This is really it, isn’t it? You are doing the best you can to cope and survive amid your struggles, and that’s all you can ask of yourself. We’re doing all we can; there isn’t any more. That’s what “best” means. There’s nothing better.
I read a blog post yesterday written by someone who is struggling with perfectionism. As a recovering perfectionist, I felt the writer’s pain in a very real way. It took me a long time to get over my issues, and I’m so grateful that I was able to live my life the last 10 years or so without carrying that heavy burden.
My mother was a perfectionist, so my childhood was defined by the dichotomy between her need to be the perfect mother and my imperfections, which she seemed to take personally and viewed as “wrongs” to be righted. She believed she could make me into the perfect child she had envisioned. She aimed to do this by attempting to control every aspect of my life and personality. I got the message very early on that the person I counted on for my survival felt there was something wrong with me – a lot wrong with me – and I did all I could to convince her otherwise by being the best little girl ever and doing everything she said. It wasn’t enough, though.
I was never enough.
This screwed me up pretty good, I’ll tell you. As I grew up I gradually took over the browbeating where my mother left off. She had convinced me that I was worthless and that my best bet was to hide all that was wrong with me by trying to control everything and everyone around me. Believe me, I tried.
The depression started when I was 14, and got worse as time went on. Decades later, in therapy, I saw how the perfectionism and the depression were connected. Not rocket science. Perfectionism is all about control. It has nothing to do with striving for excellence. Striving for excellence is healthy and empowering. Perfectionism is exhausting and paralyzing. Ultimately, you can’t do anything for fear of doing the wrong thing, and that’s where the depression comes in.
I try to be easier on myself now, and I’m much happier – much more comfortable with who I am and what I need – than I was most of my life. I wish I could gift that freedom from the need to be more to that young blog writer. I wish I could convince her that she’s fine just as she is, and that no one is keeping score, perfect, or otherwise. I wish she would believe me that she is enough, and that she is welcome in the world with all the rest of us imperfect humans.
It’s hard enough to get along the path without standing in your own way or tripping yourself up because you’re beating yourself up over every little thing you can’t control or accept. The reality is that there’s no right way to live, or to be; we are all unique and that’s what makes us wonderful. Every single one of us. We all have a place here. Everyone is deserving of love and understanding. Period.
Don’t believe other people when they tell you they have it all figured out, and that there’s a “best life” or that having more stuff or more experiences or money or relationships or anything will make you happy. It’s not on Facebook or somewhere else “out there.” Real life is right here, right now, whatever is happening in this moment, just as it is.
Real life. Real life that’s scary and wonderful and imperfect and glorious. It’s in you, that safety, that comfort. Happiness. Acceptance. Relax into it and let the rest go.
You are enough. You always were and you are now.
Let it be.