If you show up to my house at any time of day on any day of the week you will find it perfectly tidy and ready to host. All the dishes are done, laundry is cleaned, floors are mopped and swept, beds are made, toilet has been disinfected, the list goes on. Sound like a dream come true? Think Again.
I don’t know when, but somewhere along the way I started to use the cleanliness of my house as a measurement for how messy things were for me personally. When I woke up with a killer hangover I would immediately get to work with wiping and sweeping. I would feel slightly relieved with the disaster that was my mind if my house was tidy. It was the only way I could breathe.
But this was a cover up. At best this was a crappy coping skill and at worst it was how I measured my self worth. I thought if I completed all of the tasks on my (completely made up) to do list, then I was “fine.”
I started to believe that perfectionism was my super power. Give me a job and it’s done! A spill? On it! Need a quick response? Done! Dinner from scratch? Yes! A trip to Goodwill? In the Car! Laundry, dishes, clean sheets, rearrange the living room? Done, done, done, and done. Woohoo! Swish! Check!
I mean what could be better?
Well, everything. Everything could be better. For starters, my “perfectionism” borders slightly on the edge of deranged. I mean-I know I need to sit and listen while you tell me more about your scary medical diagnosis-but the dirty appetizer dish sitting next to you is making me so crazy that if I don’t get up right this second and put directly in the dishwasher I truly believe that my head will explode. Still reading?
I’m aware that this all sounds a bit crazy (unless you get it-and then you really get it) but in the days of social media and constant feedback there is a push for perfect. With a quick google search I’m faced with images of perfectly curated living rooms, bright beaming kitchens, and plenty of articles telling me that if I move the centerpiece one inch to the right my life will be complete. It won’t, I’ve tried it.
As usual, with a little digging on anxiety I learned I was wrong. I was shocked to find out that perfectionism isn’t something to be proud of. I had no idea that all of my habits were just a form of control wrapped up in fear. I’ve gotta be honest that I’m a little disappointed. And even though I understand now, I still can’t help but high five myself when all the tasks are done.
But, I’m trying. I’m reading the books, doing the hard things, and finally facing the feelings that I have forever suppressed with clean countertops and fresh laundry. I am sitting with myself and my thoughts (God Help Me) and I am mediating one minute at a time.
I am repeating the mantra my power is my presence and I focus less on outcomes. Because seriously, what if I leave that plate out (or let myself go a little)? Will I start drinking again? Will I forget to be a responsible human? Will I “go back?” Will I fail?
So I am raw and open while there’s a dish in the sink and a cup on the table. I sit while surrounded by toys as I try be present with my children. I remain at the dinner table a little longer before grabbing the plates and sweeping the floors. And I take a few deep breaths before I jump up to refluff that pillow you just sat on.
I’m still scared, but this time I know that failure, mistakes, and mess are part of life. Life is not perfect and no matter how hard I try to control what happens inside the walls of my home I'll still have to face the challenges and hardships that come with being ALIVE. So I’m going to do so with courage, love, authenticity, and a lot more trust that I’ve got this.