Friday, January 04, 2008

My (Upcoming) Year of Cutting Loose

My New Year's Decision of three days ago is bearing its first startling fruit.

That resolve, you may recall, is to follow the will of God.

Just now at my dentist's office I felt an intimation of what that will is for me today. I was breathing nitrous when I sensed this, so you may find the guidance suspect, but I don't.

First a bit of background that regular readers likely already know: I have what I ever refer to as "a touch of OCD," or obsessive compulsive disorder. It's not the hand-washing kind that is the most well-known. I'm mainly what's called a pure obsessive, and my specialty is (has been) scrupulosity: anxiety about the possibility of doing something wrong. I worry about accidentally poisoning or infecting people, burning their buildings down, or worst of all: saying the wrong thing.

I have also, for years, literally "kept tabs on myself" in a niggling guilt-ridden manner that would make Dicken's Uriah Heep look like a benevolent god. My personal ledger sheet, always in my pocketbook, tracks how much time I've spent on every project this week and how much exercise of what sort and how much I've read French and how much I'm behind on everything, etc. And there are rewards and penalties attached. Enough said.

This afternoon in the dental chair when I sucked in some anxiety-relieving gas and, for a change, relaxed, here's what God-within-me had to say:

Toss the Ledger Book.

Did you hear that satisfying ripping sound when I paused after typing the foregoing sentence? That was the end of the ledger; its shreds are in the recycling bin.

There was a second part to the wisdom I received, and it arrived in the words of Jamie Foxx when he accepted his Oscar for best actor in the movie Ray. I'm spelling his line the way I heard it, the way he made a point of pronouncing it, in the Southern accent of his youth and mine. Foxx quoted his grandmother whom he credited with teaching him to act. She told him:

"'Ack like you got some sense.'"

This is my new plan. Instead of tracking myself, I'll make reasonable choices in the moment and hope for the best.

This is pretty much what I reported my therapist advising me a couple of months ago. He said get rid of your superego, your values will guide you. Since then I'd been feeling a significant falling-away of the weird charge attached to my "requirements."

Now I've tossed them. Not just for the day, but at least for the year. Even if I get quite nervous about this a few days or weeks from now, I will stay unfettered and unledgered at least until the end of 2008. Then I'll see if I've become someone who misses deadlines, has weak core muscles, and a dwindling grasp of French. Or if,on the other hand, something interesting and peaceful emerges. I have great hopes for this. (At the same time, I do mean to continue taking my medication.)

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Charlotte said...

Hooray! (That's the sound of me cheering as you rip up the ledger book.) As one who tends to make decisions by my gut, the sight of your ledger book just made me feel anxious. However, I must say I am very inspired by your resolution to do God's will, and I have secretly adopted that for myself too. Thanks for the inspiration.

Peggy said...

Hi Charlotte, Thanks for your Hooray!

And do keep us up on how your resolution is working out for you.

Interesting that it's a secret resolve. I find it easier to say on a blog than to mention around the house.

aiki said...

well done! folks w/o such unpleasant symptoms mite not appreciate the immensity of yr choice; i do. i guess i translate "God's will" as yr health sense, or the back of yr mind -whatever it's name, hearing , listening to & taking seriously that wisdom seems essential to authenticity & contentment. may yr resolve bear more & more fruit.

c, i too wonder re the need for secrecy-seems to me thinking re yr feelings & feeling re yr thots are equally important in balanced personel decision- making.

Peggy said...

Call it God, health sense, higher power--I don't much care. For a writer, I'm not very picky about the language on this point.

Of course, we're talking about more than word choice. But only conceptually. In practice, it's all listening for wisdom that comes from within, but from outside of regular consciousness.

Tks for the apprec of the immensity, Aiki.

Debra w said...


It sounds like this is a HUGE step for you. I really admire the gusto with which you are approaching this revelation. It is brave of you to do away with the ledger, cold turkey, especially when you know that you are dealing with a compulsion which is organic in nature.

I love your honesty. I admire how you are honoring the voice of God, your Higher Self, the effects of the nitrous, by freeing yourself of the anchor of constantly having to answer to yourself. I am looking forward to watching your creativity unfold, even more so now that you are giving yourself the freedom to be impulsive instead of compulsive.

Very exciting stuff!

Peggy said...

You're very kind, D.

Two days now ledger-free. So far so good.

Results? Well, I did one household fix that I'd been putting off for about two years. I think there may be a connection, maybe mainly riding on the exhilaration.