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  • Writer's pictureJane Koszowski


Updated: Apr 22, 2019

Feeling vulnerable, but what the heck. That’s where the magic happens.

When Doves Cry

I'm a perfectionist. I'd like to think that I'm a recovering perfectionist, but that first step is not likely to happen in this go around. I am completely wrapped up and, at times, buried in the expectation that I should be perfect. Now don't misunderstand, I know I am far from perfect, yet still I'm a perfectionist. One seeking perfection in all ways, as it pertains to me and my existence. (I'm perfectly fine with almost any and all of your imperfections, as long as you are not hurting someone, in which case I can morph into a mama bear or a political activist, depending on the situation.)

Somehow to be perfect would mean to be worthy, a tragically flawed paradigm for a happy existence. I know perfection is a myth, in itself a flaw, and I know perfection is not needed to be worthy nor is it desired, knowingly or unknowingly, by the one who deems one worthy. In fact, there is no such “one” out there except the “one” in our head. So, what's going on with us perfectionists? We know it's not possible! We know love and worthiness are not dependent upon perfection. In fact, we (perfectionists) love and deem worthy many imperfect peeps, ideas, images, dogs… you name it, we can love and find worth in it. A circular, tail-chasing phenomenon that perfectionists tend to perfect, hehe,,, the idea that, to be perfect, we must love and value just about everything, even though we do not qualify for the same. It's complicated. It's ancient. It's reinforced. All good martyrs love, and turn the other cheek. Martyrs are saints no? Saints are perfect- close to godlike, no? The selflessness is celebrated. But I digress.

For the sake of brevity, or blog size attention span limitations, I'd like to focus on one aspect of perfectionism that is quite damning, the one that quite literally blows your chance at living an internally peaceful, content, and full life. Perfectionists fall apart when they take on something that is not likely to be perfected. Oh wait! That's just about everything! Now, mind you, most perfectionists are lucky, blessed that they were birthed with a genetic predisposition that makes even entertaining this warped logic possible. So, yeah, we hit the genetic jackpot but instead of living a full, rich life accessing and sharing our gifts for the betterment of human-kind, we piss away years of what could be productivity, happiness, and inner peace for endless cycles of running away, hiding, avoiding, crying, self-berating.... when we go about participating in life. We are so adept at this that we can spend decades if not a lifetime in this cycle. Dream - pursue - realize we are not good enough/not perfect enough - sabotage through any means to avoid the inevitable imperfection that awaits us - abort dream ----varying amount of time recovering and then repeat....

So, I'm going to open up, lay it out there, get all vulnerable, explore and see if I get an “aha” moment. Want to come along?

Psychology 101 tells us that somewhere along the way we learn that we are not good enough just as we are, and our little chaotic world would calm down enough to love us if it weren't so damn chaotic. So brilliant idea, we just need to be better so our little world has more energy to give us some love. The blessing and curse here is future perfectionist are smart, good, empathic, little kids, so they are tempted by this idea, not to mention that little kids are pretty ego-centric so they believe they must be the root of the problem. Be great! Be brilliant. Hmmm, that didn't work. So maybe I need to be just a bit better. Ugh, still didn't work. Get Better! Didn't work! I know get perfect! That oughta do it. One problem, our little world (dysfunctional primary family) is never gonna calm down enough to nurture you with the love you need (because humans are far from perfect and if you get the right combination of imperfection, you will get a dysfunctional family. And if, at this point, you are thinking "I'm a perfectionist and my family is pretty alright", then I offer up to you the concept of epigenetics, and/or the culture at large as sources of threatening dysfunction.) All this is common knowledge to most of us and yet even knowing this we still carry on for decades with this life model! Huh! I thought we were smart??!!! (Disclaimer- I don’t know what I’m talking about, meaning, I’m not a professional. Perfectionists may come from perfectly happy homes, with no ancestral history of dysfunction, and settled in a utopia-like culture.)

So why do we do it? Why do we continue to expect perfection from ourselves? Why do we knowingly let this destroy happiness?

We are empaths. We are creatures of peace, but not in peace. We are doves. We want and thrive in peace. The world is not and has never been peaceful. As empaths, we feel that deeply. It is as much out of our control as our family of origin’s dysfunction. Peace is out of our control. We are kind, generous, hard-working individuals that feel the weight of the lack of peace and do the only thing we as individuals can to control what cannot be controlled. We control ourselves. Ultimate control looks a lot like perfection. This desire for peace is deep in our sub-conscious. It’s our inner child trying to make order of this place without a frontal lobe. The constant disparity of the desire for peace and the state of the world puts us in a hyper-vigilant pursuit of seeking self-perfection in a childlike, ego-centric driven attempt to self soothe. We seek perfection because we seek peace. We are doves.

How did this bizarre conversation, realization, identification come to be for me?

Ballroom dancing! I love it. I crave it. It stirs the emotional, physical and spiritual realms simultaneously. And it brings hot, desperate tears spilling down my embarrassed, flushed cheeks after several minutes, hours, days, weeks, years? of practicing and being as far from perfect as the day I started. I felt my little child self completely defeated in what should have been joyous movement? I felt the history of chasing perfection to be loved, worthy, SAFE!, slip away as it always has. If Perfection is not possible! Is Peace? If peace is not possible can a dove survive? Perfectionism, rooted in a dysfunctional childhood, nourished by a brilliant being, amplified by a world/home with a history of war, perpetuated by a primal need for love, worth and peace. Lastly, felt deeply by an empathic being that can only control one thing, themselves. Perfectionism- this is what it sounds like when doves cry. Thanks Prince ;)

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