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happy, healthy and honest: letting go of perfectionism

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In the five minutes I have been sitting here staring at my screen searching for a place to start I’ve re positioned my keyboard, mouse and wrist rest multiple times, I’ve sipped my coffee and I’ve glanced over and over at the baby monitor almost praying Elias will wake up so I don’t have to write this right now.

That’s how uncomfortable imperfection (and talking about it) makes me.

I have always been an over achiever with perfectionist tendencies. My family knows it, my teachers used to comment on it and it has brought me to some really great places and some REALLY shitty places. (Scouts’ honor, there is absolutely no other way to describe those places.)

Most people don’t really understand the negative effects of perfectionism – because most people who have perfectionism are really good at hiding them. Struggles + failure = imperfection. And no self respecting perfectionist would EVER let those secrets see the light of day.

Lucky for you, I have no self respect. 😉 Kidding. Totally kidding. But let’s chat anyway.

Traits of a perfectionist include: failure to accept anything less than perfection, fear of failure, unrealistic goals, low self esteem, depression and anxiety and being overly critical. If you don’t know me personally, you’re just reading someone else’s list. If you DO know me, you’d be nodding your head and agreeing that you are aware that I have most of those traits. But the ones you won’t acknowledge right away are the hardest to digest: low self esteem, depression and anxiety. No one likes a Debbie Downer. Especially when they seem to have everything going for them. News flash: it only SEEMS that way.

If I’m ashamed of people seeing my failures then why am I here talking about it?

Because I’m DONE.

I am done being embarrassed and ashamed. I am done trying to please everyone. I am done with the super high standards and the facades. My health is suffering and I’m dragging those I love the most down with me. I not only crave freedom, I NEED it. And being upfront and uncomfortable is the only way out.

My struggle with perfectionism really started to pick up after delivering our son. I needed to be Super Mom: to have a perfectly clean house, to have a perfectly dressed child, to have perfectly planned meals, to have perfect parties, to look perfect myself, right down to the perfect Christmas card. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. EVERYTHING.

I was running myself ragged, sleeping 4 hours a night, my appetite was nonexistent and I was missing out on precious time with my new family – time that I would give ANYTHING to be able to go back and do over. I was so caught up in how PERFECT everything had to be and was that I truly believed I was happy.

And then reality caught up – I had a MAJOR crash right after Christmas in 2018. I stopped working out, I stopped keeping house, I began binge eating, I did NOTHING for three months. My body was so burned out that I found no joy in anything nor did I want to – I just wanted to be able to relax and not care for a change.

After struggling through 2019 I really thought 2020 would be my year to start fresh. Wrong again. It all started out on a high note and things quickly fizzled out once COVID became an everyday conversation. The more isolated we had to become and the more my plans or hopes had to adapt and change due to things totally out of my control, the more my mental health declined. There is no room for perfectionism in those circumstances (or any circumstance with a toddler! haha) and as much as I tried to hold on it, the reality of life in a pandemic was relentlessly chipping away at my resolve.

I had already had a few mini meltdowns over plans having to be changed and things we had to give up and I was able to work through it on my own but I stored all of that disappointment and frustration in my heart, never truly letting it go. And then about a month ago, it I broke. Every day something else changed, every day another plan had to adapt and it was just too much to hold in.

I had a major meltdown and just laid everything bare to my husband. As much as I want to be Super Mom, I CAN’T. We were all suffering from my inability to let things go; I can’t do everything or be everything and still function with my sanity intact. As cliche and ridiculous as this sounds – a sudden wave of realization washed over me. I can’t be perfect and that’s okay. 

I struggled with that thought for a few weeks and as uncomfortable as it was at first, I found my peace with it and it’s as if we’re old friends now. Friends who have constant  spats but friends nonetheless. 😉 I know that it will be a daily struggle for a long time, if not forever, but it’s a struggle I’m now willing to openly and honestly acknowledge.

I (and the people closest to me) have suffered for a long time because I refused to deal with my mental health. At the risk of this sounding like a sermon, I do truly encourage anyone struggling with their own mental health (perfectionism, body image issues, depression, anxiety, etc) to reach out for help. You have nothing to be ashamed of and truly, those who love you want to help you. Let them.

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2 thoughts on “happy, healthy and honest: letting go of perfectionism

  1. Wow. Laura this is so amazing. You are brave, growing, and beautiful. You deserve the best. Love you my dear

    1. Thank you. I’m really trying to get myself sorted out and healthy – it’s a long, uncomfortable road but one that needs to be taken. Love you!

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