AM: My Aunt Betty sent me this email many years ago. I gave one of our teens a device to help him with his sore muscles. He used it improperly, and it caused damage. I was beating myself up for giving it to him. My Aunt Betty’s response to my email is below:
Betty: As I read your email, I wondered, “Why does the Perfectionist part of Annemarie seem to annihilate everyone else’s responsibility for their choice as though they are incapable of taking their own responsibility for their choice? Does she see herself as so powerful, but the teens as incapable of making responsible decisions without her? She says her teens are responsible and intelligent. And yet, in her need to blame, shame and guilt throw on herself, she treats them as though they cannot make responsible decisions. Therefore she is the guilty one for any mistakes that they make. Doesn’t she accept a well-known reality that most of the learning teens do in those years are through their mistakes? Can’t she allow them the right to make those mistakes and stay out of it? She must drive them crazy by taking all their responsibility away. She told X to not use the machine too long. He didn’t listen to her, and chose his own thing and got injured. But now, she has to beat herself up. This is not making sense. She’s got to learn to stay out of it, and give them their own personhood and right to make their own mistakes.”
Do you beat yourself up, because you are to be “perfect as God is perfect” in the sick interpretation of that scripture? It really is referring to the perfection of his mercy, and beating oneself up is the opposite of mercy. It is the opposite of what the little St. Therese taught. More than anything, this is where you need healing. Mercy for yourself in what you judge as a lack of perfection is hard to come by. Honey, we are simply creatures. God made us to learn through mistakes. He knows we are going to grow through making them. Why can’t you accept who you are? It’s painful to watch you beating yourself up.