Controlling Perfect

I was standing in the frozen vegetable aisle, unseeing. Instead of looking through the glass doors at green beans, peas, spinach – I was looking at the glass doors and the mirror of myself. An argument was waging in my head; not about what vegetables to buy, but about the items I held in my hands. A loaf of French bread. A triangle of Brie. A frozen premade flatbread.

The attack was quick and fierce. One side of my mind screamed at me that I’d already been here yesterday, for a bottle of chocolate milk. I didn’t need to buy Brie and French bread, for heavens sake. The chocolate milk was fatty enough. Besides, the Brie was expensive! How could you be here spending MORE money?

I stared at the items in my hands, feeling torn. The flatbread had a purpose; food for when I returned from vacation. The Brie and bread were seducing me, especially that Brie. I had recently discovered how magical it was and I wanted more. I literally felt it staring at me, blinking at me with wide seductive lashes and a come hither grin. “At least it’s not the gallon of ice cream on sale that I was just looking at,” I argued with myself. “That would be much more senseless and unhealthy.” I thought about my refrigerator and cupboards at home. “What do I have there?” I wondered. I saw the pasta boxes, the spinach ready to be turned into pesto, the jars of red sauce in my refrigerator, the tortilla chips, cheddar, and jalapenos. “Nachos and pasta,” I thought. I could make them, sure. Were they exciting? Not really. I was uninspired by them. And it did seem such a small array of things that I had.

“But you don’t have a ton of money just to be throwing around on a whim!” screamed the other voice in my head. “You need to be thoughtful about this!” Let’s be honest, it got meaner than that, too. “You fat cow! You can’t stop buying sweet and fatty things. Why, just earlier this week you bought ice cream! And last night chocolate milk, which is already half gone. And now Brie! What are you doing to yourself, idiot!”

The argument went back and forth for ten minutes. I exchanged the flatbread for a full pizza (it lasts 2 meals, not just one) and a bag of frozen green beans. At least my meals could be balanced, and when I came home from vacation, I could plan a healthier, more inspired menu.

When I got home from the store, I felt frustrated, down, upset. But a voice in my head said, “Courageous. You are courageous. Be a little more kind to yourself. You grew up in a family with delusional ideas about money. It’s hard work to try something different. You’re not going to be perfect all the time, and that’s okay.”

It was then that I thought of something a friend said the other day, “I can’t control someone else but I can control how perfect I am.” Oh, that struck me. Here I was, trying to be perfect, trying so hard not to be crazy.

I can’t control my dad’s crazy, but I can control how perfect I am, so it’s okay.

I’m having an epiphany. My life has been this controlled little ball of rigidity and rules, not only because that’s how I grew up, but now because that’s who I have become. I am trying so hard to go against the grain and be different. I have to be better. I have to matter. I have to be perfect, so everyone will think I’m okay.

I’m at a loss at how to change this line of thinking, this way of living that leaves my stomach in knots when I think about food, money, my grades, grad school, relationships.

I guess that’s why I need a Higher Power.

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