I have a flaw. I have many flaws, but I have one flaw that perpetuates and exacerbates all my other flaws to the nth degree. To say that I am a perfectionist is to severely minimize this flaw. I have a need, a frantic, undeniable need, to be perfect. To have everyone see me as perfect. To have everyone see my life as perfect and to give me the credit for it being that way. Worse, I have a very deep-seated fear that if I’m not perfect, those who I love most won’t be able to love me in return. Or even like me in return. That people who have loved me will suddenly not like me for mistakes in my past.
And to avoid that, I continue to make the mistake of denying my flaws the right to be a part of me. Because they are a part of me. And while they certainly aren’t the best parts of me, they have helped make me into who I am today. And who I am today is a person who is worth loving, even with every single one of those flaws. Even all together. Even if one single person knows them all.
But I have never been able to understand that. I have always tried to hide as many of my flaws as long as possible, to avoid dealing with my flaws because they just shouldn’t exist. And in the end, it’s the avoidance and the denial that has made those people I love think less of me. Because everyone has flaws.
And while I am shoving my flaws into the back of the deepest closet I can find behind a hundred pairs of sexy shoes and a door decorated with garden-picked flowers and homemade crafts so no one will ever suspect, others are holding their flaws close to them, accepting them, and, mostly, dealing with them. And that is a far harder and nobler thing to do, but more importantly, that makes them and their flaws into far better people.
Until I can learn to see these imperfections as a part of me, I will never be able to grow beyond them and they will in fact be more of me than they should be or could be. Because once you’ve hidden something and had it fall unexpectedly from the closet shelf while holding up a very distracting pair of red four-inch heels for someone else to see, they just won’t believe you could hide something so thoroughly. They will have trouble ever focusing on any of the gorgeous shoes again, but will always be looking behind them for the next skeleton to fall.
Having the skeletons sit on the shelf next to the shoes doesn’t mean the shoes are any less gorgeous, of
course. And that’s what I forget. I forget that all the great parts of me will still be great parts without denying that the skeletons exist. And just mentioning the skeletons once, admitting those flaws, letting someone know I’m dealing with them, will shrink them and their importance infinitely.
I am not perfect, and I have flaws. Many flaws. I have a temper, I am impatient, I ask a lot of people and I expect too much from them, I yell and I curse, I get frustrated easily, I am hard to teach, I think my efforts are better than others, I have high self-doubt and I blame myself unnecessarily. I have been depressed and I have felt unfulfilled by life. My life has been far from perfect, sometimes by my own doing. And I have lied, by omission or blunder, about it all. I am a self-perfectionist, and I avoid problems. I have made mistakes. Many mistakes.
And I’m sorry to everyone who has had to deal with my avoidance of these flaws. Especially those I love the most. Especially those who have had a skeleton or two fall on their head. Please forgive me, I’m working on myself. Now more than ever.
Dedicated to my mother, sister, parents-in-law, and especially to Justin Kunkle.
This post was written by Penney Blakely. Contact Penney at email@example.com
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