Abuse Hides in the Dark. Turn on Your Light.

Perfectionism And Abuse – January 2013

Hello! I feel disappointed in myself. I haven’t kept up with this newsletter as I intended. It turned into an automatic mailing of blog updates…how boring! I’m sorry for that, and I intend to do much better.

I vow that I will no longer try to create the “perfect” newsletter. I sense that perfection is too high a goal. After all, my attempts to deliver “the perfect newsletter” resulted in NO NEWSLETTER. I think “something” is better than “nothing”. I hope you enjoy this newsletter and find it somewhat useful in its imperfection!

Love, Light, and Laughter,

Signature of newsletter writer

Kellie Jo Holly

The Quest For Perfection

“Perfection” bedevils many of us; perhaps you suffer from it yourself, . I could blame my experience with abuse for it because, as you well know, abusers expect perfection from us victims. Not our idea of perfection, but their idea of the perfect wife, husband, child or friend.

Alas, I cannot blame the abuse. The flaw embedded itself into me well before meeting my ex. I sometimes think it attracted him to me. Perhaps he saw my desire for perfection as a tool to sink his hooks deeply into me. He used something innately present in my character as an ally to help him control me. Maybe he intuitively knew I would strive to be what he wanted, that I would try to be his perfect little wife.

Like so many a-ha moments relating to my abuse, I didn’t consider my abuser’s ability to use me  against me until after I’d left him. It takes time and distance from the abuse to untwist the knots.

Did you adopt the mantra “I must be perfect” during your abuse? Or did you strive for perfection before meeting your abuser? What kinds of symptoms (i.e. anxiety, depression,…) do you attribute to your quest for perfection?

“They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they’d make up their minds.”

Wilt Chamberlain

Perfection During Healing

Eighty percent of survivors ask me, “How long will it take to get over the abuse?” The answer to how long it takes to heal is different for everyone. How long you suffered or what types of abuse you went through holds no key to how long your recovery will take. Recovering from abuse takes as long as it takes, and that is that.

No one likes to hear my answer. They want a timeline or a step-by-step plan with neat little check boxes tick marks and track their recovery. If recovery could be reduced to a one-size-fits-all plan, perfectly suited for every survivor, then I would have heard of it by now.

Part of the reason we can’t prepackage healing prescriptions is that it takes time to wade through the rotten effects of abuse. You must know how you were hurt before you can heal it. Unfortunately, how you were hurt may not be apparent right away. Like Shrek, we are onions. Layer upon layer of character, learning, behaviors, and beliefs grow around our pure, spiritual core. Also like an onion, a healthy layer can grow over a rotten one. Right as you think you’re all better, something happens and you notice a dark, squishy spot on your otherwise firm and healthy self. This is where perfectionism strikes hard.

If you think your healing process must follow a perfectly prescribed path, you may get too discouraged and stop trying … But if you don’t get that rot out of there, it’s going to spread to the rest of happy, healthy you.

You can heal from abuse! But your healing process will also move in spurts. You will experience layers of healing along the way. You will find a comfortable place, live peacefully in your own skin for a while, and then realize there is more work to do. But there is good news! Each “new” problem is easier to overcome than the last one. If you pay attention to the problems as you find them, then cannot grow.


It takes courage to live in abuse. It takes courage to leave an abusive partner. Your courage allows you to confront each bit of rot your abusive experience caused. Use your history of courageous behaviors to see this through to the end. You can do this! I have faith in you.

My Longing For A Perfect Marriage

My book, My Abusive Marriage…and what i’m doing in it, is all about my journey to create a perfect marriage. The story begins right after figuring out that the problem in my marriage was abuse. It wasn’t me. Not that I was perfect, I still am not perfect. But all of the self-improvement in the world wasn’t going to help me if my husband wouldn’t get on board and work to change himself, too.


The end of the story, as you may well know, culminated with my decision to leave my marriage. However, some of the steps I took along the way may help you to save your marriage. My mistakes and my successes can guide you to either creating the marriage of your dreams or convincing yourself that there is nothing more you can do on your own.

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The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.  ~Anna Quindlen

Perfection Abuse

The Urban Dictionary, demonstrating that the streets do indeed have smarts, includes an entry on “Perfection Abuse”. Here’s what it says:

Perfection Abuse: Demanding a level of commitment from someone in a relationship, as if they should have read your mind. A way of keeping someone focused on their own faults, keeping you safe and secure from reproach.

“With my girlfriend, not only did I have to remember all the holidays and what we did and wore that day, I had to remember everything we said to each other and know what kind of gift she wanted and how I was supposed to present them to her. What a perfection abuse hell I had to live through!”

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