I’ve been kindly teased by many people over my adult years regarding my… lets call it “cleanliness”. My house is not dust free or dog hair free but my cupboards are organized within an inch of their lives, I half make my bed while I am still in it each morning and finish the job before even going to the bathroom. My bedding has stripes on it so the stripes must not be curvy. Purple straight down the left side and green down the right. I have 6 shelving units in my office because each item must have its own drawer. Regular paper and card-stock should never mix. I’d defend myself by saying that I’d never be able to tell the difference but the truth really is they just can’t touch. I have 5 reusable shopping bags but can only use 2 or 3 at a time. They are different colours and I can’t mix them together. If you look at my art supplies, everything has its own case and are mixed together in the case but when I take out what I need to use? I colour code them from lightest to darkest immediately. My basement is nearly empty except for the laundry machines, a freezer and a hot water tank. I do have one large shelving unit and everything down there from bird seed to garden tools has its own storage box. One friends husband said it reminded him of “Sleeping with the Enemy”. If you are not familiar with that movie, there was a man with an obsessive need for everything to be absolutely perfect. Labels forward in the cupboards, every knickknack in its perfectly angled spot, no picture off centre. I wish he wasn’t right but he is. I am a perfectionist.
Perfectionism was bred in to me at a very early age. Not in the most positive of ways but things being perfect equated to an increased safety. If there wasn’t one speck of dust on the counter, mom MIGHT not freak out when she got home. We didn’t really get to live in our many houses over the years, rooms in our home were kept to magazine level perfect at all times. It was her way of letting the outside world think that our family was perfect. Falling beneath that level of perfect was dangerous for all of us. My house is not like that at all but my own personal possessions are. I never cared if my kids made their beds but mine was always done. People can come here, put their feet up and relax which I LOVE but I am very rarely relaxed. Others can be late for anything at all and I don’t truly care at all but I never allow myself to be late. EVER. Even years ago when I ran a daycare, I’d show up to the library program or swimming lessons 15 minutes early with 5 two year olds and 2 four year olds. Mothers with one or two children always arrived after me complaining how hard it was to keep on time. For them? I am sure it was. For me? I never allowed myself to relax enough to not be precise.
Perhaps this all sounds wonderful to you less timely, less organized, less manic perfectionists but it is not an easy way to live. I expect so much from myself at all times.
The reason that I am writing this today is that during therapy last week, I was asked where I fit on the victim triangle. If you do not know about the victim triangle, I can do a blog about it. Just let me know. It is a really important concept to aid in healing.
I realized that I am still on the triangle in one major way. My need to rescue is very well controlled now and I am careful about how much I give away of my time and energy while putting myself on the back burner. That rarely happens now. 🙂 I am also not much of a victim any longer either. I do not feel the need to splash details of my trauma around to get sympathy nor do I live in a “woe is me” world. I am a survivor. I have good days, bad days, days where I give support and days that I am learning to accept support directed back towards me. Another happy face for that. 🙂
Two out of 3 areas are quite good now and I am proud of that.
Then comes the 3rd point of that triangle. The abuser. It is VERY hard to see myself as an abuser because in my mind I know that I woudl NEVER abuse anyone else. If anything, I am diligent to assure that I never do. Even in the smallest way.
That said? If I am honest? I am an abuser to myself.
I expect more of myself than I would ever even consider to expect from someone else. My nearly insane level of organization seriously teeters on obsessive. I can not rest or sleep if anything is left a mess. (My idea of mess, not others. Read “perfectly done”.) I don’t allow myself to be slack about anything. If I say that I will do something? It is done to perfection. Some of that is really nice but it is to a level that is very hard to live up to on a regular basis. No one else has placed these expectations on me. I have placed them on myself.
So why do I do it? The answer is easy to know but hard to admit. I am afraid of losing control. If I can micromanage every aspect of my own life then I will appear to be managing really well and my level of control stays high. I am not worried about controlling anyone else. Just myself. I am afraid to fall apart. I am afraid of people seeing my imperfections. This is not done to look perfect or anything. I am just afraid of being unworthy of others respect. I am afraid of not measuring up.
In my mind, I know that none of this is necessary and no one around me is going to think less of me if my bed is unmade or my markers are not in rainbow order. No one will dump me because the soup can touches a can of beans. My mind knows this is all unnecessary but my heart can not believe it yet.
30 years of never being good enough and always being a failure in the eyes of others who should have loved me and accepted me have take their toll and it will take me awhile to undo.
I wonder if anyone reading this can relate? Surely I am not alone in this.
We’ll get there. One non rainbow ordered marker at a time. ❤