Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Too Perfect Tuesdays - Chap 4 - Overcoming Indecisiveness & the Fear of Commitment

This post continues with Overcoming Indecisiveness and the Fear of Commitment from Chapter Four.

This series will look at a small snippet of The book on the Perfectionist Personality, aka The Obsessive Compulsive disordered Personality, aka OCPD, each week. Please follow along, leave your comments, engage more on the FaceBook website... whatever your heart calls you to do.

Too Perfect, When Being in Control Gets Out of Control by Allan E. Mallinger, M.D. and Jeanette DeWyze was published by Random House in 1992.  If you believe you are dealing with OCPD or someone who is "Too Perfect," whether that's you or a loved one, please buy a copy of the book and read it for additional insights that will not all be covered in these excerpts.

Overcoming Indecisiveness and the Fear of Commitment
If a person cannot make decisions or avoids commitments because he wants to "hold on to his options," he had better be enjoying them.  They are expensive.  Consider some of the costs:  
  • You suffer every time you can't decide about something or face a potential commitment.  It is grueling and excruciating to be torn apart this way.
  • Hundreds, even thousands of hours of your life are wasted on trying to make up your mind or ruminating over decisions already made.  Imagine how much energy this costs.  And for what?  Does all the waffling and stalling make the decisions turn out that much better?
  • Indecisiveness and fear of commitment are sure to cause you to miss numerous opportunities, from financial ventures to long-term romantic relationships. <snip>
  • A tentative attitude prevents you from giving anything your best effort.  <snip> do manage to get into or out of jobs, relationships, projects, purchases.  But you rarely do these things directly and cleanly, carried along by the force of unconflicted convictions, so your actions somehow feel as if they're not truly yours.  <snip>
You don't develop a strong, clear sense of self, partly because this would require you to acknowledge that, for better or worse, you have directed your own destiny.  <snip>
I once dated a man before my OCPD ex, who was probably OCPD as well, just not as severely.  He spent a great deal of energy explaining to me why he didn't have any choice in:  ...where he lived, what he did for a living, what he did artistically, on and on and on.  Rescuer that I was, I would  give him countless examples to show him that he did, indeed, have other options, he was simply choosing not to make them.

Finally I realized that that he was emotionally tied to this concept of himself as a victim of circumstance.  He refused to accept that he was doing what he was doing or living where he was living because that was his own choice.  I lost patience with the whole poor can't-help-myself attitude (though, apparently, not enough to keep from trying to Rescue the next one who came along).

One of the frustrating things about being involved with someone with this Perfectionist Personality is observing how very painful this "dithering" can be for the Ditherer. From the outside, it looks not only excruciating, but entirely avoidable.  It's like the old joke about somebody hitting himself in the head with a hammer, "because it feels so good when I stop."

Churning from Wikimedia
Good for butter, not for decision-making

It makes us want to scream, "Why, WHY are you doing this to yourself?"

Which, of course, is the multi-jillion dollar question.  Brain wiring?  Habit?  Chemical imbalance?  Childhood trauma?  All of the above?

I could wish there was more research and better answers as to the why, but what little there is suggests that the brain can be rewired, the old habits can be broken, and better, healthier ones put into place.  That it's not simply "the way it has to be" but a choice.

Those with this condition must come to see that the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain/fear/risk of making a change, and be willing to invest the very hard work it takes to STOP the old, churning behaviors.

Would you be rich, if you had a dollar for every hour wasted dithering?
How about for the time spent second-guessing an already made decision?
Does being afraid to commit enrich your life, or steal from it?