Perfectly Imperfect

Nothing in nature blooms all year. Be patient with yourself. ~ Anonymous (I think.)

Yesterday, I shared with a group of people that I struggled with being a perfectionist. That I was really damned hard on myself when I didn’t live up to my unreasonable expectations. That this second year of sobering up was so different from the first year—so less about white knuckling through cravings and so much more about the emotional muscle training needed to beef up coping skills that perhaps I never had in the first place. I shared that when someone tells me that “I am exactly where I need to be” I want to spit and cry. Dramatic as it may seem, I don’t want to die before becoming the person that I am meant to become.

Whoa, Nelly!

That is crazy thinking. If it is my time to go, today or many days from today, aren’t I already then the person that I am meant to become? Why this fear and loathing? Acceptance, young Jedi.

As I write this, I am reminded that it was only a hop, skip, and a jump back in time that I was sharing with people about how I’d learned, in the last two years, to love myself. It was just two days ago that I got in a little discussion about the Divine and was adamant that I could finally recognize it in nature, in others, in myself. How can I hold these differing truths? Must acknowledging myself as a creature of God with a divine light shining inside me and feeling that I am insanely imperfect be mutually exclusive? There is my divine heart and my oh-so-human mind!

Cliché or no, I am also reminded of George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. I may not be suicidal, peering down at the icy possibility of death under the toll bridge outside of Bedford Falls, but I must look at this self-centered self-pity, this idea that I have wasted my nearly 40 years on this planet and now what?!? Perhaps no Angel Clarence will descend from his billowy cloud in Heaven to show me how tremendous I really am, but I shouldn’t need an Angel Clarence to do this for me, should I? Or, is that perfectionism talking again?

As I write this, one word keeps surfacing all lit up as if on a Vaudeville marquee: Gratitude! Gratitude! Gratitude! Of course. Such a simple solution. Yet, I remember a friend telling me, as she was going through a difficult time, that she was told that she just needed to adopt an “attitude of gratitude.” She told me that she vomited in her mouth just a little. Sometimes, when shit hits the fan, gratitude is difficult to come by. However, nothing in my life is hitting the fan right now. I do practice gratitude, but maybe it is not so second nature, maybe not my M.O. And, because it is something I am still working on, I berate myself for not “being there.” Geesh! Ease up!

I do believe that we receive what we project, and maybe I project more positivity than I even realize. There is no denying it, I am absolutely surrounded by love. Serious love. The Avett Brothers have these two songs—All My Mistakes and The Perfect Space—with these bits of lyric that always stick out in my mind. The first song states: “I have some ‘friends’/They don’t know who I am/so I write quotations around the word friends/But I have a couple that have always been there for me.” And, the latter: “I wanna have friends that I can trust that love me for the man that I’ve become not the man that I was.” I get goosebumps just typing those words. You see, I have more than some friends who love me. Truly love me. I might, as El Guapo says in The Three Amigos, have a “plethora” of friends. I am so, so very blessed.

I know, deep in my heart, that these friends are my Clarences. Through their love, I can see my own light shining back at me. The catch is that I want to reflect their lights as well. I want to be my best self. I keep thinking that with all this love, with all the spiritual growth that I have made in the last few years, that I should be “further along,” that I should not be having the fear, the negative thoughts and feelings that creep in, that self-centered self-pity that I spoke of earlier. I batter myself continually about not being enough mother, enough partner, enough daughter, enough friend. I’ve been told that I am gentle and compassionate and forgiving with others. Why not myself?

There is this Japanese aesthetic called Sabi, or Wabi-Sabi, that focuses on shadow and uneven lines and imperfection. The aesthetic is derived from Buddhist Zen concepts and embraces all that is, well, real I suppose. A friend once gave me a book entitled In Praise of Shadows about these Japanese ideals. The author, Jun’ichiro Tanizaki, makes clear that “Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty.” I am told that I need to embrace the imperfection. It is both human and necessary.

I am also told, quite frequently, to “get where my feet are.” If I focus at the moment at hand, everything is okay. Beautiful. Alive. It is fear that drives my perfectionism and perfectionism that in turn drives my fear. Every defect of character that I possess is, again as I have been told, under the umbrella of fear and perfectionism. I have also been told that bending into these feelings is toxic.

Acceptance, young Jedi. It’s so where it is at!

Nothing in nature blooms all year long. Be patient with yourself. The strive for perfection is futile. Unattainable. Disastrous. I will be trapped, sweaty and out of breath, on that wheel for eternity if I don’t let go and give up the dream. I am enough. And, enough is enough. I can be better, sure, but I will never be clear as crystal. I will never be God. No matter how often I practice that mental self-flagellation. Maybe just writing this alone will allow the gentleness to creep in to at least my toes, if not my fingers, if not my heart.

Love to be loved.

Enough is enough.

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