There are days when I wish I could do it all - put on that superwoman cape and please everyone, doing every task perfectly, while being in 10 different places at once. And then I realize that it is on those very same days that I crumble. My anxiety is high, my emotions raw, my patience nonexistent. I try so hard to convince myself that if I just push a little harder I can keep all of these balls in the air. I believe this until the exact moment they all come crashing down on my head.
My perfectionistic, people-pleasing personality shifts into overdrive and I ride the high for a brief moment in time and then I am left facing the reality. I cannot do it all. I cannot please everyone. I cannot be in 10 different places at once. And attempting to accomplish these unrealistic goals does nothing but leave me feeling empty. The overwhelm leads to anxiety and the anxiety is a trigger for my eating disorder. Triggering my eating disorder is not an option. Therefore anxiety is not an option. Therefore overwhelm is not an option.
My therapist once told me “Balance is a myth.” She said this after my five-minute speech on my overwhelm and how I just needed to find balance to get through this. Two days later in a yoga workshop, the teacher said that the latin word for balance is to dance…that balance is finding your center among the chaos.
As a people-pleaser, one of the most difficult words for me to utter is “no.” As a person in recovery, it is the most essential word in my vocabulary.
I don’t need balance as much as I need boundaries. Letting go of the guilt I feel when saying “no” is still the greatest struggle, but the guilt certainly outweighs the misery of letting the eating disorder win. I know this journey of recovery will be life-long. I must remember to find the lessons in each test. And I must remember to celebrate each and every little victory. Each honest answer when a friend asks if I’m ok. Each phone call I make, hands and voice trembling, telling the truth about how I am feeling. I know if I follow my heart, I cannot go wrong. My intuition, that was silenced for so many years by my eating disorder, is starting to speak louder and clearer and I don’t want to do anything to quiet her wisdom. She has taught me volumes already.
The problem with being a perfectionist is the “all or nothing” mentality that comes with it. The phrase “go big or go home” comes to mind. (If you are a fan of that motto, this blog post is not for you!) Although this black and white way of thinking is characteristic of perfectionism, it can be overcome and I am living proof of that.
I was faced with a big decision this week and my auto-pilot mode kicked into perfectionism overdrive. I should do this now and I should do it perfectly! Oh, that initial panic mode drives me mad! The fact that it starts by talking in “shoulds” is especially aggravating.
I was presented with an amazing opportunity. My interest was piqued and my curiosity ran wild dreaming of the possibilities. I could feel my foot pressing heavily on the accelerator, rushing into a decision I hadn’t even processed yet, the view melting into a blur.
Then something amazing happened. I shut down auto-pilot, grabbed the wheel, and took my foot off the gas. I took my time to make the right decision for myself. These are the steps I followed:
At the end of the day, what I really want most is to live my life without the eating disorder in it. Recovery is a process and I am getting there one step at a time. Today I took some time to simply enjoy how far I have come. I am blessed to have a family who loves and supports me and friends who do the same. I have a lot I would love to pursue and many lessons left to be learned, but, for right now, I just want to live my life and enjoy every minute of it. I plan to drink it all in and savor every sip!