(This is a take off on yesterday's reading from Courage to Change in Al-anon)
Growing up, I developed a tremendous fear of making mistakes. It seemed crucial to cover every possible outcome, because mistakes often led to an avalanche of accusations and abuse from my personality disordered family member--and eventually, from myself.
My self-esteem was diminished because the slightest error felt huge and I could not let it go. To cope, I would cover up and rationalize my mistakes, all the while trying to maintain the illusion of perfect self-control.
In our program, I learned to honestly admit my mistakes, and stop pretending to be perfect. This opened me for real growth. I find Step Ten especially liberating, by challenging me each day to be honest. I continue to take my inventory and promptly admit when I am wrong. Sometimes I find myself flinching but I know that when I tell the truth, I am free of the lies that held me back. Mark put it well, "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."
I will probably make a mistake of some sort every day of my life. If I view this as a personal failing or pretend that no mistakes have occurred, I make my life unmanageable. When I stop struggling to be perfect and admit when I am wrong, I can let go of guilt and shame. This is cause for rejoicing.
"Help them to take failure, not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance for a new start." Book of Common Prayer