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  • Writer's pictureKara Kihm


I've been deeply programmed my entire life to pretend like I have it all together.....To pretend that my family has it all together and to appear Perfect. This programming goes so deep that I am literally to this day given a script about what to say before a social event, or reunion.

"Now remember to say to anyone who asks, Uncle Ben is doing fabulous and his career is better than ever!" Sometimes I pause in shock and ask.....Is that really true? Is uncle Ben really doing well with a thriving career? Last I heard he was an alcoholic who had a psychotic break and has been hospitalized. Now I don't really have an uncle Ben and that's a made up scenario, but it's pretty close to some conversations I've had. While it might not be my place to share about Uncle Ben's life, I've never understood why I should make up a factious story about his life???!!!!!!!

This programming lead me on a life long quest for perfectionism and to always make everything appear as though it is OK. My divorce was perhaps the first time in my entire life that I couldn't smile and make up a fictions story. There was no way to fake a story! There was no way to contiune to look perfect. There was no way to hide the dark night of my soul that I was in.

In this small excerpt from my book, I share how crazy making it was to try and pretend that my life was perfect when it was literally crumbling around me. I was willing to do anything to keep up the story that everything was OK. Just as Uncle Ben's "career was thriving" was my marriage..............


"I am not crazy. It’s just that my situation seems to require a crazy person.”-Anne Wilson Schaef

BEEP  BEEP BEEP I heard in the most obnoxious pitch as my alarm began screaming at me. I looked at the clock. Shit it’s 6:00 am already? Ugh! I sighed rolling around in bed as I stretched out my arms and legs trying the reach the edges of my bed. I was unsure how to prop myself up as my head throbbed. I had been up all night. I just couldn’t stop the dreaded thoughts. What will my life be now that I am about to lose everything that I have prided myself on?

I felt as though a very heavy man was sitting on my chest and I gasped for air struggling and straining to make sense of my new reality in the pitch black of the night. Desperate to get some sleep I had begun chugging wine at 4 am hoping to pass out. Now I reeked of alcohol after only two hours of sleep and wondered how I would pretend to be perfect today.

Looking in the bathroom mirror I shrieked at the dark circles under my eyes. No amount of makeup can hide these I gasped. How the hell am I going to function today?

After a grueling day at work, I found myself driving through the tree lined streets of Carytown in Richmond, Virginia. Desperate for guidance, my eyes fell on a sign offering hypnosis. Life had become so unmanageable that I was ready to hypnotize myself into believing anything. I was desperate to find someone who could make all of my pain go away. It didn't actually matter where else I had to be in that moment, it was as if my body went into a trance and I automatically pulled the car over.

During the past year, my intuition had given me strong messages. Perhaps this was the first time that I decided to listen.

Convinced my life was about to change for the better, I walked into the office of Dr. Knolls- a disorganized mess of papers, books and furniture. I quickly and eagerly grabbed a seat, peered into his eyes, and waited for a miracle. Although his office was chaotic, Dr. Knolls himself looked like a classic Ivy-League academic with groomed brown hair, a long sleeve collared shirt, khakis and loafers. His vocabulary matched his appearance, and I could tell he was well educated. 

Dr. Knolls asked about the nature of my visit and for the first time in a year, I felt hopeful that my life which was crumbling around me could be somehow saved. With hope in my voice I said, "I need to get hypnotized to stop believing that my husband is having an affair. We are separated and in limbo." 

Dr. Knolls nodded caringly and placing his hands on his knees asked, "Well, is he?"  

"I just don't know! He swears he's not, but my intuition is telling me otherwise. My head and gut are at war and I feel CRAZY! I have no proof, but I just can’t get this horrible feeling to go away. Something inside of me is screaming and won’t shut up. I’m not sleeping. I’m always worried and I feel tormented. I’m turning into a crazy lady!"

“Well then," with a very calm demeanor Dr. Knolls replied, "Let's find out for certain that he is not before we hypnotize you." 

That's a good point, I thought. But I actually wanted to get hypnotized even if it were true! I wanted to get hypnotized regardless. The reality was I was living in a house of mirrors whose foundation was that of perfection. The perfect body, the perfect outfit, the perfect husband, the perfect house and the perfect image. I desperately longed to be perfect. I wanted my gut to shut up so I could go back to my perfect life. I had everything I was supposed to have in my vision of “perfection” and I was willing to do anything to keep it. 

But my soul wouldn’t let me turn a blind eye on the truth and this tug of war within me was crippling. The reality was I knew something was off, and I was miserable. I was so consumed with anxiety that I was desperate to feel something else, anything else. My life felt as if it were decaying and I felt dead inside. I was disconnected from my family, my friends, and even worse, Myself.

When my marriage dissolved so did my sanity with all of my hopes and dreams. The dis-ease in my mind turned to disease in my body. I was plagued with horrendous insomnia that made me feel as though I was losing touch with reality. 

I think I was able to rationalize anything that year to keep the facade of my perfect life alive...... Anything to not face the fact that my marriage and scripted life was crumbling around me. Straddling the line between waking consciousness and delirium, I felt as though I could crack at any moment. I felt as though the perfect face that I painted on each morning could shatter in an instant exposing the facade I had been living for most of my life. 

Now, I could no longer hide behind my perfect image. One by one the mirrors were beginning to shatter with my altar of perfection swirling down the drain. My biggest fears were paraded around town.

What would the neighbors think? What would my friends from high school and college think? What would my family think? 

Everything was EXPOSED..........................

I have learned that when we strife for something that is completely unattainable such as perfection, it is truly CRAZY MAKING. Eventually we will CRACK. I did Crack and I Lost everything. I lost my husband, my house, my wealth, and my Perfect Image..... BUT in that process my soul cracked wide open. And as Joanna Macy states, "A heart that has been cracked open can contain the whole Universe."

As I began to share my struggles and let my image of perfectionism go, my relationships deepened and became authentic....... AND....... I became a truer version of myself. As Lisa Edwards states.....It is by sharing ourselves that we gain the wisdom of many lifetimes. As I took off the mask of perfectionism and bore the face of the messy me, something profound happened......I realized that I am lovable just as I am.

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