Unchained by Sara Stansberry
My name is Sara and I’m a recovering perfectionist.
For most of my adult life I was a striver. A striver and a pleaser. For many years, my life consisted of a neatly compartmentalized set of rules and standards that created a false sense of safety and security. Nothing was as sacred as these self-imposed rules and I would let nothing violate them. If challenged, I would defend to the death, twisting the truth to match my skewed reality.
Perfection is a twisted tool many of us use to try and gain some semblance of power when our lives are spinning out of control. Sometimes this is a temporary state – other times chronic. Perfection is a slippery facade that guards and protects an altered reality – it provides a way for us to hide from ourselves and others.
If the living room is straight – if my kids are perfectly dressed and attend the right schools – if my life is flawlessly positioned on Facebook… maybe no one will notice just how messed up things really are. The irony is of course, perfection doesn’t hurt anyone but you – because more accurately, “if I can keep everything just right, maybe I won’t notice just how messed up things really are.”
It begs the question: what are we hiding from?
Mostly, I think we’re hiding from our pain – past and present. We also hide from disappointment – and the underlying gnawing dis-ease that things are not happening the way we hoped they would. We’re hiding from our inability to love others well and the unfortunate truth that we have not been loved well ourselves.
Last weekend, I went to see the two hour laugh-fest, Bad Moms.
The theater was packed with a million iterations of girls’ night… and a couple of what must have been well coerced date nights. All of us were looking for freedom – however temporary – from our own realities.
The movie is essentially about a group of women who said ‘to hell with it’ on the crazy standards and expectations of suburban motherhood and points out the ridiculousness of it all. If you haven’t seen it, you should.
As women, as mothers, the expectations are so high. The standards are unattainable. Society puts them there, yes. But we take them on – we accept them. But we don’t have to. This idea that ‘everything is great!’ all the time is ludicrous. Because sometimes, quite honestly, it just isn’t – and that’s more normal than anything.
Sometimes it’s OK to say to hell with it. Being perfect, living up to someone else’s expectations, living up to our own unrealistic expectations…
Getting real is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves and those we love the most for there is no position more powerful than in the acceptance of what is.
I’ve found this is an iterative process. And, as always, it begins with me. Each phase of getting real brings me to a new level of choosing myself and not worrying as much of what others would think. What others think of us is really none of our business.
If you can’t face it, you won’t be able to accept it.
Can you be brave and face your reality today? Don’t get sidelined by the falsehood of perfection.
Let’s make it great.