We first met when I was five years old. I’d say it was safe to assume that it was by accident, when my young parents let me take in the fighting amongst larger than life entities. From the moment, I saw the commercial where Bret “The Hitman” Hart gave his glasses away to the kid, I knew I wanted to have that experience some day. I was quickly enamored with him and his ability to make everyone love him with his athleticism, love for his country and especially his family. Bret was the very first super-hero figure that I have memory of in my life and he holds a special place in my heart still this day.
We really fell in love when I was twelve years old, didn’t we? You were all I could think about or talk about because you were the escape I needed and the license to be different from the kids around me. I was always a quiet kid with a broad imagination and the hyperbolic stories you offered only fueled my own ideas of what could be some day. This was the age of The Rock, Shane McMahon and Triple H. I had a crush on all three of them but their athleticism and charm wasn’t lost on me. They were cool and that’s exactly what I wanted to be. These three were incredibly influential to me, but none of them would ever be Chyna Doll or Chyna or how I would later remember her as Joanie. Joanie was the only woman I had ever saw who was just as athletic and full of life as the men in the sport and sometimes even better then them. She was the stand out, just like I often felt I was, so I was fascinated by her. She was the person to give me the license to be different and the fearlessness that was needed to be a preteen who wasn’t like the ones around her. Her presence and body of work carried me into my adulthood with priceless of bravery. I cried like I lost a family member when she died. My love for her ran deeper than I was willing to admit. She was like an old friend.
We broke up for awhile didn’t we? I got older and the need to fit in outweighed the need to find out who I was authentically, but all was not lost. When I met my wife, I was able to find you again. I watched you casually at first and began to enjoy your stories from the lens of an adult rather than a child and preteen in search of something. How foolish I was to think you couldn’t give me something. 2016 was the year of Cody Rhodes. He left the WWE and went on the quest of the independents. It was his journey that gave me the community I didn’t know I was missing. I felt a little out of place as an adult fan, but with my investment in him came the community of adult fans who were just like me. I was no longer weird or different, I found community in people who enjoyed you just like me. You have always been the gift that keeps on giving.
These days are relationship is more quiet but still steady. I turn you on for comfort, I go to matches for my favorites but I also go to matches to spend time with the people I love the most (even the ones that don’t love you like I do. Love you wife). All of this to say, thank you. Thank you for being the steady light in the sometimes really dark and crazy world.
Perfectionism is defined as the need to be or appear to be perfect, or even to believe that it’s possible to achieve perfection. Sounds unattainable when you speak it out loud, but too often I found myself falling into the trap of needing to be perfect in order to achieve what I thought was normal or good enough to be around my inner circle or just society in general. For far too long, perfectionism was the driving force to my anxiety healing and I went through unholy hell trying to find some secret formula that was going to serve as the cure to what I thought was the ideal version of normalcy. It wasn’t until I gave the idea up of being perfect that I started to find some of the relief I was doing so desperately looking for. This wasn’t something that happened overnight. It was a series of steps that got me to the path of understanding perfectionism.
1. Setbacks don’t erase your progress.
Anxiety would give me little periods of reprieve especially during a break through in therapy where I discussed something that was bothering me and I thought that I freed myself by speaking about it and learning tools to manage. However, another trigger would happen and I’d get knocked on my head again and think I would have to start from zero. Once I realized that bad days can come and go just as easily, it became easier to climb the ebbs and flows of daily life and not live in the shame that came with not handling everything the way I thought I or people thought I should. Healing was never linear and I am so glad to be able to accept that and live my life with the needed grace that I deserve.
2. Celebrate the positive as much as you evaluate the negative.
With any sort of mental illness or difficulty, it’s easy to get lost in what you could do better. Sometimes I find myself ruminating on the things I can do better or how I can apply the coping skills I’ve learned in a more effective way. While the need to practice these skills are important, they also aren’t the entire journey’s purpose and can be more hurtful than helpful. I have learned over time and sometimes still in real time to celebrate the progress and positive change that comes with the ebbs and flows of the healing journey. I can learn the skills as I go and practice them, but it makes it harder to do that if I’m consistently only noticing the mistakes and not celebrating the wins that come along too.
3. There is no end, there’s just a possibility of a full life to live.
When I began therapy in 2020, I went into it with the same attitude I would go into healing a physical sickness. I do all the things I’m told to do and I’ll feel back to normal again. I spent a lot of time looking for the proverbial dragon to slay and not realizing that there was no actual finish line. There was just the ability to just live life experiencing a full spectrum of emotions and going through them with grace and compassion rather than shame and comparison.
None of the above is an easy feat sometimes. Sometimes, it’s still my knee jerk reaction to “should” myself but I am proud to be a recovering perfectionist and someone who can accept life as it comes with a fuller set of coping skills and acceptance of myself along the way.
All of this to say that there is hope. Too often our own minds can be our worst enemies but if we are kind, compassionate and understanding to ourselves then life can feel that much lighter along the way.
