Where Does Perfectionism Start?

 In Mindfulness and Meditation, Weekly Forum Discussion

I must admit, while I have been loving this blogging adventure I have struggled with this topic. PERFECTIONISM. For a week I’ve been trying to reframe and find the beauty and the humbleness in my own inner perfectionist and I will admit, if this were a fight in the ring, I’d be pretty bruised up right now. Interestingly as I’ve struggled and been in my head with this topic, my outside life has been thrown around for some knocks and punches too. And I am tired and I am emotionally raw and the tears are stinging as I write knowing this week’s topic is a trip down a rabbit hole that I have been rather pleased to keep locked down, far down.

So where does perfectionism start? I don’t know if there is a culminating moment that did it, but I remember moments and comments that were maybe meant innocuous that were hurtful and that caused me to control lots of other stuff. I was always more curvy than my counterparts. Active but curvy. I didn’t fit the mould. But I didn’t care. In the early days, I wore dresses. All the time. My mom made me such cute outfits, complete with a label lovingly sewn in by hand that read “made by mom”. I wore those with pride. Rode my bike wearing them, climbed fences wearing them, play fought with my brothers wearing them and then one day, I don’t even remember who, someone said, Girls don’t behave like that. And from then on I had this image of not good enough and the little voice saying, if you are perfect at everything else maybe this will be “forgiven”. And so awoke and arose the perfectionist.

For years I suffered and pushed and refused help from anyone because I had to prove to everyone how great I was. Really I had to prove it to myself. But my inner critic was never happy. Always critical and judgy there was something else to fix or make better. Off handed comments like “where is the other 2%”when I came home with a 98% crushed me. And when I look back now, I am sure the comments were in jest but I twisted that and hated myself for having lost that 2%. I would argue with teachers on their marking schemes and fight for extra grades. Why? Because I had to get into the best school because without University I would confirm my worst inner critic as right, I would be a failure. High school is tough for everyone. I suffered through eating disorder. Despite how active I was, I was still “bigger” that the other girls. In my mind I was HUGE. Funny when I look back at those pics I would KILL to be that size now! But in those moments it was dark. I tried to control food, I tried to control grades, and on the outside people were like WOW, you are great. And crazily enough I would respond Ya right! I couldn’t believe that I was good enough or heaven forbid aspire to be great.

University proved even more challenging. I had gone from fighting to get a 97% in high school and being at the top of the class to having to accept that in first year chemistry, calculus and biology a 65% was good. Actually it sat at the top of the bell curve. Not good enough. Between 3 part time jobs and studying, I got less physical. No time for self care. And my weight ballooned out of control. Anxiety reared its head in a way I had never imagined and I found myself again completely loathing myself with tears streaming down as the school psychiatrist scraled on a notepad a prescription for an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication. Bigger than I have ever been in my life, struggling to keep afloat with jobs and school, feeling like a failure. I wish I could go back and soothe her. My heart is breaking as I re-live this in writing. I wish I could go back and re-train her inner voice to be loving and forgiving and to talk to herself like she would to anyone else, which even to a stranger was nicer. I wish I knew about energy healing then. I wish I knew about meditation then. But I suppose in that moment my inner critic was still too strong to have listened.

I graduated, I lost the weight, got physical which I figured was self love. I found love, got married, had 2 wonderful little boys. I ran a half marathon, I got certified in 2 different energy healing modalities. And I found meditation and I found self LOVE. I did more things of course but these to me stand out the most.

And life, as it does, throws curve balls and body slams you to the ground and despite doing “well” at work, I wasn’t (and still am not) happy in the corporate world. I am impatient while my healing practice starts to grow but isn’t quite where I need it to be to say bye bye corporate.  I am frustrated at a school system that is failing my kid with unique needs and question whether I am doing enough. The weight has been steadily creeping up over the last couple of years. I hate the way I look in pictures but I have however found a nicer inner me. I can at least look at the picture and find some quality I do like. I have a really pretty smile, (thanks mom and dad for paying for braces!) and in just the right light my hazel eyes explode with an exquisite array of colours. And the dimples are cute too.

Through much work and many tears I have managed to hug that little inner child to tell her she is F*&@ing amazing (Tony Robbins says to swear makes people pay attention, I figured it’s a good one to pay attention to). I think the big thing here is I have done the best I can up til, now. I continue to push and challenge myself in ways that make me uncomfortable but that allow me to see the perfection comes not from the end result but from the sheer determintation and the willingness to push past the discomfort to a better place. I keep this in mind and remind myself of it in my Yoga classes. Forrest Yoga is the hardest thing I have physically done, I’d say it rivals running a half marathon. The class is 2 hours, it’s uncomfortable and it makes me cry in some poses. AND if that little critic were to look around the room and see these incredibly fit women in perfect poses and perfect handstands while I am still trying to get one leg off the ground she might be critical, but I am not. I can truly say, I am learning to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, and while for the full 2 hours of the class I swear under my breath and pray for Shavasana to start, I am noticing I am going deeper in the poses, I am learning, I have better posture, I am sleeping better. So growth.

The other uncomfortable thing I am trying is taking pictures without a safety net. I recently planted to the seed of intention to learn to use my camera in manual settings and as luck or the magic of manifestation would have it, such a class, in my neighbourhood, in my budget appeared. So I took the class, and now I am feeling like photography is new again. But discovering the perfection in the imperfection of the images.

So as far as perfectionism, I can say we’ve gone many rounds. Not before being battered and bruised can I confidently say that sure there are things that I want to improve but I know in my heart of hearts that I am becoming more and more comfortable in my own skin and guess what? I AM AWESOME!

Written by: Melanie Groves; Metamorphosis Healing

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