Monday, April 7, 2014

When your Child is a Perfectionist

It's an adorable trait. She always follows the rules. One day, she even refused to walk into a baseball game with me because I was sneaking in food.

It made me laugh.

It makes her teachers love her.

I feel a strong sense of trust in her because, though she's younger than her sister, she follows through on her responsibilities. 

These are all good things, yes?

Lately, however, I am noticing how she crumbles when she can't figure something out. I watch her berate herself when something is difficult for her. She is dying to maintain her straight A average and please her teachers, outshine her classmates. I don't ask for any of this. 

I heard her hitting herself and saying how stupid she was because she couldn't understand her homework question. 

That's just TOO much. 

Even worse, when she does make a mistake or gets frustrated, she gets furious and either hits or throws something. Then, because she feels bad, she refuses to apologize. Instead she plays a victim and accepts none of the blame. When I've forced her to apologize to her sister lately, it's been a slow process. She says she's afraid that her sister won't forgive her...that her sister hates her.

And even worse... she will preempt the hate she believes is coming by shouting, "I hate you!" at her very heart sensitive sister, who only wants to nurture and be a good big sister. 

Then I have two very upset little girls. 


I am a self-professed recovering perfectionist. 

I gave up many of my perfectionist and type-A tendencies when I became a single mother. I had no choice. She was only a year old. Surely she doesn't recall my difficulties saying, "I'm sorry" when I've done nothing but model that behavior to my girls. She was too young to remember the fits I would throw because I couldn't keep a perfect house and take care of two children on my own, freshly out of a 15 year marriage. 

I'm better now. I am!

But when I try to help her...when I offer words of encouragement...or, in my less than stellar moments when I try to predict the stressful path she's creating for herself....she internalizes it. She feels doomed.  She's convinced hers will be a life of misery or, at the very least, miserably trying to be better than who she is now.

I'm at a loss. She went to bed tonight in tears, with me begging her to understand that she doesn't need to be so perfect. That we all make mistakes. That it's okay to screw up and say I'm sorry. 

She turned away from me, eyes red and filled with tears, and asked me to leave her alone. 

My snuggly baby girl...and right when I felt like I was breaking her heart, I realized she just broke mine.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

When the Mistress Wants to be Friends

It's very strange to cal myself "the mistress" but I was. Once.

Remember my affair? And remember that I was friends with my affair partner AND his wife during that time?

And you may or may not remember that I've seen her at various cycling events and she's always been so kind to me. She's even joked with him that she wishes he chose to have an affair with someone that she didn't like.

Oh and remember that I broke off even speaking to him because he kept me in secret even though we weren't even having an affair anymore? And occasionally, I would hear from him and he would mention that I wasn't the only one who was having recurring dreams about her and him and what went down... even though it was well over 10 years ago.

Well, I've reached out to her on Facebook to see if we can be social media friends.

I know, I know. It sounds a bit strange. I've not even had dreams about them lately and I haven't heard from him in... gosh, I can't even remember how long.... But for some reason, something told me to reach out to her. To admit, again, that I hurt her but to see if we could move past the "weird" and the "dreams" and the "awkward" because I feel like we both have, on some level.

It's nothing that is bugging me or that I need closure on. It's just... an unexplainable feeling that she needed to hear from me. I don't know why.

She may think I'm crazy. She may respond negatively but for some reason, I doubt she will. If anything, I may not hear from her at all. I'm not even asking for any forgiveness. In fact, I told her that I would completely understand if she never wanted to hear from me.

Something just told me to let her know that I'm sorry and that I care.

What does it mean? Who knows? It may lead to nowhere at all.

We'll see.