As I was leaving for work today, I saw a female cardinal bird attacking herself in the window of a van that was parked in my driveway. She perched on the mirror - and was quite comical as she tried to keep her footing - and would then fly and peck her reflection in the window. She did this for a while. All I could think was "are you crazy?!" Maybe we could take a lesson from her.
I tried to honk my horn to get her to stop, but she seemed impervious to my efforts. She just kept pecking away at the reflection. Apparently its part of her genetics. From what I have been able to find, cardinals are aggressive and territorial, especially during mating season.
She apparently thought that the bird she saw was another cardinal - one that she perceived as a threat. The behavior usually stops one of two ways - you put something on the glass to cover the reflection or the bird bangs its head in or hurts itself to the point where it stops.
Have you ever acted like that?
I have. As they say in recovery insanity is "doing the same thing and expecting different results." I have done that. I have stayed in relationships that were - to put it gently - "chew your arm off" terrible. You know, like a coyote that will chew its own leg off to get out of a trap. And I stayed in them even though I wanted to get out of them.
I have stayed in jobs that sucked the life out of me even when I wanted to get out simply because I had no where else to go.
I have stayed in churches where I knew the life was gone out of them and yet I kept hoping for it to get better. But it didn't. So why did I stay? Was I nuts? Was I like the cardinal that kept pecking away at the same target because it was angry or thought it was threatened?
So what to do in a situation like that? The best minds I have encountered say the first step to healthy thinking is surrender - realize that your life is unmanageable. So that's the first step. The second one? Come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could deliver us from our insanity.
Then what? Surrender. Make a conscious decision to turn our lives over to God as we understood Him. We call these three steps the codependent's waltz - 1-2-3, 1-2-3. And we keep doing them.
There are other steps, but these three keep coming up. So let's keep dancing. There is a step four - actually there are 12. But the first one has to be to stop pecking the mirror and realize that we don't have to attack the phantom reflection.