Honest Living: Arrested Development
The Quest for Perfection
I have trouble with normalcy.
I’m not proud of this fact, but, if I'm speaking honestly, it must be said. I’ve suspected this for some time, and I blame it on several causes. The first is my childhood. I don’t want to ramble on about this, because I strongly dislike when people blame their actions on their parents, but in my house, the quest for perfection was the only thing that kept me out of trouble. If I folded my hands the wrong way, my parents didn’t hesitate to punish me. By punish, I mean that my mom would lecture me until I was in tears, so that, next time, I would know how to fold my hands, and I did so flawlessly.
I went through life like this for a long time, struggling to be perfect, until my fragile world crashed around me. That first taste of failure (when I lost my job and house in one fell swoop) showed me that, no matter how hard you try, perfection is an impossible state. So you might as well give up while you’re ahead. In other words, I reacted to that failure in the exact opposite manner that I had been raised to.
My mom was hard on me because of her own poor choices. She became pregnant with me when she was just 15 years old, and she and my dad drove to Kentucky in 1978 for a makeshift wedding. It didn’t last, of course, but that lesson has always stayed with her. One slip-up and your life is ruined. She didn’t want me to follow the same path, but brow beating me into submission wasn’t a good idea either.
Relationships and Insecurity
Because of my upbringing, I don’t know what a normal relationship is. I learned at an early age to appease my mom, but, in so doing, I lost the ability to think for myself. It’s no wonder I married two of the worst men on the planet, rather than seeing them for who they were, I suffocated my instincts and tried mightily to please my ex-husbands. It didn’t work, and now I’m used to being with men who lie, cheat, and drink.
But I’m currently in a relationship with someone who might be decent and normal, and I can’t react with anything other than insecurity. I wonder if I’m good enough for somebody who doesn’t waste his money on beer and isn’t secretly signing up for online dating sites. Am I pretty enough for someone who is well-liked and respected? Do I work hard enough to match his professional success? Will others like me as much as they like him?
These horrible questions make me angry, and, in turn, I take my anger out on him. If he has a conversation with another woman, I become fearful. If he works until midnight, I’m resentful of the time he could be spending with me. And if he tells me I’m beautiful, I wonder if he has a hidden agenda.
I hope that I am not ruining what could be a healthy and loving relationship, but I don’t know how to stop myself. I don’t want to live like this, but I can’t squelch the fears that lead to panic that eventually lead to anger. He’s aware of all of this, and he’s admitted he doesn’t know how much more he can take. If only I could trust in myself; if only I could trust in happiness. I need a cure for insecurity, but time may be the only thing that can help me. But if this keeps up, in time, I might just be crazy.