6th Jan 2018
With a title like this, you’d think there’s some great revelation or progress that warrants such a title. Instead, let me just say what’s been happening over the last few days.
- I’ve drawn new comics but I’m hesistant to post them. The reason? I feel like I’m wasting my time. That I’m not productive.
- Yesterday, while my wife was out to teach, I took charge of the boys. I made sure they had lunch, took them out to get school uniforms settled for my elder boy, got them home, made sure they showered and had dinner, and then exercised before putting them to bed. Throughout the day, I only yelled at them once, and only because of repeated infringements by the younger boy. By the time my wife returned home, the boys were in bed. Instead of feeling proud, I felt terrible, as though I had done nothing right. The whole time, I felt like I was barely holding myself in check. I felt hopeless, and angry with myself, wondering why I couldn’t just be” normal”.
- Today, I managed to cut the piggies’ toenails without any help, while cleaning their cage. But after lunch, I started to feel unwell again, as I observed myself, and realised that I’m living a lie, doing things using the finances of others, and I started to despise myself.
- I’ve been exercising every single day. On days that I’m supposed to take a break, I’ve pushed hard and exercised. Good, you say? My joints ache, and I feel physically drained. Yet I still push, because of guilt. I feel guilty when I rest because exercise is one area I can still control, and I’m not about to be a wuss! I can do this! Never mind the aches.
Taken seperately, it just seems I need some attitude adjustment. Taken as an whole though, I realised that my inner critic has somehow taken over the driver’s seat again. And this time, it’s been really harsh with me.
See, the truth is, I’ve not been very well. I keep feeling like I’ve got nothing more to give, and yet I still demand that I try harder. Give more. Do more. Be productive. Don’t slack. Push to recover. Be a father. A good one. Help out in the family. Exercise. Stop giving excuses. Stop slacking. Stop abusing the trust of others. Don’t keep wasting time on things that are of no use. You know what’s of no use? Comics. Brick building. Resting. Can’t exercise? Don’t lie to me. It’s me. I’m myself and I can’t lie to myself.
So even as my joints and muscle really really hurt, I’m alive. So see, I was lying earlier when I said I have no more to give. My inner critic is like that. It’s part of my dark side. It wants me to be accountable beyond reproach. But only on its own terms. Not by the measure of others. Meaning things like comics? Waste of time. Show me the money. Can’t feel well enough to work? Slacker. Do something concrete to heal. Stop wasting time on all this useless crap, and start being a responsible father. Get ON with life. Sucker.
It took the muscle and joint pain for me to finally wise up to this. My wife, when I told her about this, asked if I could tell that side to shut up. I can’t, as it’s been uncorked, and this is the same side that has been taking care of me all this while. It’s driven me to do what’s right. It’s held me to high standards. It’s kept me pushing to learn more, to do better, to improve. It’s also the same side that makes me feel like a gauche adolescent. That tells me I’m never good enough. That keeps me humble precisely because by its standards, I have nothing to shout about.
My wife and our best friend are both very unhappy with this part of me. That’s putting it mildly.
Anyway, I’m rebelling. I’m out of the house, alone, and I’ll have dinner alone before I head home. I’m not exercising today, and I’ve served notice on my inner critic. For me to heal, it can’t run the show, and even if I were to heal, what it does to me is harmful. I’ll talk to my therapist about this, and I can’t even guarantee I won’t feel guilty over the next few days, but while I’m not ignoring it, I can’t let it drive.
So what’s left then? Who should drive? A great Christian response at this point would be Jesus! But I’m so fractured and so confused and so absolutely a mess that I’m not even operating at that level. To say that I’m denying Jesus would be unfair. It’s not that I’m trying to make sense of my life without Him. I’m depending on Him to guide me though this morass. But it’s more like I don’t even have a life to surrender to Him, because I can’t make sense of even something as simple as 1 + 1 = 2. For me to correct my relationship with Him, I first have to correct my relationship with myself.
I need to learn more about myself and figure out just what is wrong at the physical and mental levels. Once that’s done, by His grace and provision of my medication and my therapist and doctors, I’ll be able to serve Him better. In that sense, I can’t honestly say I’m letting God drive, when even living is a problem.
Here’s the crux though.
While I can’t say I’m surrendering my selves to God, I know that I’m hopeless at this. So I entrust my life, my safety and my family to Him, even as I pray that He will heal me through all the provisions He has granted so far. If that is surrender, I’m doing that. But if it means going to church despite how I feel, or being kinder to myself, because God loves me, or being a self- sacrificial father and husband, I’m afraid that I’m failing miserably. Instead of spending more time with my boys, I’m being selfish and spending time alone. I feel guilty, but I don’t know what else to do at this point. I don’t think I can do more, and yet the guilt eats at me!
I can’t die to self because the self simply wants me to die. I’ve still got a long way to go to get this mess cleared up.
Please continue to pray for me.