“Find peace with yourself by accepting not only what you are, but what you are never going to be.”
Okay, fellow perfectionists, that quote probably gave you a scary shudder; when I came across it, I had to use my left hand to pry my right index finger off the mouse (I was trying to delete the quote from my screen and from my short-term memory). Going back to a previous post where I proclaimed in all my wisdom (-damn it-) that finding real inner peace often requires a trip through some murk and mud, I decided that today I’m putting on the hip waders and plunging in.
For me, here’s a little therapeutic self-indulgence. Maybe it will zap a nerve within you like the above quotation did for me. Or maybe it will just be a look into the mind of someone who’s spent a lifetime competing with herself in order to maintain a shred of self-esteem –who’s finally, finally, starting to get a clue. So let’s hit the esteemed Unknown’s wise words and start slogging through the murk:
Accepting what I am:
*a Recovering Perfectionist. Learning that being the best little worker, getting straight A’s, or any host of other ‘bests,’ will not make people love me, and certainly won’t make me love myself. Being real will, being present will, being ME will. It was amazing how, about 10 years ago when that concept finally made it through my thick skull, the external awards began flowing in (and in the spirit of being real, I won’t pretend I didn’t enjoy those). My relationships at work –both with colleagues and students–improved. Most importantly, though, so many incredible people have come into my life, enriching it beyond measure.
*a Homebody. I love my friends and I like to get out and see them, try new restaurants, see movies, etc. That said, spending evenings in the house I built, where every paint stroke and tile placement was carried out with love–that’s peace to me. Because I finally have a place to live that really is a home. We’ve had 2 break-ins, and one rather interesting visitor, but I feel more safe here than anywhere I’ve ever lived. I will gladly take off to travel though–I’m curious about everything and want to go everywhere, and I have a couple of beach places that are good escapes and fit the current budget. I do need to break out of the homebody mold more often though, and that’s my area to work on. But, instead of feeling like I’m lacking (or weird) because I don’t want to go out all the time, I can now accept that it’s okay to be my introverted self. Where a lot of people go out and party to recharge, I refresh and rejuvenate by retreating.
*shy, quiet, and intense. What can I say, I’m a Scorp.
*getting older. I am, however, redifining for myself what that really means! I really do feel like I’m just getting started–I’ve yet to reach my peak physically, spiritually, cognitively, or emotionally. I can do more now physically than I could 20 years ago; my body is stronger and more flexible and balanced now. That can be attributed to Yoga and Cycling and a really good workout video. Hmm…I can say the exact same things about my brain, heart, and spirit. I do need reading glasses even for the Headlines these days however……
Accepting what I am NOT ever going to be….
*someone who will turn down a stack of pancakes. Excuse me while I drive thru McDonalds.
*Slender and willowy. Refer above.
*Totally healed. Lots of therapy, lots of reading, lots of soul-searching. I’ve finally realized, with the help of a good therapist and Oprah Winfrey, that some things, while they can be forgiven, affect you forever. Oprah quoted Maya Angelou once, something like “Forgiveness is simply accepting that you cannot change the past.” That was eye-opening. I struggled a long time with the “Forgive and Forget” model. I always felt like –I had forgiven, but how could that be if I couldn’t forget? Events happened, and left a permanent imprint. Unable to ‘forget’ left me feeling like I wasn’t forgiving the right way (see above reference to perfectionism, above). Then a therapist told me that people are not obligated to forget the past in their efforts to forgive. Combined with the Maya/Oprah philosophy of forgiveness? Yeah, I’m doing all right. I forgave myself for not forgetting.
I can accept all of those. I have accepted all of those. The list is much longer, but I want you to come back and visit, and comment if you like, so let’s get on out of the swamp. Back onto dry land. Let’s bask in the sunshine of Peace-the kind that comes from self-acceptance. I’ve got a long way to go, but the warmth feels really nice. Come on and hang if you want.