Tuesday, May 22, 2012

“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good...Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is.”

-C.S. Lewis

“As soon as you stop wanting something you get it. I've found that to be absolutely axiomatic.”

-Andy Warhol

Well I hope Mr. Warhol was not talking about crack. Because I don’t want it and I don’t want to get it.  However, I’m afraid the current rate at which addictions seem to be piling up around me would suggest that it’s a distinct possibility.  Like Jeff says when I wear low rise jeans, ‘Just say no to crack, honey.’ I’ll take that under advisement.

I am pretty sure Mr. Lewis was, himself, dipping into the peyote when he wrote that story about the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.  So he’s probably speaking from the firsthand experience of a Greco-Roman throw-down with el Diablo himself.

Wrestling with temptation makes me weary. Wrestling with anything makes me weary. That’s why I think the first of the 12 steps is so key and so difficult: We admitted we were powerless over (insert flavor of OCD here) and that our lives had become a HOT MESS. And when I say a hot mess, I mean looks good on the outside, still managing everything and still functioning at a high level while being profoundly spiritually and psychologically bankrupted by a useless metric, flower pot, cigarette, clean house, addictive relationship, etc.

As for that last one, I had a friend in Miami a few years back who was very intense yet wonderful in many ways.  But she was impossible to please or to connect with in an authentic sense or at least with my authentic self.  The relationship deteriorated when I woke up to this realization: she’ll never give me the satisfaction of feeling good enough around her. I must always know my place—directly beneath her.

That type of a connection is very obviously doomed to failure. I remember trying to tell her one day that she’d hurt my feelings very severely.  Her reaction? She ATTACKED me. She called me a flake, an airhead, (which I don’t deny that I am, but it had nothing to do with the original offense) said that I was lying, that I had misheard her, etc.   When I had confessed to her that I was really struggling in some areas of my life, she retorted with STRUGGLE?! I’ll give you struggle. Which was followed by a litany of apocryphal struggles that were ten times worse than mine.   

I woke up that day.  It was a cold realization. How had I let her so far into my head without the warning lights going on?  What and who else were in there?

I think simply that this type of situation presents a challenge similar to managing any unmanageable situation.   ‘I can slay this dragon. I can tame this beast. I can make her love and accept me.’  And that’s where the addictive and unhealthy process starts. It starts when I think I can manage something far greater in strength and ferocity than I am. 

I ain’t ten foot tall and bullet proof, apparently. 

Anyway, I stopped wanting to be perfect that very day.  It was like getting out of a car I’d hitched a ride in where everyone had body odor and was smoking cigars.  What a huge relief.  It’s taken me 11 years to get the stink off me.

So yesterday morning, I woke up late. Got the kids up late. Threw together a nice breakfast for them. Never uttered the ‘we’re going to be so late’ sentence. We managed to get out of the house on time, with smiles all around and absolutely no pressure.  And in the midst of that, I set the kitchen timer for 6 minutes, took my freshly homemade Nespresso hazelnut latte and sat outside.  I wanted to admire my 42 (down from 66) pots.  I didn’t make it the entire 6 minutes (because my coffee was THAT good) but it was perfect. For 3 whole minutes, all I saw were pretty flowers. I didn’t see the weeding to be done, or the dirt to be swept. I simply enjoyed a nice cup of coffee on the deck with all my pretty flowers.  

I didn’t want perfect anymore and I finally got it. 

For 3 whole minutes.

But that was yesterday.  Today, not so perfect.

More on that when the shock wears off.

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