Day Ten: Fear of Success

Day Ten: Fear of Success

Since starting a new job, I have discovered a character defect that has followed me through school,  jobs, and probably relationships: fear of success. Fear of success is a sabotaging of a relationship, idea, project, or responsibility that could bring you happiness, success, or accolades.

This has played out in my life in so many ways I could write a 3 set volume on it. I believe it harms me because the fear does not allow me to see my full potential. I have a lot of dreams about my potential but reality has been pretty disappointing in comparison.

I’ve done some awesome things in life: travel, get my bachelors and masters, work for a church, dance with Bruce Springsteen; date (because dating is totally awesome…). But was I really present? Fear of success is harmful because it keeps us from seeing who we truly are.

When I think about the things I have done, I can remember the overlying obsession I had with a fantasy that wasn’t coming to pass and the procrastination that held me back from my best. After being in recovery for almost two years now, I can see clearly the difference between being in reality versus a fantasy.

Dreaming was safer because it meant I couldn’t fail. So, I guess along with a fear of success comes a fear of failure. I have always done just enough to get by and stay out of trouble. I do have regrets because of that but I understand everything happens for a reason. God wouldn’t let me stay in the dream. Thankfully, He has brought me to reality and it is an adventure!

In reality, I pursue my dreams to see if there’s any credibility to them. I work hard every day and ask God for strength and energy when I don’t have it. I process my gross emotions and work through them faster than I ever thought possible.

Living below your potential because of fear robs others of truly getting to know you and benefitting from the gifts God has given you. It’s easy in this broken world to shy away from our strengths and live in the wonderful land of “one day.”

Living life in reality is hard because you have to face the desire to run from your potential, but God is here to remove the fear and replace it with courage and excitement. It’s time to walk away from the fantasy.

Day “Four”: Helplessness

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

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

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?

Step Six

So, my absence from this blog is an obvious symptom of codependency. I enjoy self-sabotage during my leisure time. I could’ve written many blogs in the past month… but I found something else to do instead. Lovely. But! This time around, I will not succumb to my old habits. I am in recovery from my codependency and I will continue with this blog. A minor set back will no longer hold me down.

I’m (praise the Lord) about halfway through a recovery workbook called, Breaking Free, by Pia Mellody and Andrea Wells Miller. It coincides with the book, Facing Codependence. To jump back into my blogging, I am giving myself a ten day challenge.

Step Six in the recovery workbook is a thorough look at character defects. To quote Pia, “Codependent character defects are attitudes, feelings, and behaviors you hang on to that sabotage your happiness and relationships and keep you from taking responsibility for your own life and recovery.” #storyofmylife

Twenty-seven character defects are listed in Step Six. I’m hoping I don’t have all of them, so I’m going to find the ones I can relate to and unpack one a day for ten days. I think it’ll be very telling… and maybe depressing, but healing!

So, “[I’m] entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.” Bring it on.

Tomorrow on “My Codependent Life.” People-pleasing and all its glory.