|Castillo Turegano via Wikimedia|
Theoretically, the door will open eventually.
Or the walls will crumble of old age.
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.
It shouldn't be surprising that many obsessives tend to be too "guarded." If nothing else, obsessives are alert to everything that might go wrong in life. Unconsciously they yearn to protect themselves against all potential risk - an understandable desire. But, more than other people, obsessives seem blind to the costs of too much "protection." And there are always costs.
Some degree of frugality is laudable, for example, but guarding your money also costs the time and energy wasted in comparison-shopping for even small items. It costs the pleasures forgone because they're "too frivolous," the generosity unexpressed because you "can't afford" to share.
Similarly, self-reliance is a good trait. But some obsessives are so uncomfortable with the idea of being dependent on anyone else that they guard their autonomy too fiercely. They may be unable to delegate work, for example, and must then spend the time and effort doing what someone else could do adequately.
Even more pernicious are the consequences of being overly guarded emotionally. This tendency can make it almost impossible to have mutually satisfying relationships. The need to hold yourself back from others can make you feel chronically constrained and tense; even worse, you may come to feel alone in the universe, unconnected, a stranger almost everywhere you go. The sense that no one truly knows you, or cares about you, is a sad and painful burden.
Because he couldn't trust me, couldn't open up with me, my ex was like one big festering wound of distorted thoughts, suspicions, and poisons. It wasn't until after we'd been living together nearly three years he confessed he was certain when I went to get my hair done that I was hooking up with an ex-boyfriend, because no way a hairdresser would open up for an 8:00 am appointment. (I did usually brunch with a girlfriend afterwards, which he knew - occasionally I even put her on the phone to say hi to him.)***
Sometimes I wonder, if he'd trusted me with his fears right from my first hair appointment, if things would have been different. Lancing the wound to let all the poison out.
But of course, he didn't trust me with anything. He couldn't share chores, because I might do small thing differently. By the end, I was living with an angry, surly stranger. He did occasionally have times when he would tell me he loved me, would make love to me with his body. But he would never share his deeper thoughts or feelings, and did everything he could to keep me from sharing mine.
When he cried, he wouldn't even let me put my arms around him to offer comfort. When you get rejected, over and over and over again, you eventually stop trying to storm that castle. There's a song a friend of mine wrote, "(In My) Trembling Hands," about a woman, not young, not unscarred by life, shakily offering herself, soul and heart, to a new love. It perfectly encapsulates how I felt. "I'm a gift for you," goes the chorus.
But he would have had to open the door to accept that gift. And I might have been a Trojan horse. So, he stayed inside, bitter and barricaded, and finally, I decided that the gift of my love was too precious to keep offering to someone who would never be brave enough to open the door. He chose fear over love.
They say it's better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all, and that's absolutely true. I think he loved me despite his best efforts to protect himself, but because he stayed too guarded, afraid to love and lose, he lost me anyway.
Please don't make that mistake.