For years I have wasted my life in pursuit of perfection in every area of my life. Although now in my forties I have suddenly woken up to the fact perfection doesn’t exist, my dogged pursuit of it haunts me and I can’t escape it.
In my teenage years I berated myself for not having the perfect body. It didn’t matter at the time I had a BMI of 22, something I would consider perfect now. The fact that all my friends were smaller and daintier than me, made me feel like a heffer beside them. I wore a size 14 whilst these 5ft nothing teenagers with child like bodies, proudly moaned about how fat they were whilst tugging on their size 6 waist bands. This was in the years where vanity sizing hadn’t taken place. Despite the fact my weight was healthy, my body wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t thin enough, good enough or perfect.
Truth be told I was probably an eating disorder waiting to happen. I wont lie I have made myself sick after eating, I have starved myself and binged as a consequence of being in pursuit of perfection. However my flirtations with purging were short-lived, I couldn’t do it properly or I just didn’t see the required results. It makes me so sad, when I think back to the hours I used to spend late at night as a teenager, drawing with a marker pen on my skin all the areas I would have liposuctioned when I was older. There in my bedroom, I would stand in my underwear looking into a full length mirror, highlighting all my perceived imperfections. Its taken me until now to realise perfection can not and will not be achieved in any area of my life because it simply doesn’t exist, for anyone.
So why do I still strive so hard to achieve something that only exists in my imagination? It’s not just about my body now, something I have given up on. EDS may have given me a wrinkle free face (apparently I can pass as ten years younger. I would be happier with 15 – perfection raises its ugly head again) it has scarred my body with stretch marks that I have had to carry with me from the age of 8. I am not perfect, no one is. Models and TV stars aren’t, they are photo-shopped and airbrushed into versions of themselves that even they don’t even recognise.
The problem is that now I have had to admit my failure, realised that my body will never be perfect, my pursuit of perfection has found other avenues to explore. Some of this I think is to do with not having the distraction of going out to work. My health simply doesn’t permit me to, it’s not a lifestyle choice. I have now set myself up to fail as the perfect housewife, I feel that as I don’t contribute with going out to work, I must ensure our home is perfect. (I must state here that my husband doesn’t expect me to do anything.) Despite the fact I know that perfection doesn’t exist. My house must be clean at all times, even if I almost kill myself achieving it. Energy I could spend enjoying myself is spent fretting over is the bathroom clean? do the carpets smell of dog? are the shelves dusty, is the washing machine door clean? My health always throws a spanner in the works, so I can not achieve the tasks I set myself and if I did achieve just a fraction of them I would have to pay the consequences – pain, syncope, pre-syncope or bedridden. I just can’t leave it alone. I think it is a form of self-torture. I have to see the bad, the incomplete, the uneven, the fault, the flaw in everything around me. I rob myself of happiness.
I can’t accept praise, I never have been able to, it feels false. However I am more than ready to accept criticism even if it is only implied. I can see criticism where none exists. I will replay conversations from years ago, where I have done something wrong, hurt someone unintentionally and appear to revel in the hurt I cause myself. I can go over and over conversations picking them apart to find the hidden meaning. The hidden meaning invariably being a criticism of me. Why is my mind so fixated on perfect, the thing I can’t achieve and why do I have to torture myself over it? I accept that other people make mistakes but I don’t allow myself to. When my husband talks negatively about himself, usually calling himself stupid, I immediately step in and tell him to stop it. I tell him he isn’t stupid and it hurts me when he negatively talks to himself but he has no idea about the battle raging in my head telling me I am stupid, imperfect.
Sometimes I am unable to write my blog because the gods of perfection have stepped in. Before I have even touched the keyboard they are screaming that I can’t write, it’s crap. I am paralysed by self criticism, nothing I can write will ever be good enough, perfect. I may get comments, Facebook messages, tweets from people who have enjoyed what I have written, it doesn’t matter because in my imperfect mind they don’t mean what they say. Lets be honest there will have been times in everyone’s life that you have paid a complement and not meant a single word of it or said something you knew the other person wanted to hear. My crazy, f**ked up mind lets me bask in those compliments for about a millisecond, then lets me come crashing down to earth by saying “they didn’t mean it, the post is shit”.
I can only compare it to having an evil twin sat on your shoulder who revels in your misery and continually robs you of any happiness. The evil twin negates the good feelings you have about things you have achieved. There have been times in my life when I have been too busy, too happy to hear the voice of the evil twin. At the moment he shouts at me as if I was hard of hearing. It is not only the negative self talk I hear but it colours the way I look at the world.
Why when I am so sick and have only just spent the last three days able to get out of bed do I care? Why am I a slave to this impossible pursuit of perfection? Why do I set myself up to fail. I wouldn’t set myself the goal of running a marathon, I know that I am not physically able. So in my current state of health why do I set myself these comparable targets?
If the rational, logical part of my mind can see that perfection simply doesn’t exist why doesn’t the rest of me? This pursuit of perfection only leads to unhappiness and a sense of failure yet it’s getting worse. I sometimes wonder if it is linked to my (currently) declining health? My need to control things that are out of my control? I am certainly suffering a great deal physically at the moment and mentally as well. I suppose with a chronic health condition, even though we live with them daily when an extra spanner is thrown in the works it can change your perception of everything.
I still get enjoyment out of everyday life and pursue happiness at every possibility. I just can’t seem to control the invasive thoughts that I am not good enough. Although I challenge them constantly it wears me down. I am exhausted by it all as the demands of being in pursuit of perfection in every area of my life, seems to haunt me constantly.
Writing about this relentless pursuit has helped me challenge it over the last few days and freed me up from the constant need for perfection. I know when things feel like they are spiralling out of control health wise my inner demons come out to play.