Today, our Four Agreements card, from Don Miguel Ruiz is built around the Agreement Always Do Your Best. For many people, that is a given in their lives; for me, doing my best was my goal, and my curse, for more years than I care to remember. I find that Doing My Best is still a valid, important goal, now that I am no longer afraid of not being perfect, as long as I have done my best.
The card reads:
Express Your Own Divinity
You don’t need the acceptance of others. You don’t need knowledge or great philosophical concepts. You have the right to be you, and you express your own divinity by being alive and by loving yourself and others.
I find it very difficult to read that I should express my own divinity, when I am only just conquering perfectionism. After all, do perfection and divinity not equal the same thing? They do, at least in all the churches I’ve been part of.
So my issue here is this: redefine divinity in a way which better suits a human understanding, not a religious one. That is what my task is here, in this post. I must accept that I am perfect, just who I am, and with no help from anyone but me and those who love me.
Not perfect as I used to see it — always so careful, protecting my heart and my psyche from risks, doing exactly what I was told to do, and knowing that no other definition of perfectionism would suffice. I was the straight-A student, punished once for getting a C+ in Handwriting in the seventh grade, but never rewarded for achieving straight As, or any other measure of excellent performance, with the assumption that kind of performance was a basic requirement for being part of the family.
So there I was, already scared to death of ever failing at anything, when I was told that my body wasn’t able to be perfect, nor would it, ever again in my life. (Thank the Cosmos for that being untrue.) This overarching failure in my life contributed greatly to my depression — a sadness that took most of my life to come out of. And my parents didn’t want to have anything to do with my diabetes. I can’t speak for them, but my guess is either fear or anger was holding them back.
For decades, as I ignored my health nearly completely, I still felt a failure; that was such a familiar role. All of these responsibilities weighed down my desire to seek perfection. Throughout my long battle with myself, and with diabetes, I was so worn out and tired of illness that I was ready to try anything; anything was what I tried. With drugs and alcohol, and lots of food that was bad for me, I self-medicated that sadness that stemmed from failure.
Then, I figured out that me hating my diabetes had a direct connection to my hatred of myself. After shaking that off, in just a few violent shakes, I began to recognize that the meaning of perfect, of being perfect, was something very different from the meaning I’d believed for so long. To be perfect meant to be myself, to love myself, and love other people; to resist that old conundrum of trying to be perfect by guessing what other people wanted from me, and then trying to live up to those expectations. The trouble with doing that is, without input from others, my guesses were almost always wrong.
So now, I recognize my perfection, my divinity, and I understand that this new outlook is contributing to my happiness every second of my life. And as a divine being, my only duty is to spread that happiness around to everyone whom I meet, and to nurture that happiness in my life for myself.