There's a beautiful quote by Rumi that says, "The wound is the place where the Light enters you."
Leonard Cohen expressed a similar sentiment when he sang, "Ring the bells that still can ring \ Forget your perfect offering \ There is a crack in everything \ That's how the light gets in."
I love these quotes, but I've come to realize, I love them when I'm applying them to someone else. I have a really hard time allowing them to be true about myself and my work.
Lately, I have really been struggling with the issue of perfectionism. I never realized this was an issue for me because I am the last person who fits the perfectionist prototype. I certainly never struggled with feeling I had to look perfect, thanks to a case of cystic acne in my 20's. I never felt my life had to be perfect either, as I have been flat broke and crashed and burned more than once. I was not the person who went for straight A's in order to win approval by perfect achievement either. In fact, I got really depressed in college and failed an entire semester. The whole schebang. Straight f's across the board. It was painful on many levels.
In other words, I have fallen and picked myself back up many times over.
This was integral in splitting me wide open for the spiritual awakening I would go through. It also helped me to let go and just be me in many ways. What I didn't realize is it was giving me the illusion that I'm immune to the pitfalls of perfectionism. I couldn't even allow myself to consider this I was so entrenched in one way of thinking. I full on believed I knew I made mistakes and I loved them and myself for it.
I see now that I had created an identity that was totally wrapped up in the idea of embracing imperfection. I was caught up in a very deep conflicting belief. On the one hand, I knew my work wasn't perfect. No creative work ever will be. That's why it's so scary to create art, music, or pretty much anything at all. If you want to create something, a business let's say, and have it be perfect, you're either going to stop before you start, or struggle with massive inner turmoil, as I have been. But on the other hand, if I admitted I struggled with perfectionism in my work and writing, I felt I would lose my sense of self.
Besides a loss of identity, I feared if I embraced this I would appear to be a total hack. I didn't want to share that I think my work is flawed and imperfect, because then what faith would you have in me and the things I create? But the thing is, I know you have something you want to do, and that the fear of not being perfect might be holding you back on some level also. Maybe it's consciously, or maybe you're like me, and it's completely below the surface, buried so deep an oil rig is going to have to plunge in to get it out.
Aside from perfectionism holding us back from doing what we really want to do, it can also hinder the meditative journey. If I create meditations that take you deep inside, to see all of who you are, so-called flaws and all, and then I fear on the deepest levels of my being my own flaws, I'm being a pretty big hypocrite. I was telling myself that my flaws in my creative projects weren't me. I had created a separation, and that was causing me inner discord. My creations are me. So if I refused to see flaws in my work and allow myself to accept them, then I was refusing to accept a very big part of myself. A part I love so dearly, and that's where the pain comes in. You can't lock out one part without locking out the rest.
I shut out feeling the insecurity over creating imperfect work, and therefore, also shut out the love, joy and pride I felt for my creations. I shut out remembering why I created what I did. I shut out the fun and focused only on the fear.
I can only take you as far as I take myself. And I want to take you to the center of your soul. I want to take you right into the source of your being. Into the eternal place of love, beauty, light and divinity you always have been and always will be.
So for all of us, for you and for me, I'm stepping into this fear. I deeply fear that by proclaiming I know my work isn't perfect that you will put be completely putt off to my meditations and anything else I do or say. I have tons of fears about the imperfections of the meditations I created. I fear my voice is too inconsistent and varies too much in pitch and volume. I fear you can hear weird sounds my mouth makes (if you're going WTF right now I don't blame you). I fear the pacing is off and you'll think I rush some parts and take too long on others. I fear the whole story is stupid and you'll hate the journey I am so eager with delight to take you on. And I fear above all, you'll contact me and tell me all of the things you hated. This is by no means a request that you never tell me what you think of me and my work. These are my fears, and I will never get through them by insisting you conform to me. By all means, tell me what you think, because this band-aid I've got on my fears needs to be ripped off.
What I've come to realize is, if I don't embrace the flaws in my work, I stop doing it in myself. The harsher I judge my work, the harsher I begin judging myself. This in turns feeds into a fear I have that I can relapse into my old, depressive ways of self-loathing. This, like most fears, is irrational. I have made so many changes since then that it would take me years of reversing my momentum to get there. Decades really, and because of the changes I've made in people in my life, nobody around me would let this happen. And yet, I felt it would happen RIGHT NOW, and I had to hide from seeing my flaws in order to protect myself from going there.
So here I am to say, "My name is Melissa, and I'm a former perfection junkie." Not in all areas of my life. But in perhaps the area that counts the most. The area where I have my passions, my gifts, the things I want to share with you and the world. I was so afraid of appearing imperfect that I became an emotional bully to myself, demanding I hide this side of me and suck it up, going on as if everything was okay.
And that emotional bully, that's a crack. That's another place the light is getting inside of me.