Hi, my name is Laurie and I’m a reforming perfection-olic (did I spell that right?…he, he, he)  I have been a perfectionist for as long as I can remember.  I may have come out of the womb believing this crazy making mythology.  It has negatively impacted every aspect of my life. I have been powerless over my addiction (or so I believed) until the last two decades of my life.

About 8 years ago I added the auspicious credential, FVHB, to my business card.  When asked, I state that FVHB is the most important credential I earned.  It has taken me decades to achieve and has been the most challenging accomplishment of my life.  The acronym stands for Flawed Vulnerable Human Being.  There, I said it out loud…with a big grin and an internal sense of feeling lighter, more grounded and less neurotic.

As the oldest of three kids, stair-stepped two years apart, I embraced the role of leader, teacher and responsible one.  This personality trait earned me big psychological kudos with my mom and dad. I was rigorous in my attempts to corral and tame my brothers (the demon spawn from hell.) I aspired to find just the right words, convey the correct tone and always model the best behavior (always with a smile, that often resembled a grimace) to help them see the error of their ways AND do what I thought was best.  The demon spawn had very different ideas.

Two of the most formative FVHB, moments occurred while babysitting my brothers.  The first involved them setting the house curtains on fire after squirting lighter fluid into the fire in the fireplace.  In a separate, but equally terrifying incident, my youngest brother held an antique sword to my older brother’s throat while screaming  “I’m gonna kill you” after an argument gone wrong.  I remember our family home did not burn to the ground and my older brother did not die that day, but I blocked any other details of how these two issues were resolved from my conscious memory.

As a result of too many years of painful perfectionistic life lessons, I began to recognize I was living life under the anxiety provoking illusion of control.  “If I could just__________________” (fill in the blank with thousands of kooky ideas of what I needed to have myself or others DO, BE, THINK and FEEL to make my life perfect.)  Interestingly, in a clinical distance kind of way, when I became aware of this phenomenon, it morphed into my relentless pursuit of being perfectly in control of what I DO have control over.  Again, not so helpful to my well-being and equally neurosis evoking.

I cannot pinpoint exactly when I loosened my vice-like grip on the ideal of perfectionism.  I know that as a flawed vulnerable human being my life is rich and satisfying.  I allow myself the entire spectrum of emotions (even when they hurt).   In the face of opposition, I am better at saying what is truly on my mind and in my heart.  I am open to learn from others.  I don’t need to have the market cornered on what is RIGHT. I am ok with limited validation and have learned a ton about myself from critique, even in its worst form.  I invite people into my home when it is not clean. I love my husband, family and friends more deeply and because of their humanness.  I am more real with my clients. I still believe I can take on more than I can and wind up feeling spinney (and bitchy) as a result.  I catch myself sliding back into old habits and give myself permission to make mistakes.  I give myself partial credit.  I take myself less seriously.

I even embrace my many quirky, idiosyncratic ways that I used to hide like a cat burying their poop in the liter box (a wonderful quote I jacked from a dear client.)  When stressed I often give myself permission to eat cotton candy or marshmallow peeps (but only the yellow variety.)  To wind down I love a dark, intense, well written drama like Breaking Bad or The Soprano’s.  I laugh loudly and inappropriately.  I believe my dogs are sometimes wiser than me. I occasionally seek an external fix for an internal need, resulting in a kick-ass collection of very cute boots.  I say mean things when I feel I am backed against a wall.  I color outside the lines.

I like and respect the flawed vulnerable human being so much better than the perfectionist.  I think most others do as well.

perfectionism is the voice of the opressor