One of the Biggest Struggles of My Life

perfectionism

Inside: Perfectionism can drown us. It’s not all on us. We don’t control everything and everyone, no matter how much we care or love or how hard we work.

One of the biggest struggles of my life is releasing my grip on needing, desperately needing, life to be orderly, tidy, safe.

I spent my life wanting to be good – and realizing I could never be “good enough.”

RELATED RESOURCE: Embrace Imperfection: Make Peace with the Messiness of Life

The thing I cared most about in this whole world was to be a good mom – a really good mom. And I think I have been – imperfect, messy, human, needing to work so hard to do my own healing work, but also good. But my own beautiful son who was so much like me ended his life 7 months ago. I keep showing up to life and my family and I continue my own growth work, but I am not in control of it all.

I have worked to be responsible, frugal, intentional with our finances. We lived within our means and faithfully gave to support causes we believe in, I budgeted and did my best and invested. But people we trusted hurt us, a distracted driver almost took our lives and forced us into payments for a new car, the heavy rain is getting into my basement, and a pandemic has messed with my ability to feel on top of it all. I keep choosing my response but I am not in control of it all.

In my young adult years, I was a binge eater then there was a time in my late 20’s when I stopped eating much at all. In my 30’s and early 40’s, I dove into holistic nutrition and functional health and tipped into perfectionism yet again. I wanted to do good, to be responsible and love my family and myself but all the rules and knowledge in the world cannot prevent all illness or pain and sometimes holding tightly to rules just causes more stress. No matter how hard we try, we are not in control of it all.

Things break,
people die,
our favourite shirt gets holes,
the world tips into a pandemic,
kids spill stuff on your carpet,
the world is not always kind or fair,
we lose friendships,
our bodies age,
houses need repair,
hearts get hurt.

And it’s not all on us. We don’t control everything and everyone, no matter how much we care, and how hard we work to do the right thing and love well and jump through hoops and even ask for help.

So one of the biggest struggles of my life is releasing my grip on needing, desperately needing, life to be orderly, tidy, safe.

Krista xo

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I’ve started embracing my love of writing “micro stories” – unedited, unfiltered, honest snapshots of my life in progress, shared first on social media. These posts are shorter than normal, without all the fixings, and can be found by selecting the category “snapshots: a life in progress.”

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14 comments on “One of the Biggest Struggles of My Life

  1. I struggle with this too. It’s hard to accept that I have no control over so many things, except myself and how I react to situations. It makes me feel so vulnerable and I deeply wish someone would protect and take care of me, but in the end I know I am the only person I can really count on to do so. Yes, there are people in my life that care about me and are wonderful to me, but since I can’t control them I have to accept that responsibility as my own first and foremost. It’s the most heartbreaking and yet powerful realization one can make. Heartbreaking because it kind of makes you feel alone, but powerful in that you don’t need to wait for someone to take care of you.

    • Hi Annie, thank you for your reply. Building a sense of agency by deepening my roots of self-awareness, self-compassion AND learning to take imperfect action in my life, no matter what is going on — has helped me live with more hope and learn that I DO “have what it takes” to keep building a life of purpose, health and joy. It has also been so important and necessary for me to seek “community care” as part of caring for myself and my family well, rather than relying on myself entirely. I agree, this doesn’t mean we wait on other people to do the work only we can do — but also, we allow for our communities to help support us (imperfectly). I don’t know if I’d have survived the first several months after my son’s death without family, friends, and the larger community. xo

  2. As a Control Freak I totally get the difficulty in not being able to avoid messy situations, messy people, chaos, unlovely experiences, etcetera. I do find that I can be Aware of the fact I’m not in Control of so much of it, but it doesn’t make it easier to feel powerless about so much of it, even if I know I am. This Pandemic has elevated my level of concerns about so many things that are just risky choices, yet so many take them anyway… and my more moderated cautious approach to Life is clearly not shared by a lot of folks that now make my immediate World a whole less Safer. I find that to have altered my behavior considerably to where a once outgoing person would rather be reclusive now so I just don’t have to Deal with it and expose myself to too much that would cause me to react badly. I can maintain my Calm and have my Safe Haven here at Home, but outside these walls I have zero delusions now.

