Confessions from a Recovering Perfectionist

A friend of my husband came to our house unexpectedly over the weekend. I was spending the day with my 2 closest girlfriends, so I couldn’t do a last minute crazy-clean-up-spree. Years ago, this would have infuriated me, and in fact it did. When the same situation happened 5 or so years ago, I was MAD! Mad because I knew my husband wouldn’t do a crazy-clean-up-spree. Mad because my house wasn’t “guest ready.” Mad because someone might see that things aren’t perfect.

I’m sure you can figure out that no one cared what my home looked like…no one except for me. Thinking that I had to be perfect was a miserable way to live. When I think of the time and emotional energy I wasted, it’s exhausting.

So why did I care so much if no one else did? My friend Jo Casey talks about feminine conditioning (our culture’s rules & expectations for women) and that was definitely a part of it. Another part was the rules & expectations I had for myself. Somewhere along the way, I’d constructed a story that the love I received from others was conditional. That if my imperfections were evident, their love would disappear. So I did my darnedest to protect myself.

The process of learning to unravel that story I’d constructed was a slow one, and the old story still pops up from time to time. It popped up over the weekend when my first reaction to not being able to do a crazy-clean-up-spree was a little flutter of anger. The difference now is that I recognize that as an old story, not a true story. I know that the love of the people who matter most isn’t conditional…and most importantly, the love I have for myself is no longer conditional either. 

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