|Swedish Guards via Wikimedia|
This series looks 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.
Guarded Against Intimacy
<snip> Human beings are social creatures, valuing and seeking a sense of connection with others throughout their lives. <snip> Without question, the experience of intimacy can open the way to feelings of unparalleled spiritual fulfillment. But intimacy has other consequences that many obsessives find frightening.
THE FEAR OF BEING FOUND OUT
For one thing, the closer you are to someone, the more likely he or she is to see all aspects of your personality - both the "good" traits and those you feel are unattractive or even shameful. Marvin, a successful banker, had little trouble meeting people and quickly winning their admiration. Yet he kept friends, acquaintances, and even lovers at a carefully controlled distance. "I'm afraid to let them really get to know me," he admitted in therapy one day. "I feel like a phony - that people will find out how inadequate I am underneath it all, and they'll be disgusted and reject me."
<snip> With her [his girlfriend], Marvin felt compelled to stay one step ahead of exposure. "I have to be the first to jump, to leave, to push them away," he disclosed.
FEAR OF TRUSTING
For many obsessives, another obstacle to intimacy is their difficulty with trusting. They fear that other people will let them down.
<snip> If there is a single unifying theme of obsessiveness, it is the desire to eliminate feelings of vulnerability and risk, and to gain instead a sense of safety and security.
<snip> Sometimes this wariness persists after many tears in a close relationship. such as marriage, even when the spouse has demonstrated trustworthiness. After twenty years of marriage, for example, Kyle and his wife were still arguing over his failure to express his love for her. "She's filled with twenty years of resentment and anger," he told me. "She says intimate communication with me is impossible, that I'm not willing to express my love of expose other feelings to her."
To me, Kyle acknowledged that he hasn't been a very trusting person, and his characteristic suspiciousness had intensified when he had been hurt several times after honestly disclosing his feelings. "People have betrayed me by repeating confidences; they've embarrassed me," he stated. But when I asked him how often his wife in all their years of marriage had betrayed his confidences, he confessed that he couldn't remember a single occasion. I asked if she'd ever done anything to make him seriously doubt her love, and he again had to admit that the answer was no. Nonetheless, he still felt threatened by the idea of "opening up" to her.
As time goes on, people in a relationship either get closer, or draw farther apart. With certain relationships, such as co-workers or friendships, a little distance is okay, probably preferable. Not so in a love relationship.
I felt like Kyle's wife - if not now, after all this time when I have never let you down, when will you trust me? After 21 years? 31? (Of course the answer was "Never.")
He did tell me he loved me. And I believe he did, as much as he could anyone, yet, as the truism goes, actions speak louder than words. He showed me, a dozen times a day or more, that he didn't trust me, and never would. Choice? Habit too deeply ingrained over so many years? Actually unable to trust because of the OCPD?
When someone is in physical danger - the house is on fire, they're drowning - there are (sometimes) ways to knock them out and rescue them, even against their will. Not so with mental disorders.
He pushed me out the door, emotionally, long before I actually packed my bags and left. I do not regret that I did leave, nor that I ended our relationship as lovers, just about a year ago. Yet, I am deeply sorry that I had to leave him behind, in a mental jail of his own (and his disease's) making.