Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An Unexpected Blessing

Last night we went out for Thai food - delicious fresh Thai food...
we held hands
we ate well
and I of the small bladder
went back as the check came to use their facilities.

It was a strange setup:
four restrooms, two for women, two for men
but I simply saw one door marked women and proceeded to wait

when out of nowhere, a male patron
approached me and brusquely told me that there was another restroom
and I should use it.

Where did he come from? How long had he been watching my wait?

I closed the door behind me, face aflame
and felt a rolling wave of hormonal grief wash over me:
I had looked like an idiot
as I have so very many times over the course of the last month or so
since the 'fog' seems to have descended.

Women with children laughingly told me that said day would come,
that I would find myself forgetting things,
misplacing things
and not really having the same sharpness that I usually do -
well, I get it now
and honestly
for a woman who struggles so actively with perfectionism,
I think last night was the doorway to a bit more freedom.

I looked in the ladies' room mirror at the restaurant
and saw my shame
right there in red and water:

yes, I looked like an idiot
to someone without empathy or warmth
but why am I so scared to death of the world?
Why is the first assumption one that renders me unsafe, unloved?

Is it really so bad to make mistakes? To mess up or miss details?
I've worn so many hats running my business
and caring for our home
that I've had to write pretty much everything down since about week 19
just to make sure I am aware of things, reminded of events to come.

I am exhausted from trying to keep up the ruse that I have my shit together at all times
and here in paradise of all places,
I hit a huge stop sign
and had to surrender.

I cannot say that I feel settled on this matter,
that I felt the mantle lift and the wonder of it all come in
I can say that having such a strong aching response to
such a simple gesture of help (harsh though it seemed to my tired self at the time)
has really opened my eyes
to the issues underlying the wish to be just right in all ways:

it's not possible, especially not right now
and perhaps beyond pregnancy
and motherhood
not ever -

perhaps it never was
and through its myth we perfectionists all
plan on getting the highest score
on the test of life

Blissful invisibility?
A Painless existence?
God's approval?

I hope in distancing myself from the crush of that pressure
to find an answer or two
and a lot of peace.

What do you do in the face of self-criticism or perfection?
I am eager for your insights.



mari huertas said...

Oh, love.

I'm no great help in this matter as I am exactly the same way. My sweet husband reminds me often and gently that life is never going to sit with me exactly as I wish it would; that I am not perfect, never can be, and that it's better to rise and roll with the undulations as best as I can.

It takes practice.

We have time to practice.

We MAKE time to practice.

That is all we can do.


Sunny Rising Leather said...

Ah, Bean...
the husbands, they are great!!

My mom also has this great gift of telling me to take it easy on myself....somehow when they say it, I can if briefly... the trick is the practice of learning to do it on one's own. as you said so beautifully.

Thank you, dear friend.

NRjewellerydesign said...

If there is ever a time when you can leave your shit a little imbalanced it is when you are growing a little miracle! Take it easy and don't be hard on yourself :-) x

Sunny Rising Leather said...

Nikki -
amen :) Thanks for that!

mairedodd said...

(rises) my name is mary jane and i was a type a+ perfectionist... almost to the point of self-destruction... until i had kids... and besides just letting my instincts guide, i found some incredible reading material... i call them my zen masters - sent by the universe to help me to grow as much as i help them... we have lessons to learn from each other... one of the first is to let go and be...
perfectionism allows you to exist under the radar... but being human opens the door to experiencing life in all its wonder and its ultimate balance...

Sunny Rising Leather said...

Oh Mary Jane...letting go seems to be the key to so many doors...thank you for this beautiful note. xoxox

bonddi said...

Give yourself a break, your hormones are all over the place. When I was pregnant I used to cry at the drop of a hat, big boo hoo sobs, and then got over it. Maybe your body was spending those moments building essential baby neurons and needed you to focus on something simple like waiting for that bathroom door to open. Don't beat yourself up for having moments, they get more frequent the older you get, so learn now to get used to it. I remember a really embarassing moment when I was pregnant with my twins and had two weeks to go, I got into an elevator and several people took one look at me and got out! I bet they were thinking what if we get stuck in this elevator with that woman who is pregnant with an elephant! I was embarrased for several moments and then thought that I wouldn't want to be trapped in an elevator with them either!

