I Killed “Perfect” Peggy

(7 min read)

If you didn’t catch my live radio show on Transformation Talk Radio Monday, 3/4/2019, or watch the replay, you might want to bounce over to the Media tab on my website and watch Coach, Couch and Coffee Radio. On the March 4th show, I share my opinion and experience with PERFECTION and the results you will “suffer” long-term if you consistently seek straight A’s.

I am not sure when I realized that I was trying to be “perfect.” I never used that word or heard anyone refer to me in that fashion. It probably dawned on me about 40 years into this thing called life before I knew what I was doing to myself. I am not the brightest light in the campsite, ya know. Lessons came hard for me – literally hard – like hit me up aside the head hard. Only because I never paid attention to all the Red Flags and didn’t modify my behavior until…bam…slam…decades in, I now see “PERFECTION seeking” is why I always got sick or injured or depressed or wanted to run away.

I remember being about three or so and demanding to dress myself. I wanted no help. I remember performing center stage for the family singing the theme song to All in the Family just like Edith Bunker. I had an audience and tons of praise. Probably because I was the firstborn to a young mother, and we lived with my grandparents for several years I was special. Maybe I got attention because we came from a small town and there was little entertainment except for the Moose Club on a Saturday night. So I was the Family Show Girl.

I remember watching over my siblings like a mother hen. I think I even tried to discipline them, and my mom gave me “a talking to. “Scolding your sister and brother simply isn’t your role.” GAWD. I remember very early on being aware of having to look “perfect” – hair, clothes, stand tall, school work, every sport I played, every club or extra-curricular function I could volunteer for—be the best. I wanted to be top of my class, type the fastest, and hold the state short-hand record (I did). I didn’t want to be the class secretary; I wanted to be President. I didn’t just want these things for myself. I wanted everyone to be their best: study harder, run faster, and swim longer. I talked to kids that had no friends. I was a tomboy building forts, yet the princess at the Carnival. I did chores that weren’t asked of me and hand-made cards and presents for family and friends. I cared what people said to me or about me. I wanted to be liked and loved. And damn, I wasn’t even an adult yet.

All the while I do not remember anyone telling me to be PERFECT or was not enough. I was always encouraged to be my best and to put in the work. I do remember times my family tried to slow me down. I remember being hospitalized for pneumonia and missed out on the role of Mrs. Clause in the school play. I remember migraines. I remember being tired. I remember not wanting to eat much. I remember being told I was too busy. But my PERFECT PEGGY was internally driven so it didn’t matter if anyone wanted to hold me back. I was going to keep trucking, and it was a voice that always said, do more, go faster, support others … the voice never stopped talking, and I never stopped doing.

Mom always told me I acted like an adult since the day I was born. So, by the time I was an adult – “adulting” is what I did. I worked several jobs, ran a business, mothered two sons, went back to school, cooked, cleaned, mowed, painted, re-modeled, competed in State and Nationals in Ms. Fitness and bodybuilding as a 28-year-old mom in sports so Type A it fueled my addition to be the best. I thought, oh boy my self-driven ethics were paying off. I loved the high of staying busy and seeking PERFECTION. My addiction. My drug.

I didn’t realize all along the “Perfect” One was slowly drowning and frankly she just needed to be killed and buried. She really did. Perfect Peggy would go away for a bit, just to rush in with more power than before. Just to show how embedded this behavior was, I came straight out of one of my illnesses, and decided I needed to start a chapter of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Oh yeah – why not. It was already EXHAUSTING living my life, but WTH. Though I have to admit until you journal or write a quick summary as I am for you, you do not realize just how exhausting Perfection is.

After a serious smack up aside the head (remember the not so bright light at the campsite – me), I got pretty sick in 2007/2008. Stressed, depressed, unimpressed, whatever, but the PERFECT one was losing again big time. After 18 months of working crawling out of the grave again, I thought I could nail self-care and balance. I would pace myself. Work eight hours. Weekends off. Lay in the sun. Go for a hike. Chill. NOPE! By 2010, “she” was BAAAACK working two jobs full force 15-hour days. And by 2011/2012, life smacked me again…two, back-to-back car accidents slowed me down physically and mentally.

Are you seeing the lesson here yet? I wasn’t. See, I wouldn’t LISTEN to the signals my body or others were telling me AHEAD OF TIME. I apparently didn’t mind being laid out with big-time bell ringers. I obviously was NOT an “A” student – in life anyway. So the Universe – or whatever you believe in – took out my vessel. It said, “Oh yeah, smartie pants, you won’t take care of yourself, we will slow you to hell down physically” It did.

I had one more bout from 2014-2016 where I worked insane hours and, man, it took a toll. My youngest son’s motorcycle accident which caused him to require 24-hour care as he couldn’t walk, changed not only his life, but mine. I chose to stope working for Corporate America. By doing so, I would only have myself to blame. You work too much, then take a nap. Well. I hate naps, but you get the drift. He taught me that life is short. I realized you either learn from your lessons or you keep being a stupid idiot like I had been and eventually, your candle will burn out. Dying as a workaholic was not a dream of mine. See loving what you do is a blessing in disguise.

You are on the edge of your seat, aren’t you? Hankering to know – HOW DID YOU KILL HER? How did you kill Perfect Peggy?

You see, age works for us and against us. As I have aged, I crash faster and harder. So what goes up – MUST COME DOWN. A migraine lasts a week not a day.

Though the damn PERFECT one still raises her dreary head, and she’s really not “dead,” she does go into a coma for a lot longer period of time than she used to. I still get caught up over-working, over-cleaning, over-anything…I love the manic side of my personality, but I have recognized that Perfect Peggy cannot stay out of the coffin for long periods of time anymore. Peggy can, but her alter ego…well, she needs to stay tucked away.

And that is what I have to tell myself nearly every day. I recognize the areas I do well, and the areas I do not. I recognize I cannot do everything, everyday, for everyone.

I love my quick-witted side, and I do know how to have fun. I think most would describe me as driven and a hard-worker, and that I have a passion for helping to improve anyone’s life in any way. I am obsessed with wanting to make a difference, but no longer obsessed enough to accept my own physical and mental suffrage as fee for service. Trying to get an “A” and be perfect is exhausting. Especially when you try so hard in all areas of your life simultaneously; there is little margin for error. Again, I want to reiterate my perfection seeking was not a push from the world around me – the demands were my own recipe for disaster.

As I said, there are still glimpses of Perfect Peggy crawling her ass up out of the grave, but she doesn’t get far. I am quicker to recognize when I dip to five hours of sleep that I am soon headed to four. I am quicker to see a migraine coming or recognize meals have too many hours in between. I can feel my joints when they scream, “You haven’t moved enough this week.” I know when my family and friends are disappointed with my slips in self-care…I hear their “sensitive” words – I see their facial expressions. So I push Perfect Peggy down.

She is not going to rule the decades I have left. She took many of the decades before me. Don’t get me wrong, we have a love/hate relationship. I am where I am today because of her. She was a badass chica.

And I guess, she still is!

Peggy Willms
                                                                     All Things Wellness, LLC

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