Sunday, July 08, 2007

a small victory

Last night I managed to beat the voices in my head.

Not that I'm going mad or anything, but I do participate in constant conversation within my deepest heart.

"Cecily, you need to keep a spotless house, you must be a perfect worship leader, it's essential that you cook delicious meals every night, you are a failure because you don't pray enough, and above all, always be nice."

"Come on Cecily! That's impossible! You can't do all that and remain sane!"

"Did I make any reference to any of this being optional? You are required to live up to these standards or you are not a worthy person. And I forgot to say you should also maintain a good relationship with all your family, and any breakdown of communication is most likely your fault. And now that you've started blogging relationships, you'd better keep them up too."

"The pressure, the pressure. How can I survive? I'm going under!"

"Going under?! You are so soft. Down through history people have survived much greater difficulties than these. Look at so and so - they faithfully attend church, run a business, volunteer in multiple organisations, and contribute to the world at large. Stop being a melodramatic, attention seeking, Generation Xer who wallows in over analysis instead of just living. All that time you spend saying 'I'm too busy' could be channelled into actually doing some of the things you're too busy to do and you'd be a far greater success."

"Who said everything is about success? Stop comparing - you know comparisons are futile. We're all on our own journey, learning our own lessons. I can no more be so and so than I can be the Queen! And is it really wallowing in over analysis to take stock of my life and recognise I'm too busy?... That I should be listening to the quiet voice that whispers 'slow down' into the midst of my frenetic activity? Isn't it a sign of strength that I can put a halt to the ridiculous craziness of thinking every spare minute is intended for use? Couldn't I be considered wise if I take time out from the schedule of doing to simply be. Do you think that might be possible Cecily?"

If you think you've heard all this before... well you have. It's a recurring theme of my blog - a recurring theme of my life in fact! I realise I'm too busy, chop a few things out of the timetable, find I have too much room to move and can't cope with the space, so add a few extra commitments to the list... I'm beginning to suspect I'm an adrenalin junkie. I don't bungee jump, I have considered jumping from a plane with a handkerchief tied to my back but decided against it in view of the cost risk, but when I don't have too much on my plate... it just doesn't feel right. And it never takes long to fill the plate up again.

Right now I don't know how to manage this. Everything I'm committed to is important. If I did chop anything out it would be work. Understandably Frank is less than impressed by this and I recognise the need to eat, so I haven't cut out work but neither have I cut out anything else. Instead I'm even more stressed because I can't choose what to let go of! This is not how life should be.

I love going to my spiritual director. (I'm going tomorrow - yippee) She's so nice. Too nice perhaps, but maybe I need her niceness to balance out my nastiness! While I frequently flagellate myself for not reaching my (ridiculous) inner standards, she commends me for the tiniest of achievements. Best of all, she reminds me to aim for the attainable... ignore that insistent voice that says 'you must do everything and be the best at it' and instead choose to hear the whisper that invites me to find freedom from the tyranny of 'musts'. It's OK to not drop all my current commitments... so long as I'm alert for the moments when I need to say 'no'.

And last night I did it! I identified an opportunity to say 'no'... and said it! My spiritual director would be so proud of me! I'm so proud of me - when I put down the whip and stop the flagellating that is!

The big achievement? I decided not to make biscuits for the special morning tea at church today. Big I know, but I had pulled the recipe book out. I'd even started warming the butter. Then I stopped and thought about it and realised that, no, I do not have to vie for super-housewife status by cooking biscuits that would only be lost in a plethora of sweet treats both homemade and bought. So instead of cooking I took a packet of Tim Tams! (Remember the supply of nasty Tim Tams I refuse to eat because of the additives? The kids loved them)

Ah, the freedom!

Admittedly I felt a little ashamed when I handed over the plastic packet. And the voices taunted me ("You really think it's acceptable to bring packet food to a special morning tea?!") and I spent a suitable amount of time explaining to a number of people why I had felt it necessary to resort to manufactured muchies... but I did it! I resisted the urge to slave over a hot stove! I made a move in the right direction.

It's a silly little example, but may it be the first of many moves in the right direction as I set about reclaiming my life!

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At 11:57 am, July 09, 2007, Anonymous Sandy said...

One step at a time. Maybe you could take one hour a day and call it Cecily's hour; do something for you that recharges you. Good for you for bringing in the bought Tim Tams. Too bad you felt guilty about it. Hopefully the people around you appreciate what you do, bought Tim Tams or not.

At 12:29 pm, July 09, 2007, Blogger Deanna said...

All that you said is very relatable! I agree with Sandy, one step at a time is good. I have bought instead of baked a few times (chocolate always works!).

P.S. When you say biscuits, I'll bet you're referring to what Americans call cookies. Biscuits here aren't generally sweet, but cookies are.

At 12:43 pm, July 09, 2007, Blogger Lucidiocy said...


You're a worship leader???



p.s. when those voices torment me I say to myself "Tamar, you're not perfect, you make mistakes, but God's grace is sufficient for you. Besides, you'll do better next time."

At 3:12 am, July 10, 2007, Blogger Cherie said...

HOORAY!!! Major step here for you. Staying out of the Land of the Shoulds and the Oughts takes guts - and you have them. Yes you do. Good for you!

(I took carrots sticks, and a bowl of fresh strawberries to the reunion after battling (victoriously) the same feelings of needing to make some marvelous side dish that shines with the light of heaven. Next to all the other sticky carb loaded salads and beans, guess what, they DID shine with heaven's light, and were the first to go! Sheesh, and to think of all these years I've been kicking around in no-man's land wearing myself out. I proudly send a blog salute to you -and a warm, empathetic hug!)


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