Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Not Good Enough

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?


  1. My son doesn't have DS, he is autistic, but I understand the feelings quite well. Special needs Moms need extra love and support. I have an autistic moms support group that means the world to me and helps keep me sane. We are blunt, honest, and love our kids. We also know that sometimes you just have to step back and either laugh or cry.

    I have followed your journey from the beginning. I keep in you and your son in my prayers. I am always delighted to see you writing -- whether it is with joy or with a struggle.

    Hunter is so very fortunate to have you!

  2. *cringe* Oh, I struggle like that...and ach do I recognize that voice. :P I think one of the biggest things I learned last year was just to tell that constant you're an idiot/that was stupid/you messed up again refrain to SHUT UP. It's sooooo easy to listen to it, and such a relief to just mentally duct-tape the never-ending chorus. :P

    It is something I have to keep doing over and over (:P I just wrote a blog post on perfect today), but I think I am getting better - by just flat-out REFUSING to listen. Because what you know objectively really is true - you are an amazing person. (And good grief, from everything I've seen on your blogs and way back on the FTN forum, you are extremely talented and living your life beautifully. You really are.)

    I don't know why our own worth is so difficult for some of us to see (we were created by the God of the Universe and He valued us so much He DIED and came back to life so we could be with Him forever!), but I know how hard it is. And you're right, it does affect people we care about. The things I've found most effective are, like I said, shutting that voice up as soon as it starts, and using Bible verses to remind myself who I am in Christ and who is the One that is perfecting me.

    Praying with you as we fight this together!