I was raised with a lot of southern rules that created a picture of perfection to the outside world. The ones like, “ Amber that’s not very lady-like”, “Amber cross your legs you have a dress on”, “Amber ladies don’t curse”, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. Then there were a lot of unspoken rules too, “be seen and not heard”, “always respect your elders”, “don’t have needs”, “take care of yourself”, “trust no one”, “It’s not always about you”.
Rules, rules, rules. I was masterful at following rules to either blend in and go unnoticed or achieve the highest and best acknowledgement because any less was never enough. I never had the courage to question the rules. What if the elder was abusive? Why is it dualistic -where only one person can be right? What is “nice”?
The intention was good, but the message was: don’t be honest, don’t tell the truth, don’t be yourself, everyone else’s opinion is more important than your own, even if you’re right-bite your tongue, you’re unimportant, no one is reliable, and don’t have feelings that is weak. This is not about blame and fault. My parents were only continuing the way they were raised. And lets be real, this is also cultural. Perfectionism is pervasive and contagious; it uses the ammunition of shame to destroy sense of self.
I’m no southern bell and never will be. I wear flip flops year around, even with a dress (which is rare). I curse A LOT, I make my opinion just as important as others, I’ve learned to trust and allow others to support me. My feelings can’t be wrong and life isn’t black and white. It is about ME, in my life, as a recovering perfectionist living in grace and permission.