Sookie, Time to Pack Your Saggy Bags!

I haven't stayed current with blogs lately - been trying to cut back on digital attachments. But yesterday I clicked over to bloglines and started skimming through the dozen or so blogs I follow.

Then, at one post in particular, I stopped skimming and started reading. Karen's, Perfectionism is Nasty. I half expected my name to be mentioned. Wasn't Karen writing about me?

(Of course she was! It's her blog, sure, but I am a card carrying member of NRU*, so it had to be about me!)

See, there's an elephant in the room, only I didn't know it was an elephant until I read Karen's post. Perfectionism. This is exactly my problem.

I had another blog, and this one (which I don't really consider a blog; it's just a little journal to replace my spiral notebook because that inevitably gets scribbled in or spilled on with something that will smell terribly horrid, like coffee with cream) was my sweet little homeschool journal where I kept track of what we did and how it went. Nobody read it and I didn't care. Because plenty of people read my other blog. My professional blog (that has to be said with a snooty upturned nose, by the way). On that blog, my technorati ranking was incredible; I had links in from friends and strangers and Important People; I got advertising solicitations almost weekly.

But it was an albatross. The very week of its inception, I began to resent it. My every thought: what do I blog on next? What would be a good post? How can I attract more readers, and how can I satisfy my fans? (Fans! I'm shaking my head here.) I'd spend hours I didn't have brainstorming posts and sketching them out. Each had to be better - funnier, more insightful, more novel - than the one before. Before long, what little time I had for other things (beyond the day to day things, like SCHOOL) was gone.

"It's so fun!" I'd say, watching my hit counter soar or, ok, creep up a dozen, then a hundred or more every week. Pretty soon I had attracted readers from far away places, and important readers I wanted, almost desperately, to impress. It was marketing. Building a platform for my career, I thought. Or at the very least gaining inroads to an industry that has very few doors, most of which are guarded by hydrophobic three-headed beasts.

The more I thought about my readers, the more questions arose. "Can I post this? What will those Important People think of me? If I post on bioethics, won't some of my readers think less of me? And my friends? They know I'm pro-life, right? Wouldn't they have to know that? But, I can't post a link to this, even to just point out that Dr. D's name is mentioned. It's way too controversial."

And religion. Post about faith and risk isolating those not on the path; don't post and run the risk of being misjudged by the rest. There were other topics too - family, homeschooling, untouchable for one reason or another. Soon I couldn't write anything on any level for any purpose. The blog was, at that point, the least of it, although it was the initial cause.

So I deleted it. Two clicks, gone.

And I picked up here, thinking anonymity would free me from the shackles I'd bound myself in. After all, if no one knows who I am, why would I worry about what I write? Why would I care if I'm too sarcastic or too scatological? Too esoteric or too simple? A religious zealot? A backslidden heathen? A crunchy liberal? A *gasp* Republican (I am Independent, when I bother to think about it, which is just a few seconds shy of zero, fyi)? A hack? A fraud? No one knows me here, so why would I care?

But ... I do care. It all comes back to one thing: perfectionism. Having to be understood. So that if someone does disagree with me, it's not because I haven't been rational and reasonable, because I've been very careful to be right. Perfectionism. Which, as Karen pointed out, is arrogance.

I was so focused on who people thought I was, and I got so wrapped up in trying to control their opinion ("the spin" as Dr. D puts it), that I forgot - entirely for a while - who I am.

Perfectionism is just innately wrong. It's arrogance. It's thinking you are something when you're nothing. It's thinking you can do things perfectly, which is a lie, or that things depend on your performance, which is a lie. It's setting up your own standards and believing that if you fulfill them, then you are good and God is pleased. Total legalism. (And, I'd add, idolatry.)

I became so obsessed with numbers - stats, inbound links, comments, popularity- that I let it define my value, and I forgot the origin of my value.

Like desiring the favor of men; like wanting to feel approved and worthwhile because of your accomplishments when the Bible says you're already approved and worthwhile in God's eyes because of HIS accomplishments...

I became so crippled by fear of how my words would be received, or if they'd ever be received (those Important People again) that I am going on six months of "vacation" from something all of those closest to me say is as much a calling from God for me as is motherhood.

Yet even as I write this, staring truth in the face, the loudest voice is crying, "What will they think of you? Surely they will misunderstand!" So, there he is, Sookie, the Saggy Baggy Elephant, moping in the corner. Despite my efforts to be anonymous, it hasn't changed a thing, because the real cause of my struggle doesn't need my name attached to torment me. There's only one way out. Which, as usual, means opening my hands.

* Narcissist's R Us, or rather, are me. Just me!