It's interesting that you can see the family connections in perfectionism. When you're ready it will be interesting also to find out how your dad and brother feel about their perfection. They might say it's worth it but it sounds like they keep things to a minimum which gives them more control than trying to manage a lot of stuff.
It will be cool too, to connect with your mom on the level of things having feelings. I think people tend to keep that to themselves so others won't think they're crazy. But it can be reassuring to share those thoughts with someone who really understands it and even laugh about it.
Posted: 07 November 2013 - 08:52 AM
I found a couple of the threads about inanimate things with feelings last night. Very interesting. You know, my mom had stories like that from her childhood too. In fact, I recognize a lot of my tendencies in my mother. I too have always thought of her as a woman with a very kind heart and found it endearing when she told me stories of her childhood imaginary friends (which were objects).
I haven't talked to my parents about any of this yet and I'm afraid. I don't plan to bring it up until after I've sorted through it a bit with the therapist. They are wonderfully supportive parents in general but I'm afraid this will hit them in a very personal way -- my mother because she may have some revelations about herself and my father because he had expressed worry about me in the past and it was kind of shrugged off. Obviously I didn't think anything was wrong with me back then.
I have one sibling, an older brother, who very much takes after my dad. They strike me as perfectionists too but the actually very organized kind. My brother has things from our childhood but he keeps them in small quantities, very organized and in mint condition. I was playing with my nephew one day and he wanted to draw so he went and fetched a small bin of crayons and such, and this bin had been my brother's and was maybe 25 years old. There was a set of pencils in there with all the NFL teams on them that I remember collecting as kids, they were unsharpened, perfect. I had a matching bin, still have it. My things never really survived my messy childhood though. But yes, my brother has very rigid cleaning routines, is very disciplined and organized and is basically what I aspire to be like. I wonder now if it causes him stress and unhappiness.
Posted: 06 November 2013 - 01:36 PM
Jess, I had to laugh when you mentioned things having feelings. My live-in daughter and I are the same way. A bunch of us wrote about those feelings somewhere on this board but it was awhile ago. If I can find it I'll point you in that direction.
When I first admitted to that I felt like there was something really wrong with me. Now I just think of it as having a compassionate heart. I think the first time I remember attributing feelings to things was when I was 3 years old and screamed for my dad to rescue an empty snack bag I had thrown in a creek. It was floating away and I thought it was dying. There's so much to talk about along that line of thinking and behavior.
It's great that you have an appt with a therapist so soon. And it is a huge relief to be able to put a name to things and find out there are others just like us. Even better to find a place like this to talk with good people. I like this site a lot because it's small enough to get to know each other. There are chats too but I'm not a chatter. We have Cory Chalmers to thank for this community.
When I started almost a year ago I read every post on every thread. Lots of good thoughts there.
Posted: 06 November 2013 - 11:56 AM
Ahhh you made me tear up. Thank you so much for your responses.
I pretty much just realized this about myself, about a week ago. Since then I've been analyzing everything and trying to remember back to when I was a child. As I read about perfectionism, OCD, and people who hoard the tears are just spilling out because IT'S ME. And really those tears are only partly fearful, they are mostly relief. Finally a reason for how exhausting everything is for me. I have been so angry at myself for so long wondering what was wrong with me and why I couldn't finish college like all my friends. Why I am so indecisive. Why I get so upset and frustrated so often.
During this discovery I looked up therapists in my area who specialize in my issues and CBT. I have an appointment Friday, thankfully.
You mentioned stepping in a door opening and feeling the need to make it even. I do things like that all the time and have never really thought about it. I suppose the more stressed I am the more I do those things. And I have always personified things, since I was a kid. If I grabbed at some crayons and picked one I wasn't meaning to pick, I would still use it because I felt like it would hurt its feelings if I put it back. If I was setting the table I had to pass out plates and silverware in order so the ones that were touching could stay near each other. As I got older I wouldn't "indulge" myself because I felt it was wrong but I have the urge, every single time.
I work in a restaurant. Whenever it's my turn to close I end up clocking out and staying to arrange things. I'm controlling about how certain things get done. I won't roll up silverware unless I've washed it myself.
There are tons of other examples and I could go on forever about it. I can't believe I didn't put this all together sooner, you know? It does feel amazing to get it out, that's for sure.
I really look forward to reading more posts and getting to know everybody. Thanks again for your lovely responses. You made me feel welcome.
