I realized recently much of my anxiety was attached to a feeling that I needed to be perfect. Act perfectly in all things.

I know logically there is no such thing. I mean I KNOW that. But I don’t think my heart ever got that message.

I must execute plans perfectly. I must do exactly what I say I am going do perfectly without change. Projects must be done perfectly or not at all. Be on time or the world will end. Carefully map out all possibilities or you’ll be left with no options forward whatsoever.

I always feel like I fail of course. I always felt like I wasn’t succeeding. There were few celebrations over accomplishments because I couldn’t accept they were accomplishments. Just keep pushing. Keep reaching for better. I am not good until I can be perfect.

People were just people doing people things but here I was always feeling like a failure at being one of these people.

I broke down once. A friend was upset with me. I don’t remember exactly why now because he was always upset at me it seemed. But this time I think I was trying desperately to make my feelings heard. They weren’t regular everyday feelings. They were very complicated tangled up and messy feelings. I was depressed but I didn’t understand what depression was yet.

We were working out at my house and I was on the treadmill and he decided to leave. He was leaving because I was trying to tell him I was worn. Not worn from working out. I was life worn. And then he left. I remember crying. And then blubbering. And then I was laying on the treadmill bellowing out all the pain I couldn’t speak of. All the pain I kept bottled up so I wouldn’t bother anyone just came barreling out.

Good lord it felt good. Like the cork finally flew off and all the fizz was escaping.

He walked back in with a look of contempt on his face. The kind of look that says “you are every bit as fucking crazy as I always knew you were”. I swear that face still haunts me. After that the breakdowns started coming more frequent. A tidal wave of inner turmoil had started breeding because… I had lost control and there was no taking that back. Ever. Not ever.

I still look back on that day and feel betrayed by him. I broke and it wasn’t perfect and therefore I could no longer pretend to be perfect. That crack stayed and along that crack were born other cracks. I was falling apart.

That was a decade ago. I clawed my way back to life. Glued all the broken pieces back together that mattered and let all the shattered pieces go. I got divorced. I got a new life with new people and kept less than 5 old friends. I love them and they don’t expect perfect.

I was never perfect. Not within miles of it. I, like every single person on this planet, am imperfect and I have to be ok with that. People who love me also have to be ok with that. Not everyone will give you that grace.

There are people who need you to be what they want. They have no use for you if you can’t be that for them. And they will leave searching for their perfect person. And if you are like me you will feel like you’ll never be enough for anyone.

“Being perfect is a state of mind. As long as you strive to be perfect, you will never achieve it. But once you feel content with who you are, you will realize that you have been perfect all along”

Sandra Cooze

I am not perfect. I have good intentions. I try to follow through. I hold myself accountable. I cancel dates and I sleep when I need to. I cry and sometimes that’s ugly. Sometimes the pain I don’t realize I’m holding in will exhale when I least expect it. And all of this is perfectly me.

12 thoughts on “THE PAIN OF PERFECTION

  1. Good for you! You found your escape valve. Not everybody can find theirs. I just lost my husband of (almost) 51 years and don’t know what I’ll do without my ‘sounding board’. He was always there for me, even when he didn’t understand completely what I was going through (menopause for example). Where I’m living now has paper thin walls, so am doing a lot of screaming into my pillow. I wouldn’t feel right, burdening my other few friends with these emotions. He never once expected perfection from me, nor I, him. Maybe that’s why we worked well together for so many years.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Feel free to email me if you ever feel like you need a safe place to leave whatever baggage you don’t feel like carrying around. Sometimes just the act of letting thought flow out is the nice open valve you need

      Liked by 4 people

  2. A phrase kept coming up reading this: “Perfectly Imperfect”. Somehow, it feels like a way out of the trap, acknowledging the paradox or the fantasy of demanding perfection of any mortal being, especially ourselves.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Eventually he walked away for good. I couldn’t do it. I needed to but I think I’m a forever person. I’d be there as long as I was needed whether it’s good for me or not. I was eventually able to get sober and find help for depression so I’ve learned to put up better boundaries. I’ve lost some friends I cared about with these boundaries but I had to put myself first.

      Liked by 1 person

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