The Art of Self-Deception – Part I

I don’t know exactly when it started. Years ago, maybe, when the volume of commitments almost equaled my available time. What was I doing? Nothing extraordinary.

  • Full-time job and daily commute. Check.
  • Caring for my parents. Another check.
  • Evenings with my husband and children, followed by writing several pages on my WIP. Double checks.
  • Weekends for congregation & worship, errands, keeping house, and helping my family grow a vineyard. Quadruple checks.

Raise your hand if these sound like you.

Launching my first novel was a thrilling experience last year, but it edged me into a time deficit. Did I care? Not really. It simply proved that the harder I worked, the more successful I could be. I still believed everything on my schedule was necessary and could only be done by me… a deception that took root in the void of No Free Time.

My smartphone came to the rescue—calendars, lists, online shopping, alarm reminders, apps for reading the Scriptures, email and social media—and enabled me to become uber efficient. Addicted to my smartphone’s super hero qualities, I became the puppet, and it became the master.

In the spring of 2013, a health crisis brought my Figure Eight laps to a screeching halt. Curled up in bed in a fog of pain, I couldn’t tolerate lights or sounds—even conversations, and I had difficulty pulling my thoughts together and formulating words. My computer and phone lay idle for the first time in years.

pulse-traceAn unpleasant surprise greeted me after I emerged from my cocoon, not as a colorful butterfly, but as a wounded moth. No longer able to breeze through complex tasks, any small thing now required effort, time, and multiple re-do’s. In 2014, following another hospitalization, a team of doctors diagnosed me with an incurable, debilitating disease. Forced to cut back on work, my Type A personality rebelled, believing that non-productivity was tantamount to failure.

During the holiday season, I finally admitted I was not improving. When I reluctantly asked my family for assistance around the house, they blew away another dangerous deception. They gave me unconditional love even though I couldn’t do everything I’d done before, and they happily—yes, happily—stepped in to help. To my amazement, they expressed gratitude that I would allow them to come along side. When I confided to my friends I discovered they didn’t shun my weakness either, but rallied around me.

Self-reflecting in this new year of 2015, I’ve found the courage to ask questions.

Why was I doing all these things? Love-certainly, but did a deeper need for validation drive me even harder?

Was it the perfectionist in me or because I feared a loss of love or respect if I wasn’t Superwoman 24/7?

Did I hope to earn the Lord’s approval by being a good person?

Examining my heart for the truth will be a challenging hike over mountain terrain, but I believe the answers will come, along with breathtaking views.
hiker on mountain
Are you too busy to reflect on your inner self instead of how you are fulfilling expectations? What tasks are you doing that could be borne by others?

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23 thoughts on “The Art of Self-Deception – Part I

  1. Vanessa. Thank you for sharing your story. It is very, very hard to let go and ask others to help you! Praying that you get rest and comfort.

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  2. Yup, I can totally relate! I have a wonderful husband that has taken it upon himself to become a cook now. During my prep for the illustration visit to the school last week, John forbid me to do any cooking. And low and behold, he found he could cook quite well! This is a trend that has taken root, happily! (finally!)

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  3. Pingback: The Art of Self-Deception – Part I | wordburstdotcom

  4. I used to be such an “approval junkie” and it turned me into a workaholic at times. Us approval junkies often sell our souls for a pat on the back or a compliment. The really smart people catch on to you and take advantage of you. The nice thing about getting older is you start to see how useless some of your activities are and you’ve managed to grow enough healthy confidence to say to yourself, “this is really stupid.” There is a song I heard on Sing Off season three by Pink, it was the opening number on the first show. It was call F**K**G Perfect, and yes the title is atrocious but the message of the song wasn’t. It’s on youtube, I recommend listening to it every so often to remind myself not to be so hard on others and on myself.

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  5. Vanessa – what a fantastic post. I’ve been there and done that. I, too, figured out i was relying on self rather than God. My debilitating illness was severe depression. After spending time with a Christian counselor, I learned that my depression was rooted in my lack of trust in God. I didn’t think he was good all the time.

    It’s when we come to the end of ourselves that we realize what having a Savior really means. And then we dedicate the rest of our lives into learning how to let him be our Lord. Or, at least, that’s the way I look at it.

    I’m sorry for what you are going through, but not for what you are learning. Prayers for you. Thank you for sharing!

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  6. I loved reading this article and the insight you are providing to your friends and family. I appreciate your strength in sharing this with us.

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  7. Thank you. I couldn’t make it without my family.

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  8. Thank you for sharing from your heart and reminding us of such awesome truths, Vanessa. I think women especially have trouble with the I-can-do-it-all syndrome. Praying you will find healing, peace and comfort.

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  9. V–You nailed what we writers feel and experience. No wonder our health suffers. It’s not like in the movies, when a writer ignores and neglects everything else while he finishes a manuscript! Take care of yourself.

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  10. Yes, thank you! Struggling with too much is something I’ve been aware of for the past year or two. One of the biggest hurdles (that I am in the midst of dealing with) is having my daughter take more responsibility. And if the dishwasher isn’t packed just the way I like it, maybe I need to learn to let it go. 😉

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  11. Ouch! I’m living that life to a degree. Thanks for the warning.

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  12. Sorry, I’m a bit late coming into this blog, but you certainly struck home with your story. I really needed to ask myself, can others do what I’m doing to help out? So many times I forget that I do need to ask. They are so used to seeing me being supermom that they don’t offer to help. And therein lies the problem. They needed to know, before I drove myself down in health again, that i needed help. Thanks Vanessa!

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