Today’s guest blogger is Kathy Jack, licensed therapist at LifetimeBehavior Health in West Chicago.  
Kathy is a tremendously gifted therapist who strives to ensure that her clients experience a deeper insight into how their past impacts their present relationships. Kathy focuses her practice in the areas of marital and family therapy, depression, anxiety, ADHD, grief/loss, adoption, physical and sexual abuse, and parent/teen conflict.
She also enjoys working with people who are exploring their spiritual development and the role that has in their healing. Kathy teaches on issues related to parenting, adoption issues, body image, shame, & codependency. 
Kathy is also a movie-goer and tapas-lover. She and her husband Andy are raising two lovely and strong daughters.

She brings words of healing today…about letting go of perfectionism in order to experience freedom from shame.


Trying to Rub Away Shame by Being Perfect

I was at the dentist office sitting in his chair, when the dental hygienist and the dentist began talking in secret language about my teeth. Anxiety welled up in my body as I heard different “code words” that eventually revealed one thing: for the first time in life, I had cavities—more than one!

Here is the thing. I prided myself in that even in my mid-thirties, I had no cavities. But apparently, after having children, some women get them because of hormone changes in their body from pregnancy. 
My teeth were no longer perfect. I did not want to believe it. I sat in the dentist’s chair feeling guilty for not being an upstanding patient who gets her cleanings done on time and flosses regularly. I really wanted to please my dentist and was ashamed for not being the greatest patient they have ever known or seen.  
I felt a lump in my throat and I wanted to bolt out of there, but I stayed and allowed them clean my dirty teeth. I immediately went home and flossed three times.
Don’t we feel like this a lot? We have experiences that are traumatic—experiences of loss or pain— and rather than face our emotional needs or difficult memories, we ignore them. We push them down. We try to be perfect. We just want to wipe them clean and control them.
The problem is that goal of perfection doesn’t lead to healing. Instead, it can lead to eating disorders, addictions, co-dependent relationships, broken relationships, depression, etc.
The next diet, the newest perfect way to organize, or the next self-help book cannot take away the pain of what obviously needs our attention.

Our “cavities” or difficult memories or emotions may be there because someone has hurt us. Sometimes the cavities are there as consequences of our own choices. At times we can even be unaware of cavities until someone points them out. Either way, we can’t fix ourselves. We can’t wipe away the mess. We need guidance. We need help to fill the hole. We need confidence that we can move forward even if the memory cannot be erased.

We have a choice. We can get defensive, or we take a look at and deal with the pain of our shame or guilt. In my life—marriage, mothering, friendship, and in my work as a counselor—I have experienced and seen much pain.
When we choose to face our pain, here are just some of the consequences:
·         The shame can be released.
·         We can believe in ourselves again or even for the first time.
·         Our relationships can become healthier.
·         We can love ourselves.
·         We no longer feel the need to strive for perfection (all of the time).
·         We see ourselves as we really are.
·         We feel the love that God wants us to live out. 
When it comes to healing emotional pain and shame, here are a couple of things to think about.

Pay attention to your reactions. Are you over or under-reacting to the people who are closest to you?  Do you find yourself unable to concentrate at work or at home? Do you get angry or frustrated easily? Do you feel sad and aren’t sure why?  Don’t let your “cavities” turn into “root-canals”.
Give yourself permission to heal and don’t give yourself permission to ignore. 
If you have had loss or trauma, and you feel it is still affecting you, don’t hesitate to seek help. A counselor, pastor, or spiritual director can walk along side you.  Find a good connection with someone you can trust.  
May God give you the strength and courage you need to face your pain so that you may live fully in the love and peace that he so richly brings us.  

I made an appointment to get my cavities filled. I will go to that appointment and do what is necessary. I will also try to floss regularly (but not perfectly). I will take the advice of the dentist.
Peace & Grace,

Kathy Jack

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