Perfectionism and shame

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wobbly

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Perfectionism and shame
« on: October 17, 2018, 05:59:09 PM »
I'm not sure where exactly to post this, I hope this is the right place? It's about perfectionism, shame, guilt, but it's also just a story about what I've been going through today.

I missed a therapy appointment today - it's a group to prepare us for group therapy. I missed the same one last week. When I don't sleep well I fell asleep around 4 am when I had to get up at 8 sometimes, I just can't get myself to get up. And I don't always know what happens. I talked to my abusive mother for the first time in months, on my birthday, this week. It sucked. I watched a horror series before bed. I haven't been sleeping well for days and have been tired. I think it's probably all contributed. I've also given myself a lot of time to rest and relax, so I feel disappointed and guilty that this still happened.

Not showing up or being late was something that I did a lot growing up. So it brings back a lot of anxiety, stress, bad memories/trauma. As an adult, I can't stand being late. Now I'm always early, because being late would make me feel so terrible about myself it'd be almost unbearable. I think not showing up does the same, but it's harder for me to prevent.

I remember going into these shame spirals all the time. A lot of it has to do with perfectionism, I think. If I don't do it perfectly, then why do it at all? And of course, it's never been perfect. Because the standard I set(and I think the one my mother set as well) was simply impossible. I would skip classes, because of nightmares and abuse at home, I wouldn't be there for entire days, entire weeks. If I managed to go for one day, it always felt so pointless. I'd try my hardest, but that one day I would just hear about the days I wasn't there, and feel like a complete outsider. I was so alone. I'd be called lazy, unmotivated. By teachers, friends. No one showed any concern. Just anger and disappointment. Then I'd come home, and there'd be chaos and abuse. My mother would hate me regardless of how well I did. No one showed that they cared about how it felt for me, how everything affected me. It was incredibly hard for me to see the point of going to school - and frankly, of trying at anything.

I know, rationally, that's not my reality now.

But it still feels like it. It feels inevitable. When I do go, I rarely know if I'm doing what's right for me I just know I'm doing what's expected. I'm getting better at listening to my gut, but it's still not the same as a ''normal'' person. Sometimes I just have to accept that I don't know why I'm doing something. If I don't go, I get temporary relief. I don't even know if I should drag myself out of bed with 4 hours of sleep. Two hours of therapy is going to be way too intense for my brain in that state. I think it's okay to take care of yourself by saying: I can't. I mean: I know that rationally. It doesn't feel like it. But I don't even call. Because I'm just terrified of someone... yelling at me, being angry, telling me what a disappointment I am, or telling me not to come back. So I sleep and wake up and feel shame, and I start avoiding and hiding even more. I don't call, I don't send and email, because it feels like I * up and will be punished. The longer I wait, the less it feels fixable. And then I freeze. I feel guilty for doing anything else, I feel like I deserve to be punished. And that reminds me a lot of being younger. I just wouldn't move if it wasn't absolutely necessary. I felt like a piece of * who didn't deserve to live. Then my mother would come home and tell me the same.


I made a promise, or a decision, last week. That I was going to reach out. Even when it feels like I can kind of sort of handle things. I'm not going to let it fester, like it's some dark secret. Because I let it pile up until I have no other choice but to do something. So this shame and fear, as hard as it is, I need to talk/write about it. I need to make the choice to take care of myself. My brain is convinced the same things as back then will happen that someone will tell me: you're right. You are lazy. You aren't trying. And I need to start believing that it's different now. That it's not the reaching out and trusting that will hurt me, but the isolating myself. I've turned into the one who's punishing me, and I need to stop.

I'm allowed to make mistakes and I'm allowed to grow. And yeah, sometimes it's really annoyingly basic stuff, because that's what child abuse does. I didn't get to make a mistake, I didn't get to ask for help or forgiveness. So I'm catching up, right now. By doing this,reaching out, by dragging myself off this couch and going for a run, by maybe sending an email saying ''hey I'm sorry I wasn't feeling well I should've called'', by allowing myself to make mistakes. And by being angry, I think, I can suddenly feel my fists clenching, because I'm angry at the people who let me drown and cared more about me meeting their impossible expectations than about my well being.

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LilyITV

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Re: Perfectionism and shame
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2018, 06:07:17 PM »
 I don't have any advice only :hug: :hug: :hug: .  You are not alone.    :hug: :hug: :hug:

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wobbly

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Re: Perfectionism and shame
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2018, 08:04:24 PM »
@LilyITV Thank you, knowing I'm not alone means everything. :)  :hug:

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goblinchild

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Re: Perfectionism and shame
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2018, 10:24:34 PM »
I was/am the same way. One of the things that I had to learn was that I need to actually have everything I need to do whatever task is expected of me. Anything other than that is objectively unreasonable. Sometimes that looks like being taught how to do something before being expected to do it. Sometimes it's having all the relevant, necessary info required to make a decision or answer a question. Or the right tool to do a job.

