The Challenge of Perfectionism

So this morning I’ve been thinking about how I haven’t even started putting together that damn homeschool portfolio and wondering why that is. The med clinic was even kind enough to write a note for us to put in it about how we have been working together to get Scholar Owl stabilized and this may be a contributing factor in his work performance regarding getting assignments completed. Because really we have reached a do or die point here. He is out of time in making up the work. I can’t wait for him any longer. I have to get this portfolio together and get it sent out and just let the chips fall.

But really I think I’m just afraid of hearing from them that I’m being a bad parent and that I’m failing my kid. I think yesterday’s post (still cringing at the horrid typos, but it shows the state of mind I was in when I wrote it, so I’m leaving it) proves that is what I’m afraid of and the real reason I’ve put this off as long as I have. So I’m grateful that my sister publicly responded in her blog and reminded me of something really important that all of us parents need to keep in mind.

None of us are born with a custom instruction manual. It would be seriously cool if we were. But we’re not. So we have to do the best we can with what we have in that particular moment. So mistakes will be made. However, as long as we continue to care and continue to try to do what’s best in that moment with the information and tools we have, we are good people. As long as we are not intentionally trying to cause harm, we are good people.

Perfection doesn’t exist in this life. It doesn’t exist in this world. And therefore it is not something that defines what a good person is. And I need to remember that. I need to embrace that. I need to incorporate it into my life. For some reason coming to terms with that is really painful for me. No idea why, but it is.

I remember reading somewhere that perfectionism is a symptom for several disorders. And one of the things about it is the issue of “If I can’t do it perfectly then I won’t bother at all.” This isn’t the first time I’ve been hit with the realization that I’m guilty of that. But this is the first time I’m finding the realization distressing. And I have no fucking idea how to overcome this symptom.

I know it’s making me dysfunctional. There is nothing functional in missing deadlines simply because whatever it is won’t be perfect. Especially when whatever it is doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be done. Nobody really gives a fuck about this portfolio. Not really. It’s just paperwork that demonstrates my son attended instruction, received instruction, and at least some learning happened.

My logical brain knows this. My sick brain is screaming a bunch of weird ass paranoid depressed shit that if you heard it, you’d understand why I got diagnosed with Bipolar. So between the paranoia and the perfectionism it’s a wonder I get anything done.

So the goal this week is to somehow motivate myself to push through all that and just open the PDF file and start printing out the forms the state homeschool organization provides and start getting to work. It feels overwhelming. Like crushing me kind of overwhelming. Last year I promised myself I wasn’t going to wait until the last minute to get it done, but this year I ended up waiting even longer. And I’m hating myself for that. This is my fault. I know that and I can’t change that. All I can do now is try to get it done as fast as I can and get it sent in.

Don’t know what else to do but I feel like I’m sinking fast.


The one question I didn’t get to ask Mom yesterday that I wanted to know was if I was as rigid as a child as I am now. You know with my routines and habits and stuff. I seem to remember there were things that I did everyday or ever weekend and I would get really upset if something had to be different. I know moving was a fucking crisis for me. Even Dad confirmed that. He said it always was for me and that they would have to have someone babysit to keep me out of the way when the moving van was loaded up. Something about strangers touching my stuff to put it in the van? Not sure exactly, but it’s still a crisis for me and now I only let people I know touch my things.

Okay, I knew I had read it somewhere and I’m pretty sure I also read about it during my research into OCD when we had Scholar Owl screened for that. So… I don’t think I’m severe exactly… but this might not be something that will ever go away. I’ve never read anywhere as this being something connected to Bipolar but I have read it being connected to anxiety class of disorders – not sure if it also pops up with Autism? And according to the second link it’s a learned thing as a coping skill, not a genetic thing.

4 thoughts on “The Challenge of Perfectionism

  1. Damn, I really wish Dragon had come with an instruction manual! Something like you get with a car. When to do oil changes and check ups; how to take care of it. That would be so useful. But alas, I’ve had to bumble my ass through this parenting thing just like everyone else. There were times that I felt I wasn’t doing good job and there were times that I felt I nailed it. I have a feeling that those feelings will get all mixed up as Dragon spreads her wings and takes flight. Hard to believe she is going to be 18 soon.

    • The one thing I don’t like about the articles is that it seems like they are quick to point the finger at the parents, but looking back at my childhood I seem to recall my biggest concern was fitting in at school. Being the smart kid so as to not upset the teacher or being picked on for being dumb, but not so smart as to get pick on for being the nerd. I mean when we were growing up school felt like a damned if you do and damned if you don’t kind of thing. Then after graduation it was the abusive relationships I kept landing myself in. Yes, I have hang ups with Dad but I think if that had been the only thing in my life going on this perfectionism wouldn’t be an issue.

      • Yeah school is rough. Kids always want to be popular, but most always feel like the odd man out. Not to mention that kids are cruel. They don’t always mean to be, but they are. I think that my relationship with Mom and Dad did greatly effect me. I spent a lot of my time trying to please Dad. With Mom it was more complex. I always felt she was playing the victim. I feel differently now, but that’s where I was at as a kid. For better or worse, how we raise our children does greatly effect them. The research demonstrates startling similarities in the way that people were raised in regards to many disorders. I would argue that it’s both genes and enivornment, but we can blame are parents for both 😛

      • I guess there really is bunch of shit from my childhood that I still haven’t become willing to acknowledge. I did spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to please Dad. Heck I’m still stuck in the pleasing game. Right up until I found out about the affairs, I believed Mom was entirely the victim.

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