Dealing with an addiction isn’t easy, no matter what it is that we are addicted to. I’m a rehabbing perfectionist and I’ve come to terms with the idea that I will be one for the rest of life.
People often misjudge perfectionists as arrogant and being so “full of themselves” that they don’t see past their own perfectionism.
The truth is, the reason we are perfectionists is all the contrary. I am a perfectionist precisely because I am afraid of not measuring up to other people’s expectations. I perceive every single one of my flaws magnified times ten and I try my hardest to conceal them from anyone who could possibly use them against me to withhold their approval of me. I don’t see myself as a perfect being, that is why I try to do things perfectly!
Logic tells me I am not perfect and insecurity tells me that because of that, everything I do must be! That is why being a perfectionist is so exhausting and every perfectionist reaches a breaking point.
I reached mine a long time ago but it wasn’t easy to accept that I needed to change-and actually changing was even harder. I’ve never done drugs or have been addicted to any substance of any sort. So, the only other addiction I can compare my addiction to perfectionism is the addiction I’ve had to nicotine.
Every time I’d light up a cigarette, my subconscious would signal me that smoking wasn’t good for me but addiction would intervene by convincing me that I could always quit later.
It’s similar with perfectionism. I’d find myself in a situation in which I wanted to have total control and I’d work hard at making everything perfect while my subconscious would signal me that going to that extreme wasn’t good for me but my addiction to perfectionism would intervene by signaling me that I could try to be less critical of the situation next time because at the moment I was too engaged in getting things “right” to realize I could choose to stop right then and there.
So, I did that to myself for a very long time.
In hindsight, I realize I may have began doing that to myself at an age when I wasn’t even aware of it. As a child I craved attention because I got very little of it from my parents. I believe that there may have been a time when I felt I “earned” someone’s approval by doing something better than someone else and it gave me the false illusion that approval could be earned by doing things perfectly. Thus Perfectionist Me was born.
It wasn’t until I understood that I don’t need anyone else’s approval to be at peace with myself, that I realized what I’d been doing and I finally made the choice to stop. It is a conscious choice that I have to continue to make daily but as with any other addiction, I have setbacks.
Just as I can go without smoking for long periods of time until sudden stressors send me spiraling back into my old smoking habit. Sometimes, all it takes is a stressful situation or a sudden realization that I am not in control of a given situation for my perfectionism to surface again and fool me into believing that it has come to “save” the day.
Being a rehabbing perfectionist isn’t an easy task, it requires a lot of self control but mostly, I’ve found out, it requires allowing myself to be vulnerable. Vulnerability isn’t pleasant because it requires trust in that others won’t take advantage of me because it. So, it feels easier to hide my vulnerability by attempting to be perfect, instead.
But I’ve realized that in order to be faithful, I must allow myself to be vulnerable by fully trusting that God is in control of every situation.
I don’t need to be perfect to be faithful, I only need to be grateful for being where I am (instead of where I used to be) and continue making being faithful a daily effort knowing that even in the midst of a relapse, I can choose to pick up right where I left off and get back on track with who God says that I am-regardless of how the world chooses to perceive who I’ve become.
Have a lovely Sunday, you guys.