This seemed really foreign to me a first, but when people expect you to do things, you should have everything you need to be able to do that thing. You should have the right circumstance, access to any tools, the knowledge of how to do it, etc. Anything else is unreasonable. That expectation or person is being unrealistic.

I have an example that might be close to yours? I have a sleeping disorder. Sometimes, I can't control how much I need to sleep or if I can even get out of bed! (Because of paralysis) Expecting people to be able to do things in the morning is usually a reasonable request. But often, it's not a reasonable request of me. I don't have everything I need to complete that task. (Which, in this case, would be a brain that processes sleep hormones correctly.) It's not fair to me to be expected to do something which I cannot do. I do sometimes feel lazy still, or like I'm letting people down. I think the rough part now is that I'm not always "letting down" people who have unfair expectations of me anymore. I'm "letting down" people who don't know their expectations are irrational because they don't have enough information about me. I don't introduce myself saying "Hi there I have a sleeping disorder, and your name is?" so sometimes people ask me to do things early and they don't know!! I have to tell people, they can't read my mind.

You might consider telling people about your struggles and what is or isn't reasonable to expect of you. Or maybe, ask your therapist to help you figure out what is and isn't reasonable to expect of you? I know it's not easy, understanding that some expectations are unreasonable was a hard line for me to draw and it took a while to understand. Getting over the shame and the feeling like you're lazy or garbage for not being able to do the thing (much less admitting it to people!!!) and feeling like you're walking into an abusive punishment for saying so is REALLY hard! It gets easier on the other side though.

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Three Roses

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Re: Perfectionism and shame
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2018, 12:04:57 AM »
Quote
I didn't get to make a mistake, I didn't get to ask for help or forgiveness. So I'm catching up, right now. By doing this,reaching out, by dragging myself off this couch and going for a run, by maybe sending an email saying ''hey I'm sorry I wasn't feeling well I should've called'', by allowing myself to make mistakes. And by being angry, I think, I can suddenly feel my fists clenching, because I'm angry at the people who let me drown and cared more about me meeting their impossible expectations than about my well being.

You're not alone! I've even been the one to make the plans that I then don't show up for. It's not about laziness, it's just that we have different abilities from day to day, and that's okay.

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finallyfree

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Re: Perfectionism and shame
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2018, 04:06:15 PM »
Sending you a hug or two  :hug: :hug: :hug: :hug:, I also relate to you so well. Thanks for sharing and your not alone.

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wobbly

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Re: Perfectionism and shame
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2018, 11:51:30 PM »
@Three Roses Thank you for your response, that's very validating. Being the one to make plans and not showing up is especially hard, so I feel you.

@finallyfree Hugs back, and thank you. :hug:

@goblinchild

Thanks for sharing this, I can't imagine how hard having a sleep disorder is. I've had sleep paralysis only a couple of times and each time very briefly, for like a minute, and man, I still have vivid memories of how horrible it was. That's got to be very hard to deal with. I forget that people can't read my mind all the time, which is so silly. It does help me to think: how unfair of me to resent people who'd be very willing to understand and/or help. I wouldn't want someone to assume the worst from me, so why am I doing that to others?

For me it often feels like I'm making it up or should be trying harder - other people's problems seem legitimate, and mine don't. It's a hard one to unlearn.
The having what you need thing is really hard for me to wrap my head around. I know how to use that in a more simple situation, where only I am involved, for instance, and it's about exercise or... cooking, or whatever. But I don't know what else I could need in this situation. I don't know where the problem begins and ends and I don't know how much sympathy I deserve to get, or if it's something I should fix on my own.

I'm so used to thinking ''I just need to try harder and stop complaining and not tell anyone the truth because they'll say the same'' that I don't even realize when I'm doing it. I know I have CPTSD, but I honestly don't know if my sleep issues & not showing up are a part of that. And I don't know if that's me buying into the opinion of that inner critic. I wouldn't even know what to tell people, how to explain it. I just lie awake worrying, freaking out, until my heart starts pounding and I resort to grabbing my phone and staring at it. But I do genuinely feel like I don't know if it's a deeper problem, that's got to do with trauma, or if it's just dumb anxiety that comes out of nowhere, or the result of not taking care of myself.

But it's really nice to read about your experience and to know others can relate - it may be just the push I need to tell and ask my therapist about it. Just exactly like that: I lie awake freaking out and then I don't show up, and I need to find a better way to deal with it. I don't know what the cause is, but the problem is here, and clearly I'm having trouble fixing it on my own, so... help me. Ha.

Anyway, thank you, I really appreciate your response. :)

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Blueberry

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Re: Perfectionism and shame
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2018, 10:06:05 AM »
I can relate too.

