The lovely Gel said: “I’m interested in hearing more about what ‘stuck’ is like for you. From previous posts it sounds like you have achieved a major milestone by having sustained abstinence from the bulimia behavior. And we understand that EDs are much more than the behaviors….so it is of top interest to me, as a person still struggling to attain/maintain abstinence, what happens for people ‘ahead’ of me…what the face and deal with….and how.”
Gel, you already know that stopping binging and purging is not enough to call it a victory. Understanding and identifying ones feeling is huge but not enough either. Building a solid recovery layer by layer requires time, patience, courage and faith that one CAN do it. But there’ so much more!
Sometimes I joke that I got my bulimia from a simple vanity. My ED steamed from always striving for perfection. I’m not referring to a perfection a scientist seeks in conducting valid research. I mean the kind of perfection where I need to have a perfect body and am miserable and self-critical if I fall short; where I need to create the perfect environment or to be the perfect person at my job, in my family and feel an inner disaster if I fall short. Where I can’t focus on a relationship, a conversation or activity because my mind is busy figuring out ways to make something in my life perfect. I even wanted my recovery to be perfect too. So wrong!
Letting go of perfectionism is what I’m struggling with. Big time! It is beyond exhausting!
Why, you may ask? Why is it about perfection? Why I’m merciless in self-criticism? Why am I so driven to be perfect I’m willing to face the death?
I guess perfection is some kind of the ultimate safety. When anything is perfect it is beyond criticism, beyond judgment, it’s complete and whole and the most important it’s unconditionally loved. I still want that. Silly, because I clearly understand that perfection for us mortals, is impossible to achieve. In greek mythology, whenever a mortal attempted to achieve the status of a god or even one quality of a god, the mortal was cursed or went mad or died. The lesson: humans aren’t designed to be perfect. Perfection is for gods.
Now, recovery for me is venturing toward being kind and honest with my genuine, mortal, imperfect self. I’m torn! And it sucks.
My (im)perfect breakfast:
Gel’s comment to this added so much more insight to the topics, so I decided to put her comment into the original post. It’s golden!
Thanks for writing your thoughts on my question. This line really got to me:
“…perfection is some kind of the ultimate safety…….. When anything is perfect it is beyond criticism, beyond judgment, it’s complete and whole and the most important it’s unconditionally loved. I still want that.”
I never thought of perfectionism as an ultimate safety. But it is…or maybe perfect ideals give me a false feeling of safety, they are beautiful jewels that are always out of reach. I sometimes think that ideals of perfection must have some kernal of value…don’t they give me a glimpse of something that is deeply meaningful to me. Doesn’t it give me a guide star to move towards, kind of an inspiration to grow towards? I don’t know the answer to that. Mostly I feel a lot of anxiety about comparing myself to perfect pictures of how I should be.
So I thought I’d look up the word ‘perfectionism’ in a dictionary. Sometimes that gives me more perspective on a word and helps me look at what my conditioning is around it’s meaning.
Dictionary definition of perfectionism: 1. Any of various doctrines holding that religious, social, moral or political perfection is attainable. 2. A personal standard, attitude or philosophy that demands perfection and rejects anything less.
Just reading the dictionary definition makes my stomach tighten with stress.
A lot of times perfectionism does not inspire action towards betterment. How perfectionism acts dysfunctionaly within my ED is that I have ‘perfect’ ideals about healthy eating and insights (proof) of better health when I can apply my eating behavior towards these ideals…but I can never fulfill those ideals well enough…at least that is how it feels. I don’t really spend a lot of time berating myself about that. Instead THIS attitude kicks in: ” since I didn’t do that right or good enough, then I might as well binge, tomorrow I’ll start over and do better.” The crazy thing is this….I have been doing this ED for a long time. Now the perfectionism aspect of my ED is that I’m looking for the ‘perfect’ recovery plan to get out of my ED prison. I’ve studied myself, my ED, treatment philosophies for EDs,,,how to design my own treatment plan etc…..and underneath all that is the thread of seeking the *perfect* plan…and I can’t start (or get out of my stuck ED place) until I find it. OK , it’s not all that black and white…I am making good choices and some progress, But in this case my perfectionistic driver actually seems to be creating the opposite of what I want.
Thank you for sharing your true self…your honesty and kindness comes through beautifully!”