I didn’t start out as a ‘perfectionist’, rather I was shamed into it when one of my sister-in-laws came for an unexpected visit when I was a newly married bride at a mere sixteen years of age. Our cat the night before had knocked over a box of rice and I had not gotten around to sweeping up the mess when we heard the knock on the door. It seems so trivial to me now, but at the time it was monumental. This was her first visit to our little third floor attic apartment and she had driven down from Toronto to surprise us. I quietly pleaded with my husband to tell her to come back later, but that simply wasn’t an option.
From that point on, never knowing if another might unexpectedly drop by, I lived in fear of feeling that ‘shame’ again. Daily, I cleaned our home. It didn’t matter if my husband was watching TV or on the phone, I had to get the vacuuming done, etc. I continued in this pattern for decades. When my husband was at work, I let the four boys play as they wanted, toys scattered everywhere and dishes in the sink. But they all knew that when I said: ‘Dad will be home in an hour’ it meant it was time to clean everything up and neatly put it all in its proper place as I prepared dinner. It had to be ‘perfect’ when he came through that door with all of us smiling.
After the ex moved out and I had to work two jobs, I still tried to retain that ‘neat & tidy’ atmosphere the best I could, but eventually I had to slowly let things go. The stressful environment was too much for me, and for my children. At first, it was uncomfortable for me as I had to let go of a part of who I had become. We all did adjust, however, and were actually better off as a result. I never did go back to that daily routine even after I remarried. I always kept things ‘tidy’ and still do, but that extreme Perfectionism was burnt out of me.
After my son’s demise, I could not function. I had to retain the one job I had for financial necessity, but other than that, priorities were greatly altered. Things that once mattered had diminished greatly in importance. Then my disability kicked in full-blown and I was partially paralyzed. First, it was my arm; it would not move. It simply hung at my side for an entire week and though I even tried ‘talking’ to it to get it to move, nothing worked. It was a dead piece of meat hanging from my shoulder. After about three months, I had it back. Then, however, my leg went. Without any warning whatsoever, I would go to stand up from the couch and immediately fall to the floor. It was as if my leg had disappeared and was non-existent. These episodes were followed by extremely painful (and that’s an understatement) charlie horses in which my entire leg, and at times both legs, would contort and bend backwards leaving me flat on the floor screaming in pain and begging God to let me die. I would often say that I would have preferred to have given birth to all four of my children consecutively in natural childbirth than to go through this horrendous pain. I still suffer through such bouts that can leave me for three to eighteen months somewhat immobile. At such times, I have to crawl up the stairs and scoot down them on my butt when I have to go from one floor to the other. I eventually learned that my spine had been so severely damaged from the punching and being thrown and kicked in that 24 year abusive marriage, that five different surgeons concurred they could not repair the damage.
Yet, there is nothing…nothing…I have lived through that has been so painful, so debilitating, as the loss of my son. I would suffer through anything to have him back.
My life, my very existence, is a Testimony to the Grace of God. I know by saying that some folks’ minds go ’tilt’. ‘How could you possibly be thanking and praising God for such things?’ Well, I don’t. We live in a fallen world and yes ‘bad things do happen to good people’. I have learned much through suffering. Do I wish I could have learned them another way? Absolutely. But for whatever reason, God has used them in my life to draw me closer to Him and for that I am extremely grateful. I no longer concern myself with things that were once of monumental importance to me. My life is no longer focused on the things of this world, but on where I am going when I leave here. I no longer take even the smallest acts of kindness shown to me for granted. I know that all my striving for perfection, though still a good goal to have in my opinion, will ever get me to what I view as such in this world. However, I know one day I will live in a perfect Paradise that will be given to me and I won’t have to lift a finger because Another purchased it for me. Someone else did all the work and stated: ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30).
Psalm 138: (NKJV)
8 The Lord will perfect that which concerns me;
Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.
(((HUGS))) Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at: Xulon Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and DeeperShopping. Additional international retailers: http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/biography/gifts-from-the-ashes,jude-gibbs-9781498496728 http://www.upliftvstore.com/product.asp?sku=9781498496728 Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/author/jude-gibbs/
Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))