Breaking a Cycle *Updated*

Technically, some of the posts I've been doing around here should probably be over on the Dark Madness – the tag line being "the other side of a happy life". Somehow, as the months and years have passed I've started feeling comfortable enough around here to give it all to you, the good, bad and the ugly and just let it filter out as it will.

My daughter just wrote a post that brought some things to the front of my mind, too much to comment there – so, here I am putting it out here. She is talking about the subject of perfection. Her own perfection… and breaking cycles.

As I've mentioned before, my parents are alcoholics. Undiagnosed, "functioning", alkies. Ironically, they wouldn't let me touch alcohol. The first time I really tried anything was on my 18th birthday when I secretly moved out of their house and celebrated by pouring a whole bottle of Mateus wine down my throat. It came back up about an hour later, and I've never had it since. However, it didn't stop my experimentation with alcohol. I drank rarely, but when I did I pretty much always did to excess. That was what it was for. To me, it never tasted good, it was a means to an end. After a couple of blackouts it scared me enough that I rarely drink – and generally in moderation.

However, my parents were not the happy-go-lucky kind of drinkers. Nor were they the sappy, mushy ones. No, they were the mean drunks. Top that off by both of them having perfectionist tendencies and you have the makings for one very crappy childhood.

I swore I wouldn't be like that.

Every kid always swears there are things about their parents that they will never ever be like.

We do what we know.

I have always been a perfectionist. I handle it better at some times than others. I've not handled it and things have gone horribly, terribly wrong at times. I've apologized both privately and publically to my children for the abuses I put them through because of my demons. I swore I would be better than my parents. I didn't hit them, I threw things, broke things, yelled a lot… none of which were good, but I thought I was doing better than my parents. I tried to say I was sorry, I was wrong. I know it didn't make up for the bad stuff. I'm much better now.

I still am a perfectionist. I know that is  a great deal of partly what makes my stress levels climb. I'm never satisfied, always feeling I can do better. I should be able to handle a 40 hour a week job that climbs to 70 or 80 this time of year AND my house should be spotless AND my meals should be home cooked AND my laundry should be done AND my bookwork should be caught up AND my children should be visited AND my Christmas presents should be bought, made, wrapped, and ready to put under the perfectly decorated tree. To be honest, I can almost see the appeal of meth! (No, no, I wouldn't ever, but I'm just saying, if I didn't have to sleep, these things might actually happen!) Oh, outwardly it may appear I've handled this as the laundry piles up on the floor and the dust bunnies float through the air, but inside it is driving me crazy. I'm not OCD, there is just that thinking that maybe I should be.

Cycles can be broken. I know this. I know being able to give up some of this perfectionism, as my daughter is so admirably trying to do, would make my life less stressful. I know these things intellectually. I can be rational. I just have to find that place to make a start.

*Update* Sizzle HAD to send me this link… I told you so!

You Are 92% Perfectionist
You're a total perfectionist. So go ahead and congratulate yourself on a "perfect" score.
The truth is, everyone is sick of living up to your standards. And you're probably even sick them yourself.