Firstly, the kitty is doing very well, even showing some attitude and lashing his tiny tail. Very wonderful. Now, on to the heart of this particular post. I have so many friends and relatives who are addicts. I dodged that particular bullet only insofar as not inbibing, snorting, shooting or swallowing things (except too many cookies), but didn't recognize the fact that I was an addict anyway: to behaviors, not substances. Insecurity has colored my judgement since I was a very little kid, just like it did to pretty much all my relatives and at least half the people I know. How did this unseen plague begin? I think it's always been there, lurking in the shadows, hiding the truth of its existence like gothic vampires hiding in plain sight. Folks will advise you to "ignore what people think" and that's good advice only if a person were actually capable of doing that. I think the real answer is to be true to yourself. Don't ignore it, simply understand that your own opinion about yourself is the most important. Like the great line Gregory Peck says in William Wyler's The Big Country: "I'm not responsible for what other people think, only for what I am." That's the key, the simple but monumental task of actually valuing yourself enough to do the right thing, regardless. And the problem with an insecurity addict is, they only value what other people think because they look in the mirror and see a piece of shit. Maybe a nice person, maybe somebody who tries but doesn't believe, etcetera, but still a piece of shit. The paradox of our subconscious recognizing that we're good and our conscious shrieking about our shortcomings. We wear glasses, both rose colored and shit stained, to view life. We need to see things clearly, not with any tint. Even when you can't observe things as they really are, try to recognize that your view is askew and practice concentrating on what's real. I spent so many years harming myself, getting into terrible relationships and sticking it out because at least I had loyalty, you know? When I was married, both times, friends told me what an awful person I was married to and my dumb way of responding to that was to prove my own loyalty. Here's the thinking: My God, look how few friends he has, my poor husband. Nobody is on his side but me. What would he do without me? Who could he turn to? I know he has goodness in him. I stay, so there must be a reason other than my own failures. If I stay long enough, prove my loyalty, he'll change. He'll become kind. He'll recognize my worth because I can't find it on my own. I need input. I'll save him and finally be a hero. And that kind of thinking makes an insecure person steely. This will I do. This one thing. I will stand fast in this place of wrath and tears of my own making and endure. I am brave. I am loving. I am worthwhile. But your subconscious doesn't buy it. Your subconscious needles you to leave, to see the light, to stop being so ridiculous, and that's where insecurity steps in. Insecurity is the Spock vomit-drop creature hooked onto your spine, controlling you through pain and self doubt and the whispered reminders of all those years of screwups under your belt. When you've made enough dumb mistakes of judgement, you can drown in them. And all that time, insecurity feeds like the parasite it is. An unseen enemy within, invisible to the naked eye or microscope but there nonetheless. The only regimen to combat it is self love. I don't know if there's a cure because I haven't found it yet. I am so much happier and more fulfilled than I've ever been before, and it's been my own doing and a major accomplishment, but I still get ice in my guts at the smallest thing. Like a diabetic, I take a dose of mental sugar to sweeten the sour taste of self hatred and fear of other's low opinions. I recognize that the chill waves running through me are simply years of conditioning, the brainwashing of a lifetime begun by my parents and continued by myself, abated by the choices I've made in partners and even friends. Cruel, selfish people with whopping insecurities that took the form of vicious behavior and spoilt manners. My insecurity used to be sarcasm. I used my wit to cut and wound, venomous humor that always left a scar and a laugh from others, from which the parasite inside me could feed. Then it morphed into servitude. I became a wonderful servant: loving, loyal, selfless to the point of self-destruction. Now, I work daily to control it. I love myself, which is a strange place to be, a Shangri-la of, again, my own making. Your life is your life. Value it. Value yourself. I do these simple but dumb sounding exercises every day. I've always dreamed of the perfect mate, piling all my longings into a mold of who and what I wanted, so I took that list and decided to become that myself. I am kind to me, I recognize good deeds that I do, I know the value of generosity over servitude. Every night, I tell myself, "good night beautiful mind, good night beautiful spirit, good night beautiful body." This from a woman so screwed up after my divorce, I hadn't worn sleeveless shirts or shorts for ten years because of an intense hatred of my body and a terror of showing it. I love my body now. Dumpy, skinny-legged but absolutely beloved. This thing has survived everything and I adore it, am grateful to it, want to take care of it. But insecurity still bites me with needle teeth. It probably always will. But the sting is less. With time, it'll probably get to be merely irritating and I can live with that. So hang in there, my brothers and sisters of circumstance. Never let anybody say, "Oh, you're just insecure." Insecurity is a monster. Be George and get to slaying your own dragon. I know you can do it. I believe in you!