If There Is Love
If there is love, smallpox scars are as pretty as dimples – Japanese proverb
I’ve been accused of being a controlling bitch (with usually an f word thrown in somewhere) and when those closest to you tell you that you are something, you tend to listen, even if that’s not how you want to see yourself. The thing is, at that time, I had never felt less in control of anything in my life, which is perhaps why I was almost manically trying to control anything I could, which of course was nothing. Everything in my life felt like sand running through my fingers, the tighter I tried to hold onto it, the faster it fell away. So of course I did the sensible thing and tried to hold on even tighter (as always, too ruled by my emotions instead of my head). End result? An empty hand, sand blown away in the wind.
My relationship, my children, my job, my possessions – I was trying to put out so many fires at once they overwhelmed me and nothing was as it needed to be. I know I became someone I didn’t like very much, and I’m not surprised that not many other people liked me either. Who wants to be with a needy insecure gal who can’t control her own life? I didn’t want to be around me either – I couldn’t stand being alone.
People have told me that I make them feel like they can’t do anything right by me, that I find fault with everything they do. It’s something I’ve become really self-conscious about, forcing me to become aware of how my ideals of perfectionism affect those around me.
I’ve been working on teaching my daughter that it doesn’t matter if things aren’t perfect, it matters that she tries. Not long ago I was encouraging her to practice doing something she wasn’t good at, because she wanted to get better. I told her the old saying – practice makes perfect. She looked at me and said “It doesn’t have to be perfect Mummy, the important thing is to learn”. I looked back at her, proudly smiled, and told her she was absolutely right. She does her own hair every day in an intriguing pattern of ponytails and I tell her she looks awesome, because the pride on her face is awesome to behold. I stand back and let her learn from her mistakes, instead of trying to tell her the lesson and save her the pain. I understand the importance of giving her the space to control her own life and make her own decisions (in a 6yo appropriate way of course; I also believe children should not have to bear adult responsibilities – life choices are for big people, childhood is a time for learning, exploration, and fun).
I’m open when I talk with people about my behaviour in past relationships. I may have a bad habit of romanticising some things (stupid romantic heart, I will best you one day I swear), but I like to think that I take full responsibility for my role in the outcome of my life. I’ve never made it a secret that I was a nightmare to live with – I was in a downward spiral with nothing to stop my fall except the bottom of the pit (and damn wasn’t that fucker lined with spikes). The more insecure I felt, the more I tried to control everything. The more I tried to control everything, the further I pushed away the people in my life (or pulled them into the downward spiral with me), the more they told me I was a selfish controlling bitch, and the more insecure I felt. And so it went round and round…
The point of this is?
There is no such thing as perfect. The idea of having control over anything is an illusion. There is no control. Things happen, you deal with them. You either let them define you, you let them defeat you, or you let them make you stronger. If something is meant to be, it will just be. It will take effort, anything worth having always does, but it shouldn’t be a fight for survival. If something is meant to be but isn’t, there is a lesson in that too; something still needs work.
I remind myself daily of this lesson and I wear the scars of what happens when I lose the battle with this unflattering part of me. That’s why I don’t hide that side of my history; from my shame comes vulnerability and growth. Those that judge me, those with no empathy for me, those who don’t understand that I’m not perfect (never have been, never will be) are those that don’t matter, as Dr Seuss says.
I like to think that one day, some day, I will find someone who will know every ugly piece of my past as well as I do, understand my insecurities, and not turn away at the sight of my emotional scars or use them to hurt me. I like to think that someone will one day see my scars as pretty dimples instead. I’m learning to and I rather like the person underneath.