The Battle of Perfectionism

Dr. Love said it best:  “You need to live in the real world.  I live in the real world and I need you to be in it.” 

About 75% of my anxiety comes from the struggle for perfection in my every day life.  I went to work yesterday with the thought that everything was going just fine, but I am slowly starting to realize that it is not.  I alienate people by being demanding, being controlling.  I start out just fine, trying to roll with the punches.  Then I realize what I am doing, what is going on, and I NEED everything to be JUST SO.  And it’s not.  Because apparently perfection isn’t reality.  I would say that I can understand that, if I did.  I just can’t internalize it.

Dr. Love is always telling me that I need to relax.  “Just relax…c’mon, just relax!”  I find it nearly impossible to do, save for a few moments here and there.  I come home from work, and I am obsessed with the house being picked up.  To a crazy degree.  No dishes in the sink, bed is made, grass is mowed.  Unless these things are in place, I feel anxious.  I feel a compelling need to do it.  Unfortunately, this does not always happen.  I’m tired, had a bad day, unmotivated.  So I sit…anxious and miserable. 

I don’t know what I need to do to embrace “reality” and stop demanding perfection from myself and my environment.  My thinking is ridgid, black-and-white, obsessive.  I act on my obsessions, almost compulsively.  Jokingly, people have always said that I have a touch of OCD.  I can’t begin to describe the terrible anxiety I have related to my every day life.  Even when, on the outside, things are going well, I feel like certain things have to be “just so” or I am ungodly uncomfortable. 

This isn’t to say that I always do something about it.  There are days when the lawn isn’t mowed, when there are dishes in the sink, when the  house is cluttered and dirty (at least in my own mind), and, for some reason or another, I can’t handle it and I don’t do anything about it.  That’s called depression, it’s called defeat.  It is exhausting and miserable and unbearable.  Somewhere along the line (with a lot of prodding from Dr. Love, QoB), I have realized that my strong obsession/compulsion for perfection, my resulting anxiety when things are not so, and the depression and defeat that set in when I do nothing about things being “just so”…these things are ruining my life, making it so that I don’t have a life.  I can’t function sometimes just because things are out of place and I don’t have the wherewithall (is that a word?) to do anything about it. 

And it’s a viscious cycle.  I want my relationships with others to go smoothly, I want things at work, the cases I work on, to be perfect.  And I have to rely on other people and that is never good.  Because people, in general, are unreliable.  Especially overworked state employees.  They are not perfect, and they do not strive for perfection.  This causes a lot of angst on my part and causes me to lash out at them, whether verbally, in my own head, in an email, bitching to supervisors, etc.  I have no friends at this job.  People tiptoe around me, fear/annoyance of my judgement keeping them away.  And yes, this is another way that I keep people away.  I trust no one.  None of those people at work DESERVE my trust, and I absolutely will not give it to them. 

All of this angst just boils in my belly, in my chest, my heart, day in and day out.  And really, there is nothing I can do about it, other than to make my environment and myself as perfect as possible.  Unfortunately, I seem to be unable to do that.  More unfortunately, I cannot see a life where I do not expect it. 

This song reflects what I say to myself in my head.  Downright pathetic. 

Alanis Morissette, Perfect

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7 thoughts on “The Battle of Perfectionism

  1. Lyrics…
    Sometimes is never quite enough
    If you’re flawless, then you’ll win my love
    Don’t forget to win first place
    Don’t forget to keep that smile on your face
    Be a good boy
    Try a little harder
    You’ve got to measure up
    And make me prouder
    How long before you screw it up
    How many times do I have to tell you to hurry up
    With everything I do for you
    The least you can do is keep quiet
    Be a good girl
    You’ve gotta try a little harder
    That simply wasn’t good enough
    To make us proud
    I’ll live for you
    I’ll make you what I never was
    If you’re the best, then maybe so am I
    Compared to him compared to her
    I’m doing this for your own damn good
    You’ll make up for what I blew
    What’s the problem …… why are you crying
    Be a good boy
    Push a little farther now
    That wasn’t fast enough
    To make us happy
    We’ll love you just the way you are if you’re perfect

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  2. Hmmmmm. Yeppers, I know. Personally, I finally outgrew it. Lived it excruciatingly (sp?) so for the first twentysome years of my life. Then decided…WTF?! … move on.

    I tried very.damned.hard to not put that burden down upon my kids. But obviously there was a lot of leakage. For that, I am sorry. One teaches what one knows, even when one doesn’t care to.

    Why do we seek perfection? It is an un-reachable (sp?) goal. LOL… and even with the angst, let’s note QofD is still concerned about spelling. ROFLMAO. WTF?!?

    I believe we are somehow “taught” to seek perfection by very imperfect individuals who we hold in high esteem. One of Grandpa’s charms was that he never sought perfection… and Good God, he surely wasn’t… but didn’t care. Perhaps that’s why we were/are so fond of him? Even when his imperfection drove us absolutely.f’g.nutso?

    Yes, I do believe rosiesmrtiepants takes it to extreme. But what the hell don’t ya take to extreme, Sara Bernhardt? 🙂 You tend to NOT have picked up the shrugging of shoulders and moving on after the anxiety takes hold. To me, this would be a do-able goal. Live it, feel it, but no need to own it.

    QofD sees mucho growth in your reflection of how things roll. And hopes you can continue along that path in a way that helps without causing harm. I wish for you the same sort of peace I’ve found… gotta live with it, but don’t need to have it fuck up your life in the process.

    Could write many para’s more, but should not, so will not.

    QofD loves ya… XOXOXO PS And Dr Love has that same unwitting laiz a fare? laiz a fair? whattevah… attitude that Big Dog has, which causes those of us in the angst lane to sometimes simmer down and buck up. 😀 Golden.

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  3. It’s “laissez faire,” and I think I’ve seen it with a hyphen between it, but I did have to look up the correct spelling on the Internet. It was BUGGING ME.

    Thanks for putting the lyrics up, QoB.

    MTLI

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  4. Ah a clean house. I love that peace that you get when just for a second the house is spotless. In my world (with two small children and slob for a husband) this high only lasts literally a few seconds. Even after working all day when I get home I have this stress hanging over my head when there is laundry to do, the rabbit cage needs to be cleaned, and clutter is everywhere. It only bothers me. The kids don’t care and neither does my husband. What they do care about is the crazy lady that I sometimes turn into when all I really want are for these things to go away so that I don’t have to think about it any more. So I make a choice. Clean the house or spend time with my family. Sometimes that means physically removing myself from the environment that causes me stress. We go for a walk or play outside. We spend so much time, thought, worry, and energy on the small things in life that we take away from the big things that matter most. I can fight with Bret for leaving his clothes on the floor or I can let it go for today and enjoy the moment instead. It is a constant struggle almost like an alcoholic that has to choose every time to not take a drink. I choose to not let it ruin my day or make me get upset.

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