Just a quick preface to today’s post. Seven years ago, when I started my journey towards recovery from Binge-Eating Disorder, I came to realize that there were “critics” living in my head. I heard their unhelpful chatter all day, every day. And I needed to stop them. Today, I share with you a letter to one of my inner critics…
Dear Ms. Perfect,
I realize it’s been quite a long time since I wrote to you. I’m also now realizing that silence is not golden. It seems as though you need a reminder that I do not need, or want, your opinions anymore. Yes, there was a time in my life when I thought you were helpful. Your constant chatter — “You can do better” and “An A- isn’t good enough” and “Don’t eat that food, it’s BAD for you” — gave me something to focus on and control when other things in my life were chaotic. I even agreed with you back then: yes, if I get an A instead of an A-, people might like me more and yes, if I don’t eat that BAD food, I might be skinnier and if I’m skinnier, I’ll be happier. You know how THAT story went.
I finally realized in 2005 that you make empty promises. You claim that perfection is attainable. You argue that I won’t or can’t be happy until I do better, look better, am better. You pretend that relationships are formed and built on how smart, how talented, and how pretty I am. Guess what? I’ve learned the truth. All of that is a lie.
I’ve learned to be happy with who I am, not how smart I am, how talented, or how pretty. I’ve recognized (finally) that perfection is a myth and that spending all my time trying to attain the unattainable is agony. I’ve formed dozens of close relationships just by opening up my heart, being willing to listen to someone, or sharing a bit of my inner self.
So, Ms. Perfect, when you started talking in my ear again this week, telling me to look prettier, act more proper, and stay at work late to finish everything and impress others, I whispered, “no”. But now that I have more strength, I’m shouting it: NO! I will not cater to your unrealistic demands that have never given me anything other than stomach ailments, racing thoughts and insomnia. I know the TRUTH about what’s expected of me in life and perfection is not it.
I hope I won’t have to talk to you about this again soon. But if so, I’m strong enough.
Peaceably, healthfully, and joyfully NOT yours,