Monday, July 13, 2009

How Do I Deal With...

My desire for perfection in everything I do?

I was unaware of this character defect, before I joined Al-Anon; I believed I had exacting, but not unattainable, standards.

I look back to a pillow sham I once tried to make. I kept being irritated by the fact that it wasn't perfect, and ripping it out to redo. Before long, my pillow sham was a sad-looking rag of a thing, with so many holes in the material, from previous lines of stitching, that the fabric was essentially destroyed.

My first attempt was perfectly acceptable, since the imperfection was on the rear of the pillow sham, and would never be seen anyway. (Pillow shams aren't like pillow cases, they have a front and a back.)

By this point in my life, I'd been an experienced seamstress for many years. Most people wouldn't even have been able to see the imperfection that I thought I saw in the construction. I couldn't leave it alone, and say, "Good enough."

In my search for perfection, I destroyed the very thing I was trying to perfect.

That can be a metaphor for many areas of my life before Al-Anon. Anxiety drove me, and I couldn't leave well enough alone, I had to try "one more time."

In program, I have learned that I cannot do what isn't humanly possible. I may have to talk to myself as I'm doing whatever it is, reminding myself that my best effort is good enough, it's only a pillow sham/dog sweater/hemline adjustment/flower bed.

As I've been able to relax my impossible standards for myself, I've been able to relax my expectations of others, too. I can allow them to be human beings, with faults and frailties. I no longer need to have the best-trained dog of anyone I know - somewhat well-behaved is good enough.


  1. Love this post. I get it.

    As I became more compassionate with myself, I found I had more compassion for others.


  2. I now understand that I will never be perfect. And that has made life a lot easier.

  3. OH I can so relate to this. I am perfectionist to a superlative degree. The first time I found out that everything didn't have to be perfect I felt very odd, but at the same time free. It is still something I struggle with though.