I just realized an interesting paradox, that I’m able to accept the fact that I’m flawed and imperfect, yet while recognizing that fact, I still expect myself to be perfect.
My pursuit of perfection has led to thousands of incidents of self-abuse over the years, yet if I acknowledge that I’m imperfect ~ as is every single member of the whole human race ~ then such a quest is a fruitless endeavor, and will always be one.
Then why do I continue to pursue it?
I don’t know.
Maybe I can figure it out, with a little Spirit-led assistance.
For one thing, it may be rooted in the cult and its rituals, which seemed to be never-ending. For instance, there was the one that they started doing to me when I was as young as two years old, where they had me in a room with a high ceiling, and a huge bonfire in the middle of it.
There was a metal table suspended from the ceiling by pulleys and a big timeclock on the wall, and there was a naked man tied down to the table. They would ask me questions, questions which had no answer, but they would expect me to come up with the right answer, and when I couldn’t the pulleys would lower the table closer to the bonfire. And the timeclock gave me a certain amount of time before it dinged. Once it dinged it was too late for me to answer that unanswerable question, and the pulleys were triggered to lower the table.
Because the table was metal it was like a frying pan, so as it got closer and closer to the fire the man’s skin began to burn, and the man started screaming in agony. He begged me to make the table stop moving towards the flames, and pleaded with me to answer the questions correctly. But given that the questions were unanswerable, and that I was only two or three years old, that was an impossibility. So all his screaming and pleas did was confuse me and make me panic-stricken and frantic.
That was the kind of perfection that was expected, even demanded, of me throughout my childhood. Nothing I did was ever good enough, no matter what I tried, and if I made a mistake, my mother made like I’d done it on purpose if I didn’t act remorseful enough. I remember spilling a glass of milk at dinner a few times when I was a kid, and if I didn’t act abjectly apologetic, she accused me of doing it on purpose.
Like, who knocks over a glass of milk on purpose, especially if doing so is going to result in a beating and/or getting raped, considering that Harry used rape as punishment for anything and everything.
I’ve wondered if having to feel that kind of abject remorse for a simple mistake is the seed that was the genesis for the self-abuse. It makes sense to me that it was, but even knowing that doesn’t seem to make any difference in being able to stop doing it, and that is extremely frustrating to me. Sometimes I feel desperate in my desire to not do it anymore. Lately I’ve taken to asking God to take me Home ~ that’s Home to Heaven ~ just so I don’t have to go through it anymore.
It’s just so painful, and I hate doing it!! It can’t be pleasing to God! It just can’t!!
The first incident of self-abuse I remember was while I was a student at Ripon College, and it was during my junior year. I was taking pipe-organ lessons (Ripon had a small, two-manual pipe organ), and one day during a practice session that wasn’t going at all well, I got so frustrated that I completely lost it, and I scratched my forehead so badly that I drew blood. I ended up having to find a Kleenex to staunch the blood-flow so it wouldn’t ooze down my face and make a mess. I also ended up ripping the pages of the music, so I had to figure out how to mend them so they were still readable.
The other early incident of self-abuse that I remember was when I was visiting Priscilla and Malcolm in Colorado, and they asked me to macramé a plant hanger for Bernice (Malcolm’s mother). They paid for all the supplies, and everything, but I only had a week to complete it, and somewhere in the middle of it I figured out I’d done a whole series of knots wrong and had to rip out a huge section of work and do it over, so I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to finish by the deadline Priscilla had given me. As a result I scratched my forehead and my arms, making an enormous bloody mess of myself.
They didn’t ask me how I got the scratches on my face, but I’m sure they knew, and I was too embarrassed to mention them.
I was able to get it finished on time, even a few hours early, though I ended up having to stay up all night to do so. I was so sure Bernice wouldn’t like it that I couldn’t be in the same room with her when they gave it to her. I had to hide in the other room. That’s how afraid of her criticism I was.
Fortunately, all my fears were for naught, because she loved it, and it remained hanging in her house until the day she died, several years ago. In fact, from what Katharine says, it’s still there.
So that’s my story, my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, perfectionistic, and painful story. I feel a desperate craving to be free of it. If I could open up my skull, and find the part of my brain that contains the self-abusive perfectionism, I would rip it out so I wouldn’t have to struggle with it anymore.
But I can’t, so I won’t. I guess I’ll have to trust God to do that part.
