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I Apologize for Existing

12/16/2013 12:01 pm ET | Updated Feb 15, 2014
  • Jenny G. Perry Life Coach and Author, 'Sexpot With Stretch Marks' and 'The Jennifers'

One morning I came down with a case of the "sorry's." I hadn't had them in a while. I thought once cured of them, I'd be immune forever. I found myself spinning these apologies in my head as if no time had passed since I last had them. Pregnancy hormones made me susceptible to them. I would guess that women are predisposed to the condition anyway. Luckily, I figured out quickly what cures them this time.

It wasn't long ago that I had to struggle with them daily. Like a running nose, sorry's would drip out easily and in a constant stream. It was like a fog created in the same space as my sinuses, only the origin of this leakiness was not allergies, but perfectionism. The same haze you get from sneezing, coughing, and all the imbalance that goes along with it makes you so tired that you will do anything to relieve it. Even saying yes to things, when you really mean no because overcommitting is like fuel to the sorry's. Always coughing out yes, when your chest tightens in a, "Hell no, why do you do this to yourself!" It keeps you constantly sick and rundown.

In my 20s, I was plagued with them for the whole damn decade. I would let the sorry's ruin and run my life, dictating how my life played out. One tissue would hold the weight of a sorry for not being up to par in some way, being too much in another way, for my kids' behavior, for wanting something different, for having an opinion, for loving or not loving something, for being true to me, for taking care of me, for having emotions, or taking up too much space with my existence. Too many breaths were small and shallow over this, my lungs unable to really take in all the air that I could, as the sorry's leave you weak and unsure of your own strength. They leave you afraid and living in survival mode.

I opened up a new box of tissues this time around for the mind mucus of sorry's that someone else may feel bad, when it wasn't even my fault. At eight and a half months pregnant, I was feeling good after having already eaten breakfast and done my daily exercise. Out of nowhere, I felt a sorry coming on like an old rival from high school, who had been lurking in the shadows. I had previously made a business commitment and I had to cancel it the day before. This made me feel off-kilter. I had listened to my intuition and knew it was the right decision though. It was because of family issues. My husband was still not feeling well from the shingles that I had to cancel, not just on a whim. As I became aware of that awful feeling when you feel you're falling ill to a case of the sorry's, I realized I was also going to be late to meet my girlfriend. I thought I was going to throw up my breakfast, as the sorry's bared down on me. I had to wait before I even got into the shower as I was even having a hot flash at the same time. My body was screaming at me to listen and not let the sorry's ravage us again. I texted my friend I would be late and almost reached for a tissue, as I wanted to explain why I was even sorry that I was taking care of myself.

It caused me to pause to question why this would even happen, since I was feeling so well lately and taking good care of myself was my routine anyway. A lightbulb went off and I realized it was an old habit that reared its ugly head... perfectionism. That nasty germ is what was trying to infect me this time. I thought taking my vitamins of self-love would build up my system, helping build the antibodies for perfectionism. I didn't think it could mutate, but it did. This time I realized it had presented itself as a new kind of badass perfectionism. What I'd done is let myself get worn down, wearing my cape all the time, not remembering to take it off sometimes. When you are sick with perfectionism and a bad case of the sorry's, you don't realize the aches and pains of people-pleasing, or even the trying-to-be-everything-to-everyone fever sneaking in. It's like a superwoman flu that happens when they all come together. I thought always saying that I don't believe in being perfect, but rather that I was perfectly me, was enough to prevent it like a magical spell. I thought my system had become tougher, because with having four kids, someone is always mad at me for something and I can't split myself four ways. Superwoman flu is a vicious virus that you must treat immediately or ELSE! I had fought the good fight before, winning the battle over the perfectionism germs of the so-called perfect mom, wife, daughter, person, writer, spiritual person, etc. I knew I had to look it right in the eye this time. No more tissues, gloves off. I would do it differently in my wise mid-30s, harnessing a gentle fierceness from deep within.

I let it pass once I acknowledged what it was. I surrendered to the feeling of being not perfect. It actually feels free once you get over the initial sting. Being me always conquers being perfect. I chose me. I chose well-being and that it wouldn't beat me again. It was the shortest bout I'd ever had and was out of my system in under an hour. I realized my sorry's had dried up and I could breathe again. I was healthy and was so glad. I felt so alive. I proudly existed again. No apologies for being me anymore.

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