The get-my-sh%%-together, resolutions month.
Last weekend, in a caffeine-fueled haze, I created a vision board on my bedroom door. I’d just completed another self-help, motivational bestseller. The author strongly recommended a vision board to stay focused on goals. So the vision board was made with a visual collage of all of the ways I want to contribute to the world – all the things I want to do, all the things I want to be. Epic. All epic. I felt accomplished and determined and clear on my priorities and accountability to see to it that I achieve ALL of these things. Like, stat.
Naturally, I woke up on Monday morning with my longtime soulmate at my side: Anxiety.
By 9 am, I was sitting in my office – disgusted with myself. Defeated before I even started.
I am so not good enough. I can’t do anything I want to do. I’m basic and boring and not capable of achieving anything on the vision board. I am already failing and will always fail because I am me.
And then recognizing my anxiety compounded my sense of defeat.
See, typical me. Freaked out by my own doing. My own worst enemy.
I really don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied with myself and my life – no matter what.
My theme song:
Ever feel like that?
I know this is a common challenge for adult children of alcoholics, especially the eldest child.
How freaking sad!
We kids of alcoholics grow up to be adults and proceed with our lives in tireless pursuit of perfection and with it, a glorious holy grail of satisfaction. Yet it never arrives and we never discover it, no matter how hard we try.
Our family and friends may shake their heads and list all the reasons why we’re ridiculous for our lack of satisfaction.
You nod because you know but there’s no changing how you feel about yourself.
A long-term effect of the unsteady environments caused by parental alcoholism.
I could give you 50 specific memories of mother’s wish-washy, on-and-off, utterly confusing pattern of loving reassurance (“I’m proud of you!”) and lack of reassurance (ignoring me – disconnecting for days, ignoring achievements). This situation programmed my brain this way.
So after nearly one week of staring at my vision board and swimming in internal disgust/panic/disappointment today I realized:
Desire for extreme epic-ness is paralyzing. Maybe our overachiever ACOA goals do more harm than good in our lives? Super ambition is supposed to be a very good thing but it’s only given me a bunch of half-done projects and list of unmet goals because I couldn’t make them perfect. It’s not a perhaps – it’s a fact. When I think about doing something, it must be epic or nothing at all.
This kind of thing occurs to a lesser extent with most people, I suppose. One month into the new year, I’m already hearing people’s complaints of their new-year resolution struggles. They’re always talking about their gym memberships that go to waste and the hour-long yoga classes that they never get to because they can’t fit into their schedules. Then they feel guilty for the broken plans. Mind, body and spirit takes a hit and they feel disappointed in themselves. But they seem to get over it quickly. I can’t get over it.
Maybe the only choices for us perfectionist ACOAs are:
- Pursue an endless list of goals and just deal with the lack of satisfaction for the rest of our lives
- Decide to just to do small, un-epic but meaningful things.
I can’t do everything epic. I hate this! Yet another thing I’ve long wanted to control but cannot.
Something is better than nothing. Start somewhere.
I’m not sure I’ll ever feel truly satisfied with myself and how I’m living this life but escaping the paralyzing grips of perfectionism sure sounds epic.
This is among the tallest hurdles in my journey.
Take good care of yourself.