There is a long list of wonky quirks about me, and I intend to write about all of them as truthfully as I can.
I will bounce back and forth from amusing to serious because that is my personality. Just know that sarcasm and humor are not minimizing how serious I am about making needed changes that annoy, offend, or hurt those I love and care about.
Sooo, there will be multiple chapters on my obsession with perfection and efficiency, and how that literally makes me the most scorned mother, wife, co-worker, or family member you know.
No really, it has been that bad … but I am doing something about it.
The problem with this type of OCD is the indescribable level of anxiety it causes me to avoid being unprepared for something in the most perfect and efficient way possible. I can see it clearly in my head, and that bar is set very high.
My brain leaves me no excuses there with expectations for efficiency and perfection. I will internally tear myself to shreds if I didn’t bring something that I need somewhere and have to buy it for a lot more just for that trip (or do without), or if I didn’t pack efficiently for moving.
Packing for a trip takes me a week plus. I need the suitcase open and ready for the things I remember I need to put it in there. I need to see everything before it is packed to envision the completed ‘puzzle’ and see where the missing pieces are. I need to not be interrupted when I am in this zone, and everyone around me should be grateful I almost always have what we need when we go somewhere. <of course I should expect nothing but complete cooperation and accommodation …>
For some crazy reason, making a list as I think of things needed just doesn’t work for me. It should be exactly the same, but it hasn’t been every time I have tried in the past.
If I can see everything I need to pack up, I can play Tetris in my brain with all of it pretty well if I am left alone. It might take me an hour, or a week, or a month to do it, but if everyone would just live through the mess for the indefinite amount of time that I need to do it absolutely perfect, everything would be just fine because we will be packed and prepared for every possible situation we might encounter.
That sounds super fair and reasonable … never mind that bag weight is always an issue for me, even with short trips — but those five extra shirts, seven kinds of cold medication, and bug spray sure came in handy that one time!?
Questions like ‘can I help you pack?’ will cause an internal panic attack.
How do I tell them no without sounding like an asshole?
How do I explain that I don’t care if they think it will save time or help me? They don’t realize it will cause me torturous anxiety to not know where everything is and how it was packed. It is beyond humiliating to admit that to anyone, so I panic.
How do I explain that unpacking for me is a nightmare trying to figure out where stuff is if it is not packed in my Tetris mindset.
I might get blamed if something can’t be found when it wasn’t my fault. (Well, actually it IS my fault, that is my flawed logic, but I am getting to that …)
When moving, if I do pack stuff up and movers don’t put the labeled boxes in the right rooms, I will lose my shit like the world is ending. I spent hours making sure everything was labeled on every side and on top. What kind of inconsiderate moron can’t see how they put me in the vulnerable position of being blamed for stuff being lost and the move not going perfectly as planned?’
How do I explain that if I don’t pack all the stuff for a trip the way I feel I need to pack it, and do every step myself, I will be vulnerable to forgetting something because one step reminds me of the next, and so on.
What if we are not prepared and we don’t have something we need packed?
What if we have to buy something that we already own because I left it behind?
How do I explain that when a step is removed or I am interrupted, my brain short-circuits. Sometimes I can pick up where I left off, and sometimes it is a disaster. So as future focused as I am, I am trying every way I can to prevent the disaster, and will be resentful if someone fucks that up for me.
What words do I use to explain that I am not ungrateful for the offer to help, and I am not trying to take credit for doing everything myself like some super hero hogging the spotlight.
The panic and anxiety is overwhelming at that point.
I am proactively trying desperately to prevent the apocalyptic ‘disaster’ of not being prepared and then being accountable for that failure later. I am trying to stop the anxiety and panic I feel the only way I know how.
If I cave in and allow for people to help me pack, I will be humiliated and devastated if I am criticized because something can not be found later.
Being vulnerable in that way causes me so much anxiety and resentment, because if people would have just let me do it the way I wanted, whatever I am being blamed for wouldn’t have happened.
The problem is that all of what I am describing instantaneously flashes through my head to the end point – I didn’t perceive all these steps and conclusions. That is my wonky brain misfiring …
I knew I did not want to be dominating, controlling, mean, ungrateful, etc., so it hurt to be accused of those motivations.