    • When hard things happen it opens our eyes (again) to the truth that control of so much of life/death is an illusion (though I absolutely believe in taking responsibility for what we can choose). Every time I lose someone I love I have to choose over and over how I want to keep showing up to life, to building a life and using what I have to give, to build a world I want to live in, even if what I have is a tiny little drop in a ocean. I hope you stay well.

  3. Krista, I so SO understand this. Fibromyalgia loosened my grip on control a fair amount, mostly because when I’m in a flare I just can’t do everything and be everything to everyone because I end up in bed. The worst flu I’ve ever had, back in 2018, also helped me loosen my grip because I couldn’t’ do anything as well as I’d like, or for as long as I’d like, for months. Followed by surgery for my now-malfunctioning gallbladder, and I was getting really good at letting go of outcomes and just trying to be appreciative of everything my family were doing for me, and being gentle with myself. This was really good preparation for 2019 and 2020 when my son’s quiet eating disorder exploded into full-blown anorexia and we couldn’t control it. We just had to roll with it. The greatest pain I felt was when I tried to control things and tried to ‘win’. The better days were when I just put one foot in front of the other and did what needed to be done. After this, combined with my husband’s parents having needed intense care over the last 5 years, I am so f*ing chill, I don’t even make goals anymore. Just one foot in front of the other, love the people around me, do the best I can and let it go. Life is a really f*ing hard teacher sometimes! I love your writing Krista xx

    • Thank you, Clare. All the hard stuff of life can indeed be a hard teacher – and like you, persisting through illness, grief, challenge has taught me to loosen my grip, finger by finger, on thinking I can live safe through everything in order/trying to do life perfectly to feel safe. What also feels true to me is that all this pain/loss/struggle, as much as I’ve built resilience and strength through incredibly hard work, it also is incredibly wearying and in some ways i have to fight harder than ever in my life to keep my heart soft and open rather than allowing it to become hardened by scar tissue.

  4. Good morning Krista,
    I’m new “here”.
    Firstly, I send you my deepest condolences on the recent passing of your son. I hope that your soul will feel and be nourished daily with abundant love to comfort/ buoy you to endure the unfathomable loss of your dear child.
    My heart and soul mourns with you through this journey.

    Krista, I am grateful for your eloquent sharing of your “life in progress” and for the site/tools you have developed to guide this “unfolding of sorts” for us “out here”…
    I stumbled onto your site late last night while trying to tame an on-going whirlwind of mind wrestling thoughts… Ive been so stuck and unable to name it or know where to start !
    Everything on your site resonated with me- serendipitous I say!
    Im all in -savoring the morsels… truly thankful that you share your gifts as well as provide a platform for inspirational community.

    Take good care of yourself.

    Warmly,
    Lisa

  5. I treasure your posts and insights! I pray that you and your family may keep healing and supporting each other. Thank you for always being vulnerable and sharing your hard earned wisdom! May God bless you with peace and understanding. 🙏💕

  6. About a decade ago, it dawned on me that I cannot be in everybody’s good books. No matter how hard I tried. People were constantly finding fault with me, and I could never figure out where I went wrong. Now, I don’t make an effort to impress anyone, and I am beyond worrying about what people will think!

  7. I am new here and wish to extend gratitude and heartfelt sympathy to you and your family. My best friend ended his life last year, and my eldest daughter has anorexia and BPD and is in a violent relationship and self harms and does drugs and has attempted suicide on numerous occasions. She often tells me that I am an amazing mother and that she loves me, but the learning to love fiercely while letting go of control is so very hard. I cannot live her life, or spare her the lessons she must learn or the pain she feels or anything else. I can only do my own work and hold her gently in love. The same is true for my husband and my other children. The only life I am truly responsible for is mine, and I must be brave enough to keep open and keep loving without trying to save the world. It is so difficult and I am so grateful to your sharing this post. It spoke to something I needed to hear – that we are not alone. Blessings, Noni

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