No Perfection in Mirrors

When someone tells me that something in their life is perfect, my initial thought is they are lying or at least embellishing the truth, exaggerating. After hearing of such perfection I also wonder if the person thinks they are fooling me or themselves? It is my opinion that no one or relationship is perfect. There are some things that can be perfect, but it is not a person or emotion. While some may come close perfection, in my eyes and in the eyes of others they are most likely not perfect. Let me give some examples.

When it comes to appearances, many look at models or magazines to see how they should look. These people have makeup artists, are airbrushed to look perfect or at the least perfect. Photoshop allows a person to change their appearance to look perfect to them, it may or may not to others, but still it is not the real person, it has been altered. You can surround yourself with many friends, appearing to be most popular, perfect friend, but there is most likely someone else with more friends. Also, true friends rather than fair weather friends can be part of that equation. Relationships that appear perfect, behind closed doors show they are not perfect. Unless one has just started a relationship, then it feels perfect, but after the newness wears off, reality sets in and it is similar to other imperfect relationships. Perfectionists most often find these imperfections easy to accept, it is the other, harder parts of life that they strive to be perfect.

Yet there are examples of perfection. A baseball game can be a perfect game but in the history of baseball there have not been many. A bowler can bowl a perfect game. Announcers calling a race may say the driver drove a perfect race, but that is an opinion, as all drivers think most of their races have been perfect, whether they won or lost. You can get a perfect score on a test. You can get puzzle pieces to fit perfectly, as they belong there. While some of these rely on skill, some rely of being lucky. I am sure there are many things that can possibly called perfect, but they rely on more than just one thing or relationship.

My husband and I had a good marriage. Not a perfect marriage, but good. We had ups and downs throughout the years, which I suspect most couples do. There is saying not to go to sleep angry. I did not believe in that. It took a while for my husband to go to bed with anger. I am a person who when mad, will say things I regret and cannot take back. I will never apologize for what I said. I might say I was sorry I had said it, but I was not taking back what was said as in that moment of anger I was speaking the truth. This is a harsh side of myself that my husband learned he did not want to see or hear. He also learned that anything he said in anger I would at some time in the future use against him. After a year or two or maybe more, my husband realized it was better to leave things unsaid and go to bed mad. When we woke up, we usually realized whatever we had been arguing about was insignificant and would just forget we had argued. There were times that we remembered and were still angry, but not so angry that we would say things we regretted. Being able to do this I think is one of the reasons our marriage lasted and would still be strong if he had not died. Through his illness we still argued on occasion, over very minor things. Since they were so minor and neither of us had said anything we regretted it was easy to go forth as though we had not argued. In the last months of my husband’s life I made a conscious effort not to argue. At first it was not easy, but as he grew weaker I did not want to argue anymore, I just wanted to be with him in our imperfect marriage, taking in each moment as they came. Though those looking from the outside often commented how perfect we were, until near the end I would always reply that nothing is perfect. If asked the secret to my husbands and my happiness and what appeared perfect marriage, I would reply it was not perfect, they just saw it that way. When my husband became near death, in the last week, I changed my reply that our marriage was perfect for us, which made my husband happy.

I am reminded of a man I worked with. He was always talking about his “perfect marriage”. After hearing this non-stop for what seemed to be an eternity, I finally asked if he had just gotten married. He replied he had been married close to ten years. I then replied that he was a liar, no one has a perfect marriage. At this point he lost his temper and threw a stress ball he was squeezing across the room. I told my husband how the man got on my nerves. My husband agreed as he had some that worked for him or above him that had the same attitude. My husband and I agreed there is no perfect marriage, rather you learn ways to make it better and be together often or as some others do, go your own way but not forgetting you are married. By that I do not mean cheating, I mean the spouses live different lives, they go to events with friends, not their spouses. Each spouse has their own life but they still come together at the end of the day. The last description was not our marriage, ours was to learn what each other liked and try to find things we could at least have an interest in. We wanted to be together, not apart. But what worked for us does not mean it will work for others. But back to the man with his perfect marriage.

At an event for the place I worked for, high on the top floor of the second tallest building in the city, this man was there alone. I had my imperfect husband with me. He knew this was the man with the perfect marriage. We walked over to him, I kindly introduced my husband including the word imperfect, my husband puffed out his chest like a rooster, quite proud of his imperfection. I asked the man where his wife was (leaving out the word perfect that he always used to describe her). He gave a lame excuse for why she was not there. I did not rub it in, my husband may have in a small way. On the top floor we could look down to where my husband worked. He managed many. He also was the person that would make a final decision on whether the customer or business would pay for a problem. Most never met him, his decisions were based on what his employees told him. He had a lot of power in his job that many were unaware of. I rarely talked to my co-workers of what my husband did for a living, so this man with the perfect marriage did not know. The man still feeling superior asked my husband what he did for a living. My husband pointed to the building far below and said “I am in charge of every decision made there. I hope that for your sake if you have a need for a decision made that I am unaware that it is you when I make my decision. I do not make positive decisions for people who proclaim they are perfect or are in perfect relationships.” My husband then said he was joking, but I knew my husband, he was not joking.That is not to say my husband would have treated this man differently if the need arose, rather he wanted the man to know that he had power over him. We then walked off to our table. The man stood there, still holding his head high as though he were perfect, but I also could see a little chink in his armor, my husband had gotten his message across. At the end of the evening my husband took my arm and we walked over to this man, my husband shook his hand and told him it had been a pleasure meeting him. He added one more thing, that he was proud of his imperfections and was proud of our imperfect marriage. He also told him he hoped one day the man would find imperfections so he could have a happy life. I was proud of my husband that night. Though he was powerful, the people I worked with were of equal if not more far-reaching power. He held his own with people in a totally different environment, if not surpassing all at the party. I would have expected nothing less from him, knowing him as well as I did. Though he was not perfect, his behavior to me that night was.

I bring up this story to show that those who proclaim so-called perfections or perfect relationships rarely have them, if at all. As for the people who acknowledge that they are not perfect and their relationships are not perfect, they probably come a lot closer to the impossible perfection the others seek. Once again, I want to point out I am not talking about perfectionism, which is a whole different subject. I am pointing out the people who want to fool you into thinking they are perfect are most likely the least perfect. I have seen people crumble when they are in the presence of the person whom thinks they are perfect. Ignore these perfect people if you can, learn to love your imperfections, they are what help define you and make you normal.  As for my husbands and my marriage, it may not have been perfect. But if asked when my husband was alive he always replied “it was perfect for him”. I would agree always and say that for an imperfect marriage, it was just the one I wanted.