The Disease Called Perfection

Epiphanies tend to come at weird times, when their associated topics are the last thing on your mind. Such was the case a few weeks ago. As I was in the kitchen washing dishes one night, I was struck with a huge revelation, out of the clear blue sky: I’ve spent my entire life focused on holding myself to such an impossibly high standard of perfection that I’ve created for myself a subconscious block that unless I am a “perfect” parent, I cannot and will not allow myself to become a parent AT ALL.

Now, logically and realistically, I know that perfection is simply impossible. No one is perfect all the time, or even most of the time, no matter what. There’s always going to be something a little messy or not done quite right, or just a little “off”. That’s life. Someday, our kids are going to have diaper blow-outs and occasional fevers. They’re going to cry – sometimes for hours – and so am I. Life isn’t always going to be white picket fences and perfectly manicured lawns. Kids are messy; life is messy. My clean car won’t always be so. Once kids enter the picture, life as Mr. Cupcake and I know it will take on a whole new set of challenges that we’ll need to figure out, and it won’t always be pretty. That’s something I’ve been having to learn to accept, to learn to be ok with.

While I may seem confident and sure of myself to much of the outside world, what many people don’t know is that I’ve dealt with some deep-seated anxiety and major self-esteem issues for as long as I can remember. I’ve struggled immensely with the constant thoughts of “am I good enough? Did I do enough? Why did I do that or say that instead of this?” Only now, nearing my mid-30’s, am I learning to be ok with who I am. I’m learning to give myself the benefit of the doubt and am learning to be my own friend for the very first time. I’m slowly learning to forgive myself for my faults and shortcomings (whether real or imagined), and to be kinder and gentler with myself and those around me.

As I mentioned, the epiphany came when I wasn’t thinking about anything in particular. I was doing the dishes, listening to my favorite iHeart radio station, when a song I’ve heard a zillion times (and have felt a special connection with) came on. The song is “Best I Can” by the Art of Dying [if you haven’t heard of them, I HIGHLY recommend YouTube-ing them; they’ve got a lot of fantastic, life-applicable songs]. Some of the lyrics for this particular song say:

“I am doing the best I can
With everything I am;
Don’t you know nobody’s perfect?
Do you understand
How hard I’m trying for you?
Don’t you know I think you’re worth it…”

Until this moment, this had been my anthem the last few months to my spirit babies/future children (wherever they may currently be out in the ethers). But in this moment, I heard it as though THEY were saying this to ME, and I burst into a puddle of tears on the floor. This reversed context absolutely threw me for a loop and knocked the wind out of me. They were using that song to tell me that I am worthy, that I matter; that they recognize that I am doing the best that I can. They were telling me that it is ok to be imperfect, and that I need to be ok with my imperfections too. Still now, weeks later, I hear the double meaning and I get teary eyed.

Deep down, I know that I am doing the best that I can with what I have. Do I have days that I truly don’t try hard enough, that I camp out on the couch, in front of the TV, with a big glass of wine and a cookie (or seven), when I know I should be at the gym instead? Of course! Don’t we all have those days? But those days are far outnumbered by the days when I work long hours, taking care of everyone else but me. Is our house always clean? Ha! I’ve been accused of many things in my lifetime, but “good housekeeper” isn’t one of them! 😉 Do I have a healthy, home cooked meal on the table every night? Hardly…Jersey Mikes’ takeout is my version of “Cheers” these days, where they all know me by name and how to assemble my sub-tub before I even say a word. But you know what? It’s ok! I don’t have to be everything to everyone all the time. I am truly doing the best that I can. Allowing that realization to sink into my bones, into my very core, is what I believe will ultimately liberate me and allow me to finally become a mom.

If you resonate in this same struggle with the disease called perfectionism, know that you are worthy. You matter. It’s ok to be ok with – and even embrace – your imperfections. You are perfectly imperfect. And that’s a beautiful thing.

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