Posted: 06 November 2013 - 07:33 AM
Dear Jess, I want to give you a big hug. I just replied to your post on the Why Do You Hoard thread. First, don't worry about long posts or spilling your guts. Lately I've been spilling my guts here and am embarrassed afterwards but it's good to get it out and the people here are supportive and understanding. Please keep posting.
As mentioned in the other thread you sound like my younger self. And reading this post you sound like my married, live-out daughter also.
I've never heard about covert perfectionism. I'll check it out. I count in my head too or get a short, nonsensical musical beat going that repeats while walking or driving. If I step on an unusually wide separation like crossing a threshold between doors with the arch of my foot or on the ball of my foot I have to do it at the next separation with the other foot to be even.
When your life expands in any way ~ new classes, marriage, job, kids, more house ~ the need to control and the anxiety level grows. Trying to run on top of that ball is exhausting and inevitably things will fall short of our own expectations. Our accomplishments may look outstanding to others or even just completely acceptable but we set the bar so high (usually just for us, nobody else has to be that good) that we cannot accept that we have done a job well enough. Or sometimes we do hit that high of what we think is damn near total perfection. It doesn't last but what a high while we're on it!!
My 31 year old daughter goes thru the same thing as you with school. She get so filled with anxiety and second guessing her decisions (should she have taken that class, she'll never be able to do the work, but she spent so much money, etc.) that her energy is drained off with worry. She is smart and very capable of doing the work but the need to do it all the *right way* cause her to drop classes also. She has a good marriage, raises 6 year old twins, one with special needs, has good friends, etc. You both are smart and accomplished but the anxiety overshadows it. The really great news is that you are young enough and aware enough to deal with the issues.
I can totally relate to what you say, *I have this need to do everything the "right" way (I don't even know what that is really).* People like you, like me, like my daughter and many others feel like we're missing something, some kind of fundamental knowledge gene that passed us. But I think we really do have it, it's just buried. It's a sense that there doesn't have to be a *right way*. There can be many really good ways each which our own stamp of uniqueness on them. Some things have to be *right* like the format of a paper you write. But the way you write it, the content will be from your mind, your heart, your perspective and that makes it good. When you cook a family holiday meal the perfection of that will be in the love you put into it. If you keep some traditional foods that brings memories and make a new dish that starts a new tradition, the happiness around the table is what will make that endeavor *right*.
The anxiety and OCD tendencies you have could be helped with therapy and maybe meds. You have a good, long life ahead of you and I think it's exciting that you are reaching out for help! You can get things more balanced, have more understanding and acceptance of yourself and can develop better coping skills. Some things we struggle with our whole lives but the sooner we acknowledge and address them the better able we are to live a satisfying life.
You are welcome to sort out feelings here. All the best to you, Jess!
Posted: 05 November 2013 - 08:39 PM
So I am 28 years old and have been married a year. I have issues with anxiety which I thought were just stemming from PTSD after a traumatic incident 7 years ago. Now I'm starting to open my mind up and I'm recognizing a deeper issue that has been around my whole life.
I've been reading about covert perfectionism and it seems to fit me exactly. I have such a strong desire for things to be orderly and perfect that I often become unhinged when things are (inevitably) imperfect and I downslide into a big mess. As a child, I would feel like my world was ending if I came home and my parents had been in my room. I count in my head when I walk or when I'm feeling anxious and the more anxious I feel the higher I count (1,2,1,2 or 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4).
I have been academically dropped from my university twice and have spent a disgusting many thousands of dollars on classes that I drop or fail because I get completely overcome by anxiety. It's not that I can't do the work, it's that I have this need to do everything the "right" way (I don't even know what that is really). I can't live up to my own standards and I end up not turning in completed work or skipping it altogether. What's strange to me is that I was in advanced placement classes since 2nd grade. I did very well until high school, where I stopped turning in assignments for the reasons I just mentioned. I still graduated with honors but I have gotten worse and worse.
I keep a job. My relationship is good. It's just when I'm anxious it starts to bleed into everything and I withdraw. I avoid friends and family because I imagine that I've disappointed them.
As far as hoarding, I have tendencies but keep it confined mostly to a walk in closet because of my desire to keep it away from my husband. Unlike much of what I have heard about hoarding, I hate my mess. It disgusts me. I just feel like some things I need or I am attached to and other things I just don't feel I can deal with the "right" way so I can't do it at all.
This is so long. I'm sorry if I'm not supposed to just spill out all of my guts. I'm very new to talking about this.