I have been hearing a lot about Angelina Jolie’s decision to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed because she has high markers for ovarian cancer. She underwent a double mastectomy a few years ago to try to prevent breast cancer. I understand her motives. She is deeply wounded from her mother’s early death and wants to spare her children that particular pain. I have also had my ovaries removed and am now wondering if I should be more aggressive about preventing breast cancer, too. The truth is I feel like I have lived longer than I ever imagined and I have a much bigger cancer to deal with now. Cancer of my soul caused by constant approval seeking and too many cosmetic fixes.
How does one treat this particular illness? What is the accepted protocol? I am not sure. Yes, there are twelve step programs and counselors. I have tried both. Like a good cleaning and a fresh coat of paint on an old house, these programs have helped me conceal my crumbling foundation and basic wiring issues. Yet, like an old house, I have continued to deteriorate. I need to tear down my walls, rip up my old carpets, and replace my frayed wiring before it is too late. Like Angelina Jolie, I wish there was a way to surgically remove my shame…to cut away past mistakes to reduce my children’s risk of pain.
I guess in a way this blog is my attempt at rewiring my soul. The last counselor I saw told me that I needed to find my creativity again. She told me that because of past events I was chronically depressed. I didn’t argue with her. She was telling me what I already knew. The crazy thing about creativity is the more you care about what people think of you the less creative you become. I can pretty much pinpoint the moment I stopped being creative. I was at a Christian university. I was an English major. Every paper I wrote terrified me. I didn’t want my Christian professors to see how truly unworthy I was. I didn’t feel that I could reveal any true or original thoughts because my true and original thoughts were, no doubt, sinful and wrong. Needless to say, my papers were terrible and I soon switched majors. I could feel those first few nibbles at my soul…the cancer invading my life…but I was unequipped to deal with it. Approval seeking was all I knew. At 18, avoiding criticism was my only goal. The cancer took hold and spread once my husband began working for the same Christian university. I feared that everyone I met judged me and found me wanting. I would like to say that it was my overactive imagination, but as we all know there are many judges out there. I wasn’t always imagining the judgements. I just took them way too seriously! Adult children of Alcoholics seek approval and in seeking approval lose their identity. Yep! My approval seeking cancer devoured my identity like a swarm of termites on a fallen tree, leaving me hollowed. Empty. Depressed.
My two advanced degrees did not fill my hollow places. My new house did not ease my emptiness. The job I thought would cure all my woes has only exacerbated my depression. Wow! Am I a Debbie Downer or what? I guess like rewiring a house, things are gonna have to get pretty ugly before they get better. I hope you will stick with me through the messiness and that together we can come through ready to light up our world with Christ’s message of redemption, rather than set it on fire with our faulty wiring.
I leave you with this scripture to ponder along with me. Psalm 79: 8-10 from The Message states:
Don’t blame us for the sins of our parents. Hurry up and help us; we’re at the end of our rope. You’re famous for helping; God, give us a break. Your reputation is on the line. Pull us out of this mess, forgive us our sins. Do what you are famous for doing!
I plan to keep talking to God. He really is the only one I need to please!