, light-headed and easily forgetful.

All this culminated in what I considered (and still to a lesser degree do consider) to be a HUGE, unforgivable mistake: I FORGOT TO SHOW UP TO TEACH CLASS AT THE ASSIGNED TIME YESTERDAY.

I have to add here that I rarely make mistakes. I rarely make them because I don’t normally DO anything to make them. I don’t normally do anything to make them because I don’t DO anything. Period. Like I said, I have hidden away most of my adult life from the world of work and careers simply from fear that I wasn’t good enough, that I would be trapped and because I have always thought of myself as incompetent.

What does any of this have to do with love addiction? A ton. All these insecurities that I am trying to knock down and overcome are what created the love addict in me. All of my inexperience in the world, over-use of my defense mechanism and feeling incompetent made me essentially want to hide away behind some man. If I had a man in my life I didn’t have to worry about any of this stuff. Wait, let me clarify: if I had a neglectful, bad, no good man in my life who didn’t love me I didn’t have to worry about any of this stuff. Why? Because I could worry about him instead.

Well, now that I am with D, now that I am in a good relationship, which is calm and peaceful and right, and now that I believe I have RECOVERED FROM LOVE ADDICTION, I am finally faced with the reality that real life is hard and painful and scary sometimes. And that instead of running away, you need to FACE your life and the more you do that, the more competent you become.

I realize all that, and yet, I am still so scared and I am so angry with myself for failing yesterday. But part of the process of becoming REAL is to forgive yourself and get right back up and out there again. If I don’t do that, I will not become the woman I am supposed to become. I might temporarily comfort myself by quitting and by running away and hiding, but I will suffer in the long run.

Today’s random questions are these: how has love addiction shaped me, not in ways of love or relationships, but in other ways? Have I given up on myself in other areas? How has that affected my self-esteem, my self-confidence and my belief in my ability to do and achieve things? What am I doing to change this part of me?

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