It’s a New Year, and it’s Going to be Perfect (Because I Said So)

It’s a New Year, and it’s Going to be Perfect (Because I Said So) January 7, 2015
Image by Nora Woodhouse used with permission
Image by Nora Woodhouse used with permission

by Nora Woodhouse cross posted from her blog A Heart Like Mine originally posted on 12-27-13

 It’s a couple days after Christmas and we are about to come into the New Year. I don’t know about you but it’s about this time of year where I start to feel an urge to plan for next year, and all the awesome things I am going to do, how much self change I want to set out to attain and how this New Year will be perfect. Cue the obsessive scrolling of Pinterest and creating boards and New Years resolutions left and right. I think “oh won’t this be wonderful” and get a sort of New Years resolution happiness spike that will eventually result in a crash, burn and lots of tears. Perhaps even a wallop of depression. I always think of Bridget Jones setting out with her journal to make right all the things wrong in her life, and her hope to conquer the new year without last night’s panties clinging to her legs, but instead in the laundry hamper where they belong.

 It’s the greatest feeling swallowing that New Years punch, a cocktail called “Perfection”. It gives you an energy boost and you go out and buy that new diary because you have determined there is no way you will let yourself down this year. Only you didn’t read the full description of what you just imbibed, and what it actually says including the fine print is this: “Perfection; the best lie ever promised”. You of course find this out after the fact when you have hit the depressive slump and headache that always accompanies such a cocktail.

 So what’s an imperfect girl to do? I don’t know, I am making it up as I go along. I started out this year by doing releasing bundles for Winter Solstice/ Yule. These are really lovely and you can find how to make them and perhaps do your own releasing for New Years eve or even Twelfth Night here: http://pixiecampbell.typepad.com/pink_coyote/2011/11/make-your-own-releasing-kit-instructions.html
Perfection was the general focus of my releasing bundles this year, and I am glad I did it a week ago so I had already made it my intention before arriving at today my annual New Years resolution freak-out. I think it’s the only thing stopping me from starting new Pinterest boards in which I do a mock dream board for my perfect future life. However that is not to say that using Pinterest as a vision board is a bad idea. In fact I think most times it can be really helpful, however it is only helpful if you are putting the kind of intention into it that does not require perfection, or that you fix yourself. I have often done vision boards because of a dissatisfaction with my “flawed self”. It’s like trying to go forward while your bitch self is holding you back as she criticizes the fact that you are not a glamorous executive who has been feature in vogue and has the toned body of a model. For any guys reading this and trying to relate I think you have your own visions of perfection and you are marketed to just as much as women. I cite the men’s underwear models and suite mannequins in department stores as a perfect example.

Oddly enough, and as much as I hate it, you can’t go into the New Year without “this bitch self”. She  (or he, let’s call him fat bastard) is your co-companion for life. I think this self is created from and formed from the muddy clay of all our imperfections. I think this self feels like a Frankenstein monster and looks to you to fix it, to make it right, your the one who is supposed to make them beautiful and perfect.

   In my case the “bitch self” is also the part that carries all the shame and pain of abuse. Even more reason for her to want to be somebody else desperately. She doesn’t want the body that was violated, she doesn’t want the low self esteem and what she feels is lack of success in the real world because her abusers defined success, beauty and value. I should say “our abusers” as this isn’t really a separate part of myself. This is the part of me that drinks those cocktails of perfection in hope of waking up to a better tomorrow and then gets depressed when things clearly did not live up to those standards. Bridget Jones plan didn’t live up to all she hoped either, it wasn’t  a perfect New Year and she continued to make mistakes and stumble through. But out of all the chaos and feelings of imperfection came something good. First thing to note is that she kept moving forward, despite falling on her face and hitting those depressive slumps. Part of the lie of perfection is that you can’t keep going forward when things don’t turn out perfect, you can. That is part of defeating the whole lie, not accepting that what you doing isn’t good enough or that you are not valuable. I believe that a lot of the lies we hold about ourselves, “the bitch self”, can be unconscious. We can see our dissatisfaction with what we are not, but we may not see what else is driving that message and what we actually believe about our self worth. The bitch self who wants to be perfect does not see what motivates them or figure out that they are okay just as they are, until the run into something that makes them see that unconscious message. That something is a Daniel Cleaver. 

