Get a Life

Get a Life
My wife and I just finished playing 47 continuous games of Super Collapse Blast on Facebook. Proud? You bet we are. We spent an hour saying, “Just one more game!” My wife is very competitive and I have a highly addictive personality. She was troubled to have had her high score beat and I was intrigued by an apparent flaw in the game in which my wife and I could send each other endless amounts of “extra lives” to continue playing. As I pondered my stash of “extra lives” I found myself laughing because whether or not I have even one life is debatable.

Cue the cast from Rent singing in my head “How do you measure the life of a woman or man?”
As ACOAs we tend to measure in productivity. How much have we done? Well, we’ve generally got that covered. Worked too many hours, did every chore and took care of everyone that didn’t protest. Check. Can we relax now? We tell ourselves that we’d like to…but there’s still so much to be done. We collapse at the end of each day mystified that the world could run without us if we were ever to take a day off.

So I’m taking today off. With the notable exception of taking out the trash, I’m not doing anything today that I don’t love doing. Now I’m still going to do a lot but it is all stuff I choose to do. We forget sometimes that most of what we do is chosen. When we’re stressed and exhausted (when aren’t we?) our perspective tends to shift. Instead of being mindful that so much of what we do is out of love/freewill/enjoyment it becomes a long list of “shit I gotta do.” We resent every task done and every person that expects it of us, conveniently forgetting that it is we who taught them to expect it of us.

I’m cooking lunch and dinner today. I used to love cooking. I enjoyed experimenting with different ingredients and endlessly perfecting my wife’s favorite dish. Lately I’ve seen cooking as something tedious and horrible that no person should ever have to do. My poor mother would have been so disappointed to see my grocery cart yesterday – filled with prepackaged, tasty food that is all but devoid of nutritional value. I found myself paying too much for food I can’t feel good about eating but hey, at least I don’t have to cook… So for today I’m going to remind myself that I truly love cooking and I’m going to produce some meals that I can be creative in making and feel good about eating.

I’m going to watch my beloved Sox and Pats today. I realized at some point that I really only enjoy the games if they win. In truth I am not at all a fan of sports. I am a fan of the Red Sox and the New England Patriots and I love them when they prevail. If they lose it somehow manages to ruin my whole day. I can’t believe that I spent three hours in the company of people I love, eating food that most of the world can’t afford, relaxing on comfortable furniture only to have them lose????? When did my emotions become so dependent on outcomes? Do I enjoy the process of anything?

I’m writing today. I love writing and yet somehow I manage to procrastinate it and fear it. The process of writing is self expression and it requires that I get on the same page with myself. Most of my clients get anxious when I suggest writing in a journal as a new habit. They shift in their seats and tell me how very busy they are. I explain that ten minutes a day would help a lot. They argue that ten minutes can be hard to come by. Ultimately these conversations end in the same place – two fears – I’m afraid of what will come out and I’m afraid someone else might read it. For the latter I encourage password protection, or if necessary, burning, shredding, or flushing. For the former, well, whatever could come out is already there waiting to be found. It’s already part of us. Maybe that’s why we’re such busy people; we’re afraid to know who we really are and what we really want. Consistently we find that what we most want is at least one step outside of our current comfort zone. Worse, what our Higher Power wants from us is often at least two steps beyond it.
Talking to a Higher Power is in my category of “stuff that’s always a good idea to do.” The conversations ebb and flow and there are still times in which I forget that not only do I need my HP but that I am fucked without Her. I manage to forget that what S/He wants for me is much better than what I would choose for myself. My HP does not expect me to be endlessly productive. I have an unsettling feeling that what S/He would really like is for me to slow down and listen. I’ve tried explaining to HP that I have a lot to do and in my mind’s eye I picture an endlessly patient and loving God smiling and shaking His head. S/He is singing lyrics by the 70’s band Yes, “silly human, silly human, silly human race.”

It seems it is a race. Are we winning? I’m going to take today on the sidelines and I’m determined to relax and enjoy myself. I’m not going to worry about whether or not I’ve earned it (in spades) I’m going to experience it knowing that my HP wants it for me. How do I know what my HP wants? Because I choose my HP and the God of my understanding appreciates rest, good friends, good food, and the New England Patriots. I cannot conceive of a a God that doesn’t.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.