The Art of Perfection (or is it a curse?)

The art of perfection takes years to perfect, yes pun intended.

My lessons began at an early age and growing up in the 60s and 70s, we didn’t mince words. The world was seen in shades, not colour.

I recall old adages relating to ‘doing things right’ ‘haste makes waste’ and ‘if you want something done right, do it yourself.’

My father was a great one to extoll the virtues of doings thing right, doings things well, and don’t waste time doing the same thing over and over. But he wasn’t the only one to live by this code. As I reached adulthood, I encountered numerous employers demanding the same thing from their staff, almost to the point of where it was unachievable.

I honestly think growing up in that mindset created the compulsive individual I still am today, to some degree. In my 20s and 30s I’d take on tasks sometimes beyond my expertise and knowledge and expected, no demanded, perfection. A bit unreasonable wouldn’t you say? But I did it regardless of my chances of success.  This infatuation with ‘doing it right’ ‘don’t waste time’ ‘I can do it better and faster’ resulted a coil of stress within me I didn’t know existed.

Okay, so let’s travel in time to the last 7 years to when I received my epilepsy diagnosis.

Suddenly, this person who craved a constant 10 out of 10, could barely achieve 1 or 2. I spiralled down into a pit of I ‘can’t do it’ ‘I need to do it’ ‘why am I such a failure?’

All the control I thought I possessed was gone and in typical fashion, I blamed myself, letting my illness, this incurable disease off the hook. Epilepsy wasn’t the problem, I was. I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t travel alone. I couldn’t do my housework. I couldn’t…I couldn’t…I can’t.

It was all me, not epilepsy, and later my PNES (psychogenic non-epileptic seizures).

Me… me… me… ME.

But the fact was, and is, I wasn’t alone in this. My illness was the driver, and I was strapped n the back like a child in a car seat. I had no choice over where this disease would take me, I was just there. And it didn’t take long before the physical, my inabilities as I considered them, evolved into mental illness. Depression, anxiety, fear, guilt, frustration, and anger.

But. Yes, there’s always a But.

With the help of my doctors, Drs. Wiebe, Sharma, Hader, McLane, and now Moorman, they’ve shown me I don’t have to be right all the time, I don’t have to do things right every time, I don’t even have to do what the world considers acceptable.

My focus should be on me, the me now, in the present, not who I was.

The focus should be on treating myself better. Being kinder to me, accept the love and support from outside of my physical encasing, and accept that I’ve changed, I’m not the same. To embrace the strength and determination I do have to acknowledge and applaud my victories, not dwell on the battles lost.

So, what if my home is a little dusty, I live in Calgary for goodness’ sake. A dry, dusty, Cowtown. Do I or should I dust every day? Why? Who is it hurting? As my ex-mother-in-law used to say ‘why dust? I’m just gonna create more when I die.’ Sorry if I offended anyone with this comment, but, really, isn’t she right?

What I’m trying to say in my blabbering kind of way, is cut yourself some slack. Life alters changes swerves goes off course all the time and not just for me or for you. Whether we have a chronic illness or face physical or mental challenges, we must remind ourselves to bend and weave. Just like the prairie grasses, the movement and flow of water, nothing remains stagnant. Moment to moment, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years will move along as they always have. Since the human race came into being, we’ve adjusted to our surroundings, grew, changed, and evolved into a species of flaws, unique in our own way.

As I often like to say, ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ and ‘in the big scheme of things, does it really matter? Is my home spotless.  That I’m not allowed to drive. I’m unable work, go to concerts, hockey and football games, or movie theatres. No. It’s not the end of the world if my once so-called perfect life has dents and scratches is out of alignment. The important thing is, the only important thing, is I take care of myself, support others like me, and do the best I can in the moment.

So, go forth my peeps, embrace the day in whatever shape or form it takes knowing that you’re alive and doing okay.


*and as always, these words and opinions are mine and I apologize if they’ve offended anyone in any way*