When I was preparing to move from Raleigh to St. Paul in the fall of 2020, there was a lot of purging of things we no longer needed. Some of these were easy to pack in boxes and take to places that were accepting donations.
Then I came across my journals.
In the course of my life I’ve been a somewhat sporadic writer. Early in my journey, I would decide that writing in a journal would help to uncover what I needed to know to work on in myself, and then I could get to the work of “fixing” it. This was all before I found presence as a practice, and before I knew that there was nothing to fix.
Whenever I made a new promise to write in a journal, I bought a new one.
I couldn’t just pick up where I left off in an old one because that represented failure to me, I had stopped writing daily in that journal (or weekly, or….) and I needed to find the perfect journal to capture the deepest thoughts that would lead to the transformation that I was envisioning for myself. Inevitably, I would not be consistent with my latest attempt to fix myself, and yet another journal would go into the pile of half started journals.
This was only one place where perfection showed up in my life. I used to think that if I could just “get it right” i.e. find the perfect combination of goals, rules, insights, etc. that I would attain what I was looking for, and I always failed. These attempts of finding the perfect combination of things out there to make me happy; always sent me into a tail spin of self abuse.
If I couldn’t achieve the perfect body, the perfect hair, the perfect disposition; be the perfect mother or wife, how could I be successful?
How could I teach my children?
How could I find fulfillment?
This cycle repeated itself numerous times before I began to unravel perfectionism in my life.
After Leah died, the fabric of my life was ripped apart. My life was cracked open. It was only when I looked at my life from that place that I knew perfectionism was not attainable. At first I thought it was because my daughter died, how could I have a perfect life without her physical presence?
Didn’t that right there mean that I had failed as a mother?
My grief journey took me to the depths of despair. As I climbed out through presence, and my Samyama practice, I began to see that perfectionism is a myth. That there is no perfect place to go; no perfect way to be. I learned that I perfectly imperfect just as I am.
I began to look for answers inside my heart rather than outside myself. My heart would often lead me to a teaching, or teacher, yet the inspiration always came from within. That was not an easy lesson for me to learn. The more present I became, the more I could discern my inner voice. I learned what my intuition felt like in my body. I learned to trust my full body yes.
Do I still try to find the best way to do things? The perfect way? Yes, sometimes I do, and now know that this work is a practice, not a perfect, and I can give myself grace when I find myself heading down that particular rabbit hole.
Living my life in this way has brought more joy into my life, more inspiration, and yes, more happiness and contentment. I’ve loosened my grip on things that I thought were needed to achieve a particular way of living. Now I allow rather than strive so hard to attain something.
Back to that pile of unfinished journals.
When I found them I read a little from a few of them and realized I am light years away from where I was when I was striving for perfection. I toyed with the idea of picking them up and continuing to write from where I am today. That didn’t feel right to me.
Before I moved I held a ritual to burn those journals, as well as other things that helped me along the way in my journey, yet no longer were aligned with where I am today. Burning my journals released more of the hold that perfectionism had on me. I thanked them for serving their purpose when they did.
I released what I no longer needed to make space for what was coming next.