My battle with Perfectionism

In my overall search for the “answers” in life, I have come to one very uncomfortable conclusion:  I am a perfectionist.  I knew this already, but I did not necessarily understand perfectionism itself.  I sat down with a few books and got very intimately acquainted with the topic and two things happened: I understood a lot more about why I am certain ways with myself and I felt relief that it doesn’t have to be that way.  There was also a lot of sadness, and still is, surrounding this and how it came about.

Do you have one of those voices inside of you telling you that you are unworthy?  Mine acts like it gets paid per minute of success – it is constantly there telling me that I spoil my child, that I am ungrateful or snobbish, that I am not worthy of anyone’s love, that I am an utter failure who is holding on by a thin rope, and even sometimes, it tells me that I’m not needed on this earth (not so much in a suicidal way as much as in an unworthy way).  My voice even sounds like someone who is a real life person with whom I have a relationship.  The shame in that alone …

There have been so many moments of joy that I should have had, unspoiled, but this little voice will say something, or hint at something, which bothers me to the point of hyper focus.  What that does is take my focus off of the experience or person in my life and refocuses on my short comings.  Legitimately, I have people in my life who do this too and I have learned to do it to myself in such a way that I do not even recognize it.  Or, when I have recognized it, I convince myself that it’s part of my self-awareness and self-improvement.

Here’s the rub: perfectionism is not about self-improvement, it is about trying to earn approval and/or love.  But guess what?  You can’t earn love.  It’s not something to be earned.  It’s either there or it isn’t,all based on how you create it and allow it to grow.  Two people have to actively work on that love.  It’s not about a scorecard where if he does this, I love him, if he does not, I do not.  Sometimes, I do wish it was that easy, but it isn’t .  When you truly love someone, unconditionally, it is not earned.  You cannot just give up on love because they hurt you.  You can end the relationship, yes, but that does not make the hurt go away, the hurt of losing that love, losing that trust, but alas … another post for another time.  The point here is – you cannot earn it, you cultivate it.

Approval is something entirely different.  I have associated the two for a very long time, probably my entire life.  I have longed for love and approval, feeling of belonging, a sense of place where I am free to be who I really am.  I have felt trapped in a fake self, trying to find the right place, befriend the right people, have the right kind of life.  I worked hard for that, found it, and realized it did not bring me joy.  I’m trying to re-find it and I have glimpses of joy, but it’s not always sustained.  If you have that voice saying you’re not perfect, just look around, you are not loved or approved … well, you will find it.

I honestly feel like the side of me that strives for perfection has actually hurt me a great deal.  I have not improved in any way, instead, the shame of everything I have done wrong replays in my head on a speed loop, pushing me further and further back into my hole of despair.  Depression, anxiety, life paralysis (Yes, oh my goodness yes, this is me … someone has actually said this), missing opportunities (also very much me) can all stem from perfectionism.  How is it, then, that I have been thinking perfectionism is a good thing, that people who are ambitious and win at life are perfectionists?  I have no clue how I came to that conclusion, but I bet that little voice has something to do with it.

I do suffer from depression and anxiety and paralysis of forward progression and I have suffered a lot of missed opportunities.  Through my transformation (as I will affectionately call this stage of my life), I have started to realize that it just isn’t working … this perfectionist viewpoint.

Instead, I am incredibly afraid of failing.  Of having an amazing person not feel I am worth their time.  I am so incredibly afraid of criticism that it is ridiculous.  Whenever I get feedback, if it is not 100% positive, I fixate on the negative and try to will myself to do better.  But you know what?  All it does is make that spot worse – improvement doesn’t stand a chance.  It creates this feeling of me being a bad person who is not worth anyone’s time.  It has a face, it has a voice, and unfortunately, it has had a hold on my life for far too long.

Guess what?  We all go through this – different stages, different levels – but we all go through the shame, blame, we are not perfect and do not deserve cycle.  I am trying to have more positive self-talk.  I have been writing down the good feedback I’ve been getting and using that to help with my self-talk.  I know I am not a snob, I know I am not perfect, and I know that imperfection is wonderful and can openly celebrate it in so many others that I love.  We are all different, we have strengths, we have weaknesses, and we are made that way beautifully.  I am going to try and remember that …

In the spirit of accepting imperfection, I am not going to proofread this (stupid, yes, but I’m going with the theme here ….).  Happy reading, and mind the mistakes.


