The most annoying thing about a perfectionist is not their desire to be perfect, it is their desire for everyone around them to be perfect.
One reaction to an abusive relationship is the belief that if you are just perfect the person who is abusing you will stop and finally love you. This was ingrained in me as a child and carried over into my marriage. It’s ridiculous enough, though I couldn’t have admitted it at the time, but the worst part was the desire for people around me to be perfect, extending even to my children. It’s why I flew off the handle at every little thing. I mean, don’t these kids get it? I can’t get their dad to love me if we aren’t all perfect.
It’s been nice to finally start to unlearn this behavior, to allow my kids to be kids, to not expect the perfection required of me as a child.
I was reminded of this need to learn this last week at group therapy at the abused women’s center where I get services. We had a project in which we had to list things we gave ourselves permission to do. You can draw (that would be funny. :D), or just write, or you can do a collage (which is more my style for something like this).
As I wrote out my list then transferred some of it to my collage, and as a result of some of the things a few of the other moms said, I realized I need to give myself AND my kids permission to do these things. We have been denied this by my husband’s abuse, and my foolish belief that our perfection would turn his heart toward us.
It’s been one month, yesterday, since I packed us up and ran. One month during which I went from living in constant fear and dread and, therefore, reacting in anger to everything around me, to living in peace and learning to absolutely trust God in every moment of every day. It is now, after 45 years, that I finally learn what Ephesians 5:2 means by “walk in love, just as Christ also loved you.” It is an entirely different way of living, one which I was never taught as a child, one which I hope to teach my children now that I can give myself permission to do so.