One Perfectionist's Revenge

My Charmed Start

I was born into perfection, it seemed. All around me were perfect people with perfect public personas. Picture the year 1956 in burgeoning Westside Los Angeles, then a place of hope and sensibility. All was quite orderly back then in Los Angeles, right down to our African American maid, who exited the morning bus with the other women each morning. My mother had been a model back in the 30's, a perky co-ed from USC, my father, an up-and-coming defense attorney.

Mother threw galas, otherwise known as Cocktail Parties, with regularity, and I remember the women in particular who attended these events fancily dressed in organza, perhaps, or satin. Never to be outdone, Mother was always in designer gowns. She was elegant, my mother, and when I was old enough to make an appearance, she dressed me in velvet and lace. I was well aware of the social graces from a young age, and applied them without question.

On the Other Hand...

My father's side of the family lived close by, and did not condone such activities. They were the more studious types. Now, my aunts and uncles were not exactly ugly, but they were certainly left wanting in the looks department. Perhaps that's why many of my aunts were of the 'maiden' variety. My father's sister, in particular, was probably what one would think of these days as a 'battleaxe.' We all called her 'Tante,' a German term for aunt, and she was of short stature, stout, and quite intimidating.

It just so happened that Tante was also the principal of a Los Angeles junior high school, and I cringe to think of those 7th and 8th graders. She had been a Suffragette earlier in the century, and didn't take anything from anyone. She was a PhD, and proud of it, determined to pass on her legacy to the next generation. Tante was also my after-school arithmetic tutor, what with mother off at the Club and father at the office. This was a losing battle for my determined aunt; I may have sat still during these sessions, but I still detest mathematics with a passion.


My Inheritance

With such beauty and success all around me, I began the often torturous challenge of self-assessment. I was my mother's daughter, certainly, but always 'just short' when it came to feminine good looks. I had just enough of my father in me that people would describe me as kind of pretty. Oh, well. Hard on an adolescent, I suppose, but I have survived with self-esteem intact. As Tante continued to tutor me, I bucked and bristled at each of these sessions, learning, perhaps, just what I did not want to be.

The Finishing

The mistake my family made in trying to bestow their concepts of ladylike behavior and education was sending me to an all girl's boarding school. Rather than dooming me to such a horrible fate as a public junior high school, I was sent 400 miles from home to live for 4 years. Admittedly I initially was a pitiful and wounded young child, but it didn't take long to learn 'the ropes.' We young ladies were not. Maybe young, but that was about it. In the dormitories, we learned quickly how to deceive the housemothers on patrol, stealing their hearing aids and such. The lessons I learned had nothing to do with education, they were all about trickery. And survival. During the 70's, society was certainly changing, and my class began experimenting with drugs. On our daily trip to the local shopping center, a friend of mine convinced me to smoke a joint, extolling the fact that the cops would never notice if we were casual. She was apparently right.

Then came the LSD, the mescaline, the hashish. Those were days full of fantasy and hopefulness, gleefully being cosmic while safe from the outside world.

My Revenge

I suppose my revenge would have to be in my refusal to be anything my family had planned for me. I was never a socialite, never got a PhD, and became a drug addict. Now, that I was fairly perfect at, though I don't believe that particular role was what my family had in mind. In all their attempts to make me submit to their ways, I was bound and determined to do things my way, all through my life.

I no longer drink or take drugs, which is a miracle to me, and I wish these family members had lived to see me sober. But even without using, I remain fiercely true to, and happy with, my gloriously imperfect self.

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Comments 62 comments

creativeone59 profile image

creativeone59 7 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

Thanks for a very nice hub and thank you for sharing it.Godspeed. creativeone59


R.G. San Ramon 7 years ago

Wow. I can somehow relate. My mom was too much of a perfectionist (even if she's not), and she pushes me too hard. I remember my first GPA in freshman college - a 3.7 - and she merely dismissed it as "not exactly a 4.0", that "it could have been better" if I got a 4.0. She was not happy at all. And I remember getting 100% in my exams (except one, which received 99%) when I was in elementary. Getting the highest grades overall when I was young is not just the same as getting 100% in ALL exams.

My mother would always compare me with other kids in all aspects - looks, height, brains... everything! And for her, I always measure less than them. It was so sad really to hear your own mother take pride of other kids and not her own.

The result: I began to adopt her perfectionist standards and became critical to others, to her, and especially to myself. I became boastful and proud of my own accomplishments. Although it's quite sad to deal with such high expectations, I thank my mother for it. It made me strive harder than I usually would. However, there's always a flip side. And even if it's bad, 'cause it kinda lowers self-esteem, it made me even stronger, and I realized that the most difficult part of looking at the mirror is actually seeing yourself.

Thank you for sharing your experiences with this hub. I'm glad I stumbled across it here at hubpages.


