Perfectionism

Being the adult child of an alcoholic and abandoned by my mother at a young age, I always felt the need to try to please other people and be perfect so people would like me and accept me.  I thought if I was perfect, people wouldn't leave me like she did. I'm just now coming to recognize that and see myself as having obsessive-compulsive personality disorder thanks to it all.  Being a perfectionist is back breaking, tireless, hard work that I wouldn't wish on anyone and am trying tooth and nail to fight it off every single day.
aka746 aka746
26-30, F
7 Responses Feb 22, 2007

I really do understand why you feel the way you do. It is so terrible when the people in our lives would rather tear us down or ignore us rather than treating us as we deserve to be treated. I am sorry you are going through this. Sometimes they don't do it intentionally, but that still doesn't change the fact that they do. Your parents, I would guess, were just 2 people with their own unresolved issues who unfortunately did not consider enough what their actions were doing to you, their child. I am not saying they were bad people. Even good people do bad things from time to time. It does not excuse what happened though. I don't have children, but I do know that once one has a child, you as a parent are not the first and most important consideration anymore: a child is completely dependent upon the parents in every way. And there are so many ways to damage a child, but parents only get one shot at getting it right- there is no rewind button. Again, I am sorry you were hurt like this.<br />
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Honestly, you are never going to please everybody, and in the process of trying to, the last person who you will ever please will be yourself. I learned this really young with the help of my mother when I was being made fun of by kids at school for being "too smart." The reality was and still is that people who inflict pain on others, whether purposely or not, are usually people who are insecure and/or angry: basically something is missing for them in their lives. <br />
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Also, people are very changeable. One minute you are up at the top of their list, and the next, an outcast. It is unfortunately that easy. I have seen how, for instance, someone will have been the best friend to someone, and the other person gets mad over some perceived injury, and never wants to bother with them again. There are very few situations in life that would warrant throwing away a true blue friend like this.<br />
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I am not saying to completely ignore what everyone says. I believe that it doesn't cost anything to hear someone out (unless of course it is for the thousandth time and everything goes in one ear and out the other when you talk to them). This is especially true if the person who is talking to you is someone you feel cares about you and has your best interests at heart. After all, just because we may not want to hear something unpleasant does not mean it should automatically be dismissed. But if after really considering what someone has said, for however long is appropriate, then no matter how many times it is said, you will know it is not true. I have been dealing with people who say things to be hurtful because they are either insecure or in pain themselves. I may be hurt that someone would try to be hurtful, but I don't take what they say for more than it is worth. The only time that something bothers me is if it has already been bothering me. In other words, if someone were to call me fat, it wouldn't bother me as I know this is not true. If, on the other hand, I already thought I were fat, well, that comment would bother me because it was already a source of pain. See what I mean? As hard as this is, once you truly understand that their behavior is really about them and not you, you will not internalize it as much. That said, it is being done to you. So where you can and it is appropriate, you can maturely stand up for yourself, convey your needs, or even walk away if it comes to that. Toxic relationships are not relationships anyone needs.<br />
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Please know that others' problems and insecurities, though taken out on you, are not a reflection of something being wrong with you. Even as adults we do not have the power to change others. All we can do is encourage and support them along the way. The only person that can actively change anyone is themself. Even if you were perfect, that wouldn't have changed them. Your dad's drinking was a symptom of other problems. People often drink to forget or avoid issues facing them. Likewise, your mother likely had things she needed to workout with herself. Her leaving was not really about leaving you, it was about escaping something else. Also, none of us will ever succeed at being perfect, or else we wouldn't be on Earth:) If anyone even jokingly says I am perfect, I remind them that I am not. I do not want to be on a pedestal I will quickly fall from. All any of us can do is be the best possible self we can. If we treat people well, and are true to ourselves in the process, the people who care about us (who are capable of emotional intimacy) will do so even though we are flawed. <br />
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And you are right that trying to be "perfect" is hardwork. That is because even one person's ideas of what they want changes. Some just don't know what they want-they can't meet their own needs, so how can you? Further, if you ever have to be perfect for more than one person at the same time, you can literally be paralyzed with indecision. Each person will likely have a different idea of what a perfect you would be. Since you can't split yourself up and take on different roles, you simply cannot please everyone. <br />
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The best gift that you can work on giving yourself is that of genuinely loving and being happy with yourself, knowing that neither you nor I nor anyone else will ever be "perfect." And that being perfect imperfect is more than good enough. <br />
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I wish you luck and love:) As someone who has been hurt many times, please know that I do understand. I suspect many others do too.

I understand...to me the hardest thing is to hear that I've somehow been a disappointment. Cue tears and guilt.

You don't have to try this much to please others. Really concentrate into pleasing you, be original. You will be loved just for being sincere.

Just remember you are beautiful just the way you are. People are always telling me to put myself first. The heck with trying to please others because the only one you can ever really depend on is yourself.

celainn, I feel that same time pressure with everyone...like no one should have to be patient with me. So I am impatient with myself, and I never feel the rewards of anything positive I do. I got a degree recently, and it didn't even mean that much to me. It was like any other day, even though I worked so hard to get it.

Be your best self and you'll be happy forever. <br />
Stay strong and don't give up. You can do it. :)

One day, you will do as I have, and just say '**** it all' because there's just simply no point. Because no matter what you do, nobodies ever gunna care who you are or what you do. You wont ever be good enough. Trust me.