Why couldn't they grasp that I knew my responsibilities and my standards? If I didn't live up to them, why shouldn't I castigate myself? I knew the right thing to do and I didn't do it.
Like many men who were molested in childhood, I grew up with unrealistic expectations of myself. (I didn't realize they were unrealistic.) I needed to prove to myself that I was a moral and caring person. Too often, after I failed to live up to my exacting ethical code, I sank into a pitiful state, rebuking myself for failing. I had no idea how to show myself mercy—let alone think I deserved it.
As I look back, I'm aware that because of my wife and my best friend, slowly—very slowly—I was able to believe that I was worthwhile and didn't have to be perfect. My friend Jeff Adams wrote a maxim that helped me: "Demand perfection; accept excellence."
I'm not perfect,
but I like who I am, and that's enough.