I’ve been on hiatus from writing for the past few months to enjoy a very exciting time in my personal life. Last month I finally married the guy of my dreams and we shared the most incredible celebration with our families and friends. We were then lucky enough to jet off to Moorea and Bora Bora for a couple of weeks of honeymooning paradise. We also squeezed in buying a new home and have been in the process of moving out of the city. So, needless to say, it's been busy. And phenomenal. And surreal. And, at times, overwhelming. Without the “distraction” of the daily grind (kind of), I tried to take the opportunity to soak up as much...everything as I could – as much emotion, as much awareness, as much appreciation.
I was, surprisingly, not overly emotional on our wedding day. I wanted so much to be in the moment, to savor every second, knowing how quickly it would pass, that it didn’t leave much space for me to feel anything other than pure joy. No joke, we slept for about 3 days after the wedding, when the emotional drain of it all set in. So, it wasn’t until more than a week later, when we settled into our honeymoon, that I found myself attune enough to start noticing and really feeling again.
When we weren’t indulging in poolside cocktails or swimming with sharks and stingrays(!!), there was a lot of time. We had days of unscheduled time to totally decompress and bask in the glow of our wedding day in the most stunning, romantic setting we’ve ever seen. And all that time gave me the space to realize that I felt somewhat...unsettled. At first, I couldn’t put my finger on what it was.
One evening our months-long planned dinner reservation got messed up and it completely threw me for a loop. I think being in a foreign country can add to the overwhelm when something doesn’t go as planned but I certainly am not one to end up crying in the ladies room just because dinner plans are turning into the comedy of errors. But I was.
A day or two earlier, I noticed myself feeling super insecure about my body. I was really proud of how I handled the lead up to the wedding in that regard. I didn’t diet. In fact, I didn’t change much about how I ate, but I amped up my workouts and felt better than ever in my body. Exactly how you want to feel on your wedding day. A week and half later I was obsessively examining the other women on the beach, thinking they probably weren’t eating the rolls with every meal.
I didn’t feel depressed or overly anxious but I also didn’t feel AMAZING. And I was pissed. I wanted to feel amazing. I was on my honeymoon in the most glorious place with my favorite person on the planet after the best day of our lives...why didn’t I feel amazing??
I think we were actually lounging at the pool when it sort of clicked. I was pissed about not feeling amazing and I freaked over a misstep in our plans because in my head I wanted it all to be PERFECT. I couldn’t imagine life getting better than this moment so I wanted it all to be PERFECT – every meal, every interaction with my new husband, every photo to remember it all by. And when I recognized that emotional desire, I also recognized the intellectual absurdity of it.
Not everything was going to be perfect for 12 days. And that’s OK.
The bigger realization for me, though, was how much sense it all made. This desire for “perfection”, this need for everything to be picture perfect...it’s what I do. It’s what I’ve always struggled with. And I realized it, not in a judgmental way so much as in a way that gave me pause to explore it.
If I ask myself why – where that need comes from, I’m not sure I have an answer. I’m sure it’s a combination of self-imposed expectations and the desire to appear a certain way to others. But just recognizing it, without judgment, felt important for me to do. It gave me a sense of relief to understand how I could be feeling unsettled when my circumstances were so great.
I recently came across the term “recovering perfectionist” and I LOVED it. It fits me to a T. The awareness doesn’t mean I’ll stop chasing an unrealistic desire for perfection. Like recovery from anything, the desires likely won't go away. But when we can recognize those wants, we are better equipped to handle them. For me, that day on the beach, that meant sitting with those emotions and giving myself permission to feel them. Understanding the origin of my feeling, rather than trying to negate it, or push it down, in of itself felt healing. It wouldn't be perfect. And it was silly to need it to be. But that was how I felt. And I observed those feelings and accepted them.
I think that has been the most powerful part of what I've taken away from my personal growth over the last few years. The understanding that any feeling is OK. Just because it’s not the part of myself I’m most proud of doesn’t mean I have to pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s very much how I came to terms with (and still come to terms with) my depression. I tried desperately to hide that part of myself from everyone for so long because that wasn't the part of me I wanted them to see. I wanted them to see “the real me” in spite of that part. But the truth is, that part is part of the real me. I am bubbly and outgoing and loving and I struggle with depression.
Your feelings don't need to be right or wrong. They don't need to be justified. They are your feelings. So feel them. And see what happens when you do.
Does this resonate with you? I'd love your feedback in the comments below on what type of content you'd most like to see from me!