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On the eve of a big day …

My one and only mini-man turns five tomorrow.  Five years old.  It happened quicker than I thought.  I am torn between my pride and love for him and my sadness that it is going by too fast.  I don’t want to miss it.

My son has grown to become a very smart, intellectual, sarcastic and overwhelmingly compassionate little one.  He has taught me more about how to treat someone than any other single person in my life.  He has taught me the difference between conditional and unconditional love.  He has taught me patience like you would not believe.  He also reminds me daily what a gift life is and how lucky I am to be blessed with being his mother.

Before he was even completely born he started to pee all over me.  🙂

There were times where I got on my knees and prayed that God would make him ease into sleep.

He asked me to marry him the other day.  I told him he didn’t need to marry me, I was already his forever.

He has yet to meet a stranger.

While in Target when he was about two, this woman kept watching us with horribly sad eyes.  Honestly, I was all mama bear inside and starting to get protective.  Ryan wanted me to push him to her, which I did, cautiously.  He reached out to hug her.  She started crying … she had moved here 6 months ago to be closer to her grandchildren and her son was told he had to move to the west coast for work earlier that month.  He knew that woman needed a lift and he provided it without hesitation.

He likes to make up his own stories at bedtime.  We sit next to each other, he picks an animal or topic and we take turns making up stories.  His imagination is killer.

I was talking with a dear friend about the patience with a child.  I have to say, I am so thankful I got to learn about patience from my son.  I have always been impatient.  I still am in a lot of circumstances, though I give and give for an extended period of time, my mind and mouth are not always as patient.  With my mini-man, I have learned to be patient in the best way … it was fun.  Well, okay … not always fun, but still.  There was constant feedback and love on the other end of the learning curve.  There is nothing but joy and love at the end of it.

His dimples get him anything he asks for … and he knows it.

When I am not with him, I fall apart.  I need to work on that …

He inspires me every single day to keep pushing, be stronger, be more loving, spend more time being silly with him and less time worrying over other things.  He is the lesson in life that I always needed and he is the most pure example of love I have ever experienced.

I kept a journal that I wrote to him throughout my pregnancy.  I also have a memory book.  Today should be my last entry, but I confess to missing quite a few dates in the last year (most of them) as I have struggled through my own battles.  But I have written him one long letter to fill those spaces.

He is my son.  At 11:30am tomorrow morning, it will mark five years since my life changed in the most glorious way possible.  I became a mother.  I met a soul mate.  I found out what my purpose in life was – to guide him, to protect his soul until it is ready to flourish and cover this earth with all of its wonder.  I am utterly devoted to that mini-man … my son.

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The closet …

I am going out on a limb here, I am uncomfortable, and I’m already tearing up.  There was an article I read about emotional writing and how it can help aid healing from something traumatic to you.  So, here is me, bleeding more into this blog.

Years and years ago, I was head over heels in love with someone who I thought could do no wrong.  He was flawed, like all of us, but oh I adored him.  He was my first love, my first in a lot of things.  On that first day of him and I being together, we were in his home, enjoying each other’s company when his roommate came home for lunch.  He freaked out and asked me to hide in his closet.  I was a young woman who adored this man and he asked me to get in his closet and hide.  Naked.  And he closed the door all but a crack.  I sat there wondering what in the world I had done to make him so ashamed of me.  Why did it matter that his roommate was home?  He loved me.  I was ashamed of myself – I still am honestly – I was something he felt he had to hide because I wasn’t worthy.  But, at the same time, I was ashamed that I actually hid.  I sat there frozen, another reminder that I did not belong, that I was not loved.

I wanted to belong.  I wanted to be loved.  Instead, my dignity was taken and I willingly took part.  Looking back, I can tell you that I am still hiding in a closet, though not literally anymore.  I have found myself in marriage after relationship where I am not good enough – I am shushed, I am told that I need to stop being so intense, so goofy, so this or that.  I was told, as a joke apparently, that I was a failure.  It is always something that I am doing wrong.  Here I am at the end of another relationship where I have been hidden.  Pushed aside into a closet whenever I am inconvenient.  Whenever things get hard, communication stops because I am not worth the effort.  No regard for my feelings.  I cannot express the amount of pain it causes when you realize someone you love can treat you in such a way.

I am tired of hiding in a closet.  I am tired of being made to feel as if something is wrong with me that requires me to hide.  I know it is wrong, and yet, that is all I know of romantic love.