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Thank you both, creativeone and R.G. for leaving your words. I really do appreciate your input. R.G., I am also happy that you stumbled upon this hub because I know exactly what you mean about self-criticism.

I'm the same way.


lyricsingray 7 years ago

L, this really moved me. I can't imagine the magnitude of pressure you endured as an innocent child wanting to be loved. I'm sorry they aren't here to see your triumphs also. Who knows, maybe they actually can. Keep doing what's good for you because you deserve a great deal. Nice hub, proud o you -

I don't think the typo in the headline stands out - it almost blends in

-

see perfectionism is for those who have no self - identity - and you do girl xo


BEAUTYBABE profile image

BEAUTYBABE 7 years ago from QUEENSLAND AUSTRALIA.

It really upsets me to read about the way things turned out for you, when there were so many things that you could have had. I went to an all girls school as well and we had nuns looking after us. I think that your mother would be so proud to see how you have turned your life around in such a good way, because you deserve to be treated right Lorlie, you are not here to be rediculed and belittled. You have triumphed above all that horrible stuff, the only way is up now and you have shown you are capable of this and a lot more. Don't be so hard on yourself with regard to looks. Do you know the saying "Beauty comes from within" and another " Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". You don't have to be a stunner to be beautiful. Your beauty shines through because you made up your mind that no matter what, you were going to do what it took to make your life count and mean something. Yes, you did choose to rebel, but look at you now you have WON, YOU ARE IN CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE NOW.

There is an affirmation that you should recite to yourself each day "I am beautiful and lovable just the way I am", and really belief it when you say it. Catch you next time BB


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Thanks for stopping by to read, lyrics and BB, I love your input.


Laura du Toit profile image

Laura du Toit 7 years ago from South Africa

Thanks for sharing - and maybe a few people will learn from the mistakes your parents made. By expecting too much we often get too little from people. If you accept them for who they are they know you love them and will think twice before letting you down. If you make children to believe they are not quite good enough what is there to stop them from being "not quite good enough".

Thanks for sharing!


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Laura, you are so very right. Pressure to be perfect can be devastating.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 7 years ago from Southern California, USA

Love your description of the 1950's. It is like watching an old movie and seeing all the fun costumes.


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Seeing the pics now is REALLY a trip!


EmyHR 7 years ago

I am currently at a girls boarding school and your Hub has convinced me that they havn't changed a bit since the 1950's. I can really relate to you as I often feel under the same pressure (an oxbridge degree etc), and have oftern felt that i could have been driven to drink or drugs, unfortunatly I have developed an aversion to food instead. But your story has inspired me to stay strong and remimded me that I'm not alone and that it is possible to recover. Thank you so much


EmyHR 7 years ago

I forgot to tell you to check out my hub at:http://hubpages.com/education/Life-at-a-girls-boar...


Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

I love the way you write, lorie - Your fearlessness in sharing deeply personal stories is matched only by your charming literary style. To me, your message is clear - parents who respect their children, recognizing their talents and passions and who subsequently encourage them despite their own lofty standards are the world's true saviors. Children who "overcome" misguided parents are heroes and those generous enough to share their stories are true social philanthropists. Thanks for all you do.


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Thank you so very much, Green Lotus, I am quite flattered. I really have nothing to hide and I feel quite comfortable sharing my life here on HubPages.


Cagsil profile image

Cagsil 7 years ago from USA or America

That was an interesting read. Thank you for sharing.


mistywild profile image

mistywild 7 years ago from Houston, TX (Proud Texan)

Thanks for sharing, I know it's hard telling personal experiences. Great read!


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Thanks for coming by!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

What a story! Man, I am glad I came by to read this. There is a lot to absorb here, a lot of culture, and society, and family. You are one fine writer. I enjoyed this piece much.


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

I blush, James! Thanks, coming from a writer whose work I admire greatly, that means alot.


blaise25 profile image

blaise25 7 years ago from close to you...

I can somehow relate..especially with the "my revenge" LOL

I guess there are always expectations and pressure but it's good you did what you wanted to and you're now in a happy life. Continue doing what you want and enjoy ;p

thanks for sharing ;p


Jane@CM profile image

Jane@CM 6 years ago

What a story you have to tell. I'm so glad you are your own person! :)


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Thanks so much, Jane. You are so very kind to say that, I do try to remain true to myself!


Bovine Currency profile image

Bovine Currency 6 years ago

Thank you lorlie, you do have a particular style of writing that I like :) Very sharp! Great hub.


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Thanks so much-that's quite a compliment coming from a writer like you!


franki79 6 years ago

perfection is an illusion, an unattainable goal set by people who set they're own standards based on how others perceive them, not to say that there anything wrong with it if that is how you want to be, I don't, I couldn't care less how other perceive me, I'm a redneck bitch and damn proud of it. In fact I didn't know what a gala was until I read this hub, I'd heard the word but had no idea what it actually was.