Mistakes were a big no-no when I was growing up and M was adamantly against forgiving. 

fwiw I've missed 2 doc appointments in the past few weeks. I just didn't get out of bed and go. I'm much better at forgiving myself for it. I haven't phoned either though to apologise. I'm not sure why not.

"dumb anxiety coming out of nowhere" sounds like a symptom of cptsd to me. As is not taking care of ourselves properly.

I'm sorry you had to endure so much growing up. Not safe at home, not safe at school and nobody cared.  :'(

Sending you  :hug: :hug:  :hug:

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milk

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Re: Perfectionism and shame
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2018, 01:04:08 PM »
Great share! Thanks wobbly —- I relate too.
“I am allowed to make mistakes and I am allowed to grow” YES!  :hug:
Enjoy getting into YOU.

I have come to accept certain things about me,...

that I will miss appointments if I don’t set the alarm and make a note, anxiety keeps me on my toes especially if it is something critically good; I will sleep in (if I can) because I am tired and I needed it —- my brain functions better on 8hrs (not consecutively but w/i 24hrs.) — sometimes I miss cues in conversations because my brain has a delay (needs time to take it in and respond - early childhood coping mech?) in emotional understanding — and my favorite one so far is, I can happily focus on what I need to when I have made the choice to do so, blocking out any noise that detracts me from my goal. Yay! (In the case of cPTSD some things are more challenging than others) It doesnt mean I get the work done faster (actually the opposite until it becomes a routine) it means I can take care of myself.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2018, 01:30:09 PM by : »

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LilyITV

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Re: Perfectionism and shame
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2018, 04:55:36 PM »
One random thing I remember is that whenever we'd go out, and I did something my mom thought was off, she'd give me this "look" that would instantly make me feel like a pile of poo  It was a look of combined pity, disappointment, disapproval and shame all in one.  Most of the time when I got that look, I knew I was going to atone for whatever it was I did when we got home.  Sometimes it would be a lecture or sometimes even more.  But really, just the "look" alone was punishment enough. 

I had forgotten about that look, but reading these posts it's all starting to come back to me.  Just the feeling of someone always looking over your shoulder and judging you. 

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wobbly

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Re: Perfectionism and shame
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2018, 08:26:28 PM »
Thank you for your replies, it really means a lot to know I'm not alone. I'm so new to realizing and accepting symptoms. I have limitations, we all do, and that's a part of CPTSD, and that's nothing to be ashamed about. It's also just a part of many people's lives. Before this past month, I never even thought of my sleep issues as a symptom. That was just me being lazy, of course. So hey, that's progress. And LilyITV - I'm all to familiar with ''the look''. I think no words are worse than just mean words, sometimes. The silent treatment is horrible.


Again, I don't really know where to post this but feel like I need to vent. I sent an email, as honest as I could be, explaining my issues, and how I couldn't promise they'd be solved any time soon, but that I still really wanted to try group therapy and would do the best I could. They replied they have strict rules and that I'm no longer on the waiting list, and should try individual therapy instead. I know my actions have consequences, I know you can't just not show up. But there's a part of me that feels like this is the punishment I was dreading. Somehow I've found myself in the same situation once again. It so often feels to me like I need to be perfect for a short amount of time, for a few very specific moments, and if I can't do that, I can't get what I need/want. That's too much pressure for me, it just is.

I'm going to spend a lot of time trying to figure out my sleep problems. I'm going to look into CODA meetings - at least that's a group. This isn't the end, and I guess it wasn't meant to be. It comes back to: I need to be able to make mistakes and grow. Any environment that doesn't let me do that, simply isn't for me. I believe all of that, and I feel a strength in me I haven't felt in a while. But right now, I feel defeated. Disappointed in myself. Trying and failing makes all those old feelings come back. I don't know how to fix these issues, and no one's helping me with them. My new therapist tells me to meditate and do yoga. I mean. I calmly said: ''yes, I am'' - but I feel like yelling, crying. Even just writing this, it makes me so angry. I've been doing everything I need to do for about ten years. Why on earth would I put myself through all sorts of therapy if exercising and meditating was enough?

The one thing I thought would help, is the one thing I apparently can't do, because of the issues that led me there. It feels so ridiculous. There's nothing I can do about it, and I don't want this to make me feel hopeless. But I do need to let myself feel it all. So I can move on when it feels right. I feel sad and angry, and I'm going to let myself feel that.

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milk

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Re: Perfectionism and shame
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2018, 03:33:38 PM »
About the sleeping problem sorry if you have already tried it but wanted to put it out there. before I was diagnosed with ADD I too, had a sleeping problem (it was bad) - some things that helped were: valerian root at night and excessive exercise (hot yoga).