The Dirty Little Secret

Perfection is the expectation. Hold it all together. Push through it. You’ve got this… These were the thoughts that ran through my head every morning.  

Only a few years ago, I had an accolade of accomplishments, an amazing child, and a spouse. I built the life I had dreamed of but as the days turned into a decade; I wore down.

I’ll admit that the drive for perfection helped me create a great legal career, become a sought-after Sunday school teacher, and a well-respected lecturer and expert testimony trainer for law enforcement and “special agents”. I had plenty to be proud of and to celebrate but I didn’t have the one thing I wanted most- love. 

I shifted into the “perfect” for my career as a criminal prosecutor, then after work, I changed into the “perfect” wife and mother role at home. I used my career as my escape for all that was missing from all of my personal relationships. 

I can still remember the moments of standing in a courtroom celebrating another victory when in the back of my mind and behind that big smile, I knew my world was about to implode.

I was numb after work just trying to get one day to the next without triggering the ever intensifying feelings of embarrassment, doubt, fear, shame, guilt, anger, and disappointment a.k.a. failure of my marriage. 

I distinctly recall that even when my marriage was failing and divorce was inevitable, I still showed up every single day to a courtroom filled with people waiting on my me and my three-man prosecution team.

In a well-fitted suit, heels, and bright red lipstick, nobody knew how empty I felt inside. Nor did I intend to share my pain or my loss of faith in love with anyone. I valued the perception of perfection over creating a real connection with anyone.  

Eventually, these two worlds collided. I was masterful at maintaining an image of excellence from 8am-5pm and after that, just struggling to come to terms with the fact my marriage had ended.

There I was staring down at divorce papers. I felt empty to the depths of my soul. All the time spent striving for perfection didn‘t save my marriage.

It felt like I had lost a sense of who I was, who I had become, and what I desired most in life. The unknown terrified me. It exhausted me. It changed who I became and how I loved. 

I didn’t even recognize my pain, nor allow myself to experience any of it. I was numb and had mastered the skill of compartmentalization early in my legal career and it became my greatest asset in surviving the world that became my reality as the life of a divorced, single mother in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee.   

I had a dirty little secret.

My life wasn’t perfect anymore. My marriage was officially over. I had failed. I felt broken. And, instead of facing the depths of pain, sadness, and anger, I stuffed it all deep inside.

But, what I didn’t know at the time was that what I had buried deep inside would be need to be released before I could open my heart up to loving again. The freedom and healing I experienced through working with my own coach years ago allowed me to truly be free of perfection for the first time in my life.

Free to live the imperfect life. Free to live passionately and love deeply. To live a life of connection and intimacy and, eventually, share what I learned from my own journey with others who are ready to break free of the pattern of perfection and find forever love.

To be continued…

XOXO, Laura Lee Wood