Friday, December 14, 2007

Progress not perfection

I lead the Al-Anon meeting this morning on the topic of perfectionism. I began believing in the early days of my life if I would just be a little bit better, if I would just be closer to perfect, if I got everything right then MAYBE, just maybe I would be good enough. Likewise, making everyone happy meant that I didn't have to deal with anger and criticism and judgment -- all things that scare the living daylights out of me -- and that they would love me. These thoughts are flawed and have been replaced with the very useful Al-Anon reminder that when I desparately want to be in control of everything and for everything I do, everything everyone else does, and everything I see to be absolutely perfect, that I have to ask myself "How important is it?"

I was thankful to God this morning that while I was bemoaning feeling down and isolated, there were some really important things going on in the lives of the people in the room. Just this week one person had lost a parent, another a close friend and still another was going through Christmas for the first time without her husband as they are in the midst of a divorce. It helped me to realize that when I sit in the quietness of my own mind, my own problems seem immense. However, when I force myself, however hard, to be in the presence of others, I learn that the world is much bigger than me and has much to offer.

One thing I didn't touch on in the meeting this morning was that I certainly don't pursue perfection in every facet of my life. There are some areas of my life where I, frankly, do a half-ass job and just hope it is good enough that no one notices -- or at least calls me on it. I've done it that way to make time for my acting out. I've needed all the time and all the space in my head I could muster to be with my disease (either in thought or deed). It's been like a child that I made time for and pampered and helped to grow. Someone told me when I first came in to recovery that I had to put just as much effort into recovery as I had put into acting out. Whew! That's an awful lot of time, work and effort. But the rewards -- being present with those around me, regaining a sense that my life belongs to me, being responsible for myself, and developing feelings of self-worth and dignity -- are far greater. So I keep working towards progress, not perfection, one day at a time.

1 comment:

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

I'm always amazed when I read recovery blogs by how much we are all alike in our (you're right, often targeted) perfectionism and our isolation. And by how much it helps to reach out.