When I was in my mothers womb my mothers youngest sister died. Her name was Ruth. She was the darling of the family and by every account was a delightful young woman. I was told all my boyhood and the years while I was maturing that I was a gift from God.
That was because every time someone was sorrowful because of Ruth’s death they handed me as a baby to that adult and I always cheered them up. as I became a toddler and a boy I caught on that my job was to keep every one happy. As a young adult I was told how wonderful I was at solving problems. It was said “If you are having trouble you should go to George because he works wonders,”
As a full adult I had the attitude that I should be able to do anything. Part of the consequence of that is I had no faith in process. If I could not master something quickly I just pushed it aside. Somehow I got the idea I was clumsy so I never learned to dance. On top of that I was taught that dancing was a sin. My Mom compared the rhythmic beat of dancing to the rhythm of intercourse. She said the rhythm of dancing would lead me to a life of sin and lust.
I could do many things well. That led me to a sense that I had to be able to do everything That created a feeling of failure because I could never live up to the standard of always succeeding Coupled with that was the idea I had that if I couldn’t get my work done in 8 hours I had to work 10 hours. I remember my wife saying “George, I get tired of having only the left overs.” I had no answer for her.
I have said many times that in the home in which I was raised the real F word was fun. My dad killed himself with my gun when I was 15. One time when a few months after his death I got excited over my team beating Notre Dame in football. My mom said “You know your dad would be hurt if he saw you so happy so soon after his funeral. Then she cited examples of kids who had offended my dad when they acted happy after someone in their family had died. I was devastated and tried to hide any joy that came my way.
Decades Later my wonderful Al-Anon sponsor was trying to help me learn that healthy people took care of themselves. That idea seemed radical to me I grew up on “J for Jesus first O for Others second and Y for yourself last. I believed her at a surface level because she was a wise and wonderful woman but the idea took a long time to actually sink in. Now that idea is a foundation of my recovery life.