I talk to my therapist about how these “schema” or old beliefs intersect to create a perfect storm: I believe I am defective so I will be abandoned, to prevent that I subjugate myself to be “better” hoping that by pleasing you I can assure that you will like me. But I know I’m not being real so that reinforces the deprivation belief that no one would ever love the real me. And on and on. I have seen this play out in my 4th step inventories. When we talk about using the 4th and 5th steps to get at “the exact nature of our wrongs” we really are talking about these schema or old beliefs. We have that recovering person’s dilemma: I didn’t cause it, much was implanted and reinforced in childhood and I played it out over and over in my behavior and choices before—and yes, into, recovery. But I am responsible now. I wish it was as easy as that sounds. Knowing these are old beliefs, that these are errors in my thinking. But they are strong and deep and they fight for their own survival.
But there is another place these old beliefs trap me. I ask for help. I pray. I surrender to my Higher Power—God. “Do you believe in a loving God? I am asked. I always say yes and on a conscious level I think, yes. But when I am quiet and when I let my mind settle in prayer then I see. Even here, even with God, I think, “Not me, everyone else but not me.” Even with God—the one I am asking to restore me to sanity, I have the sinking feeling that miracles are for the good people, the loved ones.
So I back up and begin again. Before I ask God to restore me to sanity we have to have a talk about our relationship. Like the child in me I have to ask, again and again: Do you love me, as I am, now, here, with this very life, with these very “defects of character”—the antiquated language of trying to describe the schema. Like a child to a parent: “I broke everything; do you still love me?”