Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Perfectionism is back, ugly as ever!

Hi, My name is Erica and I'm a perfectionist. (hears in a whisper, Hi Erica!) This fact has been a thorn in my side for more years than I could even explain. This little tidbit of my personality has led me to struggle with depression for years. I have always told my clients that the space between perfection and reality is right where depression lives. I have no doubt that I am right because I live it, day in and day out. My struggle with depression has led me to at times be suicidal and more often just really really lost. As a therapist, it's hard to imagine being suicidal and not being able to get a handle on it but I think more people need to recognize that often we go into a field because we are passionate about it. That is exactly why I did. I did not know how to heal myself and I  have always believed the old saying "Knowledge is Power." After years on the proverbial couch, I learned that my perfectionism was causing and facilitating the staying power of my depression. It has also aided in being unhealthy, stagnant in my faith, stagnant in my career, and caused me to hate myself at times. It has always been with me so I'm not sure who I am without it.

Lately, it has come to my awareness that perfectionism is back, heavily. Luckily, this time I'm catching it before it gets to suicidal but I am noticing that I am losing sleep, worrying about things that do not matter, and overly trying to control situations that are beyond my control. This morning, I was reading an article that someone posted on Facebook about procrastination. I read it because I might be the reigning queen of procrastination and I know that it goes hand in hand with my perfectionism. Picture this, there is a 15 page paper due in a class and I have been told months before it is due what the assignment is and what is required of me in order to get the coveted "A." I wait until the weekend before the paper is due and then sit down and crank out all 15 pages in one/two nights and do the least work possible given my time. I get the paper back and there it is, my "A." Why doesn't it feel good? It doesn't feel good because I know that I threw it together last minute and it isn't my best work. What if I had spent the time on it I wanted and got the most out of the assignment I could get? Well, then I may have gotten a "B" instead. What would it have felt like to know that my best wasn't good enough? That is the question I never want to answer...therefore I never give it my best because then, I can always chalk it up to being last minute if I fail. How does that really go with perfection, you may be asking. I'll tell you....

Being perfect has never been something I've achieved. I am a perfectionist which is totally different than being perfect. My health has pretty much always been bad. I have always procrastinated on VERY important things, and even when I have succeeded at life (as with my degrees in Psychology) it was always with the knowledge in me that I could have done better or learned more if I only tried. One area of perfectionism that has seemed to go away over the years was my need for everyone around me to be perfect as well. I used to have a difficult time with people because the minute a friend made an error in judgment or mistreated me in some way, they were thrown away like yesterday's newspaper. Now, I find that I can work through conflicts with people and really still value them as friends. I like that this has been sorted out. I haven't, however, learned to do this with myself.

Something happened a few years ago that tore my belief in myself into bits. It was in an area of my life that is really precious to me and it caused me to be benched. I walked away from something I love very much because in my mind, I wasn't perfect enough for it. I wasn't worthy to do the calling that I believed fit me best because someone disagreed with my methods. Deep down inside of me, I know I'm good at this thing. I know that God gave me abilities and heart for this like nothing else. I know that it is one of the few things that stirs my heart so much that I cry after doing it because it brings me so much joy. It kills me that someone's words of critique and selfish actions were enough to break my spirit. I know that my problem with perfectionism aided in this death of a dream. Now, what do I do about it?!

Like I said, lately I have been inclined to look at this. Mainly because I have a little guy who is watching my every move and learning things from me. I don't want him to rip up every drawing he makes because it isn't perfect. I don't want him to quit things that he could be really great at because he isn't perfect. I don't want him to not recognize his worth to Jesus because he isn't perfect like Jesus. Every day I wonder how I can be better for him and this is the area I feel God is speaking to most today. How do you get to where it is okay to be flawed and take risks? How do I let go of my sense of failure to again do what makes my heart ache with happiness? How do I go forward in my calling knowing that failures are bound to happen? How do I continue to be me and still act like the failures don't matter? How do I stop procrastinating on taking steps forward just to prevent the pain of not being everything to everyone? I am not sure the answer to these questions...but at least I'm finally asking them.

I pray that today you find that you are enough. I pray that I do too!

Thanks for listening,


No comments: