A cringe-worthy word for most women. We like to appear as if we have it all together, and that getting our all together is done with relative ease. But we all know better… Our homes are comfortably (and mostly uncomfortably) cluttered, dishes sit unwashed in our sinks, our children wear mismatched sock, and a basket full of unfolded laundry is a permanent fixture of our home decor.
And then, we get wind of a friend or relative who will be popping in for a visit shortly. The mad rush to stuff away clutter begins. And by time the doorbell rings, we are wildly out of breath and blowing that unruly strand of hair off our sweaty foreheads.
Nearly every woman I know struggles with this kind of perfection, but today I’ll share the sacred of my own battle with perfection that goes far deeper. It’s a battle I learned was instigated by my circumstances as an abused child. Kindred Survivors, maybe it’s a battle you’ve fought (or are still fighting) too.
I thought normal must look like perfect. That’s the problem with children who are abused. And I was no exception. I had no sense of normalcy and tried to create my own world of normal (which in my mind’s eye looked like perfect).
Mind your P’s and Q’s…
And while you’re at it, take care of those A’s and B’s too. I was an overachiever in school. Everything from conduct to citizenship to scholarly pursuits. Anything less than an “A” devastated me, and if I didn’t win the school spelling bee, or read and write the most book reports in my classroom, my self-esteem (what little I had) plummeted.
My hard work was rewarded with placement into the gifted program for children during my elementary and junior high years which made schoolwork more challenging and competitive.
… and more heartbreaking if I didn’t live up to being the best, or most perfect.
I tried out for cheerleading, drill team, and mascot in junior high, thinking the more activities I tried out for, the better my odds of making one or another. I made the cheer squad.
… and smiled and cheered to hide the pain of my grandfather’s constant assaults.
I didn’t trust my personality, so I invented one by imitating popular classmates. I’ll never forget how good it felt to be asked if I was Carol’s sister. We both had thick brow hair, grown long past our waists. I worked hard to emulate her movements, her speech, and her confidence.
… and each evening I fell into bed exhausted in the trying.
I tried out again and made it again…
As a result of successfully hiding my true self behind a smiling mask in junior high, I tried out and made the cheer squad again in high school. My secret pain once again covered by a mask of supposed (my own hopeful supposition) popularity. But I was far from popular, and ended up quitting the squad midway through my tenth grade year because I could no longer keep up the false persona.
… and the truth is, I was lost to myself. I didn’t even know who I was was, because I had never been my true self. And because I hadn’t yet shared my sacred, I didn’t have a true voice.
And then I moved into my young adult years…
… and that’s a sacred I’ll share next week.
When your sacred remained secret, how did you compensate to create an appearance of normalcy in your young life?