Updated: Mar 2, 2020
So my greatest weakness of late has been my perfectionism. I’m guessing maybe I’m not the only one. While alcoholism was what first brought me to recovery; perfectionism has also been a lifelong struggle for me. I believe that as we begin to work on specific behaviors, other unhealthy behaviors may rise to the surface. That said, it’s not uncommon for a secondary addiction to rear it’s ugly head once a primary addiction is under control. When I first gave up alcohol, I immediately began consuming copious amounts of sugar in the form of cookies, cakes, and ice cream. While I initially allowed myself some transition time, I eventually had to deal with getting my sugar intake under control. I also used nicotine for much of my early years in recovery so I also had to deal with that addiction. After letting go of alcohol and nicotine, and getting my sugar under control, it's no wonder that my perfectionism is so glaring.
Perfectionism is a tough road to hoe both for the perfectionist and for their loved ones. I know for myself perfectionism generates tremendous stress and anxiety. I often feel very uncomfortable, even in my own home, when things are not in order and clean. This discomfort leads to obsessive cleaning and organizing, ultimately resulting in very little time to actually relax and enjoy my family and my home. I often find it very frustrating and difficult to navigate. My perfectionism also often leads to my being very judgmental towards others who don’t meet my standards; which simply doesn’t serve anyone.
What I have begun to uncover is that my perfectionism is very strongly linked to my need for control, and my need for control is a defense mechanism that keeps me protected from vulnerability and possible emotional pain. Unfortunately, they both also keep me from truly experiencing connection with friends and loved ones, which often leaves me feeling angry, disappointed, and alone. As I sit here writing, I realize how this parallels how I used alcohol to escape my feelings which ultimately also kept me disconnected, angry and disappointed. Ding, ding, ding! Old habits die hard.
I am grateful that today I possess the ability to introspect and identify how my behaviors are affecting my life negatively. Once I identify what needs to change, I can begin shifting behaviors and ultimately changing the way I interact with my environment, my loved ones, and myself. Here’s to lifelong recovery from all the things; one thing at a time!