Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist
My story was a very lonely one - I did not like being known but I craved to be known. I had past repressed anger and experienced deep loss from not being loved as a child. I found it difficult to listen sensitively and I was good at hiding my feelings. I kept busy to avoid intimacy and I hid my thoughts and feelings because I didn’t want to be hurt and be vulnerable. I could not identify and label my own emotions so I harnessed that energy into my work. I longed for intimacy but I feared being controlled and even more overwhelmed.
I believed that showing my hurts and fears were signs of weakness. Failure was not an option and success was priority. I became enslaved by anger and depression and was turned off by touch and tenderness. I protected myself by being tough and hard and rigid. I thought others were not reliable or trustworthy in giving me the love I wanted. I thought that reaching out would bring shame, hurt and rejection. My mind set was that I must rely on myself alone to meet my needs. I didn’t need others – I’ll do it myself because others will let me down.
I was plagued with self-reliance and didn’t want to be weighed down by emotion. I used addictions like binge-watching Netflix to replace relationships and it was a temporary self-medication to numb my emptiness. I became cold, aloof, distant and an extreme introvert and I looked to fantasy and television for comfort, in fact, I preferred it to reality. The addictions fed my emotional hunger and yearning to be held and they were intimacy substitutes. I was social and bubbly when I was around acquaintances, but with loved ones and family I kept them at a distance and dodged their attempts to love me.
I was afraid of wasting a parent’s time - I hid my illnesses and when I got a bad grade to not stress out my parents. Bringing a problem to my parents brought instant regret because I didn’t get the empathy and understanding I was looking for but got criticism and accusation. My family was not a safe haven for me. I was longing for intimacy but learnt at a young age that I wasn’t safe in my own home and I didn’t trust that I would receive an adequate supply of love. In a loving home, when a child is cared for, he/she feels that their emotional needs are met and are important so the child can then rely on others for help but that wasn’t the case for me.
I believed that I could give myself comfort and safety. I was content playing music rather than talking to people because as a child I was left to do whatever I wanted and I wasn't checked up on very often. So I built a wall to suppress my feelings, longing and needs for others. I started to become a control freak and perfectionist, I was very critical and I base my worst on success. I was very uncomfortable with showing feelings and physical affection intimacy. I valued logic and order and attention to detail over others feelings. I was uncomfortable with physical touch and sharing - I became stingy with money, time and my resources. I was reluctant to delegate because others seemed unreliable and I was prone to depression because I didn't want to lose control. I built up anxiety and worry that was amplified when I was stressed and I became a compulsive perfectionist and this made me irritable and bad tempered and uncooperative because I needed everything to be done my way. I had great anger with God because I felt like he was never there for me and he never came through for me. So when things went wrong I blamed Him and this brought me even more isolation.
Any of this sound familiar? Trust me you are not alone. Sometimes in distress we can get consumed in work, addictions and things that make us feel in control. But know that God is in control, not you. You are a human being not a human doing.
You are not earning God’s love or approval. You already have His love!