Such a lonely place you have to walk, because who has been where you are? No one. Under such enormous duress reliving some of these things it seems appropriate the best place to go maybe Psalms. Maybe Psalm 18
I love you, O Lord, my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies
.The cords of death encompassed me;
the torrents of destruction assailed me;[a]
5 the cords of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me.
6 In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.
7 Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
8 Smoke went up from his nostrils,[b]
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
9 He bowed the heavens and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
10 He rode on a cherub and flew;
he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him,
thick clouds dark with water.
12 Out of the brightness before him
hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.
13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice,
hailstones and coals of fire.
14 And he sent out his arrows and scattered them;
he flashed forth lightnings and routed them.
15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O Lord,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
16 He sent from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of many waters.
17 He rescued me from my strong enemy
and from those who hated me,
for they were too mighty for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a broad place;
he rescued me, because he delighted in me.
20 The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
and have not wickedly departed from my God.
22 For all his rules[c] were before me,
and his statutes I did not put away from me.
23 I was blameless before him,
and I kept myself from my guilt.
24 So the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.
25 With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
26 with the purified you show yourself pure;
and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
27 For you save a humble people,
but the haughty eyes you bring down.
28 For it is you who light my lamp;
the Lord my God lightens my darkness.
29 For by you I can run against a troop,
and by my God I can leap over a wall.
30 This God—his way is perfect;[d]
the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
In Psalm 22 David goes on to speak of looking for comforters but finds no one. This reminds me of your sentence speaking of wanting to go home, because enough is enough. God for you seem so far and the only way you can get close is to leave this place? But its not what we do, its what HE DID. The Suffering, the Praise, the Messiah.
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
Why are You so far from helping Me,
And from the words of My groaning?
2 O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear;
And in the night season, and am not silent.
3 But You are holy,
Enthroned in the praises of Israel.
4 Our fathers trusted in You;
They trusted, and You delivered them.
5 They cried to You, and were delivered;
They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.
6 But I am a worm, and no man;
A reproach of men, and despised by the people.
7 All those who see Me ridicule Me;
They [b]shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
8 “He [c]trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him;
Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”
9 But You are He who took Me out of the womb;
You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts.
10 I was cast upon You from birth.
From My mother’s womb
You have been My God.
11 Be not far from Me,
For trouble is near;
For there is none to help
Isaiah 41, tells us not to despair, not to worry, He is with us, He makes us Righteous and that makes us pleasing to Him. It is when we strive through ourselves, that it becomes a mess. The suffering is not pleasing to God, the fact you turn to Him IS. It is what He wants the most from us. Jesus wasn’t the only one stuck out there in the wilderness, we are too, but it is a wilderness of the soul in this place before Heaven. It is the human condition and as much as we rail against it, He knows we are stuck with it until again meet Christ at the River of Grace.
Late last night I was listening to Andy Griffith sing “I’ll Fly Away” And I just kept thinking, death where is your sting? Death doesn’t have the sting. But this life sure can. Not through your fault, but just an ‘is’ because somehow as a young child you got stuck in satan’s path.
We know how much you love the Lord. Biggest finger in the evil ones eye, you could do. So what’s he got? Not much left, he already threw it all at you. So the only thing satan can do is to try and make you doubt yourself. You already crossed the finish line and he can’t stand it. I am sorry for the weapons he uses against you, as its your own mind and that is just nasty.
But you are lovely, you are God’s beloved child, you are a winner and nothing can stop your Highway to Heaven and that pleases God immensely!
From: God’s Not Through With Me Yet
Reply-To: God’s Not Through With Me Yet
Date: Monday, February 4, 2019 at 5:21 PM
To: Kim Anunson
Subject: [New post] An Interesting, Yet Painful, Paradox
sarahjesusnlily posted: “I just realized an interesting paradox, that I’m able to accept the fact that I’m flawed and imperfect, yet while recognizing that fact, I still expect myself to be perfect. My pursuit of perfection has led to thousands of incidents of self-abuse over the”
Thank you, Kim! Your kind thoughts mean a great deal to me, and you’re right. The Psalms are the best place to go when I’m feeling this bad! I love God’s Word, and I know its healing power. It’s just so hard when the frustration gets to such a high level that I can’t control the self-abuse that almost always follows. I wish I could get to the point that my peace is so deep-seated and so overflowing that nothing, absolutely nothing frustrates me. At that point there would be no self-abuse!
I long for that day!!
Thank you so much for reading my blog! It means so much to me!!