November 6, 2014

Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist.

perfectionist girl

Warning: naughty language ahead. 

I have a confession to make: I am not perfect, and my life only looks like it’s together.

Like the body builder who looks like a beautiful specimen of strength, but who cannot balance on a balance ball because he has no strength in the muscles below the surface, my life looks pretty good from the outside, but inside, my core is shit.

It takes a lot for me to admit this. My life has become a never-ending laundry list of “should,” fulfilling other people’s expectations and demands:

I should be working more. I have two reports sitting in my inbox that need to be done right now.
I should be spending more quality time with my kids.
I should be practicing my french horn more.
I should be exercising more.
I should be eating better.
I should be sleeping more.

I have become a Human Doing.

I realized last night that I don’t laugh anymore. I have scheduled joy and laughter right out of my life.

I am tired. I am good, but I’m not the best recruiter at my company. I am not the best mother on the planet. I don’t make their lunches every day. I sometimes snap at them, but I always apologize. Hell, I’m not the best writer on elephant journal.

Since I’m being completely honest here, there’s one more thing: I am lonely.

I have spent my entire adult life either in relationships or pursuing relationships. My divorce was final seven years ago. In that time, I have moved from relationship to relationship (some inappropriate), searching for someone to love me. Searching for someone to tell me that I am amazing and he wants to spend the rest of his life with me. Searching for validation from others that I am worth loving.

They say the first step to healing is acknowledgement.

This morning, I looked at my never ending to-do list and said, “fuck it, I’m going to yoga.” Lying in Shavasana, it hit me:

I don’t have to be perfect.
I don’t have to be the best in everything I do. There is no grade for life. No one is waiting at the end of the day/week/month/season to give me an A.
What I do need to be, is balanced. I need to rediscover—and honor—my human being-ness.
I need to strengthen my own emotional core.

We cannot continue to be giving to everyone but ourselves. Like a car, we all need fuel to move forward, or we stop.

Are you tired too?

Please take a moment with me to sit back and slowly exhale: a long one—out through the mouth. Let it all go until you hear nothing else leaving, until there’s no more air in your body. Then slowly fill up your chest and belly with fresh air. Don’t worry if your stomach sticks out when you do this; it’s supposed to.

When we are stressed, we hold our breath and breathe shallowly, shoulders up to our ears like earrings, stimulating the adrenals to create a fight or flight response in our bodies. They don’t know whether it’s necessary or not—our bodies can’t differentiate between what is real and what is perceived. When we hold our breath, there is no more room in our bodies for any more air.

When I am breathing, I can see what is important. With this understanding, I’ve re-written my to-do list:

I will do the work I need to do and worry about tomorrow’s crises tomorrow.

I will eat something when I’m hungry. Take five minutes to make something healthy rather than grab a bowl of cereal on the fly.

I will drink more water. The more I drink, the less I hate it, and it feels good to be hydrated. My beloved Tab just makes me snappy and jittery and makes my head hurt when I drink too much of it.

I will do what feels good. I will take the time to do what I love. Like the candy bar commercial, I am not me when I am not doing what I love regularly.

Baths feel good. I will take one at the end of the day as often as I can. If I don’t have time for a long soak, it is okay; length of time doesn’t matter. Baths are healing for me, and I miss them terribly.

I will find at least one funny thing a day and laugh out loud. I have a friend who I laugh with a lot. I will call her today. If she’s not available, I’m sure there’s a cat video on YouTube that will crack me up.

After missing yoga class 10 days in a row, it was clear to me that I need to move my body on a daily basis. When I am doing something physical that I love, I feel powerful and strong. I am proud of my body and how it moves. I love my strengths and honor my weaknesses.

And the loneliness?

Breathing into it, I am feeling it—probably for the first time in my life. And much to my surprise, it’s not killing me to feel this. I am finding the love I have been looking for while spending time with myself. I am not feeling compelled to find someone new to fill the void, because I’ve learned in my time away from dating that there actually is no void.

Our souls know what we need; we just have to take the time to honor ourselves and listen.

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Author: Kendra Hackett

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Daniela Vladimirova/Flickr

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