When I first started exploring my mental health, I went into therapy thinking something was wrong with me and I needed to search for the perfect formula to go back to “who I was” before I was “broken” and “wrong”. I use quotation marks because the truth is, I was never broken or wrong to begin with. I was more human than I had ever imagined before. The realization of the never-ending evolution of oneself has been the biggest game changer for me. I am allowed to experience a full spectrum of emotions even the “bad” ones and there’s nothing wrong with that and who I am right now could be completely different from who I am five years from now and that’s okay. I am a recovering perfectionist and people-pleaser and I’m proud to say that out loud because it took a lot of work to get me here and while I still have bad days that suck, I am now armed with the tools and self-reliance to get me through them. It all feels like I’ve leveled up the human Pokémon that is me ready to take on the next set of adventures.
But what do you do when you’ve come to notice the changes in what’s always been there? How do you show up in relationships that never stopped even when you were at your lowest? I’m sitting here with this shiny new penny that is me, but I cannot help but wonder how she fits in in the most precious parts of her world? This is not to say that any of my relationships are suffering but I can’t help but notice the reputation and the precedents set by old behaviors that I’m working hard to leave behind me. It’s a strange place to be because it’s so new and it’s a little bit lonely because I’m forced to learn how to show up for myself and give myself grace and comfort in this unknown world, while also taking on the curiosity (rather than the anxiety, which feels HUGE) of how to show up for others, my most special and important others. It’s a very unexpected part of the journey for me. I thought I’d do therapy and have a few “ah-ha” moments and then be magically healed. Now, I’m forced to take these skills, use them, and figure out to fit into a beautiful life all at the same time. How weird, but how cool all at once.
This ramble was published with the intention to be more unfiltered. I spent a lot of my earliest moments on this page terrified and trying to figure myself out after my parents moved away. I want to revisit some of that rawness in this newer stage of my life in hopes to help someone else along the way. Will I stick to a schedule? Probably not. But, as the thought bubbles pop into the air I’m going to do less running from them and more letting them stay awhile.
I wish I had a consistent flow of thought that could be an endless supply of profound or exciting things to say but too often my writing is dictated by mood, events, and just general time to sit down and really think about what I want to say. There are so many times that I come on here and try to draft the perfect stream of thought and get angry when it inevitably disappears out of my brain. A lot has been happening to me and the general population and I’m freaking exhausted. It’s a hard line to walk when you’re trying to figure out what your personal life looks like during a pandemic while the world feels like it’s on fire around you (obviously hyperbole but these days you never know).
I’ve had this incessant need for self-expression and not the faintest clue of where to start. There’s so many topics I’ve dabbled in on this site and I want to continue to grow the platform. I am trying, I am here spinning my wheels hoping to make use of my abilities and give myself a space to heal but also a piece of myself to those who do read this. To the people who do I appreciate every single one of you. All this to say, I’m working on some things, with zero timeline so I don’t look like a fraud in promising content and having it not be there. I know I’m not disappearing from thousands of people but the level of consistency I’m trying to learn is very important to me.
I know I’m not alone in this struggle. A lot of writers and bloggers I’ve come across all hit a dead space from time to time. I have the privilege of not making this my career but rather a passion project. It’s something that doesn’t go unnoticed. I’m hoping to find that passion or a more consistent realm.
The sentence “I don’t know.” is enough to make me break out in hives at times. As a person who suffers from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, I find my comfort in the stability of a good plan, precise information, and the guarantee of something happening. It’s a rigid way to live but it’s been my reality my entire life. I’ve never really noticed this behavior until I started therapy and realized how my anxiety worked. It took a lot of learning to realize that all my behavior was learned and wired rather than something I was doing to myself or someone else. I no longer had to punish myself for being “too much” or “annoying” or the “chicken-shit”, I am now able to recognize that my flaws are moldable and things can be done that can further improve my interactions with myself and others. Anxiety was never my fault, but it is now my responsibility. The power is in my hands to change my ways and learn how to approach life not resenting my anxiety but using it as a part of my identity. I’ve been given the tools to take my power back and use it to my advantage instead of becoming stifled by my disorder.
I find myself approaching my mental health with a sense of curiosity. The use of “what and how” instead of the “why” has been coming up more frequently. What can I do differently to make this task manageable for my stress levels? What can I do to relax when my nervous system dysregulated? What are my “happy spots” and how can I use them to my advantage in hard times? What is my absolute mental limit before I need to ask for help from someone? Reframing the process into a learning experience versus how to eradicate my flaws eases the pressure of perfection. I don’t have to do all things perfect; I can continue life’s path of trial and error. What doesn’t work doesn’t have to be dissected, it can be learned from, and new processes can be created that can foster a better relationship with myself and my world around me.
It has been eye opening to lean into the curiosity instead of always being at war with myself. It hasn’t been an easy road but it’s a road I’m growing to appreciate because I am becoming in a way that I never have before.