Category Archives: Perfectionism

I Need to Fire the Judge.

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Every once In a while, I mess up really, really bad, and last Saturday (July 11) was one of those times. And when I do I’m incredibly grateful for God’s mercy, and for King David’s ability to encapsulate my feelings in the Psalms. Psalm 51 is a particularly good example,

Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. ~ Psalm 51:1-4, NLT.

King David wrote Psalm 51 after he was confronted by Nathan the prophet concerning his sin with Bathsheba and his conspiracy to have her husband murdered on the field of battle (see 2 Samuel, Chapters Eleven and Twelve).

And then I asked God to forgive me, because I so desperately needed His forgiveness.

So what actually happened? What did I do that made me feel such guilt and shame? As it turns out I was playing a new game on my iPad, and while the game itself was relatively harmless, at various points during the game it would offer timed challenges where you could earn extra coins if you could complete a level within a certain amount of time, for example, twenty seconds.

Now, I’ve never done very well with arcade-style games, or timed games of any kind, and I don’t play them as a general rule. They put way too much stress on me and have always been sure-fire triggers for panic attacks and self-abuse. When I downloaded this game there was no indication that it was an arcade game, or that there were any timing issues at all, so I thought I was safe.

Then I started playing it and discovered differently, but the timing challenges didn’t happen very often, and they were doable within the allotted time, so I didn’t worry about them.

Until…

Until I reached the upper levels. Once there I ran into a timed challenge that I could not beat no matter what I tried, at which point I absolutely fell apart. It drove me into a panic attack, and I started hitting myself ~ something I haven’t done in many months. In fact, it’s been almost exactly one year, because I wrote a post about God healing me of the self-abuse on July 16, 2019 (Go To Forgiveness, Go Right To Forgiveness. Don’t Pass Through Guilt, Don’t Go To Condemnation.), and interestingly enough He healed me of it in the context of playing a computer game.

So I had a panic attack and started hitting myself. Looking back, I feel a lot of shame about that, because I feel like I should have known better. I should have known better!! The problem is, when I get into situations like that, I can’t see the panic attack and subsequent self-abuse coming. I’m just blithely playing along, trying to complete the time challenge ~ and failing.

I guess that should have been my clue, that I kept failing at it, because I hadn’t failed at any of the other challenges, and I failed at this one every single time I tried. I should have stopped after two or three successive failed attempts, but somehow I just couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see that necessity, so I kept on trying until it was too late and I had reached the point of no return. It was at that point that my face was sweating and I was calling myself bad names, and after that was when I started hitting myself.

Once the self-abuse started, I kind woke up and realized what was happening, and all the rage at myself drained out of me. But I still couldn’t forgive myself. Not yet. Because, like I said earlier, I should have known. I should have KNOWN!!

I’ve always had the hardest time forgiving myself. I can forgive anyone, ANYONE, but not myself. Well, and my sister…

But even she’s easier to forgive than I am. But I’ve come to realize that in making that determination about myself, I’m really saying that I know more about me than God does ~ and that’s simply not true. And I’ve already come to understand that I would make a rotten God (or god; I Would Make a Terrible God).

McT and I talked about this situation during my phone-appointment last Tuesday, and we decided that what’s really going on is that I have a mean internal judge ~ probably all three parents internalized ~ both biological parents and my stepdad ~ who won’t let me accept that I’m human and therefore imperfect, and liable to make mistakes. When I was a kid being abused in the cult, if I made a mistake someone died, and it’s quite difficult to break that connection in my mind.

So McT and I decided that I need to fire the judge. What I really need to do is ask God to break the connection in my mind between the mistakes I was forced to make in the cult and the people who died as a result of those mistakes ~ because the mistakes were unavoidable. I had no control over them. They were forced on me by the people conducting the rituals.

My parents fostered that perfectionism at home as well. I can remember times when I would spill a glass of milk at the dinner table, and my mother would accuse me of doing it on purpose if I didn’t act abjectly remorseful.

