**Get geeky: Shot on a Contax 645, 80mm 2.0 lens at 2.0 with Kodak Portra 400 Film **
My mind thought back to almost five years ago to another article I came across when cleaning out my basement. The article is titled, What Does it Mean to Be Perfect? Reading this article five years ago was life changing for me. I recently shared this same article with a friend struggling with perfectionism. I could see myself so clearly in this person...well, I could see the 'before reading the article Kim' in this person. It made me so sad. When I say this article changed me, that is almost an understatement.
Growing up, I always tried my best to be perfect. I struggled deeply with Perfectionism problems. If I wasn't perfect in my home, in my grades, in my driving record, in my friendships, I would sink into a deep, deep depression. Perfectionism ate up my entire teenage experience with feelings of self doubt and unworthiness. Perfectionism destroyed many years of happiness between my husband and myself. Almost seven years of our marriage were wasted because I couldn't be perfect. I pushed my husband away because I was afraid if I wasn't a perfect wife to him I would fail. The irony is, I failed in my marriage because I believed I wasn't worthy of being loved by him because I couldn't be pretty enough, or skinny enough, or keep the house clean enough. None of these things were piled on me by Flavio. Not. One. I put it all upon myself. All of it. I was to blame.
I can remember distinctly reading this article. I was sitting cross legged on the basement floor, facing the gray wall and the scarlet colored bin of magazines was right in front of me. I can clearly see the magazine open on my lap. I can remember reading the words, and seeing the table describing "Doing Your Best" and "Perfectionism". It was then that I realized, at the tender age of 25 that I had messed up my entire life thus far. I had quite literally f***** up my life to that point. I put that word, because quite literally that is what I had done. I had wasted so much of myself by being afraid of messing up, or trying and not ever being satisfied with what I had accomplished because it wasn't perfect. The weight I had put upon myself and my shoulders was unbearable. I remember that day with so much clarity. I can feel it. I can hear the sound of my heart beating. It was that day I decided that I would never struggle with Perfectionism ever again. I would never fall into that trap again.
That day I set about trying to make things right in my marriage. I tried to fix all that I had done wrong. I apologized deeply and sincerely to my husband. I tried from that day forward to be a better mother, not a perfect mother, but just try to be the best me I could without all of the other stuff getting in the way. I changed that day. Not perfectly...but I changed in small ways, trying always to love myself. It wasn't easy, it still isn't easy, but I am much happier for it. I no longer try to be perfect. It is a much better way to live, a much easier way of life.
The sad thing? My marriage had deteriorated so much by that time, that my apologies were not enough to fix it. That part wasn't my fault. That is what is so beautiful about life...we each bestow within us the ability to fix ourselves, to be our own best, no one can make us do it, we have to decide on our own who we will be, who we will forgive, how we will move forward.
Sadly, it would take another five years to even reach a rock bottom in my marriage. It took an affair, a separation, a very near divorce only weeks ago to hit that bottom and find something to push off from and even attempt to swim back upward. Right now, we are 1/100th of the way back up from that terrible and painful bottom. It will be a long, tiring, excruciating journey, but we are finally back on this journey together.
Sometimes the journey is really hard. It is really ugly. Sometimes I feel so alone. I am thankful I no longer carry the weight of trying to be perfect. If I did, it would make this journey so much harder and I guarantee I would fail miserably, or I would have failed long, long ago.
If any of you out there are struggling with Perfectionism, I encourage you to look inside yourself and really see what you can let go, what you need to keep striving for, and make your lives better. I promise it will be one of the most freeing experiences of your life. I promise you will come to know yourself in a way you never knew was possible, and in the process you will actually become better than you ever imagined.