“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”
I am mean in the mornings. I don’t mean to be mean. I don’t want to be mean. But I am mean. Sometimes just a little mean. Sometimes big mean.
Before we married, I told my husband about it. At first he didn’t believe me. “How can someone so nice be mean?” he innocently inquired. After I explained the problem he said, “That doesn’t make sense. Our bodies store glycogen in the muscles and the liver. We are designed to be able to go without food for two or three days.”
Even after the I Do’s, he remained unconvinced. I think he doubted my experience – perhaps thought I was looking for excuses to be grumpy. It wasn’t long, though, before the cantankerous side of the bride arrived. Think honeymoon. Florida Keys. The morning after we have each devoured giant pieces of the best Key lime cheesecake EVER.
Honey wants to hang out on the porch before breakfast. (He likes to ease into the day, no rushing, no timepiece.) I wake up, down 24 ounces of water and start rummaging for breakfast, knowing my window between bride and bridezilla is fairly small. Honey calls me outside. Wants me to watch the sky with him, chill and chat with him, just BE. With him.
I’m torn. I want to. Really, I do. But I know how I’m feeling. I know that I need to eat food…and fast. I don’t want to ignore my new husband. It’s awesome to be wanted, just for my company. However, I don’t want to ruin the moment by snapping his innocent head off with my two-edged tongue, sharpened by a cheesecake hangover.
I open the refrigerator, already knowing it’s empty. I dig through bare cupboards searching for a jar of peanut butter or a leftover packet of Saltines from prehistoric guests. Nothing. Honey is calling to me. I’m churlish, wanting him to come inside and dress for Denny’s or Cracker Barrel. Even Dairy Queen, I-Don’t-Even-Care-Queen, I’ll eat anything. He doesn’t feel my urgency.
Suddenly I remember the Harry & David gift basket that had been delivered the day before. God bless the friends who sent this! Grabbing a forty-dollar gold-foil-wrapped pear and a handful of mixed nuts, I head outside to the sun-kissed morning and the man who wants to enjoy it with me. Whew, that was close.
Honey escaped my meanness that day, but now, nearly five years later he’s fully convinced that someone “so nice” can be mean. Often, the first thing he says in the morning is, “What can I get you for breakfast?”
Why am I sharing this with you? What does the above anecdote possibly have to do with Step 6? Don’t log off now…here’s the connection:
In Melody Beattie’s book, Codependents’ Guide To The Twelve Steps she says whether we call our issues “character defects,” protective devices or simply a need for healing because of woundedness, the result is the same: we all have SOMETHING WRONG. WITH US. THAT WE NEED TO BE READY TO RELEASE TO GOD.
My morning meanness has authentic roots. I can justify it medically. I can play it off, excuse it, or even ignore it. But that does not negate the fact that I may injure those close to me because I refuse to allow God to remove the character defects that prey on my blood sugar issues.
One of my issues is the codependent tendency to be controlling. It’s something God and I have been working on for some years now, but I often have to be reminded of Step 6 and become, once more, “entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.” That controlling thing happened again this morning, before breakfast, when I wanted to control what my husband got to eat.
On Sundays, I like to cook breakfast, not just inhale a bowl of cereal while straightening my hair like “normal” mornings. So, I got up and started preparing a frittata: onion, fresh tomatoes, avocado and kalamata olives. Mmmmm. Just as I popped the accompanying Ezekiel bread into the toaster, I called Honey to the table. He entered the kitchen asking, “Are there grits?”
“No, there aren’t grits. I made a frittata.” (I knew I sounded slightly irritated, but I didn’t care. I’d been in the kitchen for 30 minutes and was ravenous and ready to eat. I just wanted him to eat what I’d made and hush.)
“Wow! That looks amazing. Can I have some grits to go with it?” Honey asks.
“Why do you need grits? We have toast.”
“I’m South African. I like corn grits with my eggs. You know that.”
I don’t care what you are. Just sit down and eat. I did not say that part out loud. What I did say was this: “If you want grits, you can make them.”
Wow. That wasn’t very nice. I regretted it as soon as it came out. Honey silently moved toward the pantry and got the grits. As he came close to me to open the microwave, I said, “I’m not going to say anything else until after I’ve eaten something, okay?” He agreed that that might be a good idea.
After the microwave had dinged, the prayer had been said, and half my frittata had been eaten, I swallowed my pride and asked Honey to pass the grits. He did, gently stating, “Just think of them as polenta. They are quite nice with the frittata.” We made up. And lived happily ever after. (At least until the next time my need to control crops up in a weak moment, and I allow it to win instead of immediately taking Steps 6 and 7.)