Tuesday, December 21, 2010

On being a perfectionist

Like many people with eating disorders I'm a perfectionist to the nth degree.  I get paralyzed when I don't do something perfectly. as defined by some arbitrary category in my head.  I can't function until it's right and if it can't be perfect?  I quit.

Take this blog for example.  For a while I'd been debating starting another blog.  (I have a few entries on another blog here on Blogger that I've now hidden and will probably never show again.)  This morning I was literally bursting with words and the desire to just get it all out.  Instead of distracting my older coworker (otherwise known as "work mom") by using her as therapy, again, I figured I would finally bite the bullet and start it.  That was at 10:30 this morning.  It's now 2pm.  Since then I've eaten lunch and done maybe an hour of work.  The rest of the time was trying to get all the settings and the title and everything else just right.  And by the time I did the words had stopped flowing.

I don't know why this surprises me.  I'm the person who, when I move, is completely unpacked including pictures hung and books organized on shelves within 3 days.  Like I said, if something's not perfect I'm paralyzed.

I think this leads to me being horribly indecisive too.  I have trouble making decisions, especially when it comes to food.  What if I pick a restaurant that somebody doesn't like?  What if the food and service isn't flawless?  What if I pick something to pick for dinner than isn't exactly what I want?  What if I waste calories on something mediocre?  I'll eat the same 3 things for lunch endlessly because then, I don't have to pick.  I know they work for me.  If I don't try something new I'm not disappointed if it's not perfect.

Yesterday, I started thinking around 3pm "Oh no, I don't know what I want for dinner.  Nothing sounds exactly right."  The stress started building.  By the time I met my boyfriend on the train for the commute home I was freaking out.  When I asked him what he wanted and he said "I don't know, what do you want?" I nearly cried.

On the drive over to Trader Joe's after him asking 3 times what was wrong, I finally admitted that I'd been feeling a little overwhelmed and that for me this manifests often as an inability to make a decision, especially about food.  After initially laughing (I don't blame him, it sounds moronic) he agreed that "Yeah, it's often the small things that push people over the edge".  It doesn't exactly address what's been really going on with me these days but then, how could it?  I haven't told him.  But it was nice that he tried to be understanding and he said he would help me out as much as possible to make food decisions for now.  So that's good. 

I remember when I was deep in my eating disorder my mom would try to be helpful.  She'd ask things like, "Where do you want to eat?  Where can we go that you'll eat something?"  And I would lose it.  I'd yell at her to stop asking me and just pick something.  Admittedly some of this was the well, if I don't pick I don't have to responsible for eating too many calories attitude but a big part of it was that my eating disorder magnified my inherent perfectionism.  If I didn't pick I didn't have to be responsible for making the perfect choice. 

I know these days that my eating disorder is rearing its ugly head when making decisions gets harder.  And it has been and it's scary.


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