A Perfect Failure

Once upon a time, I was a perfectionist. I had to be perfect at work, at home, as a mother, as a wife, as a human being. Because I was striving for an ideal that was created from my own imagination with a generous helping of media, rather than striving to be my best and to love, perfectionism actually caused me to fail. I was a nervous wreck from trying so hard, and when things went wrong in any way, I couldn’t handle it, and lashed out at anyone near me. This caused my children, whom I adore, to fear me, and made it hard for me to do well and form friendships at work.

My perfectionism stemmed, I think, from being poor and not having parents I could rely on. I never had a safety net, so for me, falling always carried the threat of hitting the concrete hard. Even when I had a good job and a family, the fear didn’t go away. It trapped me as closely as the Count of Monte Cristo’s mask.

“Tal Ben-Shahar, researcher, positive psychologist and Harvard professor, has proven and shown that perfectionism is a leading cause of unhappiness”, says Carin Rockind in Positive Psychology News. I can attest to that! Perfectionism not only caused me to fail, it caused me to live life unhappily. I was never content with myself or anything around me, not because I was greedy but because I had not made things perfect. My family’s furniture had scuff marks. The dinners I made were sometimes received with indifference, or, worse, disgust from my children. My wardrobe was not fashionable. I had stretch marks.

The truth is that perfectionism is the ultimate from of self-centeredness. The idea that you can be perfect or make things perfect is a delusion of grandeur. The best that you can do is your best. You are going to fail, but if you learn from failures you have succeeded. I failed, then I berated myself for having failed. It has taken me into my 50s to give up my perfectionism and let the universe run itself, which it does anyway. I am much happier now, and though my relationship with my children still bears scars, I am working to make new and better relationships with them. This time, I think I will succeed.

Facebook Cowbirds

The cowbird is a bird that lays its eggs in nests of other species. It steals other birds’ nest space, then flies away, unconcerned. The cowbird, not being human, has no concepts of honor or compassion but acts on desire alone. Many couples experience times of unhappiness. In many cases, the couples resolve their problems and become closer and happier as a result. But Facebook has changed this on a scale far greater than the old type of affair. A man, feeling disconnected from his wife, will begin to look up old girlfriends on Facebook to help him feel good. These women, if they are unattached, unhappy in their own relationships, or just enjoying the spark of romance, respond fully to these men, whether sexually, emotionally, or both. An honorable woman would ask the man, no matter what their previous relationship was, if he and his wife had tried counseling, or had talked deeply. An honorable woman would tell the man that he must end his current relationship before he could be with her. An honorable woman would value commitment, and adultery would not be a thing lightly done. But for these women, no real thought is given to the wives who are being dishonored or perhaps badly hurt. No thought is given to children who may be harmed. No thought is given to a marriage, that, if left alone, might have healed fine. If thought is given it is superficial, or excused: We were meant for each other! The cowbird acts, by instinct, on desire alone. Facebook Cowbirds, the same.