Dear Friends on the Journey,

My name is Mari and I am a compulsive eater. Part of my recovery program is journaling and sometimes it's private and sometimes I feel the need to share it. Thanks for letting me share this one with you.

'My mother said to me:
If you become a soldier, you'll be a general;
If you become a monk, you'll end up as the pope."
Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.'

. . . . . . Pablo Picasso

The messages we receive when we are young from important people in our life become indelible. This has been proven over and over and I have come to think of people as human computers. We are programmed from a very young age in hundreds of different ways; however, the emotional programming affects us for a lifetime.

Because I am a compulsive eater and found the Twelve Steps, I have spent much time trying to find out exactly who I am and what God's will is for me. I am dedicated to carrying out His will but first I must know what it is and through the Fourth Step I am able to learn more about myself and do that. When one begins peeling the onion that is our psyche we begin to see cause and effect of our early programming. As a little girl, my father gave me messages about myself. When he said "Anything worth doing, is worth doing right" I internalized that I must not do things halfway. When he said "Good looks and winning ways demand no price ... but there is always a market price for brains" my 6-year-old psyche said that to gain his approval I must be smart. Each and every person in my life ... my parents, my siblings, my extended family, my teachers and my friends all contributed to who I became. And while there were many good messages, the bad ones seem to have overwhelmed me. I sought comfort in food. I began the vicious circle of the overweight adult. My life was painful because of this and in looking back I see that being overweight contributed more than anything else to the poor self-image I had of myself. And in many ways still do.

Is it good to expect so much of others? I'm not sure. I believe it far better to tell someone you love nothing than to tell you love them for "something." If a child gets a big hug for making straight A's on their report card and the parents never say "I love you" except at times like that, children may grow up thinking they must make all A's or they might not be loved. If a little boy gets a high five after hitting a home run and no one ever simply says "You're a great kid and I love you," it just may be that that little boy may grow up to think he has to achieve in order to be loved. When a husband conveys to his wife that she makes the best soup in the world but never looks deep into her eyes and tells her he loves her, there is a possibility that she may feel she needs to be a wonderful cook in order to be loved.

Balance. Moderation. To be programmed to grow into a healthy adult, children must receive messages that they are loved and accepted just for being who they are. To program ourselves to have good survival techniques we must be aware that stuffing our feelings will not make up for any emotional strokes we need and to be a healthy person we must know that moderation is the key to just about everything.

This weekend is Mother's Day. Programming works in reverse. If on this day we find it to be the only time we tell our mother we love her, it may be that she is feeling that she needs to DO more for us in order to be loved. I believe the most precious gift anyone can give another is to let them know that there are no requirements for your love ... no prerequisites ... no litmus test ... and nothing that has to be achieved. To do otherwise, we may end up producing a Pope or a famous General or a Tiger Woods ... but in the deepest part of the souls of Pope John, General Schwartzkoff and Tiger something tells me that far more important to them is to be loved just for being them.

Dear God,
Thank you for allowing me to realize that I am not my achievements ...
That I am deserving of love and respect for simply being me ...
And help me always to convey that to those I love.

The Recovery Group

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