Birthdays are important. For me they are more important than Christmas, Easter, anniversaries or any of the other celebrations which come and go each year. Birthdays are your own special day and as far as I am concerned should be properly celebrated. They need to be PERFECT.
Yesterday my daughter was 12. I made her a cake. I am a good baker but not very skilled at cake decorating. I bought a special horse shoe shaped cake tin and the cake came out well. When I came to decorate it, everything went wrong. The first icing wouldn’t stick and the second ended up more red than pink. The cake was also fragile due to the shape so when I tried to move it it broke.
I decorated the top of the cake with little riding hats, ponies, rosettes and horse shoes which I modelled from icing. I had visions of hand painting them but in the end I just went for plain silver because by then I was so stressed I felt like throwing the cake away and quite frankly, getting totally and utterly obliterated.
The cake was supposed to be perfect. It wasn’t. Far from it.
There is a lot written about the link between addiction and perfectionism. I have been a perfectionist for as long as I can remember. As a child if I made a mistake I would rip the page out of my exercise book and then open up the staples holding the book together and replace the missing pages so that no one would notice pages missing.
I like everything to be tidy, really tidy. I need to produce work which is spot on – I don’t understand the concept of “good enough”. I have to be efficient and super organised, I plan, plan plan. Last minute or the idea of winging something make me very, very agitated. If things are going well I will catastrophise – it’s only matter of time before something goes wrong.
I drank to deal with the feelings of failure and inadequacy which overwhelmed me. Alcohol took the edge off. When I tried to moderate and failed I decided that as I couldn’t do so perfectly it wasn’t worth stopping. So I carried on drinking.
Now I no longer drink my perfectionism hasn’t eased. I know I am hard on myself but I can’t seem to control it. A particular source of despair is my lack of weight loss. I know it’s shallow but it bugs me. I wanted that cake to be perfect. I want to be slim and confident and self assured. I want to do this sobriety thing flawlessly and with an external appearance of ease. And it’s hard.