I am getting out of the closet.  I am ready to take one step at a time away from the hidden shame of that closet. I will not go back in, so help me God.

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The fire inside

I was born with a fire inside.

As a child, I was scared a lot. I was afraid of losing love. I can’t explain how it started, but it was there and present throughout my youth. Because of that, the fire was small and tamed, for the most part. Teenage years saw me lost, and still afraid, though the fire started to get bigger and stronger. I could not handle it at that time. It was as if I had this immense strength, but did not see all of the blind spots, the strength was exploited. I’ve prided myself on the level of conviction and passion I have, yet, when you cannot control the level, intensity, or expression of those, you tend to act in opposition to your true self. I think we all do this as teenagers – maybe that’s what we are supposed to learn in those years. For me, the fire was white hot, but I had no direction and the fear of not belonging, losing any love was terrifying.

Something happened when I was sixteen – I started to feel as if I belonged somewhere. It was outside of family life, so by belonging somewhere else and with other people, I felt like I could let go of some of the fear at home – if my family didn’t love me the same after I let down my guard, it was okay because I found a place I belonged. Only … I didn’t belong there. Not really. Or maybe I did at one point, but then not. Either way, I ended up alone and did not belong again … fear started up again.

I’m sensing a pattern here.

As an adult – the fire grew and was cultivated. I could channel it more into my studies and into what I feel is wrong in the world; harness that passion to be useful. I would still go off a bit here and there, like a jump of the fire flame at a burst of oxygen. Hell, I still do that, but to a lesser extent than in my 20s.

What happened while I was married … I can see it now in hindsight, but I had no idea what was happening at the time. I chose to fight so hard – some tough times are normal, right? But, my fire started to go out, slowly at first until I realized I was a tiny flame, not even enough to to show orange, only the transparent, barely blue flame – just enough to know I was still alive, but not much more. I lived in a cold, cold place and the fire dwindled. I’d have the back draft due to this or that, but the base fire itself was being stifled. I was freezing to death in the one situation where I felt like I’d belong – simultaneously losing the love that I needed and wanted to cling to the most. I did not belong.

Someone came along and stoked the fire, breathed life back into my spirit and helped to reignite the passions inside. He has been quite careless, however, and now that he is not around, it threatens to consume me. In a short time, I have gone from a ball burning bright and uncontrolled, to the tiniest flicker of blue flame, to a fire that is moving between steady and rowdy. I need to focus more time on taming the fire – scratch that – allowing my fire to bring warmth, comfort, and light, instead of burning pain. This is my flame and I own that. Finding the right home for it, now, that is the question of a lifetime …

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Three strikes, I’m out

I had to do three things that I thought were impossible today.  I did not want to do any of them really, but now I have and I am about as raw, beaten, and exhausted as I have ever been.  I sit here, though, and realize that I am still alive.  I am still strong.  I am still worth a life – worth building a life of joy.

Let’s just say that not everything went the way I wanted.  Actually, none of those things went the way I had hoped.  There was no comfort in them.  And I am just as much to blame as anything else.  In one particular instance, I lost myself and acted out of character.  I let my fear and my panic change the tone of what I was doing and I am quite embarrassed and feel a lot of shame in how it went down.  The outcome would not have been different, I am afraid, but I could have handled it better and with more compassion and love.

There is a strange feeling in the air now, though.  It’s not quite despair, not quite stabbing pain, but numb and a hint of acceptance.  There is a numbness in my sorrow.  Seeing things end in one major aspect of your life is troubling, two is numbing.  The third impossible thing was not an end, but it did not help appease the anger and hurt that I feel.  Yet, here I sit, alive, void of tears and really anything.  If anyone wanted something from me, now is the time because I do not have any fight left.  There is nothing left but an empty cup and a finish line that is too far ahead of me.  A friend recently spoke about the importance of one step at a time … you have to keep taking that step or you will not move forward.  I took three steps, crumbled into tears and fear, but I got back up.  I am proud that I am still able to smile at all – even if I am just standing in place at the moment.

My mind wanders to my mini-man, so sweet and serene now that he is blissfully asleep.  We had an exciting day and, for the first time, I kept my focus on him like a boss.  We had a good time, though it’s been a rough week for him – first year without nap time in school has lead to an exciting week (Yay!  No naps!), but also a cranky time (I’m tired!).  I’ve been thinking about how I can use my pain and lessons to help him grow.  I pray daily for his safe passage through life.  Today I want him protected from the pain I’ve experienced, but I know he will have to experience similar things in order to grow into who he is meant to become.  I will do my damnedest to ensure that I am there with a shoulder and empathy to ease some of that pain and help him realize he is stronger than that.  To not have that would only lead to an underlying sense of loneliness, insecurity, and not belonging (trust me, I know).  What I really pray for now is to not be the cause of any of that pain, to be the best mother I can be, and to show him how to traverse the hurt.

