Friday, February 11, 2011

A Clearer View

One of the more interesting, challenging, and frustrating parts of this journey through the 12 steps is the realization that this mirror I've been looking in is just not "right."

First, I had to want to look in the mirror. That took a while. And some prayer. Lots of waltzing through steps 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3.

Then, I had to spend some time clearing it off. It was covered over with fog, dirt, and smudges. It took more time. It took some prayer, some reflection, some guided journaling to begin the process of cleaning off the smudges and seeing the image beneath. Steps 4 and 5.

Where I am sitting now, hovering here in steps 6 & 7, I am noticing that the mirror, while cleaner and easier to see, doesn't offer an exact reflection. The image is distorted. Perhaps, not as dramatically as a fun-house mirror, but certainly, I am not getting an accurate reflection.

The cleaning and clearing process of steps 4 and 5 brought forth a much deeper understanding of the person I was, the coping mechanisms I internalized until they became personality features, and the habits and patterns I've adopted in my adulthood. I spent time on both the bad and the good. And, at the end of it all, I thought I had a better picture of who I really am.

Except, I couldn't seem to rectify the disparate images. Which "Jen" am I? I asked, I begged, in prayer, of my sponsor, of my most trusted friends.

This morning, as I sat in my bedroom and prayed, I thought about all the ways in the past week I've heard the same message: that I am capable, reliable, strong, and enthusiastic. My mind immediately countered. No, I'm not. I can't do anything right. I always leave projects unfinished. I remembered telling my SD that exact thing two years ago, and watching him respond in surprise. "Really?" he'd asked. "I've never noticed that about you." My internal response at that time: well, you don't really know me, then.

But, this morning, I didn't let the inner voice have the last word. Maybe I've cleared just enough off the mirror to see that there are plenty of capable, reliable, strong, and enthusiastic parts in that image. Maybe, I am learning to surrender more to God. Whatever the reason, this morning, when I heard the negative inner voice, I responded by asking God to help me know which is correct. Who am I... really?

As I prayed, I remembered hearing "Can't you do anything right?" screamed at me in childhood, in moments I can recognize now as ones of deep pain and frustration. It was never intended to become part of who I am. It was never intended to shape my self-definition or to motivate me to try to do everything right. But, it did. This morning, I saw the genesis of my perfectionism, my self-loathing, and the ridiculously high standards I set for me and only me.

And with that revelation, I pray that the reflection will continue to sharpen, that I might someday see, clearly and accurately, all that I am, and that I might view her with a compassionate, gentle, and loving heart.


  1. It is wonderful how during prayer, God brought to your remembrance what someone said to you that made an impact on your life. He has done this for me also. Now, when those thoughts come to me I say, "That is a lie." I then say something positive about myself. You are certainly going through a lot right now, but it will be worth it!

  2. Thanks, Belle. One of the program slogans is "more will be revealed." Well, that is certainly true. God keeps revealing to me, as I am ready for it. And, this morning's revelation is SO helpful, because now, I, too, can say, "no, that's a lie" when I hear that inner voice. What a gift, right?

    Have a great weekend!