When Imperfection Strikes!
What happens when those closest to us ultimately disappoint? Why do we feel unloved, abandoned or dismissed? It’s not as if we all aren’t imperfect in our own way. Could it be because we are never comfortable with our own imperfections that accepting them in others is always a challenge? I believe it is more than a challenge because most of us tie our happiness to the perfection we demand in those around us.
The past two years we have stayed at home and faced our own and others imperfections head on as we were encouraged to judge and be judged. In doing so it gave us way too much time to dwell on things that never reared its ugly head before. But day to day, not combing our hair, no makeup, or moving from suits to stretchy pants, hiding behind our masks destroyed all the illusions we had of each other. When we were working outside the home everyone showed up, looked good and for the most part our attitudes were much better.
A friend married for 45 years asked me to lunch and belabored how much weight her husband had gained laying around the house for the past two years. She was livid he daily snacked on sugar cookies and pretzels dipped in ranch dressing after lunch and dinner. I looked over at her, sipping my coffee, estimating she had put on a good twenty pounds herself as we both shared a piece of chocolate cream pie for dessert.
“Glenda these past two years have taken a toll on all of us and food has been the go to comfort for the duration, so why do you berate Hank for putting on weight. As I remember Hank would not be caught dead in a grocery store so that leaves you bringing home the cookies and pretzels!” I said trying to interject some humor and not sharing I do the same thing for Gary only its Cheetos and the weekly Tapioca pudding I make because it’s his favorite.
Watching her scrape up the last bite of pie I knew she was angry. “How could you possibly say that it just makes me furious? I am deeply disappointed in Hank he just knows better! He was always so careful and kept his body in perfect condition but now he’s out of control!” Glenda said her face turning red and indignant.
There it was the word “perfect” had crept into the conversation. I just shook my head at her, “Glenda this year has we have been beat up on perfection in ourselves and others so I just quit judging. I look at myself and I look at what we are both doing eating chocolate pie that we don’t need, several pounds heavier than we should be. You are not judging me and I am not judging you, we are just here in this moment in time as friends.” I said motioning to the waiter for more coffee.
“Ok I guess you’re right but now let’s talk about what you buy Gary that he shouldn’t have.” She said sitting back in her chair with a big smug smile.
Dealing or even not dealing with imperfection puts us on a track to say and do mean things triggering a subtle on-going friction, like the grain of sand that makes an oyster create a pearl. We have all been guilty of that because things annoy us. Our light and our darkness are so intricately intertwined that perfection and imperfection are always reflected in the shadows that we create. We often act on the insignificant actions of others that trigger our need for reassurance that imperfect is not who we are.
Personally it has taken me years to come to terms with my own imperfections to acknowledge, accept and forgive. Should we strive to be strong in our own weaknesses and to not let emotions take over common sense seeking perfection in others? If you think about it there is definitely a certain power that comes from embracing our imperfections. In a way it is inspiring to us and often others that we understand and become real and vulnerable because of them. Jane Austen said that it is our own imperfections that make us perfect for each other and I believe that to be true.
My life, our life as a couple is not perfect and we do not profess it to be. What it has become is complex, challenging, changing as years ebb and flow and age brings on many unexpected dimensions. If patience was not so easily tested, it would hardly be called a virtue. Aren’t we are all basically looking for the same in our relationships to be respected, loved and to be emotionally secure.
Over the years Gary and I have learned to live with each other in a different way as we settle in to being happy with ourselves with all our quirks. We spar; we debate, argue and accept we are different people in just about every way. One of our daughters calls our relationship a hilarious ongoing comedy show like Lucy and Desi! I took that as a compliment.
A friend told me during the pandemic I was beautifully broken and that has haunted me for the past year. I don’t want to be broken, that is a flaw or imperfection that is too much for me to process. Over all the years of my life, especially as I look towards the light at the end of the tunnel I have finally understood that the imperfect heart that needs healing is truly my own.
I look in the mirror and the face that I knew and I took comfort with, vanished years ago. Older hopefully wiser I gaze into a future that is shorter and shorter with each passing day. Perhaps as I look in the mirror facing my own story past and present is the bravest thing I can do. I no longer feel shame in admitting I am wrong the only shame would be if I did not try to make it right.
My story is not unique as I have openly written in my books and articles. All of our struggles are many and varied. What I hope is unique is my sharing the raw and vulnerable side of myself. I have absolutely no illusions about who I am and how I am as a person. But maybe, just maybe in this New Year I can even surprise myself.