The Demon of Perfection

January 14, 2009 at 8:52 am Leave a comment

There’s nothing like a couple of totally quiet days to get my thoughts together. Monday I had the day off and the house all to myself! Yesterday I had to work, but had a few hours off in between. I kept errands to a minimum so as to still have some quiet time at home. And today is yet another day to myself. It is such a wonderful feeling to simply do as I please and not have to talk to anyone. With children, household, work, creative projects and now a 3-year continuing education program which starts in February, I sometimes need to totally chill out.

This sounds quite nice, so where is the demon? On that wonderful quiet Monday, I sat in the sun room, collecting warmth, energy and Vitamin D, and continued to work on revising the German version of my book. It amazes me what comes up during each revision. I’ve read it through so many times, and each time there is still something new, a new a-ha experience.

This time around I’m ever more shocked at my marital relationship and the fact that it lasted as long as it did. That’s just plain embarrassing. Why? Well, I just don’t understand how I could stay in that situation for so long, another vicious circle. And here comes the perfection. Before and during the bulimia, I had extremely high expectations of myself. During recovery I kept repeating: “I am not perfect. I don’t have to be perfect. Nobody expects me to be perfect.” Now that I am recovered, I still expect a lot of myself. And while working on the book, I caught myself thinking: “Gee, you were able to get over the bulimia and anorexia, but you’re still scared and hiding in a detrimental, energy-zapping relationship. Either you just like to complain and don’t want to move on, or there’s something you still have to face.”

Processes and revelations don’t happen all at once — at least, not in my world. That was Monday. Two days later, this morning, I went back to bed with a mug of coffee, put on some music, and drifted for an hour or so. Perfection drifted as well, and I realized I feel like a failure because I recovered from the eating disorder, but rode on that success much longer than appropriate and didn’t face other things. That’s one way to put it. The other approach is: I have such deep-seated fear in every cell of my body (even though I don’t exactly understand it or know where it comes from) that I needed to focus on recovery to build up my confidence and courage. Yes, I was able to do it. Physically, I am completely recovered. But emotionally, there are still some things requiring attention.

The demon was getting on my case: “Hey, if you wrote a book about recovery, you should be 100% recovered and perfect. You should be able to deal with everything the right way and be a total success.” So I started to feel guilty, like a failure, and like I was pretending to be something I’m not. But, hey, recovery is not about perfection. It’s about personal growth and development. And one thing is sure, it’s not a good idea to get rid of all addictions at once. First I gave up the food problem. Then I cut back on my drinking. Then I quit smoking. Now I am finally ready to focus without fear on the relationship. Now I am ready to focus on my fear and let go of it.

Strangely enough, things are becoming quite clear and I can feel the fear disintegrating more as the days go by. My attitude is becoming more compassionate as well. Not only did I use the eating disorder as a coping mechanism at a time when I was lost in helplessness and emotional pain, and my world was totally out of control, but the recovery served as an exercise in learning to take care of myself and gradually helped me to recover from the suffering of childhood and youth. It has taken a long time. I will refrain from passing judgment on that. It takes what it takes. I’m good at telling other people that, but it applies to me as well.

There are many factors beyond my comprehension. It doesn’t make sense that I did what I did, suffered as long as I did, tolerated as much as I did. But believe me, I DID! I spent an awfully long time being “nice” to everyone. Recently I was reading the obituaries (another of my varied hobbies), and I stumbled upon more lengthy ones about well-known individuals. It struck me that they were “cantankerous, moody, determined, egotistic” … and a few other adjectives, but definitely not just “nice” — and I thought to myself: “I don’t want them to say I was just “nice” in my obituary. That doesn’t suit me. Thus, while I’m still alive I will get over my fears (of rejection?) and lay the groundwork for an obituary I would like. This may sound a bit morbid, but all I’m saying is: I want to be satisfied when I go. My goal is not to be mean or bad. I just want to be real.


Entry filed under: bad relationships, Levels of Recovery.

On my way Get some fresh air!

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