For now, I will lick my wounds, send love out into the universe and hope it lands with someone who needs it, and watch some Doctor Who – always brightens my spirit that us silly humans can and will get it right.

Until next time, I am praying for each of you to find a reason to smile and put one foot in front of the other.  If you are in a good place, offer a kind word to someone who may not be.


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Nature, anxiety, wind, and a sore bum

Being in nature is the best medicine one could ask for.  Sitting, walking, running, etc., outdoors and being present in your experience helps you to realize you are a part of a whole, integral and powerful.  Yet, the problems you face are not necessarily strong enough to fell the entire wood, dry a lake, or smother the myriad of life teaming around you – nature reminds you that you are, in fact, alive and well.

Nature allows me to see my life, and the downs that come along with it, with a better perspective.  Will these problems be an issue in a year?  How about in five?  Chances are, they will not.  If they will, then it helps me to regain my focus on tasks at hand instead of worrying over the details where I have no control.  Maybe something will not be an issue, but it is still important.  Then, I give in to the universe, let it guide me and help me through it.  I can make a choice to continue worrying, hurting, panicking, or I can take the memories for what they are, tuck them away, and keep moving toward my future.

I exhibit a lack of control over my emotions in moment of sheer panic.  I can keep it together and be the strength that a loved one, or even a stranger needs, but the panic will creep up on me later and the flood gates open.  However, when it comes to something directly affecting me, welcome to the crazy roller coaster, Anxietyville, Over Analysis Peak.  It’s nice for me to sit outside, realize things for what they are, to me, in my journey, and take a big, deep breath.

And you know what?  My biggest plague in life is an extensive fear of abandonment.  The panic when I believe I’m being actively abandoned creeps in and messes with my head.  It’s nice to know a good hour or two outside can be all I need to put things into perspective, get myself back to me, and back on track.  I may need those two hours every six hours, but you know … who’s counting? 😉

Now, I am back to finding strength in me.  I know I am working on my path in life and I am on track to succeed.  I’m not exactly sure how, or in what exactly, but I am walking on that mysterious, road less traveled.  It has a blinking light that apparently only I can see :).  My journey is taking me into uncomfortable places routinely.  Sometimes I perform well, sometimes not so much.  I know, though, that I am in training for the most important role in my life – motherhood.  If I can keep my wits about me, I can intentionally use the pain and hurt to help my son through his own pain.

I know I deserve more than I have been given.  I also know that I am a pursuer – I go after what I believe is my next step – that guy who I adore, the job I think would be amazing, the next goal, the grocery store at midnight for a slice of cake … no judging … that is me.  I tend to do that for the people I love too … I have endless optimism for people to follow their dreams, more so than my own, but still.  When I fear abandonment, that pursuing nature of mine goes into overdrive.  I think I push people away a lot by doing that.  It’s not always the best path and I can admit that whole heartedly.  I am human, I am fallible, but I am one hell of a woman.

Best part of my evening … I was on my hammock, realizing all of these things, being intentionally present in the evening’s breeze, when I thought – yes, God, I will do it.  You know I will, I still stumble a lot, but I’m doing it.  And, as if He was laughing, a big ass gust of wind knocked me off my hammock.  I laughed, I rubbed the sore spot that I still have (thank you!), and know I am just as strong as that wind.  Let me get my sails right and hold on!

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Reach out

I have quite a few things on my mind and haven’t quite gotten to writing them all down in a cohesive format.

However, I did want to take a moment and say that if there is a friend or family member that you love, that you’ve not spoken to in a while, and is especially going through a rough time, I ask you to reach out to them.  You don’t have to know what to say – as a matter of fact, don’t try to fix anything for them.  Just let them know you love them, wish them well, think about them, and generally care for them – pour out strength to them.  Listen, if they talk to you.  If you’re nearby, maybe even swing by to check in on them.  A text, a call, a visit – whatever works best for you both.  Honestly, putting even the smallest amount of energy into maintaining a relationship, when your person is barely getting by, makes a huge different to that person.



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