Perfection was my idol, a lying, thieving bitch (pardon my language, but there it is). She beckoned me as a child, lived with me as a teenager, settled in me as a young adult, warping my ambition and convincing me that hiding the truth of my imperfection was an absolute necessity.
I aimed for perfection and fell short. No surprise there. So I believed I had to lie, to myself and others, and I got pretty good at it. All along, it seemed that I was protecting myself; my salvation came through denial. In reality, I was wrapping myself in a shroud of non-reflective, suffocating insulation; choking on self-protective gear that did nothing more than make me more susceptible to the inevitable slings and arrows of life. My wounds - things that normal people experience and simply grow through - became disasters that warped my understanding of myself, devastated relationships, and left me wrecked.
And what was I lying about?
I was desperately frightened of the relentless, rhythmic voltage inside of me that whispered, lest someone else might hear, You should be perfect, you were born to be perfect, but you're not you're not you're not you're not good enough because you. are. not. perfect. You are not enough.
I believed it. In spite of being raised "right", growing up "in church", achieving good grades and scholarships and honors and accolades; deep down, that voice never stopped.
I'm so much better than I used to be. In fact, I'd like to think that I'm past all that now. I have experienced a deep level of authenticity in places where it matters most, where healing begins. A deep, honest friendship rimmed by a lifelong commitment. Spiritual leaders who have revealed their own imperfections, and allowed me to love them (helping release the logic that if I love them in their imperfection, maybe it's okay if they love me in my own...) A community of faith that is built upon - rather than avoids - an awareness of brokenness - for there begins our need for grace.
But I remember. It's like the faint image of a bruise that's still a little sore from a lifetime of banging the same anvil across the same delicate tissue.
I remember, and I recognize the sound and the sight as I see others struggle, hear it in their voice, understand the warped logic of the lie of perfectionism. I hear Brene Brown speak and it's not just me it's not just me it's not just me overtakes the voice inside my head; there is strength in numbers, and I'm not alone, and that knowledge makes me stronger.
We help one another when we're honest - about one another, and about ourselves. It has helped me to become healthy.
And so: It is National Suicide Prevention Week, and although one might think it a big leap from a short blog post about perfectionism, it's not, really.
And I know many of you who read these words, and I know that you struggle with your own shame, your own weakness, the places where you believe you fall short. I know that there is A Thing that whispers it's lies to you, too.
And I think it's time we take a step forward, in the middle of so many good, healing things around us, and I think we reach out and do something that will help us help one another, because when we share our stories, we shout that we are not alone, none of us. And sometimes, that's the one thing, at the one moment, that somebody needs to hear.
So let us do this one thing, men and women and teenagers and young adults and my children - all of us. Simply finish this sentence.
I cannot be replaced because
That voice that's saying, "Forget this - how self-absorbed and narcissistic do you think you are? That's stupid. That's selfish. Say something like that and people are going to think you think you're all that. You have no right....you ought to be ashamed..." Yeah, that's the same crap she tries to tell me. As my mom would say, STOMP HER and make her shut up, and then answer the question, here in the comments or on my Facebook page or on your own.
Own your value. Accept your worth. And if you have trouble, if your broken places have clouded your vision so that you have no answer to that question, know this: it's just cloudy. That's all. You have an answer. If you cannot find it, ask someone you trust. We will gently push away the clouds and help you see.
When we understand our own value, we make room in our hearts to understand someone else's.
And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.
I cannot be replaced because
- I am their mother.
- My voice is unique.
- He only has one sister.
- I make the best chicken and rice.
- I am his portion.
It's your turn. One thing or ten. Why is it that you cannot be replaced?