There came a day when I awoke to the pain of being a perfectionist.
Of course, my initial response was to immediately fix it. Duh, that’s what I do!
Instead, I took time to sit with the pain, to let the pain be curious and explore me as it never had before. When I calmed myself enough, I saw clearly what this idea of perfection had cost me. It was like a scene from an adventure film, where the more they uncover the overgrowth of an ancient ruin, they discover how vast it is, how plainly insight it had been all along if they’d simply let their eyes linger.
I’ve made a practice of never lingering longer than is comfortable. I’ve rarely stuck with something long enough to see it to fullness.
See it to fullness…
Yes, right there, that’s where it has hurt. Nothing has ever been quite right, never been quite complete, nor quite satisfying enough. There’s never been the space or patience for me to “see in fullness” that which is all around me.
This unseen operating system has worked as an eye patch for my wisdom. Always wanting to race at the sound of the next starting gun, rarely sitting in celebration long before pushing full force into my next endeavor.
Maybe you’ve done this. Maybe you’re doing it in your life now.
When I say it has cost me, I mean it. Two partnerships lost, five housing transitions experienced, years of power struggle with my daughter noted, and a consistent sense of lack with what I’m doing in life pervading the entire experience.
When I finally saw to fullness that this had been there all along, the pain of lost time and energy and love nearly crippled me. And yet, this is the exact pain I needed. I wasn’t about to pull the vines back into place, pull out my compass and say, “This is not the temple I was looking for,” then start whistling as I strolled back into the jungle.
This pain was a gift. A perfect thing, riddled with fissures and smudges and erosion. This was what I’d made of my life: a practice of pain. Without seeing in fullness, I could not live in fullness. I could not experience all there was for me to experience from my failures, my successes, or the integration of wisdom thereafter.
And mind you, I NEVER identified as a perfectionist before this literal and metaphorical awakening. But when it hit, I saw its traces in so much of the chaos I’d experienced through much of adulthood. I constantly put pressure on myself and those around me such that life wasn’t fun anymore. Even the things I loved and the people I loved became an energetic burden because everywhere I looked, I saw only the darkest fraction of the whole. My “fix it” laser was aimed at anyone and anything unlucky enough to cross my path.
What a drain.
I’m not willing to do it this way anymore. I’m not willing to make prefection and pain a practice in my life. I’m not even going to edit this blog post; it’s going at as is and I feel empowered about it (I see that I wrote “at” instead of “out” and it’s killing me to leave it). I’d also usually send this to a friend before posting to let me know if my message is clear, but I won’t do that either… ugh.
When I’m willing to be patient around my desire to “fix it,” I allow the space necessary to zoom out and take on a broader perspective. I no longer focus on the darkest fraction of the whole. Instead, I look and see in fullness a situation, a person, my work and my life and that which I love therein.
I get to BE in fullness with it--with my experience. Connected to the whole, rather than just the parts diminishing my outlook.
Here is where you do absolutely nothing.