I am proud of who I am, what have endured to be the person I am today and you should be proud of who you are and what you have endured to be the person you are today. Hold your head up high, not spend your life trying to live up to an impossible standard, trying to be something you are not so that people like you. Who cares??? I for one like you.


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Redneck bitches rule, franki!!! I was one in Birmingham for 8 years and I loved it. Now, my family tried and tried to impose all this perfection on me and it never took, thankfully.

And I, for one, like you right back!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

Lorlie, we sound so much alike! Our moms sound somewhat similar, also. My drug is and always has been food. Great hub!


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

At least food keeps us alive!


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

The need for perfection is a trap! Unfortunately it seems to often catch the wrong people.

Thanks for sharing your story, it is very moving.

Love and peace

Tony


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

It IS such a terrible trap, tonymac. Thanks for stopping by.


Jenna Pope profile image

Jenna Pope 6 years ago from Southern California

Beautiful article! One more thing to ad to your resume -- you can write!


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Thank you, Jenna-I sure love to!


Tammy Lochmann profile image

Tammy Lochmann 6 years ago

Awesome that you have found contentment in yourself. A feat not easily undertaken to be sure. I enjoyed another glimpse of you. Thank you.

Sincerely, Tammy


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Tammy-thanks so much for your lovely words.

You're a very special Hubber yourself!


myownworld profile image

myownworld 6 years ago from uk

This hub left me with a smile... The burden of expectation, esp of turning out 'perfect' is a hard one to carry...and sometimes, out of a strange stubbornness within, you rebel by deliberately 'failing'. But it's only failure in the eyes of our parents...in reality, we've found ourselves! I loved your story; it's very similar to my own so thank you for sharing it.


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

myownworld, you are so very right-I've battled the impulse to fail for many years.

I'm glad you came by!


cosette 6 years ago

"my gloriously imperfect self". i love that. this hub allows others to see the unseen (and sometimes painful) part of wealth and privilege. your hubs, as someone said, are indeed elegant. i will add that they are also very thoughtful, and make your readers think. and *feel*. which is why they are wonderful. ((kudos to you))


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Your words are so very appreciated, cosette!

Thanks for stopping by...


Betty Reid profile image

Betty Reid 6 years ago from Texas

I really enjoyed your story. Not as disturbing as some other hubbers' autobiographies, but still fascinating. It's interesting to me that we hear so much about troubled teens from poor families, but upper class children are vulnerable too.


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

I'm so glad you pointed that out, Betty! Vulnerability doesn't get dollar signs.


MPG Narratives profile image

MPG Narratives 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Perfectionsim, this word causes a lot of angst so no wonder you turned to drugs and alcohol! Enjoyed your story Lorlie, so glad you made it through.


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Thanks, MPG, I'm glad I made it through, as well!


Cathi Sutton profile image

Cathi Sutton 6 years ago

Lauren, what an open and honest Hub! The more I get to know you the more I admire you and the better I like you! Those of us for lived our young lives in the 70s had alot to find out about, and some of us insisted on doing it the hard way. (I speak from experience)! I lost alot of friends to jail, and death durning that time of unrestrained drug and alcohol use and abuse. I'm just so glad you came out on top! And I'm so glad to call you friend now! I just feel it in my bones that you are a strong woman! And though I may have no right to say so.... I'm real proud of you!


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Ah Sweet Cathi!!! I proudly call you friend, too, and wish we could actually meet. But just seeing your name in my email is enough to bring a smile to my face.

Yep, the 70's were tumultuous times, and look at us both! I didn't lose many friends to jail, or death; I was too shy to make too many friends. Never really opened my heart. That's still a struggle. I covered all that up with booze and drugs. And cigarettes-it's my 8th day smoke free today, sweetie!!! Yipee!

Anyway, see ya soon!


Cathi Sutton profile image

Cathi Sutton 6 years ago

Congradulations on the not smoking!!!! I am struggling to find a successful way to quit myself. So far, nothing has worked. Let me know what you are doing to kick the habit. I need all the advise I can get! And if you have gone eight whole days smoke free, you got it whipped girl! Never give up! EVER EVER! I am sooooo happy for you! And thank you so much for the friendship! It means a whole lot!


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Well, my friend, I went to email you and don't see that option, but you can email me through HP-just go to my profile. Actually, I am using Chantix. I've heard horror stories about it, but I absolutely have to quit to have my hip replaced next month. The surgeon won't touch me unless I'm tobacco-free. I can't do it myself. I tried in the hub "Quitting Cigarettes Once Again." Didn't happen.

I am really doing well on the medicine, so I'd give it a thumbs up-for me, at least.


