Whoever said we are our own worst critic was talking about me.

Whoever said we are our own worst critic was talking about me. And whoever said perfectionists will never be happy unless they change their minds was also talking about me.

I’m not really a perfectionist per se. I do plenty of things imperfectly. I’m not super obsessed with cleaning — hello, inch of dust on all of my wooden furniture — except for my kitchen floor — whatever contractor agreed to lay white porcelain tile in a kitchen didn’t know what they were doing. When I’m on edge, I scrub the fuck out of that floor. I get down on my hands and knees, poke my fingers into the intersections of the grout, clearing every dirt traffic jam. I go over the same places, over and over. But it’s never clean enough.

I fired my therapist the other day. She said, “oh bummer, I was just going to give you your trauma timeline homework.” My trauma timeline. The timeline of how soon I realized my body lies to me. How soon I discovered I can’t trust my gut because it hurts me. How soon I discovered I can’t fix everything and I can’t be perfect no matter how hard I try. How soon I decided if I can’t be perfect, well, then maybe I just won’t do it.

I’m an over-planner. I’ve loved planning things since I was a kid. Vacations, projects, papers, decisions. Hashing and rehashing conversations in my head, over and over. Next moves, countermoves, woulda, coulda, shouldas. I plan so I have fewer surprises. Surprises can hurt. But sometimes I’m surprised anyway, and the level I plan to makes the surprise sting way worse.

I feel like there’s a Buddhist teaching that talks about expectations contributing to suffering. Tell me what button to push to reprogram this part of my brain and I’ll do it.

I’m not really a perfectionist per se. But my ego’s perfect date would be July 10 — hot, sunny, minimal shadow. My soul’s perfect date is more December 21 — mostly cloudy shadow with a side of sunlight peeking through.

Anonymous