What’s wrong with pride?

What’s wrong with pride?  I’ve heard it’s the worst of the seven deadly sins, which are not explicit in the Bible.  I’ve heard parents talk to other parent about the pride they have in their children’s accomplishments.  I’ve told my little almost five year old how very proud I was of her.  So, what’s the matter with any of that?

With children, I believe pride ruins the gift.  I have sat next to a man who was bragging about his daughter.  She went to an exclusive West Coast universitiy and had studied Spanish.  He went on about Don Quixote and how she did her senior project on the book.

Except this:  I know for a fact she has never even read Don Quixote, and I also know there was no senior project for that major.  WhaI I do know is that she was an excellent, creative student and her father, while proud of her, either never took the time to find out exactly what she did, or wasn’t satisfied with her actual achievements.  Pride can made us lie, and you know how I feel about lying.

Pride in my child lead to some pretty selfish problems.  I wanted her to be ‘perfect’ all the time. I wanted her to be an advertisment for Attachment Parenting, something I still continue to believe in, despite the fact I didn’t have a perfect child.  She walked at 10 months, 4 weeks and I told everyone she walked at ten months.  I slept with her and she slept through the night right away.  Yours didn’t.  And I had to brag rather than enjoying the rest.  When she was misbehaving I would chalk it up to cutting teeth.  Every.  Single. Time.  The fact is I didn’t want to believe the truth – sometimes kids are just kids, no matter what type of child rearing philosophies you adhere to.  Of course, there are out and out abused kids, and that’s another story all together.

But let me go on.  As I was explaining or making excuses for my daughter’s behavior, I couldn’t truly enjoy what I had because I was worried about losing my seif-appointed place as number one.  My daughter was months older than most of my friends, therefore I treated myself as an expert.  Thank God no one else did.  The Bible, and life lessons in general, I believe serve as mirrors, not windows.  It’s easy to read something or hear something on t.v. and see how wrong your friends or family are in their parental methods, but that is not the way things are to lay out.  Focusing too much on other people, and how  they did things almost ruined the gift that my daughter is and came even closer to making it impossible to love my friends.    I always had to compare her to others rather than really enjoying the amazing person she is now and was then.

Back to the window/mirror analogy.  There was a point in my life I thought I was so ugly I never even looked in a mirror.  I was so full of self-hatred I couldn’t deal with it. I was so horrible that when I saw myself in pictures I couldn’t identify myself.  I was so self-focused I had to look outside, until one day I did see a lean woman with a cute figure and thick, auburn poofy hair.  I asked a friend who is was.  It turned out to be me.  It was not the woman I remembered. 

I think it takes guts to really look at yourself in the mirror, whether studying the Bible or meditating or dealing with sickness with doctors.  They are not usually in the business of handing out good news, and they usually don’t give specific, good ideas on how to care for yourself.  Sometimes there is no hope, but a lot of time there is, and you and I have to responsible on our end how to do that.

But I used to not want to do so.  I wanted to stay out and up as late as I wanted.  I didn’t want time to cage me.  I wanted to drink, oh Lord did I want to drink.  I wanted to exercise, say, twice a week instead of six.  Despite all that it became time to grow up.  I wanted to live how I wanted to live instead of getting well.  I wanted to eat as I will (a hot fudge sundae after every group therapy session.)  I told myself the lie that I would be better off not taking drugs than taking eleven pills a day.  This is such a fabrication:  If you were doing so great you wouldn’t be in the hospital for your suicide plans or attempts.  Think, kiddos.  If you are ill with something such as bipolar or schitzophrenia or even OCD and ADHD you probably have to make some life changes.  Every one of those illnesses require vigorious exercise.  (I don’t do it nearly as much as I should have.)   It is necessary to keep a regular schedule.  To take medication, even when you’re not feeling bad.  Also (this is speaking directly to me) you can’t eat like a bridge troll.

I also used to use a Mood Chart so I could keep track of my meds, when I took them, how I was feeling (manic/neutral/depressed) so I could catch the mood swings before I became even more depressed or suicidal.

To be well, you must change your life.  I haven’t always and I have suffered for it.  To be truthful, I have hardly missed those things because I like being well so much.  I like to be a good enough mother.  I like to be a loving wife.  I like to deal gently with the people in my life.  That is possible only by following the schedule, and the pattern and meeting with a psychologist and a psychiatrist.  And, yes, also going in to a hospital or behavioral health center as needed.

During the my first diagnosis of “major depressive disorder” I refused to take medicine, even though everyone around me strongly encouraged me to do so. The wave crested and I was so proud I had gotten through it without the help of pharmaceticals. Or did I? Know I know I have rapid cycling disorder. Things are very bad, then things seem okay, then they seem pretty good. I’m not sick, right?

There was a colleage of mine who was almost taken over by his anger. He spent time in prision because he hit a cop. He had tattoos on his knuckles and once came to the class with his hand wrapped because he had been in a fist fight the night before. I asked about meds and he said, “I’m going to get through this without them.” My guess? Although I’m not a therapist or a shrink, I’d think this is not going to end until he gets his anger under control. And with anger as deep seeded as his, no amount of therapy is going to take care of it. But that’s just me.

You’re probably thinking what’s good for me isn’t necessarily good for you. Of course I want you to think critically about anything that messes with your mind and body – please do not follow this blindly, but if you do not consider this, think about whether or not it’s pride that is keeping you from doing so. This is my path to wellness. Yours will look different, and my hope is that you’ll find it.

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