Whether consciously or not, I’ve always adhered to a set of rules which I’ve imposed on myself. I touched on this briefly in my post, ‘Breaking The Routine and Going With The Flow, however, over the last year and particularly when I fell into Ana’s tight grip, I have added to these rules and become imprisoned by them. Abiding by them has become such an engrained part of my life that departing from them, or even bending them, causes me so much inner torment and confusion.
My CPN asked me to consider the rules which I live by and the effect they have on my life. So here’s my Rule Book. I need to see it in black and white. I need to consider the true worth of each rule.
Rule #1 – I must always be active. Being still is lazy and indulgent.
Rule #2 – I must make sure that those around me are happy. I must look after them.
Rule # 3 – I must be ensure that everything I do is to my standard of ‘perfection’. ‘That’ll do’, isn’t acceptable. Nothing is ever totally right, I need always to learn how to better what I do. I cannot settle for anything less.
Rule # 4 – I cannot treat myself unless I have done something to deserve it.
Rule#5 – I must achieve the goals I set myself.
Rule #6 – I must please others.
Rule #7 – I define myself by the goals that I achieve.
Rule#8 – I must adhere to every plan that I set ahead of myself.
Some of these rules have been engrained in me since I was young, others have developed latterly and others I have taken to extreme lengths only recently as depression and anorexia took over.
I don’t doubt that there are also numerous other rules to which I unconsciously adhere.
These rules gave me a sense of security. When I was younger I had no self-confidence, so ensuring that I got full marks on each test, passed my exams, got a good career meant that I was worth something. It gave me a means against which to measure myself and my value.
When I qualified as a solicitor, those regular benchmarks disappeared and I felt lost. I had nothing against which I could measure myself; so I started to loose my self-confidence and my self-esteem.
As this happened my fixation on the other rules grew. If a test couldn’t tell me how good I am then I needed to go into overdrive in all other areas of my life. I needed to ensure that I was the best person I could be for other people. Whether it was friendships or relationships, it was those other people who mattered more than I did. I lost my identity by trying to be the person I thought other people wanted me to be. This manifested itself not only in my behaviour but even the way I dressed changed.
My Rule Book engulfed me.
So now it’s time to re-write the Rule Book. In fact, let’s throw it out! I don’t want my life to be governed by rules. I want to govern my life. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I will lower my standards. I believe in being the best I can be. I believe in learning and growing. I believe in being a loyal and supportive daughter, sister and friend. These are my values. Values are important; they help to define a person’s character.
How could I ever fully experience my life, and thereby become the rounded person I want to be, if I am forbidden from stepping outside of certain fixed parameters?
As long as I remain true to my values then I don’t need rules to govern my every action and thought. I can explore, learn, try, fail, succeed…live!
I don’t expect that I will be able to throw the Rule Book out today but I’ll close it and put it on the shelf. The only question I need to ask myself is whether I’m being true to what I believe in. If the answer is yes, then I’m free to do it!
Do you have a Rule Book?