Saturday, September 6, 2008

Perfectionism and good enough...

Ok, I said in my last post that we didn’t hit things too hard in counseling. But maybe that’s wrong. We did hit things hard, in that we talked about lots of things. We ranged all over, from my telling Tricia about the more recent lies I realized I have been believing, to how things are going at home, to, well, just about everything…

This week has been hard as well. I have been holding myself together the best I can. I have been fighting a bad (and I mean, it hurts to breathe, bad) cold. I am exhausted. My son has started pre-school for the first time. My daughter wants to go too. Neither of them want to sleep for a nap when they are home. On top of that, there are multiple things I am trying to deal with in counseling.


I am a perfectionist.

Yeah, if you haven’t guessed it (or if I haven’t mentioned it before) I really am a perfectionist. To the point of insanity sometimes. If you came in my house, you would never guess that. I could show you a picture here of what my living room and kitchen look like, but I want to show you a “Better Homes and Gardens” type of kitchen and living room… and, well, that ain’t gonna happen in these parts!!!!

One of the things I talked over with Tricia is that I don’t bother worrying about how perfect my house is, because I “know” that I can’t make it perfect, so why bother trying. She told me that is a common problem with perfectionists. If they feel they can’t do it right, and right the first time, they don’t even try. Because failing at something is even worse than not doing it in the first place.

I don’t like failing.

Maybe that comes into play in my counseling. When I feel like I don’t get anywhere, or accomplish anything in a session, I come away with frustration, because I feel like I failed, I feel like I didn’t “do” it well enough. I feel that I have to try to do this on my own. I have to heal. So, if something doesn’t seem to “work,” well, then I didn’t do something right. That’s when I start over analyzing everything.

Including being a wife.

I look at how I have been as a wife to Dave. I pick myself apart for ways I could have listened to him better, ways I could have lifted him up better, or encouraged him better, made our house more like a home and less like just a place to stop and sleep.

Including being a mother.

I start worrying about whether I am doing a good job raising the kids, looking at the things that I have done recently, or not done, and see where I could have done better. I worry about whether I can help raise them to know and love God. I wonder if I really am doing them any good at all.

Including my writing.

I end up starting to write, and then delete things, because my posts are going every which way, or they don’t have a point, or they can’t possibly have any spiritual value to anyone, or they are just talking about the same old stuff again and again… and on the list goes.
Tricia knows most of this. We have talked about it many times before.

So this perfectionist tendency came up when we were discussing a book I was reading “Healing for Damaged Emotions,” by David A. Seamands. He talked about many things in there and one of them is perfectionism, sources and symptoms, ways of healing and being real about who you are.
So we talked about my being a perfectionist. (If you could only the contortions I go through at times to make this blog look the way I want it to!)

Tricia gave me a phrase that ended up being the theme for our whole session… it carried through to everything we talked about.

“Good Enough.”
Stand Alone.
That’s it.

Well, you can imagine my mind doing back flips. Especially when I hear the phrase with a negative connotation. Because, for so long, I have heard in my head, “I am not good enough.” So, anything that I do, it’s good enough, but…. It’s not the best, it could have been better, I didn’t give it enough effort, so it’s settling for second rate, second class, second place.

Then one of the ways she explained is this:
“It is GOOD and God is ENOUGH.”

That is better, and I can’t deny that God is enough, but I am still struggling with the negative connotations. Tricia asked me to keep this phrase in mind this week. To be honest, I haven’t. Even that night after counseling it was gone from my mind. I beat myself up because I was so tired when I got home, that even though I got a homemade, baked chicken dinner on the table, including home-made gravy, I didn’t manage to make the cornbread that I had intended.

I wanted a “perfect” meal for the ending of Peter’s first day of school. I didn’t get all the items made I wanted because I was too tired. Which is not an excuse for a perfectionist. So, therefore, I failed.

Looking back, I can see now that the meal was good. There was enough food. The kids enjoyed it, even though it took a bit longer to cook than I wanted. It was fine, but I was so tired and disappointed with myself, that I didn’t hardly feel like eating.

That is one example of where, if I had remembered in the middle of it all, that it’s good enough… I might have saved myself a lot of heartache.

Now, I need to refocus on this for the rest of the week. I am sick. I feel miserable. There are going to be only so many things that I can do, just because of my energy level. I am only going to be able to do so much for the kids. I am only going to be able to do so much for my husband. I am only going to be able to fold the loads of laundry that my energy allows. I am only going to be able to pull together light meals, that are easy to prepare.

It will be GOOD.

I may be able to spend only a little bit of time with God each day until my time alone right before counseling on Wednesday.

God will be ENOUGH.

Everything this week will be good enough.
Not only did God say “It is good,” but He is enough!

That has to be GOOD ENOUGH for me.

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