I really do try to do the right thing by other people’s definition of what’s right. One of the characteristics of an adult child of an alcoholic is being “good”, “right”, or “perfect” (the hero role). In any dysfunctional family system there is one that excels for the benefit of the whole family. This is the one that “proves” to the world that the family is a good family–that nothing unusual is going on here. That was me. That is me. Growing up my “scape-goat” sister frequently said “you always think you’re perfect” while I felt the intense pressure to actually be perfect by my parents. Combine the “hero” role of an alcoholic family with the “stabilizer, peace-maker” role of a middle child and the burden–the responsibility, was almost unbearable. But I did bear it and I benefited ultimately in the impossibly high standards the family set for me and I eventually set for myself. I have had to strive hard to let up on myself and by doing so allow myself to be human. I have to remind myself that it’s okay to be “normal”, average, imperfect, and human. The expectations of others still leans on me to be better than is comfortable to be. Even a gas station attendant once looked at me in astonishment when I asked for a pack of cigarettes. This total stranger, somehow, knew that I was supposed to be the “good” one in the family (I was in my 40’s at the time). I looked this man dead in the eyes and declared “I try not to be perfect–it makes people nervous”. He laughed and got me my cigarettes after all. Sometimes being less than perfect feels so much better.