All my life I was given the message that in order to be worthy I had to be good. So I spent the first 37 years of my life trying to do just that. I went to church three times a week and was involved in many wholesome activities as a teenager. Then I went off to a good college and met a nice guy and got married right after graduation. I became a teacher and worked hard to be good at that. Then I became a mom and began comparing myself to all the other moms I knew, wondering if I was as good as they were. I spent my entire young adult life on a quest to be good, but all that got me was a boatload of anxiety and a serious drinking problem.
At age 37 I came to accept that I was gay, and then totally blew up my life. It wasn’t at all what a good girl would have done, but I had no choice.
When I was in the process of coming out, I found the poetry of Mary Oliver and it saved me. In one of my favorites— “Wild Geese”—Oliver promised me this:
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
It took time, but eventually I came to believe her. I broke the shackles of perfectionism and began recovering from the disease to please. I’d like to report my life immediately changed for the better, but alas…it’s been a journey and some days it’s one step forward and two steps back.
Last year, in the midst of a global pandemic, I finally got sober. My eyes and head are clear for the first time in two decades. I created this website to be a space where I can share stories of how I traded being good for being real, and learned to love myself in the process.