Progress or perfection?

I have a running theme in my life, I seem to be constantly tidying up after myself hoping that on any day I will be able to arrange my house and self in a way in which I can find I am no longer bothered by an inner voice telling me it’s all mess, I am too, too much and things are just not and will never be perfect. Just writing it makes another voice inside me cry out “Who cares?”

I’m coming clean with this in a blog today, I want to bring in out into the light and explore some conditioning from my past, the way I was raised and the constant theme I have running that in some way I just can’t measure up. I have a constant fear of things deteriorating in such a way that I will not have kept on top of the cycle of tidying it all up and sorting it all out, so that I will not be open to any criticism. And I am never totally sure if the criticism is valid or unfair.

One of the complaints made against me by my ex was that I was untidy, leaving things lying around “tripping up my peace”, this came from the guy who used to drop his clothes on the floor at night time and step over them in the morning.   I often hear these words, along with his other parting criticisms sent to me in a very angry email : screwy, flighty and insecure ringing out in my head in my darker moments.

When I was growing up it was very important that everything was tidied away. At night all the dishes were washed put away and the sink was polished so that it gleamed. These days it can take me up to two hours at night to finally get all my dishes done, (I live, cook and eat alone) I see this as evidence of the fact I may be making some progress in overcoming my conditioning.

My mother worked full time for all of my childhood (this was out of want rather than necessity). I got used to coming home to an empty house. By the time she arrived home from her shop at 6 pm I would meet the car, help her to unpack and then follow her around while she made dinner making a contest of being able to clean everything up in record time. I wonder what the point of this was now. Was I hoping that would give her more time to spend with me, or earn me brownie points, or gain me the love, acceptance and attention I longed for?

The truth is I was struggling hard for her attention but I don’t really remember us connecting very deeply. I remember being very scared of telling her things and if something went wrong, I broke something, or in some other way stuffed up, I used to try to hide it rather than fess up. This is one of the principle things I have tried to turn around in recovery. To own up to my mistakes and not see them as a sign of deficiency but a sign of being human.

Another important part of my childhood concerned appearances. We were to always be dressed in beautiful clothes, made by my mother, things were neatly arranged, there wasn’t much freedom to just play and make a mess because we were so busy tidying up all the time. On a positive note we were taught to take care of our things, iron our own school uniform, polish our shoes etc.   I just wonder if there was a silent inner rebellion within me in terms of all of this taking care of and tidying up, a part of me that just longed to be able to mess up, relax and let go of worrying about getting everything straight.

Of course in my addiction I went to the opposite extreme, though I was a high functioning alcoholic only losing a job towards the very end of my addictive addiction. Alcohol gave me relief from the inner voices judging and self condemning and running an inner commentary, at least until I sobered up and entered the shame part of the cycle.

When I got into recovery from addiction I became very interested in my Mum’s childhood. I learned she was left alone a lot, her father died when she was 7, her mother was out at work from 4 until 8 pm, she got her own dinner, her mother was gone early in the morning and my Mum got herself ready for school and sometimes she didn’t go at all. It is no surprise why, she was pulled out of class to clean the chapel or the nun’s residence and when she was in class she was being punished for not doing her school work.

History has a way of repeating, although I will say I was a much more engaged student than my Mum, I don’t remember either parent showing any interest in my school work or projects.  In Mum’s case there was no emotional nurturance and precious little parental guidance or support. As soon as she could my mother’s Mum decided to put her into live in domestic service, Mum rebelled and found herself a job as a tailor’s apprentice at the age of 13 so that she did not need to leave home.

Lately having faced my own deep anger at feeling emotionally abandoned after years of struggling with a fear of getting close and being depended upon or dependent, being emotionally naked, exposed, vulnerable and in need. I am starting to develop some deepening compassion for the entire sad mix up which has left two of my siblings struggling with bi polar disorder, the oldest sister, now dead.

