Back working at the TAW and have had another epiphany. It’s amazing to me how one simple program from someone I’d never heard of four months ago can have such a profound impact on my life. This new tidbit of clarity is in regards to my penchant for ignoring myself in pursuit of some type of ill-fated martyrdom. It has become almost an addictive behaviour like that of a pill popper. And for someone who has a pill aversion, this is a bit troubling.
It has been through introspective exercises and just plain old sitting and having a think that I’ve discovered when other people need me, I put myself last. I let go of my health, my creativity, my sleep, my home: in short, everything that matters and helps make me who I am. Why am I so willing to drop it all ? Probably a few things, the first of which is I love helping people. I love helping them plan. I love helping them succeed. I love making them happy. That I become a miserable, crotchety bitch in the meanwhile seems to have taken me a long time to recognize as not being ok. This fact was apparently not lost on the man I love when I revealed my epiphany to him. He already had a firm grasp on the situation much to my chagrin.
The second is that if it involves being creative, I get so lost in the project that I lose all sense of time and reality. I make a pictorial yearbook and DVD at the end of each Guiding year (yes, Guides again but only for the creative bit) for each girl. I now have a standard template that I just adjust each year, adding new pictures, new clip art, new captions, etc. so that it’s relevant to that group. I put the DVD together so that parents can see what their girls are spending their 2 hours a week or camping weekends doing. We sometimes hint at the wonders of duct tape and I just want to reassure them it’s for sit upons and not mouths.
This type of creativity is WONDERFUL. It feeds my soul, fills my creative well and just plain makes me happy. The problem comes when two of my many faults come in to play: time management and perfectionism. I have a completely unrealistic grasp on time and how long I’m going to need to finish a project. Even one that has the foundation already laid. I always run in to snafoos of computer glitches, missing pictures and other drains on my time. And yet I persist, throwing all logic out the window and finally falling down at 130am out of pure exhaustion in a last ditch effort to get it done.
The perfectionism is something that I battle regularly. It has to be perfect no matter what I am doing. It has to meet my standards. It has to have no spelling errors, no format errors, no forgotten moments: nothing that will mar the ooooh and ahhh factor. That factor which is what I probably find so addictive in the first place. Who doesn’t love accolades or even just a well done ? I know it make my little heart kick up its heels in leprechaun fashion when someone enjoys what I’ve created. And apparently I will endure jaw pain, stomach upset and broken sleep to get that fix. Addictive behaviour ? No, no not me.
It is with this type of self-flagellation that I run my life. My family sees it. My husband despairs of it. My friends shake their heads about it. Yet I fail to stop. I do not see any other option than feeding my happy making perfectionist personality. I can’t stop myself. I don’t want to. Well, I could stop any time I wanted to. Really I could. I just need one more photo. One more edit. One more caption. One more clip art. One more change, I promise and this will be the last time. For those of you with an addictive spouse or parent, you can stop rolling your eyes.
So after having this little epiphany, do I plan to stop ? I am going to try to relax a bit. I’m going to try to manage my time better. I’m going to try to understand that the world will not end if it’s not perfect. I will put away the whip and silence the inner critic who reminds me constantly that it will never be good enough. To her I will say – stop. Your voice holds no power. And just like a pill, I will swallow that need to be perfect and hope that it follows the same path as anything else I ingest. Right in to the crapper where it belongs.