by Christine on May 22nd, 2012
filed under Christine's Life Updates
Yesterday I had a bit of an epiphany:
I need to be perfect. All. The. Time.
I always kind of knew this in some way, but I always called it being “a little odd” or “anal retentive” or “OCD.” I never really put it like that: “The need to be right all the time,” but it’s true. I have an obsessive need to do the best possible job at all time and be as perfect as I can be at all times.
It’s crazy. My life is good—really good! But if 11 out of 12 things are going well for me, the one thing that is off-kilter will send me spiraling into a depression or an anxiety attack. It can be as small as having dishes in the sink or being late for an appointment (which, as it happened, is what triggered me yesterday).
And it’s not just my mood that gets affected. I have a hard time forcing myself to try new things that I think I’ll suck at (note: remember when I tried playing flag football this fall and got tackled within 30 seconds? And I vowed never to play again?) or, for example, I have a hard time going to sleep if I have laundry waiting to be finished. When I throw a girls-night party at my house, I get so crazy over cleaning the house, having the right food, games, and party favors, that I exhaust myself and spend so much time in an anxious fit that I don’t spend any time socializing with my friends. It seems that everything becomes a casualty when I get obsessive about having everything just right.
Why do I do this? Obviously it all stems from my childhood, but two different things have contributed to this. For starters, I had an overachieving older brother that my parents pretty much hero-worshipped. I knew I could never be as popular, handsome, smart, or talented as him, but damn I sure tried to live up to his standards. Why? Because I wanted to my mom’s acknowledgement and respect. Which I rarely got. I remember one time I got a report card with all As and a B-, and my mom’s reply was “you need to try harder. This isn’t good enough.” And so I just kept trying harder. (It’s no surprise that I eventually “figured the whole school thing out” and graduated with a 4.0 for my Masters Degree.)
The second reason why I do this is a little more complicated. I was often…harassed or verbally abused, especially if I stepped out of line or did something noticeable. In fact, I would say I mastered the art of being invisible and staying off the radar. Nothing gets you noticed faster that fucking up a task, so I worked my ass of to get shit done right and done well to avoid a future confrontation. I remember one time I was asked to go out and mow the lawn, and I was so afraid that I wasn’t doing it right – all those pesky long-grassed trimmings at the edges of the lawn—that I subsequently spent about 5 hours trimming all the edges with a pair of scissors until my fingers bled. All so I didn’t get yelled at for not doing it right the first time. When I was in middle school I got teased for having blingy hair-scrunchies and different clothes (I nearly got my ass beat once for wearing a new brand of jeans, Guess Jeans, that nobody heard of). So I just learned to dress tidily, usually all in black or solid colors, nothing noticeable or offensive. Boring. Yes, I was very, very boring.
This perfectionism OCD-ness has reaches in all areas of my life. My work needs to be done just right before it goes out the door. I will get depressed and hide in the bedroom if I forget to pick up the gallon of milk hubby asked me to get after work, or forget to pick up the dry cleaning. I berate myself for not calling my family enough and not being a good enough daughter.
This whole innate desire to get it Just. Perfect. definitely can be seen with my weight, self-image, and food issues. I realize now that I’ll never look in the mirror and like what I see. Something will always need to be fixed. (I spent a solid hour at work looking up information on getting plastic surgery done on my eyes, to eliminate the bags under them.) The fact is, even after a year of “maintenance mode” following gastric banding surgery, I still don’t feel confident that I have my body under control. I also don’t feel that I have my eating under control. (After missing my pysch appointment yesterday I consumed 4 candy bars and cried in my car.)
And when my weight fluctuates over my Goal Weight (125 pounds), even 3 pounds or more, I berate myself, find myself tottering on the line of depression.
I know that being obsessive about getting it just perfect all the time is toxic and not healthy. But knowing that and stopping how I feel are two radically different things. I don’t know how to change my attitude, perspective, and goals.
Obviously I will bring this up to my doctor the next time I meet with him. I’m not really sure how to get over this, but at least I’ve recognized it.
by Christine on May 17th, 2011
Today I was browsing through some three-year-old journal posts (for those of you that don’t know, I have an online forum here if you’re interested in joining) and came across this lovely “before” picture. This is about three years old now.
Look at that sad little fatty face of mine! And I remember that pink shirt, too. I liked it so much. It was a 1XL and it was tight on me. I also remember when I could finally throw that one in the “too big” bin. Here’s another picture, more recent, this time wearing a Size 2 dress. What a difference with my chin! Oh, that laser eye surgery sure made a difference, too.
A case of the headcase
One thing that struck me as I was re-reading my old posts is that…well, I frequently suffer from a case of being a headcase. I have a tendency to over-exaggerate problems, create problems based on getting stressed out and worse-case-scenario-fearing, which just leads to more stress and fear, which leads to more stress and fear…
It’s a really rotten cycle. And I have no doubt that it has an impact on my weight, relationship with food, not to mention my mental health.
I’ve been in a real headcase cycle lately, and it is well past time to snap out of that. Instead of fearing the worst, I’m going to celebrate all the good things in life that exist CURRENTLY. Instead of exaggerating problems I’ll think of solutions. Instead of lamenting past problems, I will look to a bright and happy future. Starting now.
Do you ever work yourself into a headcase tizzy? How do you get yourself out of it?
How my eating has changed!
A review of my old posts were interesting from a food point of view now, too. Before, three years ago, when I was gaining weight at a rate of 5-10 pounds per week, I would:
- Starve or have limited calories (500, say) one day, and have a lot of calories (2200, say) the next, for a wildly inconsistent eating pattern.
- Drink a lot of alcohol. Every day, and perhaps 3-6 drinks a day.
- Ate more carbs than I do now, which is quite a bit I suppose.
- Ate a lot of healthy, full-of-vegetable meals.
- I drank diet soda like it was water.
These days my eating could use improvement in terms of adding more healthy vegetables into my choices, but overall my new eating differs from my old eating because:
- I eat a consistent amount of calories, every day, usually 800-1000 calories per day.
- I still enjoy alcohol, but I drink a lot less apparently. Instead of 3-6 drinks every day, I might have 1-2 drinks, maybe 2 times a week. A drink a lot more beer now, too, as opposed to martinis.
- I eat a lot fewer carbs because of my gastric band. I eat a lot more high-fat foods like fish, almonds, avocados, and even a limited amount of chocolate. However, I seriously limit my portion sizes with these high-fat foods.
- I drink water like water, and drink diet soda as a special treat, maybe once per week.
I just thought the differences were interesting.
If Current Christine could meet Past Christine and share these differences with her….would it have helped Past Christine lose weight? Could I have prevented the need for gastric banding surgery?
Honestly, I don’t know that I would want to change me. I’m so glad I had the surgery, and I’m so pleased for all it has done for me. I wouldn’t want to take that away from me, no matter what. Aside from marrying my husband and moving far, far away from home, getting the gastric band is one of the best things I ever did for myself.
What are the three best things you have ever done for yourself? If you could go back in time knowing what you know now, what would you tell your past self? Would you want to share your secrets with your past self and change the future?