Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Trash the Demons

I've got 'em.

I talk about it all the time, it seems, on this blog. (sorry.)

It's not really a perfectionist demon--though some would argue with that. I don't know, maybe it is. It's more like a "should" demon.

I spend much time every day thinking of things I should be doing, and am not, and feeling guilt over it. I also spend time each day thinking of things I should have done, and feeling guilt over it. This is not right. I KNOW THAT. But I am ensnared by the demon!

Like right now, for instance. I am thinking about how I should be exercising--since the other thing I'm always thinking about, whenever I'm not thinking about what I should be doing or should have done--is how fat and out of shape I feel. And you got it, I'm feeling guilt.

Okay, now since I just wrote that, I'm thinking about how I should not have eaten that bowl of ice cream at 10pm last night. (But it was Moose Tracks, and I couldn't help it!) And now I feel (a little fatter) and guilty.

Now, I'm thinking that I should go engage my four-year-old in some kind of creative play instead of studying incessantly (and barely keeping up) and blogging while he is watching a cartoon. And I feel guilty.

It never ends. I think about what I should be doing for my children, what I shouldn't have said to my children, what I should be doing to study better, what I should be doing to increase my testimony, what I should be doing to clean my house, what I should be doing to serve more and not be so selfish . . .

But you want to know what put it over the edge? This is the moment I realized that I truly have a problem, a categorical demon of the most demonizing kind:

Yesterday as I was working in the kitchen (because the demon had been sleeping or otherwise distracted and I actually did a whole bunch of things that I should have been doing! Cooked a great new dinner, planned a creative Family Home Evening lesson, baked yummy chocolate treats for afterwards . . .) I was about to toss some onion skins into the trash, when the demon showed up with a vengeance.

"You should put those in the compost bin," he snarled in my ear.

But I didn't want to walk outside, even though it was maybe 20 steps there and back. And my compost bowl was being washed. So, I brushed them into the trashcan with (yes! I know!) a small bit of guilt.

Then, after opening a can, I looked down to see that the recycling bag I usually keep next to the trashcan was gone, and I was feeling a little too lazy to go get it, so I sat it on the counter and stared at it. And the demon said, "You should recycle that! What kind of responsible citizen are you?" It was evil, I tell you.

I realized that I have so many goals, so many expectations, that they even include my trash! I have this stupid goal to see how much compost I can accumulate each week because it feels so unwasteful and self-reliant, and I have a goal to see how full I can make the recycling can and how empty I can make the trash can! Do you see the madness? I know it's a problem when even my garbage has to be perfect, and I'm feeling guilty if it's not!

I couldn't take it. I even started to laugh. I am crazy! I am twisted!

I admit to you here, that in an act of self-preservation, (sorry, Mother Earth) I brushed that can from the counter into the trash can.

And here I am the next day. Still feeling a tiny bit guilty. I wonder if I should fish it out?

Save me!


Abby said...

I dunno. I was pretty awesome at recycling..and then I saw a show about how it's actually using more energy and what not to recycle. Here.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzLebC0mjCQ Now, it may not sway you in the least...but at least now I don't feel so bad about a friend throwing a bottle or can into the trash instead of the recycling when they're at my house.

You *should* breathe. Life doesn't need to be so stressful, my dear! <3

Megan said...

We all have our demons... and guilt. Some days we do our exercise and some days we get other things done. The demons are still there because we think that someone else has managed to put it all together and made it work, so why can't we...

The truth is that we all have our demons despite our outward appearances. And for as much as you might think you're lacking, others will admire for what you've already got going for you.

I guess that's why the good Lord gives us day after day to keep trying to be perfect. It's not the state of perfection, it's the season for practicing perfection. And when we fail, we repent, wake up, and try again tomorrow.

Because, after all, every morning he gives us the sun. And, one day, long ago, he gave us his Son.

Alejandra said...

I suffer from the same demons! I know your pain :). I can't save you from them, but I can tell you it's helped me a little to give others jobs I can't accomplish and I know I "should" do. For example, I just put the recycling on the window sill and it's Matt's job to put them in the recycling bin in the garage. I think most moms suffer from these "should" feelings.

Kortni said...

You are hilarious! I love you.

Annette Lyon said...

Dang, that sounds familiar! I think that's the same demon who yells at me to never throw away black bananas because I shouldn't waste them and instead make banana bread out of them. And then they go moldy.

Luisa Perkins said...

My way of keeping that demon at bay is forgiving myself--out loud--every time I say "I should." It sounds simple, kind of like a snake on a stick, but it really works.