Failing your way to perfection

This Easter Weekend I went on holiday with 6 friends.  We went to South Africa’s Wild Coast.
Beautiful scenery. 
Amazing company. 
Good food.  Perfect.  What more could one want? 
In my case, it was failure.  Meh. 
The Hike
My friends heard about a hike one could take along the coast from the Hole-in-the-Wall to Coffee Bay.  Good deal: R60, including lunch and drive to the Hole-in-the-Wall from Coffee Bay. Approximately 3km.  Perfect. 
Hole in the Wall
Alas, my friends got their wires crossed.  It was a 3-HOUR walk, 10 kms!  Doh! Unfortunately, we only realised this when on the hike already.  Double Doh! 
The Promise of Success
Joseph, the guide said there will be 3 uphill climbs.  The 1st will be the worst.  Thereafter, it will be easy.  Me, tough cookie that I am, reckoned I could survive one uphill battle.  So, there we went.  Past the Hole-in-the-Wall, the beach with the sand sculpture of a crocodile and the cows on the beach.  (I kid ye not.)
Beach Cows
Success Part 1
The 1st climb was hard and nerve wrecking.  Very steep, slippery, close to the edge of the precipice.  Had to push the lady ahead of me up one particularly steep part.  A bit like a comedy as the only I could do this was to push her up by her bum.  Bummer.
I survived the 1st climb and thought I might just survive the other 9kms. 
Next climb:  Huge, high, steep, long.  All the words you don’t want to be associated with a climb on what you thought would be a leisurely hike.
By the time I was halfway, everyone else had reached the top.  By the time I was reached the two-thirds way mark, I was huffing, puffing, had used my asthma pump 20 times in the hope it would give me superpowers and had nearly passed out about 3 times. 

Giving up?  Who me?
It was time to think about quitting. 
Now, I’m not a quitter.  Dysfunctionally so, actually.   I never give up unless I never started because I knew I would not be able to finish.  Yes, dysfunctional, but made sense to me until I sat on the mountain at Hole-in-the-Wall. 
There I realised that I will only push to the top of this mountain to prove to myself that I’m not weak.  But after the hill, I still have to walk and climb 9 kms! And I definitely didn’t have the strength to do another 9 km’s. 

If I complete the climb, I will not have enough energy to complete the rest of the hike...weakness.  But if I don’t complete the climb…weakness.   A true double-bind.  Either way:  my weaknesses were out in the open.    
Mountain of Defectiveness
Before you say to yourself that you are comfortable with your weaknesses:  I thought I was too.  That was before I hit my mountain of defectiveness.  There I was hit by a seriously unnerving insight into myself:  By continually proving to myself that I could do anything I set my mind to, I was also continually proving to myself that I can’t show my vulnerabilities and weaknesses to others.  I have lived a life of believing the lies of my failure-shame.
I should, therefore I am?
My failure –shame says that I am not allowed to feel pain.  I must push through the pain and complete the task, no matter how dysfunctional the task.  My failure-shame dictates that I keep these shame-areas from others because it is not OK to expect unnecessary compassion from others.  The more I disproved my weaknesses to avoid the discomfort of being aware of them, the more I strengthened my belief that my weaknesses are shameful.  That my weaknesses are me, not just things I don’t do well. 
The more I avoid the things I feel shame about, like giving up, the more I entrench the belief that giving up is shameful. 
Cry Freedom!
On that mountain, I cried my tears of frustration.  I cried tears of really feeling the discomfort of not being able to do everything I think I should be able to.  I cried because I have connected with a deep fear of being shamed for not being the tough cookie I thought I was.  I cried because I knew logically my thinking was flawed, yet the shame felt so real.  I cried because my friend Barbie clung to that steep slope with me without judgement and full of compassion for the battle of wills I was going through. 
I cried because the shame had held me from failing for so long.   
The Long Road to Carefree
We stayed on the mountain for about an hour, taking pictures, talking about God, fear, failure and meaningless things. 
We met a family coming down the mountain and had a great chat with them. 
We slowly walked down the mountain. 
We hitched a lift with a couple going to way we wanted to and got to know them. 
View from my mountain perch
At Coffee Bay, we ate homemade guava and banana ice-cream and shopped at Kaleidoscope Café.  We were free. We were carefree.  I was carefree!
Successful Failure
Later, my friends came back from the hike.  They were finished.  Apparently, there were definitely more than 3 hills.  The one mountain path was so close to the edge, they could see the carcasses of fallen goats and cows below.  My friend Riel said, looking back, he wished he was a more kind-hearted person.  Then he would’ve stayed behind to look after Barbie and me and saved himself the torture of the hike. 
And now?
Now I still shed a few tears when I connect with the stubborn pride that made me push through the things I was allowed to give up on. 
The dysfunctional relationships. 
The unfair work pressure. 
The unrealistic expectations I placed on myself. 
I went to the Wild Coast to have fun.  Instead, I went to fail.  Perfect!
Tell me about the lessons about failure you have learnt. 

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