<but, news flash, you were!>
I had some perfect ideas I could see but was not able to describe, so I was ashamed of myself.
What I was being blamed or criticized for was mitigated if I could have done it my way or if ‘chaos’ had not gotten in the way, so I was resentful and angry.
After multiple iterations of this between family, friends, and co-workers, I felt misunderstood, unappreciated, emotionally abused, sad, and very lonely.
I can actually hear the obnoxious whining in my head, begging people to believe me that I was NOT a control freak, I did not mean to offend anyone, I don’t want anything to be all about me. I was just trying to help get things done quickly and efficiently without losing my mind and hyperventilating.
But I have come to realize that I AM a major control freak.
Not in a mean way, but in a way that is explained best saying ‘the anxiety and panic I feel if I don’t control the details will be torture for me.’
I made MY anxiety become everybody else’s problem.
The irony with that is all the assumptions my brain is making about the possibility of being able to do it ‘perfectly’ are unrealistic. Just because I can see the perfect way to do something doesn’t mean it is possible, reasonable, or acceptable.
Expecting people to cater to MY orders because of MY anxiety and MY needs for perfection and efficiency is embarrassingly selfish of me. It doesn’t matter if my ideas are right or wrong. These expectations for ‘my way or the highway’ do not foster a loving, sympathetic, and cohesive environment.
I hyperventilate and panic anyway when I have to pack for anything because there is utterly NO WAY to avoid the chaos, no matter how awesome my plan is. I acted with a belief that this utopia I invented was actually possible, thanks wonky brain. That should be my cross to bear, not dumped on everyone else.
It is my responsibility to deal with my shit personally and not force everyone else in my life to put up with it if I am being unreasonable with my expectations.
My naturally strong empathy is a driving motivational force to stop this dysfunctional and hurtful behavior because in my heart that is not who I am.
I was subconsciously trying to avoid feelings that I thought would hurt or offend others, and unintentionally caused the very problems I thought I was avoiding.
So it actually IS my fault when my control freak plans don’t work out, and people can’t find stuff when I let others help me.
I didn’t plan ahead properly because I couldn’t see the plan until I was in the middle of it.
If I knew how to plan out a project step by step, I could delegate efficiently, be prepared for whatever we need to pack for, work together to get things done faster and not be too overwhelming for me, and everybody wins.
THAT is the epiphany that got me to a place where I could see what was actually going on.
Well, I got there after feeling suicidal because of the overwhelming guilt and remorse that engulfed me when the lightbulb switched on and I could finally see all that I had missed before.
I could see interactions replayed in my head over and over of how my behavior appeared to others, and how oblivious I was.
I could see better ways I could have handled so many things, and how relationships that meant the world to me were ruined or very strained.
I could see my role in things where I had felt victimized and abused. I could see more of a ping pong interaction effect rather than being an innocent victim.
I could see how unreasonable, selfish, and often crazy I would seem to everyone when I was in that zone of trying to avoid anxiety and panic.
I could see how this behavior would alienate me from loved ones, and that I blamed them for abandoning or not supporting me.
With that new perspective, and with the help of a counselor, I could now stop it from escalating out of control because I knew where those panicky feelings were coming from and why. I needed to understand that I can’t stop my brain from being wonky, but I am responsible for my behavior no matter what the reasons are for it.
By understanding all the causal biological and psychological factors, I can be aware of what triggers anxiety and panic. That is how I take responsibility for my actions and make needed changes.
I am learning how to effectively communicate about those upsetting and disorienting anxious feelings and potential solutions that would help me. I am also learning to slow down and question my ‘automatic’ responses and reactions.
The reasons or explanations help to deconstruct and evaluate what my brain concludes before taking action. Just because my conclusion might be the perfect or most efficient solution, that does not mean it is reasonable, feasible, or fair to expect of others.
I also need to get off my high horse because those other variables must be factored into a solution that is truly perfectly efficient – or it really isn’t…
I can poke fun at myself all day long, but there truly are so many serious regrets. Grief and sorrow are felt to the depths of my soul for the way I have hurt people I love and care about in the past.
I hope that the self-improvement efforts, acknowledgments, and apologies help inspire forgiveness over time.
If not, maybe this cat will help ❤