It’s Not Me, It’s You—A Letter to Perfection
I still remember the first time we met, early in my childhood days. I heard about you from my family. You sounded so lovely. To “be number 1” and “be the best” seemed, at the time, like worthwhile goals, especially because everyone around me was so enthusiastic about them.
Do you remember, dear perfection, how it used to be just you and I, sitting on the couch watching sitcom after sitcom as you spoke to me of how things could be if only I was “like them”?
Do you remember your gentle, coaxing voice when I leaned over the toilet, wooden spoon in mouth, and you consoled me, telling me that once I was skinny, everything would be okay?
You were my only friend in those days. All I had was my dream and hope of, someday, being perfect.
Do you remember all those stories you’d weave for me in my teenage years of “tomorrow”? That used to be my favourite day. It was our day together. It was the day we worked for, cried for, starved for. And of course, I believed you. You were my most faithful friend.
You were an honest friend too. You never kept your feelings to yourself. Whenever I would deviate from these standards we’d set for me, you’d let me know. I realize now that I never met those standards, and I never could. And you knew that.
You knew I would never be perfect. And I suppose I did too.
It was hard to live with you, but you gave me hope. I used to think that hope was the most wonderful emotion anyone could feel because it was the only positive emotion I could feel. I kept thinking, “If I master being perfect, then everything will be okay.”
We had a rough patch, you and I, when I fell in love. I suppose you were jealous. He didn’t need me to be perfect. He just needed me to be myself. I guess I didn’t need you anymore, so you got angry.
Every time he’d leave, there you were waiting for me. There you were to let me know who I really was. And you were my longest, most faithful friend, so of course I believed you. Why wouldn’t I believe you?
My relationship with you couldn’t survive if I was close to someone else. You were very possessive, dear perfection. There was no way that I could keep listening to your endless refrains of my faults and inadequacies if I was intimate with someone else.
I know why you did what you did. It was because you were my friend, and you wanted to take care of me. You did all you could because the only thing that perfection knows how to do is to tell you how far you are from it.
And of course, I believed you.
I never thought about letting you go in those days. I didn’t know that was an option. And sometimes your voice would get so loud, I couldn’t take it. I had to drown you out in my vices.
I thought you loved me, and I thought I loved you.
After all, you gave me hope.
Do you remember those days when we were really close? There wasn’t so much screaming and ignoring because I’d surrendered to your pleas. I did what you said.
Do you remember when I got so skinny I could reach under my rib cage and hold it? You were proud of me then. Do you remember when I learned to transform my face with makeup into the face of someone else? You were proud of me then. Do you remember when I stopped being vulnerable and emotional, when I turned into a cold, steel memory of a human being? You were so proud of me then.
We were close then, but I wasn’t happy. I knew you were, but I was not.
You see, I was disappointed. For years, you fed me the dream of tomorrow and the hope of what would come. I did all those things you said I should do. I became who you wanted me to be, and I was more miserable than ever.
For the first time, I saw you for what you really were.
It’s not your fault, but it is your nature. You can’t really do what’s good for me because you don’t know me. You can’t know me because you can’t see me. You’re too busy judging me.
And I’ve realized, in my life, that I need love, not perfection.
I’m sorry that things ended the way that they did, two years ago. I’m sorry that I had to tell you that we couldn’t be friends anymore. I remember when you yelled to me about hope, telling me that, without you, there would be no hope for me.
You stalked me all these years as I’ve tried to love myself, reconstruct my life, and share what I’ve learned with others. You’ve been there, offering your same refrains of “not good enough” at each turn and every valley.
In every vulnerable failure, you’d show up to help pick up the pieces with an unctuous smile and a carefully extended hand.
I’m sorry I’ve fallen for it. I’m sorry if I’ve misled you.
You and I, we’ve been through the wars. And, it’s true, you were there for me when no one was. And it’s also true that it would have been better, in those times, for me to be alone where I could have listened to my hunger rather than offsetting it with poison.
You’ve crawled into my mind after speeches, conversations, and workshops telling me how I shouldn’t have said that, how that person probably thought this and that about me, how I wasn’t who I pretended to be.
I’m exhausted of fighting you on my own.
So I won’t.
I know you’ll return, and I know you’ll be there in the back of my mind.
I’m not doing this alone anymore.
My resolution, this year, is to be honest about my experiences with you and share with those who love, respect, and listen to me exactly what’s going on in this abusive relationship between you and I.
Because something tells me that you’re not just stalking me.
It’s not just me, is it?
You’re doing this to everyone.
And I think the time has come for it all to stop. The time has come for me and all the other beautiful, imperfect, authentic human beings out there to stand in the face of perfection and say, “No, thank you.”
I am already perfect, just the way I am.
So, goodbye, my long time friend.
I hope that, one day, we’ll never meet again.