Embracing Imperfection, or "My Adventures with SLOPPY Joes"

This is my first experience with blogging so you will be joining me on a new journey. I am not sure where to start except, I guess, with my own daily experiences as a woman with ADD in a good marriage and my experiences every day helping other women with ADD in their marriages.

Last night I was assigned the very simplest of tasks at dinnertime which was to open up a microwave package of rice and follow three easy steps- 1. squeeze (which I did very well I must say) 2. open and 3. microwave for 90 seconds. I was on a roll until step number 2.

I didn’t follow my own advice for a person with ADD and was trying to open the rice with a sharp knife while my husband (who was actually cooking dinner) was telling me some distressing news and well, let’s just say a sharp knife in uncoordinated hands while being distracted by conversation is not a great idea - I sliced my finger pretty well.

At the same time, my daughter came in, saw with horror that I was involved in preparing the meal and asked “what’s for dinner, SLOPPY joes?!”  My husband and daughter got a good laugh out of that and, believe it or not, I started to laugh, also. I really did think it was funny and descriptive of all my misadventures in the kitchen.

I tell you this to point out that my reaction was only possible because I have been at this for so long and because I do not measure my worth any more by how I open rice dishes or how well I prepare meals.  Believe me, this wasn’t always the case. 

For many years this kind of experience would have left me feeling inferior, guilty, and filled with shame. One of the advantages of getting older is being able to see oneself more clearly and learning to value one’s strengths. I now have an internal track record of other achievements and an appreciation of my other qualities. My self esteem arsenal has adequate resources from which I can draw at times like these.

I have also established a history with my family over the years where they know that even though I can laugh at myself, I will not accept meanness or their defining me by the struggles I have.  Limits and boundaries have been established and hard fought for in order for this to happen.

So here are some important points to work on in this battle toward embracing imperfection (the subject I will be discussing at two keynotes this fall (add.org and chaddnwmi.org )-

  1. You have to work on self acceptance FIRST, before you can expect this from your husband or family. They take their cues from you and you are the one who needs to draw the line about how they treat you and how they view you.
  2. You must get to the point inside yourself where you expect and will only accept respect from others. To do this you must find a way to put much more of your time and energy into developing and building your confidence and competence. The goal is not to make perfect rice but to have a fulfilling and satisfying life.
  3. Examine how much time you are spending each week in activities in which you are developing your sense of competence and how much time each week you are spending with people who can truly see you as a whole person and not just focus on your problems.
  4. Work toward improvement – rather than a full solution.  You don’t need to get over all your challenges before you allow yourself to have a life. 

And, most importantly, work toward wholeness, not perfection. When you begin to see life and yourself  through this new perspective your relationships will start to improve. It starts from inside.

Sari Solden is a therapist and author of "Women with Attention Deficit Disorder: Embrace Your Differences and Transform Your Life" and "Journeys into ADDulthood".  We appreciate her expertise, particularly in the area of how women can manage their ADD and what special issues they face.