Monday, October 8, 2007

...perfection...a possibility?...or just a perception?...

Everyone has seen "that" person. You see her in the grocery store with her beautiful kids, perfectly dressed, shopping cart full of healthy food...every hair in place. She's perfect. You see her at the gym in her matching workout clothes and shoes, tanned skin, freshly highlighted hair in a neat ponytail, and a thin, strong shape. She's perfect, too. You see her in the mall...lots of shopping bags...just the right outfit, matching jewelry, and high heels. Once again...perfection. You quietly say things to yourself like, "Who does she think she is anyway?!?" "She's pretty and I bet she's rich." "She's so skinny. I bet she never eats." "She isn't smiling. I wonder if it's because she thinks she's too good for anyone...for me." "She must be a snob." Your thoughts and opinions vary depending on the circumstance.

You're not perfect like her. You wonder if that's why she's all alone...maybe all her perfect friends are busy...or maybe she hasn't found anyone perfect enough to be her friend. You peel off the label, stick it on, and walk away...hating her. We have ALL done it. I'm ashamed to say that I have; more than once.

My dad has lots of sayings. One of his classics...his favorites is: "Perception is reality." Sounds all new agey, but it is probably more true than any of us want to admit. I know that the way I see things or people has changed and evolved over the years as I have. I've been the stressed out, over worked, under appreciated, overweight, out of control, sloppy, unhappy stay at home Mom. This is not to say that stay at home moms are these things, but I was. I saw "that" person...that perfect person all around me...everywhere I went. I didn't know her, but I hated her, because seeing her made me swell with regret. The way I felt when I saw her, made me not only hate her and look for ways to put her down, but it made me hate myself. It was a twisted, self imposed revenge of sorts. I saw her as perfect and myself as imperfect...her as lucky and me as unlucky...her as in total control while I was completely out of control...her as care free and me feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. She...whoever she was...was the enemy and I was the victim. Poor me...helpless...afraid. My perception became my reality.

One day I realized that I didn't have to be a fat, miserable, unhappy, out of control victim. I didn't have to be trapped in a body; a persona that wasn't really me. I realized slowly as I took control of my life, not all at once, but piece by piece...methodically, that I could be better...stronger...healthier...happier. I never expected or dared to think that I could be thin or strong or beautiful, but I knew that I could be better than I was. It took years, and I'm not sure I'll ever be completely satisfied with who I am, but I am so much better than I ever dreamed I could be. I have become "that" person...just like those people that I hated.

People think how great it must be to have accomplished goals, to have lost weight, to look good, and be in the best shape of my life. It is...sometimes...but I never realized how hard it could be to be "that" person...that seemingly perfect person. I'm the one that people pick apart. I'm the one they hate. Now I know that sometimes that perfect person that you see in the store does have beautiful kids, but they fight and misbehave and get into trouble just like everyone else's kids. I know her cart is full of healthy food, because she feels regret over eating that candy bar earlier in the day...the one that will haunt her until she goes to sleep. I know that that perfect person you see at the gym in matching clothes and shoes...the tan, skinny there at the gym because she is not naturally thin and she is deathly afraid of being fat...fat like she use to be. I now know that the perfect person you see in the mall has lots of bags because she shops to fill a hole...a hole with no bottom. I know she painstakingly chooses the "right" clothes, shoes, and accessories just to feel okay...not great...or perfect...or better than everyone else...but just to feel okay. I know that she is alone because she has no one to go to the mall one to talk to. I know that she does not smile because she is really sad and really lonely. I wish I didn't know those things, but I do.

Sometimes even when the outside appears perfect, the inside isn't. I've learned that no one should ever jump to conclusions or shut someone out or place a label on people we see for a brief moment in time. We shouldn't rely on our perceptions and discount knowledge...knowledge that we could gain by taking the chance to know "that" person. I've learned that perfection is an illusion...a mirage...a perception. Every living thing has a flaw if you look close enough. There really is no such thing as perfection...but still, everyday, I open my eyes and I try. I try knowing that I can never have that which I desire...need...crave. Perfection.

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