Sunny Rising Leather said...

Bonddi: Oh, the elevator part made me laugh!!! I will try and take it easy on me :) And I adore you.

Sybil Ann said...

Type A represent!

Mantra: My responsibility is to be happy and if I can forgive imperfection in others I simply MUST excuse myself. XO

Sunny Rising Leather said...

Sybil - now that's a beautiful mantra. From a beautiful woman - thank you :)

Cat said...

this is one for the ages my friend....
one I have struggled with as well
self love
self acceptance
allowing oneself to make mistakes
and allowing other to help
it comes down to the truth that we can't do it on our own...we are not created to do so
I take great comfort in that truth
that where I am in need there is someone to fill that need
and where there is someone in need, i may have what it takes to fill that need
it is an ebb and flow of perfection
The Great Artists handy work
we are perfect in out imperfections

one mistake at a time I say...
one mistake at a time

Love and Light

Elaine said...

Motherhood was really a wonderful release from being type a for me. The first time I went out with my babe, I took no less than 1/2 box full of diapers, 5 or 6 burp cloths, probably 2 changes of clothes. It took us 45 minutes to leave the house! I was trying to prepare for everything! But of course, I've learned that I can't and I just try to do the best that I can. :) Sending you many hugs!

Sunny Rising Leather said...

Cat- I always treasure every word you write here - thank you. Wise and warm, as you ever are :) xoxoxo

Elaine!! Ah, here's to motherhood loosening the tightness inside :) SO nice to see you here! xoxoxo

Anonymous said...

I've finally accepted that I'm a hot mess and therefore able to see that most people don't care! Those that do aren't worthy of my time. :)


MJ said...

I took a deep breath when I read this, as I understand deeply the pain of perfection. First I have to say that you have such wonderful insightfulness and self honesty. I think that is one thing we perfectionists share in common is that we are brutally honest with ourselves, so much so that we see past all the good and go straight to the "what needs to be fixed". Hormones do have a way of bringing on the yuckiness we feel about ourselves to the surface. But often I think that is a gift--a way to clean house and find balance again--as you are so beautifully seeking.

I think perfectionism is an affliction of the pleaser. For myself, I had believed subconsciously that my self worth was wrapped up in my performance and appearance of things--my grades in school, as a daughter, a friend, a dancer, a young woman... so much so that anything less than perfect was unacceptable, that I was unacceptable unless people knew that I was smart, capable, thin, and successful.
That need for perfection turned into an eating disorder which was a highway to self destruction actually. Soon shame and self loathing took residence in my soul. All this as I was trying to lead a "normal" perfect life. Then I re met my now husband. We had dated for 7 months before I had to tell him my shame. I had lied to him so many times by then.

I thought for sure he would leave, that once he knew that I was so screwed up, that I had ugly secrets, that I wasn't perfect, that he would not want me anymore. I was so wrong, about everything actually, and a very long story short, he showed me what true unconditional love meant. To know that I didn't have to prove anything to anyone and could still be just me--in all my shame, insecurities, fears, and imperfections, that I was imperfectly perfect. That is what began my healing and my recovery from perfection. That was 12 years ago. I know I may be an extreme case, and I am so sorry I took up so much space, but honestly I can look at my life now with no regret, no shame, no fear of making mistakes, as they have been my greatest gifts in finding who I am. Embrace the moments that show you fear and shame, and know that you do not have to believe what they tell you. As difficult as these moments may seem, they are the paths to courage and self love.

Sunny Rising Leather said...

MJ - I am truly blown away and touched to my heart that you would share this way - a powerful story and a gorgeous redemption. Love is so good, a perfect teacher. Thank you thank you thank you.