I am currently editing a workbook that I wrote 20 years ago. I’m hoping to self-publish it this November. It’s just been sitting in my closet (and on my computer) all of these years. Twenty years later, as I re-read my own words, I think about how much it would have helped me over the years to have re-visited these words and concepts on a regular basis. I’m also thinking about how many other women this workbook could have helped – and how I’ve denied them that possibility by not bringing it out into the world. I wasn’t sure it was “good enough.” I was sure it wasn’t perfect. But, you know what? Virtually nothing is – and it doesn’t have to be! WE don’t have to be! Perfection is not required!
This workbook came about as a result of a failed marriage, my first. During that marriage, I felt like I had lost my sense of Self. In trying to be the “perfect” wife, I had lost my own identity. Our greatest learning comes from our greatest mistakes – and I had learned a lot of hard lessons. I wrote a 400 page book about it, then condensed that down into a workbook of lessons to take away – and questions to ask – in order to explore what I really want in my life, what my priorities are, and who I truly am outside of who I’ve been programmed to think I’m supposed to be by my family, church, schools, society, media, etc.
I’m thinking about the concept of the path of the Wounded Healer, which I’ll be writing more about in a future blog post. The trials, tribulations, and pain that we go through can teach us lessons that we can use to help others and ourselves. They can make us stronger. Yes, fallible. Yes, imperfect. Yes, human. But the reality is that we are all human. Perfection doesn’t exist – and our insistence on striving for it and negating ourselves unless we achieve it – is harmful. Our ability to move forward despite our imperfections, our willingness to embrace our imperfections, and our determination to live our full lives and share our imperfect gifts – are all steps toward healing. Allowing ourselves to be imperfect is a step toward healing.
I know a significant amount of information regarding how to have unsatisfying – even abusive – relationships … and also, how to not repeat those same mistakes. I know how to choose the wrong partners. I know how to put their needs above my own and not speak up for myself (which is not a strategy that I recommend!). I know how to betray my own interests and Self (also not recommended!). I could go on, but you get the picture. The thing is, because of these hard lessons, I can relate to people who are facing these issues. There was a time when I couldn’t imagine allowing a man to mistreat me. I wondered, Why on earth would these women put up with that? – until I was in that situation and then watched myself in some disbelief feeling and acting in ways that had previously been incomprehensible to me. I also learned how to heal myself from the many poor, harmful choices I made – and that is one of the gifts that I bring to the world.
Obviously, I still don’t have all of the answers. I’m not perfect. My message isn’t perfect – but it’s still worthwhile and helpful – and, for a lot of women, relatable. I could be wrong, but I believe that more women than not give their power away in relationships. I believe that many women lose their sense of Self in relationships. I believe that many women (and men) are unhappy with the sexual aspect of their relationships (obviously, with the infidelity rates being what they are). I believe that good communication and clarity about who we are, what we want, need, desire, and value would be helpful. I’m working on that in my own life.
I’m learning to (still) be willing to make mistakes (at my age, LOL – we’re never too old to make mistakes!). I’m learning to be willing to speak up even if I say the “wrong” thing. I’m trying. I’m doing my best. I’m learning as I go – that never stops, does it? I think that in a healthy human being, we are always learning and growing – if we stop, we stagnate. I’m learning to give myself space – to allow myself to just be, to rest, to do what I need to do to take care of myself in each moment. I’m creating space for me to live and breathe and explore and play and laugh – rather than be bound by social expectations and the unbearable seriousness of life. As long as I can remember, I’ve felt the need to create and hold space for myself and others to be our authentic selves. I’ve always felt an inner rebellion against conformity and the expectations of perfection (which has not protected me or prevented me from falling into these traps on occasion).
I can help people who are going through what I’ve been through – at the very least, I can offer empathy and compassion. I can share what helped me. I don’t have to have reached a perfect level of healing, either, in order to be helpful. That’s another trap people fall into – thinking we’re not an “expert” until we’ve completely mastered something or gotten it perfect. That is false. Nobody ever truly masters anything – there’s always room for improvement. Even doctors “practice” medicine – and we put our lives in their hands. We can’t hold our gifts back from the world until we reach an impossible level of perfection – we owe it to ourselves and to the world to share our gifts now. Yes, some professions require a certain level of competence – we don’t want to hurt anyone, so we get the requisite training. But for everything else, what’s holding us back? And why are we letting it?
Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.