I’ve spent my entire life carrying perfectionism like a backpack. It accompanies me wherever I go. Even when I want to shed that load because it’s lighter, it somehow finds its way back. I can recall moments in my life when I believed that being perfect or working towards living a perfect life would protect me from what I believe many of us fear the most:
When I met my husband the backpack of perfectionism carried a new load. Sometimes it got so heavy; I was dragging but refused to let anyone see it. I vacated myself to occupy everything that was him in an attempt to do what I thought would make him happy. I immersed myself into his community, his family, his support system, his career, his goals, his faith and even his home. I wanted to be the perfect woman, I wanted to be accepted in his world and I wanted to become the perfect wife. I was continually up against the fear of disappointment and believed that if I didn’t keep carrying perfectionism, that the cracks in our pavement would crumble beneath us.
Then I became a mother. It’s as if with each child, my backpack of perfectionism got heavier. I’ve spent five years engulfed in fears of health, care-taking, parenting and a sense of responsibility that I believed had zero room for error. To me they were perfect, so I wanted to be perfect for them. So I tried to do and be it all. I sacrificed my health and wellness for theirs. I went without so they could have it all. I believed if I admitted I needed help, I would be perceived as being incapable of meeting the bar as their mother. Every gasp of air I needed became secondary to theirs.
Then there is the house, daily responsibilities, finances, familial relationships, friendships, job and all of the other things that occupy the crevices of our backpacks. It seeps its way into spaces we didn’t even think there was any room for. Eventually the weight doesn’t just trip you; it completely knocks you down. You can’t get back up without taking the weight off.
Imperfections accompany us without our consent because it doesn’t seek permission. What I am grieving is that life doesn’t make promises and there is no guarantee that imperfections won’t creep its way into the foundation of our lives. While spending so much time avoiding the cracks in the pavement, I wasn’t able to see I was carrying expectations for my life that would lead to inevitable failures. While I was spending so much time focusing on what might happen, I lost time focusing on everything that was meant to happen. When I only check into my fears, life checks out on me. It robs me from recognizing all of the ways in which life was showing up for me or waiting for me to show up.
I don’t feel my backpack is unlike what so many of us carry. Our circles can quickly remind us that the backpacks are necessary and that it’s our burden to carry. I don’t think that expectation will ever entirely go away. For the first time in my life, I’m recognizing how worn out I’ve become from that backpack. I’m seeing so much of what I’ve missed out on because I carried more than my share. I carried what wasn’t mine just like I’m recognizing there are times I carried what was never expected of me.
I have to check that backpack from time to time, especially when my fears creep in. I am trying to accept the cracks just like I am trying to accept that there are things waiting to occupy that space when I empty what I was never meant to carry.
In Love & Truth,