Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Can it just be okay to need fixing?

This weekend I was reading my friend Angela's blog, Her Greening, and got to thinking about the shame we attach to our brokenness. Much of the brokenness is itself shame, shame about being unable to care for ourselves as children when our parents couldn't. Shame about needing love and nurturing from those same parents who couldn't do that either. It became our fault that we were wounded in that lopsided way that some of us reasoned as children and that we couldn't fix ourselves or fix our parents.

Now in healing and recovery from those old wounds and the havoc they wreaked on our adolescent and adult choices of companions and soothing substances, we can feel an additional burden of shame that we are still wounded, still needing, and perhaps most shameful of all, still needing fixing.

It is not uncommon in AA to encounter people working a great program, going to meetings, not drinking, cleaning up the wreckage of their pasts, and still addicted--to sugar, to caramel macchiatos, to new shoes or half dozen new mysteries or over-exercising or working too much. Addressing these additional efforts to fix ourselves are not talked about much in AA. They're considered outside issues by many but I don't think they are outside issues. I think they are the same issue. For my use of food to take care of myself grew out of the same sense of brokenness that caused me to seek shelter with alcohol. And I know I am not alone in this.

There is considerable cultural shame around overeating. It's a different shame than that meted out to the out-of-control alcoholic but it winds up as shame nonetheless. If we can give up alcohol, why can't we give up sugar? And diets seem to me to be another shaming device: you shouldn't eat that way, you shouldn't need to fix yourself with food or work or ordering six Netflix at a time so you'll always have plenty; you shouldn't need anything to help you make it through the day or a lonely evening or a weekend with the flu. But that isn't my reality.

So I'm sitting with this question: Can we let it be okay to need fixing?

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