Leah Farmer

Personal perspectives on faith, literature, and life.

The Gifts of Imperfection: Week 3–Saturday

This week was all about letting go of perfection…ugh!

“Perfectionism is a self-desctructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, live perfectly, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgement and blame.” –Dr. Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection page 57

Perfectionism was my weapon against shame as a young person. It sounds so silly because I was so perfectly imperfect even then…but oh did I go through emotional and mental gymnastics trying to GET perfect. It was my attempt to keep fear at bay and it worked…now and then.

This week’s assignment was to find pictures of times when we were trying to be perfect but could have used some self compassion.

My first pic is me at about 8 at summer church camp. Contrary to everything I ever said to anyone…I hated summer camp. I didn’t feel like I fit in. I felt awkward. I didn’t know the kids. To top it all off these were the years when I’d started putting on weight during my abuse. I felt gross…ugly…and just generally like I wanted to be anywhere else in the world. And yet there I was. When I look at this picture now I wish I could whisper in her ear…”Just join in the fun. You won’t break if you play a little. Real life is so serious at home right now. Just use this time to laugh.” She was a very sweet and smart kid…and terrified to have fun because she was too grown up…too serious…too afraid of looking foolish…to afraid of most everything.
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My second picture is MUCH later. I’m about 27. I’m thinner than I’d been in a long time. On the surface the picture is beautiful. But I know what was going on in that woman’s head. I was angry. I was unhappy. I was lonely. And I was faking that smile more that day than I had in quite some time. Given the chance I’d lean in, pull that LONG mane of hair back and say “Soon. Someday soon your smile will come back. Your real…natural…joyful smile. You will be loved. You will FEEL loved. You will be whole. Soon.”
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