Superman Complex: Cohabitation of Perfectionism and Codependency

This is a little journalistic blog to self, perhaps tire tracks in the path behind me that might be encouraging or assistful to one or two who may happen upon this some day.

Sometimes the most impacting realizations are the simplest, most basic of truths…even those that could be considered insulting to intelligence in most other contexts. So, don’t laugh. I knew most of these things throughout my life, okay? However, I learned them more recent times.

I am not superman. Despite my desire to be, and my attempts, often feeble, and too many backfires to admit to…I am just not perfect, I am not everything and everyone I wish I could be, for myself, for my loved ones, for everyone else. I am a recovering perfectionist.

Granted, my relapses bring me to interesting places of servitude and expenditure that go beyond the calculable. But when not kept balanced healthily with faith, the dissatisfaction with the deficit of others’ lives can lead to an unrest that becomes counterproductive. So I must consciously maintain that equilibrium between passion and faith, to maximize my availability to others, and ability to sustain the inner rest I need for myself.

But, borrowing a passage from Romans 7, I also see another law at work in my members: codependency. I’m also a recovering codependent.

Codependency particalizes the soul, where identity can be lost in the mix of the identity or state of being of other people or things. Thoughts and feelings begin to spiral off from the gravitational orbit of your spirit, your true inner being, and there is a systematic disintegration within, until you are simply ‘not yourself’ and have lost some if not most control of your own thoughts and feelings.

Throughout most of my walk with God, I have been very self-focused inwardly, despite my kindness, gentleness, and sincere desire for and seeking of God. I was subconsciously if not consciously ruled by self-serving motives, as well as various forms of pride and laziness, despite the level of faith I walked in and sought after, and any way God had used me. In a state like this, codependency takes on a very self-centered look. My identity, my state of being, the peace and joy I walked in, was based on that of what I was selfishly pursuing, whether a person or thing.

Once I truly started to come to places of deeper surrender of self in recent years, and began to really understand what it was to give myself away, to serve and love more freely, and free of ulterior motive or selfish gain, beyond comfort zones, with expanded availability, my codependency took on a bit of a different nature. Similar to the previous, my state of being mirrored the object of my pursuit. But my pursuits had become far more selfless in nature, so on the outside, it looked great.

My experience is that in the times I personally have said I care too much, it has been indicative of codependency, finding, or rather losing my identity in the needs of others. So, similar to overcoming perfectionism, I had to find a way to redirect my identity, what I cleaved to, what I had faith in, from things or people, and pour that into God. My genuine trust and furthermore satisfaction had to center in Him, while maintaining my brokenheartedness for that which shatters His heart. This redirection of identity likewise helps maximize my availability while allowing me to abide in rest.

These realizations about perfectionism and codependency in my life have become profound revolutions within. It gives me the opportunity to do something practical to balance and restore self dignity, individual identity, self worth…of course, all within the context of a humility that keeps pride warded off. But it makes room for an inner freedom that avails the heart to maintain what the Bible calls “a rest in His work” (Hebrews 4).

I believe this combination could be called a Superman Complex, from the perspective of one who definitely is not superman. I wanted to be perfect, and be everything to everyone. I still do. But I operated in this without the balance of faith in God to make up the gap of my inadequacy, and rest in my identity being found in Him and faith in Him. So, in my recovery years, I must maintain a focus in my heart on Him, letting Him be Superman, and me simply His instrument, and being okay with that. I have to accept that I am just me, and can’t save the world in one day. (Okay, I also can’t save the world in my lifetime.) I’ve got some work to do on that parenthetical statement.

Now I can departicalize and become reunified, redefined within, and even take this as an opportunity to allow God to be the one shaping me so that I may come to look more like my Savior than ever before.

The one thing I have to remember in this reshaping that reinforces the vitality of God in the process is that we as humans have a naturally addictive nature. Perfectionism and codependency are simply forms of unhealthy addictions at their core. So as I come out of these addictive patterns, or rather as they come out of me, I have to fill the empty places with healthy addictions, which certainly begins with God.

We can’t just ‘stop’ being addicted to unhealthy things. If we in fact do, we will simply replace it with other unhealthy things. In removing unhealthy addictions, we must redirect our addiction to Him, to fill the cravings and yearnings that we are born with, that can never be supressed. From that place with Him, we can then go about our lives, making much healthier choices and not so deeply influenced by unsatisfied cravings that can so easily lead to poor choices (illicit behavior, substance abuse) for our lives, or idols and strongholds that may not be inherently unhealthy or bad (sports, career, entertainment), but may become an issue or negative thing as it takes up inordinant space with respect to higher priority people and things.

Bottom line, what I learned about what I’ve known: I’m not superman. I know the One who is. I have to let Him be that One and be satisfied with settling for being like Him in the context of being myself. In this, I can rest in faith while loving tirelessly.


About Eagles Point

Serving and supporting the needs of people in grace and compassion on an individual and community level.
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4 Responses to Superman Complex: Cohabitation of Perfectionism and Codependency

  1. daylily2011 says:

    I love your writings and in my path of relinquishing perfectionism, I believe my salvation lies in me recognizing it is his will and not my own, “I have to let Him be that One and be satisfied with settling for being like Him in the context of being myself. In this, I can rest in faith while loving tirelessly.”

    “So, in my recovery years, I must maintain a focus in my heart on Him, letting Him be Superman, and me simply His instrument, and being okay with that. I have to accept that I am just me, and can’t save the world in one day.”

    With your words I agree that I can not change the world, As much as I wish, I can’t be the perfect wife, the unconditional mother and go beyond my capacity to help everyone, including my aging mother. I also can’t be the person I wish I were with self assurance and calmness in every situation. I must trust in God to allow me to speak my mind, spread his word and be true to myself all at the same time. In the end, I think God will reward me with Love from others in ways I previously thought I had to work for. If I am myself, through God’s love, I can feel strong and worthwhile without feeling like I have to retain perfectionism.

    God bless & Peace to you. xoxoxoxo –Dayliy

    • Wow, that’s powerful sister. Very powerful. Thank you for sharing that, and then turning and specifying as you did. That even helps me to specify further for myself, and take the pressure off performance, and do what I can and trust Him with what I can’t in each of my relationships and responsibilities, and passions to serve. So good, thank you.

      Abundant grace and peace to you, and your family and home………

  2. I love this post. I read it allowed to my husband. Very Very Powerful. Thank you.

    • Thank you…I thought it was powerful too, being that it wasn’t my genius but rather that of God’s. I needed it pretty bad, and it rescued me from myself, if you know what I mean. Peace and blessing to you and your husband, from us here…

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