Mary Poppins and Me… An Imperfect Story

Life isn’t always as it seems. In this age of social media, this is a really important concept to remember. Otherwise, every Facebook post and Instagram photo would have us believing that everyone has a perfect life – the babies never cry, teenagers always do what they’re told, spouses don’t argue.

But life isn’t perfect.

And that’s really hard for a perfectionist like me to understand.

I’m learning, though. It takes a while. After all, I spent the first 40+ years of my life believing that if I wasn’t perfect (and I knew I wasn’t!), then I was a failure. It was black and white, no shades of grey. Unraveling more than 40 years takes time, with twists and turns and “recalculating” along the way.

The truth is that life isn’t a conditional statement and I’m not trying to fit into an excel spreadsheet. Along my bulimia recovery path, I finally realized that no one was perfect, which ultimately made it OK for me not to be perfect (in some ways this logic seems wrong, because I don’t necessarily want to be like everyone else, but from the standpoint of perfectionism, it seriously eased my anxiety).

One day it dawned on me, I have something in common with Mary Poppins. I always loved the movie – the story, the music – and the happy ending. Yet, for all Mary Poppins’s brilliance, genius and talents, she wasn’t perfect. She was described as “practically perfect in every way.” Practically perfect! That leaves a margin for error, a slight opening to make a mistake. Woo-hoo!

This is how I like to look at my life now – as practically perfect. Because it isn’t perfect and I don’t want to waste time trying to make it perfect. I want to live my B.E.S.T. life each and every day, have gratitude for the good and awareness for when things can get better – when I can do better and be better.

Sometimes I have disagreements with family members and I think: chocolate! And I eat some. Or I have one my husband’s pretzels (even though I generally eat gluten-free). And when my hockey team loses a big game?? ARGH…I want chocolate chip cookies to ease my pain; comfort food to make me feel better. Fortunately, however, I have my resources and tool kit so that when I fall down a bit, I can pick myself up. Instead of the “old me” who would have beaten me up even further (“you’re stupid!” “what’s wrong with you?”) so that I’d sink into despair and activate my bulimia impulses.

I still go to bed too late, though I really am working on this and practicing self-care to get to sleep earlier.  I’m not perfect, but I know what I need to do and am taking action to make positive changes. I slip and fall, sometimes I don’t make the healthiest choices, but just like my GPS, I recalculate, get back on track and keep moving forward.

As the saying goes, it’s about progress not perfection. I appreciate that because of my previous struggles and the self-growth and recovery work that I’ve done, I have the awareness to analyze why I may have veered off course, acknowledge it happened and understand that every moment is one to begin again. Life may not always be pretty, it may not always be perfect, but I am truly grateful for my life and every part of it.

I wanted to share this with you because I know it can be hard to imagine a great life when you are stressed, battling your inner demons and struggling to get through each day. I’ve been there. I’m here to tell you it can get better. And I’m here to help.