The Perfection Trap

by | Nov 28, 2022

When I was younger, I fantasized about having the perfect family. Then I grew up and knocked myself out trying to have one.

I have been married for thirty-five years. I believe marriage is about two people out-serving and out-forgiving each other. But for many years of my marriage, I did not have a healthy understanding of this. I over-functioned a lot in an effort to reach perfection. I allowed unhealthy patterns to exist and then continue in our marriage that had nothing to do with servanthood or forgiveness. I was committed to making my marriage work at all costs — even at the destruction of myself. Finally, I recognized this and took action, but it was a long time coming. And we still have things to work on all the time – which is normal in marriage.

I tried at parenthood to the point where I blamed myself and lived in such regret if I made a mistake. (And I made plenty of them, like any parent.) When my kids had any kind of problems, I took it super hard. And I blamed myself for anything that happened.

The reason I did all this was that I wanted to achieve the perfect family – at any cost – to make up for things I went through earlier in life. (Relinquishment, adoption, and the dysfunction of my adoptive family that ended in the divorce of my parents, among other traumas.) My thought was that I would do whatever it took – at any cost – to have the perfect family once I got a chance to do it myself. I would sacrifice whatever necessary even if it killed me to have the perfect family.

Can I just tell you that it got incredibly heavy? So much so that I had to give up the goal. I haven’t given up on having a good family or even a great family. But, I have surrendered my goal of having a perfect family.

When I became an adult my thought process was, “I deserve to have a perfect family after what I’ve been through!” Now I realize that nobody gets a perfect family, because we are all flawed human beings. You can have a good family but if you are striving for perfection it will be so dang heavy, you will feel the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Sometimes I catch myself in the throes of disappointment over how something went with my husband or one of my kids and I realize, there I go again…having this false expectation of perfection – from them or from me. I have to remind myself all the time that it is just that – something false that was never appropriate for me to strive for.

I have come to terms with the fact that family or anything in life will never be perfect this side of heaven, BUT – we can create something that is really, really good.

I know I am not the only adoptee or the only person in general that tries to make up for all that I lost in life. In my effort to do that, I put a heavy yoke upon me that I was never meant to bear.

Maybe you are at this point today where you have exhausted yourself to create a world that makes up for all that you lost. If you are feeling the crushing weight of that today, can I just encourage you – let go of the expectation of perfection and breathe. As someone once said, life doesn’t have to be perfect to be amazing.


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