In the Absence of Love, I Choose Control
This morning, the morning after Christmas, Pat and I had another beautiful couple of hours of conversation over coffee. At one point I mentioned a couple of articles from recent issues of The Week magazine. The first was an article of reflection by the Editor-in-chief of The Week. In his short piece he was looking at all the news that had gone on in 2010, most of it troublesome, even horrifying at times. And yet, to my surprise, since this is a strictly secular magazine, he was using words of hope, words so familiar in Pathwork and in other spiritual paths. In his few sentences he used phrases such as Life Force, and human beings have a spark of the transcendent within us, and we are part of the unfolding of something wonderful and mysterious. Pretty bold for the Editor-in-chief of a secular news magazine I thought. Click here for his short article.
The second article was from the same magazine, but a November issue. It describes the journey of Portia de Rossi as she traveled from a life of fear (anorexia nervosa — pathological fear of being fat, and fear of coming out as a lesbian) to a life of happiness and joy. Love was the key. Click here for this short article.
Pat remarked that anorexia is a control thing — the anorexic derives pleasure from being in control, in this case control of food intake. To this I responded, “In the absence of love we choose control.” Somehow I seem to think that if I control myself, if I control my life, I shall get the love I so long for. Why? Because if I control myself to conform to my Idealized Self Image, surely, my inner child reasons, people will love me.
While I am not anorexic, I can identify with this matter of deriving pleasure out of control. A few years ago I dropped 35 pounds by shear discipline. In recent months it has been creeping up — and now I am concerned about my weight again.
When I get on the scale in the morning and my weight is up 1 or 2 pounds, I catch myself saying a condemning “Damn!” If my weight is down a pound or two my spirits lift. As I observe this behavior I am amused at myself. I also notice that when I successfully diet I feel so good, not so much because I’m healthier but because I have exercised self-discipline. Successful self-discipline feels soooo great to me.
I realize that this is not psychologically healthy, and not all that sustainable. Food should not be the central issue it seems to be to my sense of happiness and wellbeing. But there you have it. A kind of negative pleasure from self-control, even if it means self-deprivation.
We’ve been here before, and I was just struck by how Portia de Rossi’s story brings out all these pieces of personal growth. Oh, let’s not forget 1 John 4:18 — Perfect love casts out fear. When others love us into finally loving ourselves, we accept ourselves unconditionally and in this fear vaporizes. We are who we are, and we accept that. Interesting how all of these spiritual frameworks somehow fit together. I am feeling this love for any who read this post.