The Impossible Standards of a Perfectionist

Hi, my name is Teresa and I am a perfectionist.

Many people use the word “perfectionist” as a way to compliment themselves, but I find my perfectionist tendencies can actually have truly devastating consequences. If a person really has the characteristics of a perfectionist, that person really does see it as more of a fault than something to brag about.

Why?

I hold myself to an impossible standard. The impossible standards of a perfectionist are hard to live up to. I can even recognize what I’m doing, but I do it anyway because I just feel like the bar should, for some reason, go that high. In high school, making an A never felt good enough. I had to get every question right. At the very least, I had to get the highest grade in the class. If I didn’t, it felt awful, like the wind got knocked out of me. I felt like a loser. Like a dummy. I mean, even in an Advanced Placement class, if I didn’t get the highest grade in the class, I would berate myself. Imagine how I felt when I graduated third in my class. I went on for years about how I didn’t even get second in my class. THIRD. Loser? I went to college. I graduated with honors, despite several bouts of depression, likely brought on in part by my impossible standards.

If I can do it, so can you. I’m working so hard not to hold other people to the same craziness I hold myself to. It really begins to destroy relationships when you get all pissed off at someone because they didn’t do something the way you wanted them to. Perfectly. Beautifully. No, no, no! Write it this way!! OMG. What are you doing?! Stop! Just let ME do it! Yes, I’m a control freak. I mean well. I honestly do. I just want everyone else to do it to perfection. Follow the rules. Use perfect grammar. Dot every i and cross every t, because you never know when someone might come and look over your work. God forbid I should explain something more than once. I’d rather just do it all myself. The virtue of patience–something I’m learning. Lord, please help me in this endeavor.

 

serenity prayer perfectionist

You see, I may say the Serenity Prayer a thousand times a day, but the perfectionist inside of me screams, “BUT I WANT TO CHANGE EVERYTHING!” Let me right the wrongs of the world. Let me make the imperfections perfect. Allow me to change the lives of millions of children so none of them struggle ever again. Make the world see my child and others like him as beautiful. Make just the injustices. I can fix it all; I just know it. And yet, I know that only God has the power to oversee all that. My power has limitations, and it still drives me nuts.

One of these days, I’ll say my prayer and I’ll find peace that lasts more than a few seconds. If only they had a 12-step program for perfectionists.

 

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What if

what if

What if…

…I quit my job today and just left abruptly? Would everything here just stop, or would they carry on without me? I feel the weight of this job on my shoulders. I feel strongly that without me, these kids would suffer, but am I right? In the long run, what would happen if I left? Would they make it? Certainly, they’d try.

…I didn’t wear make-up or comb my hair? If I just decided to put my hair back in a pony-tail and went to work without make-up on, would it really matter? Could I still do my job? Sure, some people might say things about me looking tired, but does that matter? I am tired. Who cares if I look how I feel? My husband doesn’t wear make-up. Why do I take the time to meticulously cover up the dark circles and puffiness?

…I didn’t carefully guard every word I said? If I just spoke the truth and confronted others with my feelings, would the end results really be that devastating? Maybe it’s time to rip off the band-aid for once and hash it out. Let’s face it. Girls spend too much time beating around the bush. Sometimes I just get sick of all the BS and wish I could just say it like it is. It feels so much better afterward. Let’s just say our feelings and be done with it. The end.

…I didn’t do everything perfectly? If I allowed myself to make mistakes and didn’t beat myself up about it, would the world come to an end? Probably not. I’m not sure why I constantly feel the need to drive myself bonkers and make it all perfect. I know hardly anyone else cares about perfection. One of these days I’ll stop caring about perfection too (yeah right).

…I spent more time with my family and less time doing work? There’s an easy answer to that one. I’d probably find more happiness. If someone could tell me how to fit that in with my current schedule without falling dreadfully behind, I’d owe you a debt of gratitude.

what if

In the end, I just want happiness. The world of “what-ifs” and endless possibilities of things I could do better surround me. I want to do things better but feel trapped in the cycle and pressures of society. What if I didn’t care? Oh, that’s another question entirely.

