Thursday, November 16, 2006


This is the perfect post. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this post in even the most miniscule way. Everybody loves this post and consequently loves me.


We all know perfection's a trap, don't we? If self-righteousness is my favorite addiction, then perfectionism is my second favorite. Perhaps I have control issues? I can see my husband nodding his head "yes" right now. But I'm better than I used to be. No, really! I am. Yesterday I represented a client who had a weak case. We (my supervising attorney and I) made our best arguments in front of the most irritable and unhappy ALJ I've had to go before thus far. When I insisted on making closing arguments, he rolled his eyes and exclaimed, "You mean we're not done yet?!" My supervising attorney had to explain the law to him cause he was offering us remedies that were not provided by the laws we were using to support our arguments. Yes, it was all very exciting. After we were actually done, my supervisor exclaimed that we weren't going to win, though she did confess that the more certain she is of what an ALJ will do, the more likely she is to be wrong. Which basically leaves us at, "I don't know how the ALJ will decide." Unfortunately, she said this in front of our client. We remedied the gaff as best as possible by assuring our client that she'd done everything right (in her actions and testimony), and we had made all our best arguments. Our client appreciated the help, and was impressed by our performance ("It's good to see you guys in action!")

Back to control. Friends have told me more than once, and I try to remember it as best I can, that all I have control over are my responses to what the world brings me. And yesterday showed me that I have made improvement in this area. Before, I would have been torn up and upset over my lack of certainty (read: control) over what the ALJ will do. Today, I'm happy that I did the best I could and understand that I don't have control over any more than that. The funny twist to this is that my freedom from the trap of perfection does not reduce my concern over my client's welfare. If she loses this hearing, she has to reapply for benefits, PLUS the agency will take back the money it's been paying her during the pendancy of the hearing. She is a single mother of two who is going for her bachelor's degree in biology. She's smart and capable, and I'm worried how she'll get by if we lose. We, of course, can appeal. In fact, there's major litigation developing around the issue in this client's case. But that will take months - possibly years - and won't help my client in the short run. In other words, I don't have to be torn up over being imperfect, because even when I am perfect (to the best of my ability), I get to be worried over something else.

Back when I was still justifying my addictions, I used to like to say that being perfect would be boring, ie, I have to drink to excess, because my flaws made life interesting; I have to have dramatic relationships, because life would be boring if I were loved and happy and had everything I wanted. So, while I've learned/am learning one lesson, new unforseen lessons are developing: that, in letting go of perfection, I, ironically, become more perfect; and that life itself is interesting, I do not have to develop or nurture imperfections for fear that perfection is boring. Yeah, it kind of makes my brain hurt too.

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