Monday, August 2, 2010

My Story: The Birth of a Perfectionist

I was an incredibly sensitive child. To a fault. I was condemned to glasses and acne at a very early age, which was only a set up for the schoolyard bullies to have a field day. On top of that, my fashion sense was, well about as unconventional as my family, and so I was teased on many fronts, from a very early age. Because I was such a sensitive, tender child, this teasing absolutely shredded any amount of self-esteem that a child could have.

I also came from a teasing family, only it wasn't the same kind of malicious schoolyard teasing that I received during the day. But to my sensitive heart, all teasing equalled insults, and so I began to live in constant fear of being teased for my faults and shortcomings. Somehow, I determined that if I could just be perfect, get things right, all things, then no one would have reason to tease me. If I could just blend into the back wall so no one would notice me, then they wouldn't tease me. In theory, that might sound good, but no one can really live like that. There is no perfection this side of heaven, and a child cannot go unnoticed for too long at all.

But I worked at it nonetheless. I strived to be the perfect student, quiet and smart, loved by teachers for not causing problems and not requiring extra attention. Unfortunately, though, the teasing at school did not stop, as I was called every name under the sun by bullies who had their own issues.

Four-eyes! Zit-face! Nerd! Hey dork, why don't you wash your face every now and then! What the hell are you wearing, dork? You freak!

I wish I had been stronger. I wish I could have fought back. I wish that those names didn't level me to tears, every time. But I refused to cry in front of the bullies. I would not give that to them. So I would hold it in, push it down, and allow the words spoken over me to ruminate, simmer, like a crockpot of hatred and bitterness that would swirl around my heart and mind, taking up residence in any crag available. In my pursuit of perfectionism, I neglected proper use of my own emotions and boundaries, and tried to hold things together, right up until I would explode, every couple of months it seemed. What a mess.

I just read recently from a Beth Moore book that "perfectionism is insecurity in art form." Precisely. And that was the aim. And when those habits go unchecked as a child, when that becomes the form of coping and dealing as a child, growing into adulthood becomes very interesting. Truly, it's difficult to really grow when perfection is the aim.

And yet that was the path that I chose, for better and worse.


  1. Love this post friend. How transparent and true. Although I can't help but think like the mom that I am and pray that those same hardships not fall upon my children. I too had that teasing and name calling and just the awkwardness of maturing physically younger than most girls. It is a hard thing to deal with all of those things when you are still trying to learn to deal with your emotions.
    My prayer is for our girls. That they embrace their Father's love as the perfection and know that they need not aspire to be perfect but rather be blanketed by His love. With all the darkness in the world and all the hate in the end He is the light that outshines it all.
    Love you friend!


  2. I'm pretty sure I marked that same passage in Beth's book.
    Steph's comments are so sweet and strong. Love em.

  3. Ladies,
    I love you both. Donita, that book is slaying me to the very core, necessary, yet humbling.
    Indeed, there is much work and healing that I am seeking, prompted by my love for my daughters, who I so desire to shield and protect from the ways of this world. While I know I cannot do that completely, if God can heal me and allow me to be a woman that they would want to be when they grow up, then all the pain in the journey is completely worth it.


Thoughts? Feel welcome to share...