Do you ever ask yourself “What if?” 

 

 

 

10 Things I Say Too Much

groundhogs day things i say too much

Do you ever feel like life is one big long episode of Groundhog’s Day? Like you repeat the same actions, the same routines, and the same phrases every single day? I feel like there are many things I say too much. To finish out my round of clichés here, sometimes I feel like a broken record. groundhogs day things i say too much 10 Things I Say Too Much

  1. Put your shoes on! (after asking twice already)
  2. Why aren’t you wearing any pants?
  3. You can’t go outside without pants on!
  4. We have to do homework first…
  5. Yes, it’s a school day
  6. I don’t like that growling sound! Use your words!
  7. Please chew with your mouth closed.
  8. I’m missing you at the table!
  9. We don’t need juice/lemonade. How about milk/water?
  10. If you want something, you need to use your words, not your hands.

And all that’s just at home. I could build another list of things that I say too much at work.

 

 

 

 

Four Haikus

The mood struck me to just write four haikus today. Most of them are about family, but one is about nature, which is really what Haikus are supposed to be about, but I suppose I could say that the other three haikus are about the nature of my relationship with my son.

Haiku 1: Loving You Always

Loving you always
Means I accept Autism
But know it isn’t you

Haiku 2: Fall

Orange leaves now falling
Would signal shifting seasons
Yet we’ve seen no change

Haiku 3: The Darkness

Dark eyes look sullen
His hands no longer gentle
Where did my son go?

Haiku 4: Cherished Moments

Sweet kisses and hugs
With these moments so fleeting
You hold and cherish

my son

Cherished Moments – When We’re Happy

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Not Everyone I Know is a Service Provider or Autism Mom?

So, tonight we had this rare experience where we actually sat in a restaurant as a family and ate dinner together. I know. Shocking, right? Seriously. Not shocking because I’m an autism mom and we never go out because my child has autism. Screw that. I’m not letting any of that hold us back. It just felt like forever since we sat down in a real restaurant that didn’t have sticky tables and crummy kids’ toys. Plus, we needed to celebrate because we may actually get out of our staggering medical debt next month for the first time in two years thanks to The Manager getting a real bonus and in that moment, I may drop dead from actual shock.

Right. So, we sat in there in our booth. We always sit in a booth because you can’t trap children when you sit at regular tables. Chairs provide open spaces. If you sit in a booth, you put one adult with one child and one adult with the other child, and you’ve effectively provided a humane prison where the child gets trapped between the wall and an adult with space between for playing so no other patrons get disturbed. The only escape? The floor. Not that Squeaker doesn’t use the floor as an escape route; however, it takes more time than just hopping out of a chair.

But, I digress. We sat there, waiting for our overpriced food to arrive when two familiar faces came up to the table. I thought, “Oh no, I know these people. I hope they introduce themselves so that I don’t have to recall names.” I am horrible at remembering names and I just could not recall who these friendly fellow patrons called themselves. They said hello to my children and to me, didn’t really introduce themselves to my husband, and went to their table. My husband assumed my son knew one of them and started asking him about it. I mean, we meet most of the people we know either through the Autism Society or through his school. Why not? My son expressed frustration because he had no idea. He met them in passing a few times, but had no close relationship with either of them.

forgotname

It took me a long time to figure it out. I sat there and racked my brain. Where did I know them? How do they know us? How does my husband not know them? And that’s what gave me my ah-hah moment. Church. I know them from church. They’ve met my children and know their faces and names, but my children don’t really know them. After the church sermon, the kids go to their Sunday school and I go to mine with my age group, which is where I know this couple from. I need to do a better job remembering names, that’s for sure. But I came to this realization that while I’ve made all these efforts to tie us to the general population as well as the Autism Society, I forget sometimes that not everyone in our lives are services providers and Autism Moms. I’m starting to get a healthy mix of both sides of the world in my life. Now if I could only find time to actually socialize on more than a shallow level with either, I think I’d do really well. And maybe then I’d remember people’s names too.

Do you have trouble remembering names or have you got some kind of magic trick to help you remember?

 

Faith Along the Way

 

 

 

 

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