Ramblings of a Recovering Perfectionist
Perfection causes all kinds of problems.
As a child I learned my temper was unacceptable,
a beast to be hidden away from, so
I banged and scratched my mother's bedroom door
and howled the frustration I couldn't understand,
my fingernail marks on the wood
a monument of my abandonment.
My two-year-old tantrums weren't the end of it.
My sense of injustice was sensitive
and I didn't know how to reconcile
myself with the world, so I lashed out
and slapped what I could not control—
the mortal sin of violence
rooting ever deeper
I was told stop, stop, stop
but given no instructions and
so every time I boiled over
I cried and hated myself
and broke myself in two—
the good part and the anger I cannot control.
So I controlled it.
I learned not to be bossy,
not to be selfish,
not to stand up for myself,
not to ask for what I needed;
it was safer to be silent.
As a teenager, I didn't see the problem with my perfectionism.
I clung to my high standards, the mast of a sinking ship
with a flag at the top proclaiming, "I'm a good person!"
I took pride in my effort and quietly resented
everyone who was free to not care quite so much.
But I see it now.
I see the anger and shame
and all the ways I learned to make myself small.
I feel it all over again every time I make the tiniest mistake
and it's enough to stop me from even trying;
safer to sit in depression and fear than risk
being locked out again.
Safer to lock out myself.
Safer to nitpick every thought and
never let it out of my mouth.
Everyone hid from my emotions, so
I learned to hide them from myself.
In messy reality, perfection is meaningless
and "doing your best" is easily misconstrued,
and I think what we really need is to be seen.
Witness my anger and my shame, and love me anyway.
When failure is met with love,
space is created to move forward.
I hope I can learn,
deep in my bones,
how worthy it is to try and fail;
how courageous to accept myself as I am;
how wonderful to sometimes let things be.
"I am enough" does not preclude growth;
without "I am enough,"
I exhausted myself
holding back half of myself
and had no energy left for moving forward.