McHamlet profile image

McHamlet 6 years ago

Hey lorlie, thanks for this, great read, and I admire you for sharing. We all benefit from your sincerity here. Cheers')


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Thanks for the visit, McHamlet!


GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

You touched me. What a wonderful intimate journey you have shared. I, too, lived in the shadow of a beautiful lady. I saw her stumble with the addictions that plagued and sadly I never knew her lively self - that had long disappeared by the time I came into her life. My mother the socialite, who flew from Houston to NY every week, had me at age 38. She was the valevictorian who never studied. Perfect figure without trying. Photographic memory who could quote any fact or figure reliably. I will never be her - I struggle hard just to be me - a dim shadow. I did learn not to try drugs or cigarette - I knew IF she couldn't handle them, I would surely be forever lost.

You are a Wonderful writer. Thank you!


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

GmaGoldie-we had the very same mother! My mother was 33 when I was born-quite late in life for a woman during the 50's. EVERYTHING you mentioned is familiar to me. Wow. My mother was also a model, I took my looks from my father's side.

So glad you came by, I'm coming by your profile!


Iggy Sarducci profile image

Iggy Sarducci 6 years ago from Wherever I am now

I love the genuineness of your stories. Lorlie.


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Oh hey, Iggy! Thank you-the stories are true, sort of difficult to write, but in the end, writing is therapeutic, you know?

Thanks for the visit!


Iggy Sarducci profile image

Iggy Sarducci 6 years ago from Wherever I am now

Yes, very therapeutic. I would be shocked if your stories weren't true. They're touching because they feel sincere.


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Thank you. Believe me, I've lots more to write, but am hesitant to put some of it 'out there.'

If I could write as you do with such powerful imagery, perhaps I'd be a poet. Actually I did post a poem here on HP called "The Year of Treading Lightly," which HP doesn't seem to care for, but I wrote it knowing some huge changes were coming in my life this year. I just wish I could bring more passion into the writing!

Thanks again for coming by.


Iggy Sarducci profile image

Iggy Sarducci 6 years ago from Wherever I am now

Hey, I sense that you have a strong poetic writing soul in you, based on the feeling you can convey in your writing. I would encourage you to develop that form. Just allow your crazy visions, welcome odd word combinations and random nonsense, let extreme emotions control the pen, let passion fly out of the pen without filter. Then edit later.

I am positive I saw that title, "The Year of Treading Lightly." I remember thinking I was going to read that. It's gone? Ugh. You know, HP removed my list of goofy/offensive band names and song titles that you saw when I first posted. I was really turned off at first.

I'm only posting poems because they're already sitting around on my computer. And I don't have time to write new articles since I'm writing an intensive business plan. But I have about a dozen Hub articles in various forms of completion. I guess that's how it goes.

Anyway, sorry for using this like a forum. I look forward to more from you.


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Actually, Iggy, "The Year of Treading Lightly" is still there, it's just my lowest scoring hub. And it is my only attempt-so far-at poetry. I would really like you to comment on it, I so love your way with words.

Wow, thanks for your comment here...I blush, my dear. You know, I'm haunted by my subconscious at times but don't set it free very often-I'm an old lady now and have lost much of my edge. Or maybe I simply haven't touched it, fearing it's sharpened barbs. See, you've got me going!

I am terribly glad to know you, Iggy.


Iggy Sarducci profile image

Iggy Sarducci 6 years ago from Wherever I am now

Cool. I'm glad you pointed me to reading that poem. Poetry critique (or reading) is something I've never been very good at, so I hope it was useful.

You're only 53, dear. Age is a state of mind (and I mostly dig aging). But at any age I think it's healing to set the subconscious loose on paper. It's a safe medium because if you get out of control or offensive towards anyone personally... you can revise it or just keep that as a personal secret poem.

I don't write them, myself, much anymore.

Thanks again for the excess kindness. ;)


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

I honestly don't give out kindness without good reason. Don't think I'm schmoozing you at all! :) I do consider you quite gifted. I mean it.

Take care, Iggy!


Iggy Sarducci profile image

Iggy Sarducci 6 years ago from Wherever I am now

Oh, I know. I can tell you're sincere by nature.


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

I try, Iggy!


Website Examiner 6 years ago

I personally subscribe to the maxim of "perfection of imperfection." Living up to perfectionism can be a tall order, which doesn't always leave much room for what may be an even more important attribute: A sense of humor. You have benefited from these relatives as people you could learn from, keeping that worthwhile keeping, shrugging off the rest. W.E.


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca Author

Hi WE, thanks for the visit. You're right, perfectionism can be a cruel mistress as well as a tall order. A sense of humor is my very favorite attribute in myself as well as others. Aging is my trump card in this area of human nature, I have even learned to laugh at the past.

Take care!

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