Then there was the time after I left college when I decided to enroll in a local secretarial school. I completed the program there with the highest score anyone had ever gotten at that school ~ 99.2% overall ~ and when I told my stepdad about it, all he could say was, “Why didn’t you get 100%?” I was crushed after he said that. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right, like no matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough.

Now, I certainly don’t want to dwell on the past, but these particular events were times that, in essence, branded me. They left scars that only God can heal ~ and I believe He will do just that, just as He’s healed me of all the other things people have done to me. I believe He can and will break the connections between what happened to me in the cult and the consequences of those things, so I’m no longer trapped into doing things I don’t want to do ~ like hitting myself, because God didn’t want me to be abused in a satanic cult in the first place!

You are not to sacrifice any of your children in the fire to Molech. Do not profane the name of your God; I am the LORD. ~ Leviticus 18:21, CSB.

“The people of Judah have sinned before my very eyes,” says the LORD. “They have set up their abominable idols right in the Temple that bears my name, defiling it. They have built pagan shrines at Topheth, the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they burn their sons and daughters in the fire. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!” ~ Jeremiah 7:30-31, NLT.

It’s comforting to me to know that God didn’t want me to be abused in the cult, that it never crossed His mind! Knowing that has really helped me in my healing process, especially with regard to some of the lies Harry told me ~ for example, that he had to abuse me because God hated me. It’s so easy to forgive him for telling me that, because I know he was seriously deceived himself when he said it.

I thank God for His healing power in my life, and for His goodness to me!!

An Interesting Yet Painful Paradox

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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.

Rats!

I’m Perverting God’s Word. Moi? But Yes!

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It occurred to me recently that I’m twisting God’s Word. It says in the Book of Hebrews,

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek him. ~ Hebrews 11:6.

But I leave half that verse off all the time, because I’m terrified that I’m not pleasing God. This is the Book of Hebrews according to Sarah,

It’s impossible for me to please God no matter hard I diligently seek Him ~ Hebrews 11:6, Sarah’s Word.

That’s a hard truth to accept about myself, but there it is. Something I never want to be guilty of doing is adding to or subtracting from God’s Word! I love the Bible, more than any other book I’ve ever read or known of.

The Bible has some severe things to say about people who pervert God’s Word. Like, if you add to it then God will add all the curses listed therein to your life, and there are a LOT of curses in the the Bible. And if you take any words away from the Bible then God will take your name out of the Lamb’s Book of Life.

REALLY don’t want that to happen! I like being in the Lamb’s Book of Life a LOT!!

Of course my version of Hebrews 11:6 assumes that I have no faith, which would be why God can’t be pleased with me, according to the real version of the verse, as quoted above. Also, I realize that I’m basing that perception of God on the fact that it was forever and always absolutely and completely impossible to please Harry, and it also felt like it was futile to try and please my stepdad as well.

An example of that futility was one time after I had graduated from a program in medical assisting. I got the highest overall score that anyone had ever gotten at that school ~ a 99.25%, and when I told my stepdad about my amazing score, all he could say about it was, “Why didn’t you get 100%?”

I felt SOOO ANGRY when he said that!!

I had worked so hard to get that score, slaving night after night memorizing volumes of material that I didn’t think I’d ever use.

And all he could say was why didn’t I get a 100?!?

DAMN!!

I think he thought he was encouraging me, but he wasn’t. What he said cut me deeply. It made me feel like nothing I did was good enough.

I had to forgive him. I didn’t want to but I had to. It wasn’t for his good, but rather mine, so I did.

This is a hard thing for me. It’s so difficult for me to differentiate between God and my father, to separate them and put them in unrelated categories. I have to detach, disengage, and disentangle God from my father in my mind, will, and emotions so that God no longer comes to mind when I think of my father. So that the only reason my father might come to mind when I think of God is because I want to pray for him.

That’s my goal, and I know it’s doable.