Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “perfectionism”

The bare minimum, but like you mean it…

I was talking to some people the other day about making changes. I am talking about the kind of changes that alter the course of your life. In my experience, there is a human tendency to get inspired, and decide to jump head first into change. And then, when change gets difficult, which it inevitably does, to give up.

Sometimes, when I am helping someone give up sugar and put boundaries around their food, they will tell me that they have a laundry list of things they want to quit. They want to quit sugar, and smoking, and caffeine, and chewing gum, and diet soda, and artificial sweetener, and watching more than an hour of TV, and playing video games, and Facebook, and…

I always tell these people that they can do that if they really want to, but that I don’t recommend it. I think you should take on one thing. Especially if it’s one thing that takes a lot of time and energy, like quitting sugar. I believe that first you take care of the thing that is killing you quickest.

As an illustration, I was a smoker for over six years after I quit sugar. I am going to be blunt. It helped. I needed it. I could even say it saved me. Coffee and cigarettes were like a kind of religion for me at that time. Of course, I was already a smoker and coffee drinker. I didn’t start smoking to stop eating, though I went from a cup or two of coffee a day to drinking it from the moment I woke up until the moment I went to bed, often drinking 15 cups a day. But again, I needed it. Coffee wasn’t going to kill me before the food was. Cigarettes weren’t going to kill me before the food was either. I am suggesting that “killing you quickest” doesn’t necessarily have to mean physically. Smoking may be more likely to kill you younger statistically, but not being able to stop eating was killing me physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. It was killing my self-love, my self-respect, and my feelings of self-worth. Eating was more than just slow-motion suicide. It was fuel for the fire of my self-loathing.

I am glad I didn’t try give up coffee and cigarettes at the same time that I put boundaries around my eating. It would only have been in the name of chasing after perfection. And I can tell you pretty assuredly, that I wouldn’t have succeeded. And then where would I be? Still eating, still smoking, and felling like a failure, who was cursed to be fat and food obsessed forever.

The excitement of change doesn’t last long. Ask any gym patron who goes year-round. On January 15th, everyone is at the gym, excited to make a change. On February 15th, they are excited that Valentine’s Day chocolate is half off.

Perfection, or at least the quest for it, has always been my enemy. I never pull it off, and whatever I do achieve is not good enough, because the goal was perfection. But when I do one thing, and I do it with purpose, commitment, integrity, and love, even when it’s hard, even when it sucks, even when I don’t want to, I see results. I make a change that sticks. And once I have made that change, and it has stuck, it is no longer the thing that is killing me quickest. Now there is something else to deal with, slowly, honestly, purposefully.

For me, that is how things get done. And this is from a low-functioning addict, someone who didn’t get a lot done for most of her life. So screw perfection. I recommend the bare minimum, but every day, like you mean it.

I suppose “better late than never” is a saying for a reason…

I was in the shower today, and I realized that for the first time in over 3 years, I forgot to write a blog.

Obviously, here I am, a day late. Writing because I have a commitment. But I have to be honest with you. This scares the crap out of me.

I fear the first chink in the armor. I fear the first mistake. I fear the first slip. Because I fear that snowball effect. I don’t like knowing that I forgot to write a post and the world didn’t end. It would be so much easier on me if everything had bigger, scarier, more life-changing immediate consequences.

I am so incredibly afraid of my own lack of character. I am terrified that if I let my guard down, I will revert to being the kind of person I have been. The kind of person I was ashamed of.

I feel like the words I am writing here are not enough to explain to you the terror I am in. I sometimes wonder if anyone can understand what it is like to hate yourself so thoroughly and completely that you don’t even know that you hate yourself until it stops.

I fear slip-sliding back to that place. In tiny movements. In nearly imperceptible increments. An insidious regression.

I have gained so much peace in the past 9 1/2 years, since I got my eating under control. Even when all is not well, I am well. Even when I am in pain or unhappiness, I am still strong in my heart and soul.

But today, I am afraid. Not of what I am, but of what I know I am capable of being, because I have been something else before. And it was a terrible way to live.

I am also reprimanding myself right now for my perfectionism. It’s a kind of sickness for me that is also tied in with my eating disorders. It is the M.O. of The Good Girl who wants to please everyone but herself. But on the other hand, that same perfectionism is the very thing that can allow me to say “F*** it! You’ve already ruined everything,” when I slip up, like I did last week when I forgot to write a blog. My perfectionism is the back door to my laziness and resignation.

Forgetting to post in the past two days was, without a doubt, an honest mistake. I have had a lot on my mind lately. And Easter yesterday made it more complicated in my head. So far, in 2015 I have had a lot of malice pointed in my direction. And it has been taking its toll on me. It makes me tired and has me distracted. I have accidentally hurt myself more in the past month than usual. It takes a lot of patience for me to let things go again and again and again. And then messing up on my own, especially something so important to me like this blog, makes everything feel so much more overwhelming.

And I am embarrassed to have screwed up. I don’t like coming here and saying that I have a commitment and I failed.

Needless to say, I am putting an alarm on my phone to remind me to post to my blog every week from now on. I don’t want to let this mistake become a regular occurrence until I just stop blogging and the whole thing falls away.

I don’t want to be cruel to myself. I don’t want to blow this out of proportion, either. But the fear of regression is real for me. I don’t want to wake up one day hating myself because I let my commitments break apart one by one. It took too long to live a life I love to let it go without a fight.

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