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The Practice of Letting Things Go

Uncategorized Jun 10, 2020

You know what drove me to a raging meltdown as a kid, more than anything else?

My perfectionist brain.

If my socks didn't sit right, even when they weren't uncomfortable.

If the picture on the wall was leaning a smidgen.

My perfectionist brain would very quickly and very easily fast track into OCD and I would begin to fixate on everything needing to be a certain way.

The perfect sounding squeak in my throat that hit the back of my neck and echoed throughout my ears a particular way.

Needing to touch on certain parts of my face would become not being able to get out of the house until I found the perfect outfit.

It had to feel right, look right, sit right, and it was NEVER going to be right because that's the point of perfectionism..

It's the brain seeking something that does not exist.

For a number of years now, I've had tools.

Unconscious tools to do my best to keep OCD away.

Unconscious tools to keep myself from spiralling into disordered eating again - another perfectionist HELL, extremely common to autistic people.

I step on the cracks, I don't count the poles as I drive past them, I let the mess be messy.

I get on camera with my hair everywhere; I show myself as me.

And I've not been thrust into perfectionism hell in a very long time.

However, the one area that has the capacity to take me back there is cleaning.

When my first daughter was born, I was just 18 years old.

My house was spotless. I scrubbed every cupboard, every surface, vacuumed and mopped, got on my hands and knees and tooth brushed grout between tiles.

My hands bled from bleach but my brain would not let me rest.

"You can rest when you've done this one last chore" my brain would tell me, but it was never the last chore.

Ever.

And it was never just another chore.

It was an entire set of steps, like cleaning out and rearranging my closet at 1 am, because if I didn't, something bloody awful would happen.

What, exactly, I didn't know. But the impending doom was consuming.

Today, cleaning causes my brain to whisper these lies.

Everything must be perfect all the time.

Those thoughts cause me to resent my family for living in the same space as me, they cause me to not be able to relax.

I struggle to pick up a vacuum cleaner just the once in a day.

It then becomes twice, three times, four times and then it begins to riddle others things..

Like my work. My writing. My body. My hair.

Until it begins to spill out like poison onto the people I love.

And so, I have to practice letting things go.

If you visit my home, you'll see unmade beds.

Some mornings you'll see last night's dishes.

You'll see a washing pile almost permanently.

There are things I struggle with.

I don't want to see mess, I don't feel good with imperfection because it can impact my mental health.

I am in a constant battle with perfectionism; with being in control.

But the truth is, being a perfectionist is the opposite of being in control.

And so, I continue to practice letting things go.
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Kristy Forbes
inTune Pathways

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