There had to be an Answer
Hi, My name is Cristina and I’m a recovering perfectionist. Perfectionism is something that I struggle with Every. Single. Day. Poor Casey gets the brunt of it as I push those internal expectations on the people around me. Hello, I’m a Capricorn after all. He’s a good sport about it, but it’s not fair to him and honestly, it’s not fair to me either. Working so hard to keep up with my own internal expectations can be exhausting.
Ten years ago I was at the height of stress. I was a consultant for an accounting firm traveling pretty much weekly. At one point, I was gone for thirteen weeks (only home on the weekends). So much of my life was out of my control.
It started to take a toll on my body.
The hustle of being home for about 48-72 hours hardly left me with enough time to unpack, do laundry, and repack to head back to the airport for the next hotel. Forget about going to the grocery store, preparing home cooked meals, or having any semblance of control over my own health.
I was at peak distress. My stomach was always angry. I felt I couldn’t eat anything without getting painful stomach aches, distress, bloating, you name it. At the height of it, I could hardly eat a banana without feeling ill. A Banana! What could possibly be causing this if a banana was a problem?!
Not only was my stomach angry all the time, but I felt physically swollen all over my body. I started getting recurring sinus infections and bronchitis, with one leaving me in the urgent care in Providence on a ventilator. Yes, my body was taking a toll. I had no control over my health. I felt at a complete loss and confused on how my body was literally failing me. I was always referred to as the iron maiden – an immune system like a steel trap door.
I decided to finally get some support. I contacted a gastrointestinal doctor praying for some answers. I came up short. He told me that I had high stomach acid and that all I needed to do was take anti-acid medication. Cool, that seemed like something helpful. But when I asked him for how long… he said, for the rest of your life.
My jaw dropped. Forever? I was twenty-four at the time. How can this be the only solution? So many questions came to me in that moment – how did this happen? How does this have anything to do with me getting sick all of the time? Can I do something with my food to help with my stomach upset? Is it something that I’m eating? Something that I’m doing wrong?
There had to be an answer. There had to be a way that I could control this. Or at the very least, manage it without needing to take anti-acid medication for the rest of my life.
I spent about five minutes googling the side effects of anti-acid medication used over an extended period of time and what I read scared me and made me know in my bones, this wasn’t the right route or doctor for me.
So, I took matters into my own hands. I started my first elimination protocol. Enter the most controlling and type A way to manage, gain control, and get to the root cause of my health. It was successful, empowering, and left me feeling like a new person. That feeling was addictive. I felt alive. I felt in control. I felt physically better.
I became addicted to feeling so good. And quite frankly, scared to let go at all. Understandably, I was scared of shifting my nutrition rules at all out of fear that I would end up feeling sick all over again. And honestly, nobody blamed me. I had made a major come around. I was thriving. I felt amazing. But at the exact same time, I was running 6 miles roughly 4 days a week, and terrified of food.
Don’t mind me, just the girl out to eat with her friends not enjoying a drink and eating the plain grilled salmon with steamed vegetables. I was feeling physically great, but emotionally isolated.
Deep down, I still didn’t understand why my body was so much more complicated than my friends. But I resolved to believe that I knew something that they didn’t – I actually felt good and they didn’t. They were just so used to feeling meh and I wanted more.
It was thoughts like this that kept me going.
I felt superior – I felt in control, but in a more real sense, I felt scared.
Scared that one slip would cause a spiral and I would end right back where I started. And if I did, it was MY fault. I had found the key, the answer, that unlocked the mystery of my failing body. If it didn’t last, it was nobody’s fault but my own. It would mean that I wasn’t disciplined enough. That I couldn’t keep up with my extreme food rules.
And if I couldn’t do that, what kind of person was I really?
I wasn’t someone that had her act together. I wasn’t someone that could take care of herself. I would be someone that CHOSE to fail at this. Whoa. There was a lot riding on this.
I unknowingly entered into a restrict, shame, binge cycle. I put my worthiness, my essence, my beliefs of myself on the table when it came to my health.
If I couldn’t maintain this, I was a bad person. I was a failure and my body would pay the ultimate price and everyone would know that I failed. Everyone would see that my body was changing again – that I was sick again. And the only thing worse than failing privately is failing physically and publically.
I had walked around with my head held high – letting everyone know that I found the answer. What I didn’t share was how delicate that answer was.
There is no place for perfectionism in healing.
I was not healed – I was walking a tightrope.
more to come on this. But I’d love to hear what your thoughts are – how has perfectionism been a driver in your healing journey?