Back in January of 2010, when I saw that first episode of Hoarders, I was scared to death. I knew things were going to have to change, and that I needed to accept responsibility for my part in the mess getting to this level. It wasn't easy. I was embarrassed. Humiliated. Discouraged.
But I was also hopeful, because I knew that I'd made that first gargantuan step. I recognized that I had a problem. I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me, but I also knew that I could do it.
I realized that I'd hidden for years behind excuses. Some excuses were legitimate, (the girls demanded much more of my time and attention and energy than a typical child ever would, and it was bound to affect my life), but some of the excuses were just that. Excuses.
I don't think I actually set out to make it impossible for Hubster or Bugster to meet my expectations in order to blame them for the mess, but blame them I did. Yet my perfectionism played such a major role in the whole thing. I made it nearly impossible for their efforts to be good enough.
I wanted them to do things like I would do them, if I had the time to keep up with things myself. The towels need to be folded lengthwise in thirds and then in fourths, because it made it easier to just get just one when we grabbed one out of the linen closet. Laundry needed to be 'fluffed and hung' just so, so it could hang dry without wrinkles, shrinkage or fading. Dishes need to be loaded perfectly within the confines of the dishwasher but only after they'd basically been washed free of everything before loading them.
On more than one occasion, Hubster said he felt like he had to walk on eggshells around me, because I seemed more concerned about either he or Bugster getting things done right, rather than being happy with the fact that they were trying to help. Eventually, he and Bugster just stopped helping. Why even bother when all I could see was that they hadn't done something up to my standards?
In spite of the fact that I hated the perfectionism trait I carried around with me everywhere I went, it didn't just go away on it's own. In fact, I can't seem to shake it no matter how hard I try. It's here to stay, but I've worked really hard at minimizing it as much as possible.
I've tried to consciously be aware of when my perfectionistic tendencies take over and instead allow for things not to be perfect. If Hopper folds towels for me and puts them away, I don't refold them. I leave them in the linen closet in the same condition they were in when she put them with the other towels. There are times it's a real struggle, and I feel like I'm in a physical fight with myself to leave things alone. Occasionally, I do have to rearrange the kitchen towels, so they'll fit in the drawer, but I do try to just leave them, if I can.
If Hubster happens to do a load of clothes and doesn't get the wrinkles out of the clothes before they're hung to dry, I do my best to wear the clothes wrinkled. It's obviously a lot easier to do this, if they're clothes I usually just wear around the house, but even that can be hard at times. If a load of clothes I don't normally dry in the dryer go through the cycle, I try to shrug it off. It isn't necessary to do everything right all the time.
And when I'm writing a post for my blog, I sometimes don't proofread and correct the mistakes that are bound to be there. Sometimes, I go back and fix mistakes I see at a later date, and other times, I try to leave the mistake there for a few days, so I expose myself to the imperfection.
There are times that each of these seemingly simple things are monumentally difficult for me.
But I've found that nothing bad happens, if the towels aren't folded just so. The world doesn't come to an end, if I don't fix a mistake on the blog. And shockingly, I don't explode, if I wear a wrinkled t-shirt.
Life. goes. on.
I struggle with perfectionism on a daily basis, and I will likely grapple with it for the rest of my life.
But I am determined not to let it rule me.
I want to live.