Thursday, September 17, 2015

Recovering Perfectionist


It was about 5 years ago that a therapist diagnosed me with perfectionism.  Which seemed ludicrous to me being someone so completely and entirely imperfect.   I wasn't even anywhere close to perfect.  And I was consumed with trying to cover my numerous imperfections so no one would discover my intricate myriad of flaws because they'd deem me unlikeable.  And forget about lovable.  Which, as it turns out, just may be the clinical definition of perfectionism.

My name is Marie and I'm a recovering perfectionist.

I'll further confess that it's been at least 10 seconds since the last time I berated myself over doing something seemingly small and insignificantly inexact.  It's been about 10 minutes since I deleted a tweet from Twitter because it had a typo.  And this morning I took about 50 photos of my dog to get just the perfect shot to post to instagram and then I still had to filter it because it wasn't good enough.  And it's been a couple hours since my oldest daughter helped my youngest daughter with her math.  Something I would have done if I was the perfect mom. And could do 5th grade math.  But, alas, I am  not, nor am I smarter than a 5th grader.  That's how stupid I am.  And so begins my extensive list of imperfections providing boundless reasons to berate myself.

Because I still obsess about perfection.  

I still won't start a project if I don't think I can be really, really successful at it.  Which is why I don't commit to many things.  But,  if I do start something new, I will allow it to define me while I work my ass off to finish it.  Like it's the only thing in my life that matters.  And when I finish it, I won't feel accomplished.  Not for a second.  In fact, I'll retroactively nitpick about how I could have done it both better and faster.  And won't take even a second to feel accomplished.  I'll feel empty.  That's when  I'll simply move on to the next thing.   And there's always a 'next thing'.   Because what I have done is never as important as all the other things I haven't.  Nothing I ever do is good enough for me.  This is how I sabotage myself.  Over and over.  Because the only thing I fear more than failure is success.  So I can never win.  

How can I even call myself a recovering perfectionist?    

Because there is one huge thing that's changed over for me over the last 5 years.  Though I still constantly struggle with accepting my imperfections and trying to curb my obsession with fixing them and  I probably always will,  writing is my therapy now.  And because of it,  I don't feel unlovable anymore.  And that's all that really matters.  Unless there's a typo or grammatical error in this post.  Then that's all that really matters...

3 comments:

Sine said...

Amen. You speak to many of my characteristics too. I think often writers are wired like that. But look on the bright side: With your constant dissatisfaction with what you've just done, and impatient tackling of something new, you have indeed accomplished a great deal. I hear you re not trying things unless you know you'll be good at them, but you've still tried a great many things regardless. And there is only so much time during the day. I think perfectionism is also a great engine that keeps you working hard. As long as it doesn't sputter and break down. I feel like being a parent and wife is where I'm most beginning to doubt whether perfectionism is such a good idea - you show them all that you're great at it, but you can't keep it up forever, especially not during the teenage years. Might have been better to be much less perfect at it from the get go, to lower expectations...

Mackenzie Glanville said...

I totally relate to this post, in fact I've even used that same pic in post before, I too find writing is my therapy. I still try to be perfect but have improved so much to where I was at even a year ago. I see my daughter going down the same path and it scares me, it is so hard being a perfectionist. Glad you have found writing too, I think finding our passion helps xx

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I think many of us deal with perfectionism at some level, though yours may be a more extreme case, since you've been diagnosed and all. I've noticed the effect mostly when I can't let go of something because I keep revising and "improving" it. I know that in real life, sometimes "done" is better than "perfect." But I have to keep reminding myself of that. I hope you give yourself permission to be less-than-perfect sometimes!

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