In the last couple of weeks, I have posted Fighting Parkinson’s, and learning to love…yourself, part 1, and Fighting Parkinson’s, and learning to love…yourself, part 2. If you have not read those posts, I highly recommend that you read them prior to reading this post. As I stated in part 1, this is going to be a multi-part series. In today’s post, and future posts, I will explain the process I used to learn to love myself, and in the end, how I learned that it was not selfish, but was, in fact, necessary for my recovery…in my life and with my Parkinson’s.
In part 2, I explained the process I used to go back and explore things that were said or done in my life that made me feel bad about myself in my effort to resolve them and to learn to love myself. Of the handful of things I found (one outlined in part 2), today I have another situation to share.
When I was young, I was a very good student. After two years of straight A’s on my junior high school report cards, I came home with my first B. I had tried my hardest, done my best, and I had been okay with the B. In those days, your parents had to sign your report card. With a bit of nervousness, I handed my report card to my father to sign. He signed it and returned it to me. As I turned to walk away, he got my attention and I turned back around to face him. He then said, “If you would have tried harder, you would have had all A’s.”
I remember the sick feeling that came about me. I remember the anger that raged inside me. I remember sitting down with Sally as we were having children and recounting this story followed by the words, “Grades will never be important in our home.” If you ask our children, each probably would tell you, “Mom and dad never put pressure on me about my grades…I put my own pressure on myself.” And, of course, I would look at Sally and say, “I wonder where we got these perfectionist over-achievers from…certainly not me.”
So, as you can see, I felt that this issue was resolved. WRONG!!! Not even close. In my Parkinson’s recovery, I realized some startling things when reviewing this situation at a deeper emotional/spiritual level — the day my father told me, “If you would have tried harder, you would have had all A’s” was the day I learned that my best was not good enough. And, it was the day I learned that my parents love, affection, and approval was tied to performance. (Not my father’s intentions, but how I sub-consciously, unknowingly, took it in; explanation to follow).
Much in the same way that I resolved the other handful of issues I located while reviewing my earlier life, I sat down with this younger version of myself to console him, tell him that he had not done anything wrong, let him know that it was a stupid thing to have been told, and that we needed to let it go. Here is what I saw for the first time in my life, and I saw it through my younger-self’s eyes and through his heart:
STRESS, ANXIETY, WORRY, FEAR, SELF-DOUBT!!! I saw myself through the next 10 years of school (high school, college, law school) studying long hours and never feeling like it was enough, and feeling stress every time I went to take a test or turn in a paper. I was filled with self-doubt and each test would be part of a grade that was going to determine the level of my parents love, affection, and approval. It is a good thing that I had released crying already or I would have exploded as these memories were opening up. Instead, I cried, and it was a very healing cry.
Just like I explained in the previous post, part 2, once I settled down, I had a heart-to-heart conversation with fourteen-year-old me and asked him to listen to me as I explained how I (then-current with Parkinson’s me) saw the situation. Dad worked hard his whole life. As I was growing up, most of the time he worked at jobs requiring him to work six days a week, including a couple of holiday seasons where he took on a second job stocking warehouse shelves in the evenings at a local toy store to earn extra money to buy us presents.
I explained to my younger self that dad’s statement, “If you would have tried harder, you would have had all A’s” meant one thing and one thing only: “I want you to have things better than me.” It was a statement about himself, not about me.
With that understanding, my younger self had an enormous transformation and found overwhelming compassion and forgiveness for dad. And, what I realized in my recovery, and this is a very important point for all of you to understand: It did not matter what was said or what was done or what was the other person’s intention. What mattered was how I took it in. It is the “how I took it in” that made it my issue. It is the “how I took it in” that got lodged in my sub-conscious. It was the “how I took it in” that made me feel bad about myself.
And this is what lead to one of the biggest transformations of my recovery: I realized that whatever somebody was saying or doing, it was about them, not me, and chances were that they were suffering from something, physically, mentally, and/or spiritually…and I lost my mind and entered my heart. On the home page of this site, I have the quote: “Sometimes you have to lose your mind before you come to your senses.”
-Socrates, Dan Millman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior-
That was a big part of my transformation.
Instead of looking at what people were saying and doing and internalizing it with judgment from my mind, I started viewing what people were saying and doing from my heart and feeling compassion for their suffering. And I realized, I needed to view myself the same way. I was a suffering human being who needed my compassion, not my judgment. And, I offered compassion to myself, and for the first time in my recovery, I realized that my best was good enough and I felt worthy and deserving of my recovery.
I had learned to love myself, and I was able to put myself first in my recovery. I learned that this was not selfish, but quite to the contrary, it was necessary.
It is why I know that all of you can be cured as well. The Parkinson’s Recipe for Recovery® is the road map. Do not get lost in the physical part of the recovery. It is a soul, mind, and body recovery, and I ask all of you to lose your minds and come to your senses. Open your hearts to yourselves. Find compassion and forgiveness for yourselves and learn to love yourselves. This is not selfish…IT IS NECESSARY!
Let’s all chant together:
“I have the power to heal myself.
Parkinson’s is curable, and I have the power to cure myself.
Parkinson’s is a symptom of my life out of balance.
The tortoise is my cure.
I am the tortoise.
I am curing myself with each small advance I make in the moment.
Just like the tortoise, I move slowly and steadily, and I realize that I cannot worry too much about the bumps in the road.
Instead, I know that every step I take toward the finish line is recovery, in and of itself, and I settle in and enjoy the journey.
In each step, I see love and joy and laughter and gratitude and fulfillment and compassion and contentment.
Oh, yes, and then the tortoise wins the race.
Oh, yes, and then I win the race and achieve my cure.
Fear is in the past.
Faith is in the present.
I choose Faith.
I am recovery.
My best is good enough.
I love me.
I am worth it!”
Yes, yes, yes, YOU ARE WORTH IT!
All my best,
(Mom and Dad: Thank you for all of the sacrifices you made in your lives so your children could “have it better than you did.” I am grateful for you both, love you dearly, and happy you are together again).