Straying from Perfectionism

The forecast calls for a winter blizzard tomorrow with a foot of snow and potentially some sleet and ice mixed in. Because I hate snow, I’m dreading the mounds that are going to be dumped on us, but it will be nice to have Ben home from work for the day. Most likely, his office will be closed because he works at a university, so when the school closes for weather-related reasons, he gets the day off. Even if it’s not closed, he will probably stay at home at take the day off because he has a long commute. There’s no point in risking his safety on the road and signing himself up for an epic commute in slippery driving conditions. It’s so bizarre for me to recall how, just two years ago or so, I would have dreaded extra days together, because our relationship was in a tumultuous place, and now, I’d give anything for more time together, even accepting heaps of snow that will linger for weeks, making winter feel like it will drag on forever. I now feel how I imagine all people in love should feel—that there is little as precious and joyous as time with your loved one. I’m so relieved we persevered through the tough times, so that we could return to this beautiful, loving place. From what I hear and observe, it’s not always easy to find a “soulmate” or spouse, so when you do, it’s an invaluable connection that should be cherished. Although marriage, and relationships in general, aren’t always a cake walk, the work is well worth it, at least in my experience (though I do have an especially wonderful husband!).

Because of the impending storm tomorrow, I’ll have to reschedule my trauma therapy appointment. It’s in the early afternoon, when the snow fall is projected to be at its heaviest, so it won’t be safe to get there. I would have thought the office would cancel appointments in winter storms because they actually usually do close, but they still require you to call at least 24 hours in advance to cancel. If not, you are charged the high cancelation fee, even if they are closed. That feels like a shady business practice in my opinion, but that’s the policy. I’ll be sure to call this morning to preemptively cancel mine and avoid wasting $50 (isn’t that steep? It’s cheaper to go and attend your session and pay the copay!).

It would be dishonest to say that it’s unfortunate that my therapy session will be canceled this week. While there’s a chance we will reschedule and squeeze on in Thursday or Friday, it’s more likely that we will hold off until next week and just skip the appointment this week. Although I’m committed to putting in the work through therapy to improve my thinking, behaviors, and feelings, the trauma therapy has been so emotionally painful so far that I am very happy to have a break. Even though it’s true that we are tabling the attack-specific discussions until further notice, I still associate going there with dredging up impossibly difficult memories and feelings. It’s not like the other issues and topics we address instead of the attack are breezy either, though they are certainly less graphic and brutally upsetting on every level.

I don’t intend to take a vacation from self-reflection this week nor from continuing the journey towards my self-improvement goals. I’m a lot more self-aware and able to autonomously lead the charge on thinking through my thoughts, feelings, and actions, identifying problem areas, and brainstorming solutions and strategies. Writing, in particular, has become a reliable tool for examining everything going in in my mind and identifying concrete steps to address some of the trouble spots. Since I’m a disciplined person with a propensity to be hard on myself, I’m also naturally inclined to hold myself accountable to actually implementing some of the action steps I devise to target the areas I’m trying to address. I’m my own task-master, demanding hard work and expecting results; sometimes, to a fault. I can be unrealistic with my expectations of progress and unwavering effort. I forget that I have a real job and other responsibilities and things going on; working on myself and becoming “better” is not my only “job.” Moreover, I’m dealing with a lot of daily challenges, including my physical health conditions, my communication and social challenges, my intense sensory processing issues, financial stress, etc. I’m not making excuses for myself, but it’s important to be reasonable with the timeline I set for myself and my grading system regarding how quickly I want to see measurable progress and what exactly I’m hoping to change.

I’m not sure why I’m so self-critical or where that harshness came from. I’m not exactly a perfectionist, because I understand that I can’t be perfect and that holding that expectation will therefore always result in failure and disappointment. However, I think I used to be as a child of nine or ten years old. That faulty mindset germinated from somewhere and then governed me like a subject of my own dictatorship through my college application process. Sometime around the start of my first semester as an undergraduate, the authoritarian reign ended and the perfectionist-driving attitude abdicated the throne. I maintained very high standards for myself, but allowed some amount of grace for imperfections. I started to respect that I am human and not some flawless machine. Over ten years later, I still battle the critical voice in my mind that threatens to chide me for every mistake or weakness. The road to loving yourself can be surprisingly harrowing.

I have a lot of work to do today on my current job assignment, especially in anticipation of wanting to take a bit of extra afternoon time off tomorrow to spend in Ben’s company. It will be nice if I can do some recreational things with him after putting in a long morning of work, and there will certainly be a couple rounds of shoveling on the docket. I think in anticipation of those draws for my time and attention, I’ll schedule some self-governed “therapy” today, to take the place of the session I’ll be missing tomorrow. I may be glad to be missing the real session, but I won’t use it as an excuse to coast through the week without reflecting on issues I’m trying to address and ways I’m trying to improve.

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