On pregnancy, perfection and vulnerability
If you're wondering where I've been for the last few weeks the answer is, doing way too much. Scrambling to finish work projects, pushing to finish the house and keeping on top of personal/social life stuff and by the end of last week I finally cracked. I say finally, because with hindsight I don't know how I didn't see it coming.
I've hesitated about writing this post, probably the first truly personal post I've ever written, partly because I didn't really start this blog to share the more personal aspects of my life and partly because the LAST thing I want is to sound complainy. Not because I'm worried about the criticism that could result from that, but because I really do know how lucky I am.
Lucky in so many ways, not least in terms of my pregnancy. Physically it has been a joy, I wasn't sick or achey and at 37 weeks I can still see my toes and emotionally it's been the greatest happiness I've ever known, exciting, overwhelming and frankly magical. The feeling of being pregnant has been the most treasured and exhilarating of my life but this last week I came face to face with the realisation that being so well in your body doesn't mean you'll be totally well in your mind, and most of all, that this is the pain that people don't talk about.
Maybe that's out of fear of being alone or judged or the guilt you feel at any negative emotion that crosses your mind, whilst knowing you have the greatest gift in the world. Sit in a group of pregnant women anywhere and they will share their physical discomforts with you but nobody really says 'I'm scared and I'm not sure I'm good enough.'
For me that's what it comes down to. Four horrible words I probably tell myself way more than I should, 'I'm not good enough'. Words that sometimes seem ridiculous but sometimes seem like they weigh a tonne and words that I hasten to guess many of us are saying to ourselves everyday.
In truth the events of last week are not really about being pregnant, they are about perfectionism and vulnerability, something I've struggled with since I don't remember when. Do everything, do it perfectly and never let them see you sweat and it's amazing how many of us juggle this existence and actually manage to achieve it day after day. Surely we should be in awe of our capabilities, but we're not, because we're scared of the day we'll wake up and fail this great balancing act. What will that mean? What will be left of our self worth then?
And for me if there was ever a time that I was going to feel the cracks beginning to show it was going to be renovating a house, running a new business and having a baby. The biggest one of all having a baby, supposed to be the greatest challenge many of us will ever face and no longer only the fear of failing yourself but of failing the tiny person you love more than you could ever have imagined. And that is big, as big as it's ever got for me, and my inner perfectionist looked me straight in the eye and dared me to believe I could be good enough for that job.
So over the past week I have leant on the wonderful people in my life to help my weather these fears. During a conversation last week my Mother and I were talking about the comparison and perfection epidemic perpetuated by the way we share our lives online and how problematic that can be. My very wise Mother pointed out that if you read my blog you wouldn't know that I was in the centre of a total crisis, and that's why I'm writing this post. I might not have started this blog to share my innermost fears, but I also know I don't want to be part of the problem either.
So to those of you who struggle with your vulnerability and perfectionism search for quiet moments to take the pressure off yourself, remember what is beautiful about your heart, not what you achieved that day and look 'failure' in the face and accept it whenever you can. I know I'm trying to.
I tend to go back to the awe-inspiring Brene Brown at times like this. I haven't found anyone who understands and deconstructs this issue better. If you've never watched her Ted talks, my personal favourite is on Shame, but if you haven't seen Vulnerability maybe start with this one (it's a prequel to the shame one). I'll share with you the sentiment that has helped me find my way back this past week:
'I know it's seductive to stand outside the arena,because I think I did it my whole life,and think to myself,I'm going to go in there and kick some asswhen I'm bulletproof and when I'm perfect.And that is seductive.But the truth is, that never happens.And even if you got as perfect as you couldand as bulletproof as you could possibly musterwhen you got in there,that's not what we want to see.We want you to go in.We want to be with you and across from you.And we just want,for ourselves and the people we care aboutand the people we work with,to dare greatly.' Brene Brown
I am standing on the edge of a new arena, the biggest and most important yet and even in my darkest moments I'm trying to remember that my daughter just wants me to go into the arena with her and do the best I can at the job only I can do.