Disclaimer…Yes, this is a blog dedicated to HR and related matters…but if you know me by now, you know I’ve been doing some self-reflection lately and have shared those moments with you…please allow me to do that again. I recently experienced a major shift in my personal life… some of you are aware, but many are not. Thank you, as always, for welcoming me into your world…and sharing these experiences with me.
From the outside looking in, it would seem she had the perfect life. Tall, blonde, attractive and a gorgeous smile (or so they said…) and walked with a confidence that no one else seemed to have and everyone wanted. Her life was perfect. Personable, charming, always ready to say hello or wave to those nearby.
Perfect. Married in the LDS temple at 19 to a returned missionary. Loving, supportive family. Great friends. Regular church attendance. Perfect.
3 kids, 2 homes, 4 college degrees, and 17 years later….divorce. Oh my gosh…NOT perfect. What happened? (shocking!) That’s what people are asking her now…how can that be? She had the perfect life. They were the perfect couple. They had the perfect family. They were the kind of people others wished they could be.
She played the role that most women play as they’re growing up, under the watchful eyes of those around her. She thought she needed to be perfect. She didn’t want to disappoint. “Give the people what they want” was her mantra. She was an actress in a starring role…and the show would go on, night after night…week after week….year after year…Be perfect. It makes everyone happy.
Perfection. It appears to be perfect, doesn’t it? Just saying the word Per-fec-tion…it sounds so ideal…so amazing. The dictionary would tell you that to be perfect, it means “exactly fitting the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose or entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings.” Looking in the mirror, everything did seem perfect. No flaws, no obvious defects. Everything to be grateful for, but not really believing she was measuring up to the expectations that were heaped upon her.
As expectations piled up, she grabbed each one and tossed into the corresponding “baskets”…try it on later and make it fit. The first basket was “Being Mom”. Probably the largest basket that was never ending…always over flowing, but was somehow the most fitting and most rewarding. She knew she was a good mom…those were the expectations she could meet. The next basket was “Marriage”. Trust in the process…she would tell herself. Following the process of love and faith would eventually make that basket even out and be more rewarding…make more sense. The third basket was a tri-fold…one for church callings, volunteer work, and all the extra stuff…sort of like the “Kitchen Drawer” that everyone has…stuffed full of things that should be sorted but never stays in its spot. There should have been a basket for “Her” but it always seemed to be a mere box. Sometimes so tiny and with a magnetic lid that it was never open long enough to be filled with fun stuff, goals, or rest, or time to think. It just sat closed, empty, and dusty. But to her, that was okay. If the box was empty, that meant she was trying to meet all of the other expectations and continuing to play the role that audiences showed up to see, every day and night.
However, 17 years of trying to be perfect no longer worked. The act was falling apart…operating like a robot with no way to upgrade the software or analyze the internal errors that caused major malfunctioning…the show could no longer go on. The baskets could no longer be filled, or sorted, or made to fit. Looking in the mirror, the smile appeared to be fake and the light that filled her eyes was created only by the electricity in the room, rather than her own fire and passion. Her lack of internal brilliance was evident. Instead of a trail of smiles and laughter, the pathways she ran were dreary and cloudy. Changes needed to be made to save relationships that were lacking spark and would eventually sputter and die.
Therapy. That was a big one. Oh wow. She is not perfect. She is not broken. It’s ok to hurt and cry and question everything. Perfection does not exist in this world. It is boring and non-creative. It lacks the ignition that fires up the heart.
Marriage. Understanding the pain, working through the fears and saving the friendship. Together, they have built an alliance that focuses on the children. They are great friends that respect and care for each other. The marriage is over, but she has a family. Remarkable.
Love. Finally beginning to understand how to love herself, so that she can truly love others… wanting to be loved and to be IN love. Love is not perfect. Love is the craziness that fuels passion and desire… the longing to be with someone in the midst of crazy imperfection.
Vulnerability. She rarely asked for help, rarely showed signs of weakness. She was an expert at building walls and detaching from others…shame should not be seen…only covered up and dealt with behind lock and key. Over time, she’s chipping away at the walls…letting the light through…no longer hiding herself from others.
I think she’s still working on that part…but knowing it sure as hell ain’t going to be perfect. And she’s okay with that.