This week on the HOME Podcast, Laura and I discussed Perfectionism (with a capital P - you can check out that episode here). As it relates to addiction and recovery. As it relates to body image and life image and Facebook image. As it relates to being human in 2015.
It's a topic I am well versed in, being a Type A perfectionist who is by nature an overcommitting messy mess dreamer. It's the biggest cross I have to bear. That I want my life to look like a Goop newsletter. That my life does not look like a Goop newsletter. That my life will never look like a Goop newsletter.
I will never remember your birthday, my cardigan will always be missing that button, I will forever be reading 20 books at a time, I will never train for that marathon even though I will tell you I will, flossing regularly is a pipe dream, I will continue to set up my budget in Mint and never tend to it, and you will never ever ever get a Christmas card from me. Ever. I will never be able to do what everyone wants/expects/needs, I will always forget to renew my drivers license, and I will never pack in time no matter how much of a head start I have, no matter how hard I try.
And I am okay with this. All of this. As I type this post five days later than anticipated, having forgotten to put on deodorant AGAIN, in the sweatshirt with the coffee stain, having eaten chocolate for breakfast, about to eat hot dogs for lunch for the third time this week even though I have kale and and apples in the fridge, as I am about to cancel my plans for a movie tonight so I can pack my apartment up (because I put that off for three days) and somehow fit my yoga in. On my third latte when I'd meant to only have one.
I am okay because this is who I am, and somewhere along the line who I am became okay. Because at some point I stopped looking at what I didn't have/didn't do/what Gwynneth was doing, and instead started looking at what I was doing.
Today I brushed my teeth. I did my laundry and cleaned my home (okay I paid someone to do it but still), I turned my rent check in ahead of schedule, and I am writing like I promised myself I would (even when I don't want to). I am fitting in the yoga and the meditation, somehow, even if it is at the expense of what's left of my social life here. And by some miracle, I have responded to all outstanding text messages. And this is the short list. I'm proud of 5,000 other things, too.
In my mind right now, what I see is someone who did it. Not someone who didn't. In my mind right now - even though I am technically homeless and still don't have health insurance and keep fucking forgetting to call my accountant - I am abundant and on top of my game and I've made it.
There are many themes in addiction recovery, and many similarities and universalities among those who suffer substance abuse: a high percentage of us suffer from some form of perfectionism. Whether it is the need to do it all and be it all, the need to look good doing it, or the need to do ALL OF IT PERFECTLY, most of us are hooked into a relentless cycle of never-enoughness, and are paralyzed by a total fear of failing altogether. I know because this was MY story and still totally is to some degree (and most likely always will be to some degree).
I know this because these are my friends' stories and my clients' stories and it is OUR human story.
We smoke and drink and drug and all sorts of things because we are tightly wound, we are non-stop, we have to do it all, we don't measure up, we are not as good as she is/he is/they are, we aren't doing it as good as we know we could, we can't finish things we start, we won't do it half ass, we can't fail. So we try to escape, we take it down with wine or a joint or an Orange Is The New Black marathon or a whatever does it, so we can be imperfect for just a minute. To unwind. To balance. To stop suffocating. To turn it off.
This week's HOME podcast goes into this, goes into the madness that is living in a time where for some reason, somewhere along the way, we all bought into a batshit crazy idea that being perfect some how equals happiness, and what that means for us. I don't have the answer to this one. There is no meditation or mantra or book that undoes this. There is just the awareness that it is there, living, breathing among us and in us. And there is just the relentless pursuit to call bullshit on it, and live our lives not to be something we will never be, but to live our lives how we were meant to: as our messy imperfect selves, with nothing but love for our messy imperfect self. So that EVERYONE gets to live as their messy imperfect self, with nothing but love for their messy imperfect selves. So we can fucking live. Period.