I can only be aware how the basis of my own anxieties, traumas, struggles and difficulties worked out over the years and were subtly influenced by the hidden anxieties and wounds of my Mum (not to mention my father who was to all intents and purposes emotionally absent and disconnected). I am not sure if I will ever totally be free from the past, perhaps only through understanding?  I will always live with the memory and pain of the price and effects, of the wounds I carried.

There is a saying which expresses one of the recovery principles I follow that speaks of the three A’s. These are :

Awareness, Acceptance, Action.

Until I am aware of something, until I can accept it, I cannot take any action for change. I may rail against the inward condition if I have awareness but no acceptance. If I just accept it without having the awareness of its deep roots I may leap forward to forgiveness and not deeply feel and heal patterns I developed in response to deal with it through getting really angry or sad for a time.

Accepting the depth of my anger and sadness about it shows it is important for me to live in another way or find ways of being which are not as harmful for me as buried, repressed or untransformed resentment. In my own case I have to be aware of a pattern of wanting to heal the pain my Mum suffers at times in response to the outworking of her unconscious history in her three daughter’s lives. I cannot spare her this pain which is hers, but I can have compassion for it.

At the same time I need to have compassion for myself, as the one who has the awareness and is taking action to change. Can I love myself even when I struggle? This is a very important question.. I no longer allow my inner accuser to barrage me with criticism as it used to in the past. Considering all I have been through in my life I feel I am, at this point doing really well, the bad days aren’t as bad as they used to be and the good ones are full of light and hope and peace. I see despite all the pain how much I have to be grateful for.

In allowing the mess and the at times painful imperfection of it I can allow a space for some creative chaos to work its healing. Through it all I can see that things in not being perfect are actually more than good enough, workable, acceptable and loveable.

At times the whole conundrum has felt like a tangled up ball of string, the Gordian knot if you will of my ancestral and family fate.  This knot is taking some time to unravel. The body worker who is supporting me at the moment explained to me how deep trauma has this scrambling effect, things become all tangled up inside, with the work we are doing to develop awareness of where buried traumas, emotions and patterns are located in the body we are working to separate out conscious awareness from the unconscious tangle.

I am at the point presently where the experience of stretching while being pulled in two directions, one into the deep vortex of trauma, the other into the healing of awareness and growth, is intensifying.  As the parts of me all tangled and knotted up seek to unravel, I am at times strung between two worlds.   At times it feels I will explode, be destroyed or detonate, but at the same time I feel that perhaps this has already happened.

There is a kind of emergence process going on. I do know that step by step, day by day I am making progress, I have support and am learning who and what I can depend upon, most especially myself. Trauma and invalidation messes up our inner compass and our capacity to trust self and others. Healing from trauma is a complex sorting out process that helps bring clarity which often requires us to stay with confusion and mess.  I remember a friend telling me once that in exploring words confusion represented a breaking up of a previous fusion.  This process  is a work in progress, and it is important that while engaged in the process I remind myself that perfection and ideals are not the truly lived reality of experience and a fully rich life which always has hidden within it complexity, layers and depths.

Published by: emergingfromthedarknight

"The religious naturalist is provisioned with tales of natural emergence that are, to my mind, far more magical than traditional miracles. Emergence is inherent in everything that is alive, allowing our yearning for supernatural miracles to be subsumed by our joy in the countless miracles that surround us." Ursula Goodenough How to describe oneself? People are a mystery and there is so much more to us than just our particular experiences or occupations. I could write down a list of attributes and they still might not paint a complete picture pf Deborah Louise and in any case it would not be the full truth of me. I would say that my purpose here on Wordpress is to express some of my random experiences, thoughts and feelings, to share about my particular journey and explore some subjects dear to my heart, such as emotional recovery, healing and astrology while posting up some of the prose/poems which are an outgrowth of my labours with life, love and relationships. If anything I write touches you I would be so pleased to hear for the purpose of reaching out and expressung ourselves is hopefully to connect with each other and find where our souls meet.

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