  I sometimes end up making changes in my life, especially about how I think about myself and my value because something comes into my life and pushes me and pisses me off.  This push seems to help me find exactly where my boundaries lie and what I believe. Getting angry I seem to find myself and then I push back. Bridget Jones get’s exactly what she wished for in the handsome albeit loathsome boss Daniel Cleaver.  However when he treats her like dirt that creates a push and causes her to spring back and realize that not only does she not like to be treated that way, but she doesn’t think she deserves to be treated that way. She sees all the the messages she tells herself directly in what Daniel Cleaver says to her and how he treats her, and she is able to reject it as all utter bullshit. The Daniel Cleaver experience brings all those unconscious messages to the forefront. Sometimes it takes us a few times of running into Cleaver to really finally have that “push back moment”. I have noticed that a lot of those “aha” moments have come when I was able to get outside the abusive family system and clear my life of any other toxic relationships. So maybe it’s not just feeling that push but all those other important things that go into being able to question the messages we tell ourselves about our self worth (therapy etc.). Either way when we do get to a push and find confidence in ourselves it helps us re-examine all the things our bitch self is saying to us.

 I don’t think the push from running into Daniel Cleaver is always enough to help make the companionship with your bitch self an easier road to walk. They are still tumultuous and vindictive. They cannot stand the current state of your life, and they might even hate you, and you them. What I have discovered about my bitch self is what she really truly hates, and loathes more than imperfection, more than anything; herself. Remember she is birthed from the earth, mud, clay of all your mistakes and imperfect parts and she cannot stand it. She is as disgusted with herself as Frankenstein who is created from a mess of parts. Enter my favorite bullshit advice; “love yourself/ embrace all parts”. I say bullshit not because it is untrue but because it is not in depth advice. It’s also advice that assumes we know what self love is, and what it feels like. Yes embracing the bitch self and all her broken, imperfect parts will move you forward because you will no longer be fighting a war within yourself and against yourself. My experience coming out of an abusive family system created this idea that if I stopped racing to achieve perfection I had just given in and quit. Of course I also learned that if I wan’t perfect I was not valuable at all. Vaarsuvius had a defining set of remarks that have stuck with me in this regard. I once brought them a project I had done to show them. They looked over it and stated with nonchalance “that’s nice”. Then they began to tell me where all the errors I had made where. I protested and said that I just wanted to them to see the whole overall idea and not worry about the things that needed to be fixed, because those could be fixed later. They still would not acknowledge the beauty of the idea in my project. I protested their lack of reaction and they told me “what do you want me to say” and proceeded to essentially say that it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t like I had mastered something at the level of Picasso so how could they praise it? They asked me if I wanted them to lie about it being good. So ever after that I have carried this idea that if it was not Picasso level then it was not good enough, and that I shouldn’t accept something as good if it wasn’t. Worse yet they got me to believe that praise for anything less than Picasso would be undeserved, cheating, and anyone doing the praise would be lying.
This is not only how I came to think of my creative projects but also myself. Anyone who said good job when I had clearly made mistakes was just lying or being nice.
Figuring out how to love the bitch self and stop seeking perfection is sometimes a complicated puzzle and being advised to love yourself can feel like a joke when you have so many past programs to dismantle. My actual practical advice is to not worry about it. Seeking self love can just as easily become a quest for perfection. The actual practice of self love and figuring out what it looks like is something we may just stumble into (I had this happen about thing Holiday related). I also think it more realistically looks like what you would do during meditation. In mediation the goal is to be present and quite our minds but our inner voice(s) always pipe up. It is easy to get frustrated and turn it into a quest for perfection as well, but all we really need to do is accept the chattering voices as they come up and then return to our state of presence. It looks like this: Breathe, quite, then chattering voice, acknowledge and then return to our focus of breathing and quiet, repeat.
I have also found that there are some actual strengths on the underside of my imperfections, and this has helped me to see them differently and hate them less. The truth is we need that bitch self, it is part of us and can be wielded as a great tool. Bridget Jones happy ending wasn’t Mark Darcy, it was being her bumbling fantastic self. If all else fails in making friends with you inner bitch, Martha Beck just wrote a great article on exactly this subject in the December issue of O magazine.
 I am still figuring out how I want to head into the New Year, but I know I want to cautiously approach any resolutions and remember not to drink any perfection cocktails or punch as best I can because I won’t be perfect at that either. I am going to promise myself that if I do end up with a perfection hangover that I have still managed to be what it is I am trying to be in the first place; human. A wise person I know told me that they had heard the best advice; and that is instead of trying to reach for enlightenment and higher consciousness on a spirit level that, we are actually spirits trying to learn to be human. And that essentially should be our focus, with compassion learn to be human. I actually think it’s harder to do than trying to be a zen master especially when we are tasked with facing our inner bitch self or that fumbling clunky girl that might look a lot like Bridget Jones.
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Nora is a member of the SASBN

More about Nora:

I am a former country girl and abuse survivor. I enjoy blogging because I find it personally therapeutic. It also allows me to share my experiences with others, and bring to light issues of abuse. I am a stay at home writer with a husband and house full of furry critters. I write under a pseudonym for my personal safety as well as to negate any potential legal trouble over sharing my story.

She blogs at A Heart Like Mine

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