I’m Proud of Myself for Breaking the Rules

As I’ve mentioned before, I was anorexic decades ago, and I still can have what I call anorexic thinking—where I get rigid and stringent, unrelenting with myself, and vigilant about doing everything “just so” and following every rule and guideline. It most likely stems from a need to control, to be perfect, and to make sure I f—k nothing up. It most likely comes from fear.

I may have mentioned that my oldest child used to be, at least in some ways, a rigid rule follower. We used to celebrate if they would ever color outside the lines in a coloring book, or act out in school. I wonder where they got it from?

Rule following is helpful and productive at times. There are rules that make sense and guidelines that can help us to make better decisions. Rigid rule following, on the other hand, is at least a slippery slope, if not a dangerous decline, no matter what. Especially for me.

A few years back, I stumbled through a challenge. Well, crawled through it, I guess. What got me at least somewhat to the other side were rules—a bit of cognitive behavioral therapy with which I retrained myself around my challenge. So the rules were helpful, but my rigidity kicked in. I was swirling—and drowning—in my anorexic thinking and unyielding need to follow exactly (and I mean exactly) what I was told to do.

This wasn’t a good place to be. It may have been better than the depth of the challenge, but I became so severe and inflexible that I was mostly, if not totally, driven by fear.

Until the day I stopped. Or, actually, bit by bit, I dropped the rules I’d accumulated over the years. I breathed. I trusted. I took chances. I had faith. I eased into a new place.

My therapist asked me how I managed to break the rules and be less strict. She was shocked. My answer? I honestly don’t actually know.

Once again, maybe I’m lucky. Maybe I’m resilient. Maybe I have a steel rod for a spine (as my mother used to say) that kicks in and saves me EVERY time. Maybe I have guardian angels who won’t let me totally crash and burn. I don’t know.

But I’m damn proud of myself for breaking the rules. Even as I applauded any violation of rules by my oldest child, I am now able to applaud mine, as well.


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About the Author | Lisa Kohn

Lisa Kohn is the author of a memoir, To the Moon and Back, due out September 18, 2018, that chronicles her childhood – growing up in the East Village of New York City in the 1970s and in the Unification Church (the Moonies). Lisa writes of her recovery from the emotional abuse and abandonment she faced, and her now life of hope as a thriving and happy mom, wife, and leadership consultant and coach. You can read more at her website, www.lisakohnwrites.com, where you can also download the first chapter of her book.

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2 comments to "I’m Proud of Myself for Breaking the Rules"

  • DeBonis Karen

    Lisa, I can relate to the need to follow rules, even when it’s to the detriment of my well-being. Thanks for sharing your story and kudos for “overcoming” again!

    • Lisa Kohn

      Thank you Karen! It sometimes so helps to know that we’re never in this alone. (And you sent your comment on my birthday!!!)