Well that one month break I took from writing and blogging for our move to Oklahoma, apparently turned into two.
I forgot how much work is involved in moving, and in the five months I lived out of my suitcases I also forgot how much stuff two people and a cat can accumulate over a period of three and a half years in Japan.
I am happy to report that as of right now there is one box left to unpack, and one room left to organize and decorate–our master bedroom. It is livable, just not picture perfect yet.
I never realized how obsessed I was with picture perfect, until lately when all I picture achieving, accomplishing, or doing in my head proves far more difficult or even impossible to do.
Moving this time around has only seemed to amplify it.
I am in a new place, at a new base, and trying to find a routine again. This also means learning where I fit and learning how to make new friends. This location for me also means being near to family and my childhood home, which means I am now trying to learn how to be in that world but also be the person I have become. So much changes when you move away for nine years.
Not that I hadn’t ever realized it before, but I am seeing anew how my obsession with finding and attaining picture perfect reality are glaring signs of a desperation for control in a season of life and world chocked full of uncertainty.
Let me just be honest. I hate uncertainty. If I could make enough plans, consider enough options, predict enough opportunities, weigh enough pros and cons of a decision or action –I would do it in order to know how to avoid that feeling of uncertainty and no control over what might happen.
And yet I am spending at least the next year waiting to know where my husband’s career will take us next.
I am completing my final year of my Master’s degree and attempting to plan classes and my final research project around several future possibilities, so that I have the best tools and educational experience available to take advantage of whatever work or further education opportunities arise at wherever we are to be next.
Just reading that sentence puts knots into my stomach.
Seriously who does that?
Conversations with my professors are the worst. Every time I get those inevitable questions: well where do you see yourself in 10 years or if you could pick a career path what would that be or what are some possible job options that we could help you build towards? Do you plan to have children? Where does that fit in? Sigh if only answering them were somehow possible.
I was also obsessed with picture perfect in matters of faith for a long time. Then over time I could no longer hide from the uncertainty and the questions I had been shoving into a closet for so long. Now I find myself on more days than not barely managing to keep my head above the water. Who knew that rules, routine, ritual, and performance could somehow be easier or more comfortable?
Comfortable maybe. Controllable yes. But if I am being honest, it was also incredibly suffocating, knowing that the tighter I tried to manage and hold on to faith and on to a God that would fit in my small, manageable box — the more it only slipped through my fingers.
My obsession with picture perfect doesn’t just stop there either. It’s everywhere.
I remember as a child being obsessed with being the picture-perfect child, the perfect student, and trying to wrangle my crazy family into being that perfect family with the perfect schedule and the perfect life.
Sounds exhausting right? Don’t worry, I failed miserably.
It’s funny the things I remember doing now, that in my childlike mind made me believe that if I would just get it right then everything else would fall into place. I remember creating chore charts for every family member that detailed each day, time, and duty that would equally spread the weight of all the family chores involved with running a household of 10 plus people. I remember persuading siblings or friends to help me organize the play room, the pantry, the refrigerator, the freezer, or the infamous tupperware cabinet over and over and over. Then when enlisting help would fail, I would exasperatingly do it on my own. Each time thinking, if I organize it just right and find a place for everything then it will be easy for the rest of the family to understand my need and their need for order in this midst of this chaos and maintaining it will be super easy.
You would think I would have figured that it wasn’t working after the gazillionth time of having to do it yet again, but no, and now I must confess I have carried that obsession with me into my own home. You would also think that if I am so obsessed over order that my house would be perfectly organized and perfectly clean all the time — wrong. I now see myself warring continually throughout my house over the same cycle of clean and organized to messy and chaotic that I did as a kid, even though I “control” it all.
If I am really honest though, I think my obsession with order, cleanliness, schedules, and lists– whether it be in my house, or my car, or my school, or my work, or my relationships, or my daily life, or my writing — has more to do with the fact that its all stuff that I can obsess over. This is because they all prove in different ways to be a distraction from the harder things in my life that I know I have zero control over.
Like faith and feeling secure in it.
Like the preciousness of life and family, and protecting those I love from pain or loss or conflict.
Like the future that I can’t predict or ever be truly prepared for.
Like genetics that I can’t change and will inevitably pass on to my own children some day.
Like trying to know and plan when a right time to have children is and feeling peace about it.
Like the past that I can’t change no matter how much I might wish for it to or spend time wondering what might have been different.
Like knowing how to determine which role in my life should be prioritized and matter the most.
You know those roles that we all balance? For me it’s wife, student, employee, military spouse, sister, daughter, friend, writer, homeschool graduate, person of faith, mother someday, etc. For the first 20 years of my life, I thought I knew which roles were most important and which ones should be prioritized. Then becoming an adult means getting out in the world, and suddenly everyone and their dog has a different opinion on which one and what order is right. What is worse is (or maybe I am crazy and alone in feeling this), but no matter which one I convince myself is the most important or which ones should be prioritized, I always end up doubting or questioning it even after convincing myself.
Somehow I have to believe that there is something more. That I am worth more than just one of those roles. That it is ok to want more and to be able to prioritize more than just one.
All of these and more are issues I carry inside me and weigh on me more than I like to admit to.
So today, when I chose to sit down and write again, despite every argument against it that I have been fighting off for the past two months — I thought I would begin with the simple truth of confession.
I am a control freak and fail at it miserably.
I want to be organized and scheduled and have a beautiful, clean home but often fall very short of the picture in my head.
I desperately want to prepare for the future, even though I know I can’t.
I am a military spouse who knows that you have to invest yourself where you are, that you have to be proactive and creative and flexible on all fronts, whether for work or school or family life, and that you have to learn to find the treasures in the community you find yourself in — and yet I am still struggling to even get started with that process. I fell in love with where we were last and the temptation to hold it up as the impossible standard is very hard to overcome.
I am a homeschool graduate, who often struggles with wanting to hide or edit that aspect of my past, as it is often made it challenging for me to relate to others or made it difficult for people to understand or relate to me.
I want a faith that is real and genuine, but struggle knowing how to build one that is not contrived.
I want to feel confident about the roles I prioritize, but all to often find myself held back by comparison, doubt, guilt, and fear.
I want to believe that I am not the only one, but there is that nagging fear…
Am I alone?
Over the next few weeks, for those of you readers that want to rejoin me, I am planning on digging more into this topic of being “more than my roles.” I am also planning to bring back the Townhall, so be watching for that too.
Beyond that, I would love to hear from you all on your struggles with control and perfection. Below are some questions for discussion:
- Do you find yourself obsessed with finding or achieving perfection in some way that you know you can’t?
- What roles in your life do you struggle with prioritizing?
- For Military Spouses: how have you found ways to adapt to a new base location?
- For Homeschool Alums: how have you balanced adapting to a world and relationships outside of homeschooling? For those of us who came from a religious and strict homeschooling world, how have you managed a transition to a different lifestyle and relationships without wanting to hide your past altogether?
Until next time,