This post was written in collaboration with Marie Williams whose remarks are highlighted. Marie blogs at Come Fly with Me, https://mariewilliams53.wordpress.com.
We return to the topic of procrastination and perfectionism, related patterns of behavior in which many abuse victims find themselves trapped.
The part we play in creating our own dilemmas – the large and small crises in our lives stemming from procrastination – was discussed in Part 1 of this series.
Chance for Failure (Imperfection)
“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim. 1: 7).
Apart from the problems it would generate for anyone, failure – defined by many abuse victims as imperfection, to any small degree – results in shame and self-revilement for us. Since creating these dilemmas greatly increases our chance for failure, the question arises why we persist in creating them.
“The whole time I was procrastinating, I thought myself foolish, an idiot, a dunce, a failure, because who in their right mind, sees a fire starting or about to start, purposely hides the fire extinguisher, forgets where she has put it and then goes and reads a book, deciding to deal with the fire when it becomes bigger and more unmanageable? Because that is what procrastination amounts to when you come to think of it in rational terms. Yet I could not help myself.”
The obvious answer is that we do not believe ourselves capable of accomplishing the task at hand. Putting it off defers the painful acknowledgment of our own inadequacy. And it provides us an excuse for failure. Had conditions been right, had we started on the task sooner, perhaps we might have succeeded after all.
Again, the question is why. Why are we so certain of failure? This goes directly to our childhood abuse. On an unconscious level, we create these dilemmas to replicate the abuse which is what gives them such power over us.
We were told repeatedly how inadequate we were. Told how ugly, stupid, skinny, fat, or retarded we were. Told that we would never amount to anything. Or we were ignored entirely, starved for food and affection both.
No shock that we doubt and second guess ourselves, wrestling over decisions.
“I floundered when faced with choices. Wanting to please and be approved of ALL THE TIME, I became lost in my own lack of confidence. This, I think, was due to the fact that I couldn’t manage the abuse. I adopted the same response to situations which generated that same confusion in me.”
Failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Our abusers are “proven” right. So it seems to us. Our failure couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the damage they inflicted on us. Nooo. Continue reading