I just spent two hours editing the scholarship essay I’ve already edited a dozen times. I still don’t like it.
If it were just the essay, I’d decide it was that simple, trash it, and start over. But it’s not just the essay. It’s everything. It’s all the school assignments I tore up a million times only to turn in an essay or presentation I hated just as much as the first one – only to get A’s on all of them. It’s the incredible stress that grinds at my shoulders when I’m two minutes late to work – even though I happily cover for my employers when they are late. It’s the persistent voice in my head that whispers “Wow, you really messed that up, and they probably think you’re a stupid idiot, since you certainly sound like one whenever you open your mouth.”
It’s the mantra I whisper over and over to myself “Idiot. Stupid. Dumb, dumb, dumb stupid me who never gets anything right.”
Truth is, I do get things right. Bad students don’t get A’s, and poor employees don’t have good references. Even though I may look and act thrown together, my child certainly does not. I am a good mom, lucky enough to spend most of my time caring for my son and the other kids I’m blessed to care for.
All this I know objectively, because it’s factual information I can’t deny. I don’t feel any of it. What I feel is a failure, most of the time. When I actually admit I may, possibly, have done something a little bit right I feel like I need to check over both shoulders quick for condemnation.
There’s nothing wrong with perfection. But I am a perfectionist going wrong, and I’m afraid of where it’s going.
Because how can I be a special needs mom who advocates for acceptance when I can’t accept myself? How can I cherish Hunter for the amazing person he is when I hate myself? How can I expect him to confidently believe in himself when my confidence is a shriveled up sponge and I believe I’m a failure…when I’m not?
“You’re too hard on yourself,” people tell me all the time.
“How can you be too hard on yourself?” I retort. “I wouldn’t be where I am without being this hard on myself.”
Truth is, that’s probably not truth. There’s a sort of greed in this everlasting hunger to be better better better. It’s one thing to realize have goals and work toward them and it’s another thing to let every milestone toward those goals fall to the ground like empty trash.
This wasn’t the post I intended to write today. I think it’s the post I needed to write. I needed to get it out in black on white and really realize that this isn’t just affecting me, it will affect Hunter too.
So I’m asking for help. Who else struggles like this? How do you work through it? Most of all, how do you prevent it from affecting those whom you love?