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, May 22, 2012

Too Perfect Tuesdays - Chap 8 - Caught in A Rut

This post continues with Caught in a Rut from Chapter Eight.

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.

<snip>Obsessives are unusually prone to ruts. Their slip into some inflexible behavioral patterns may occur gradually, but can also occur with astonishing speed. One patient confessed that he went to the same barber he had chanced upon when he first arrived in town, even though he had since learned of others who were better, cheaper, and more convenient. A dental student named Norma found that if she studied for a certain amount of time for one class, she felt she had to do the same amount of time for the next class, even if it wasn't really necessary. When such rigidity combined with all-or-nothing thinking, it made things even worse. "Whenever I fall off my routine, I feel terrible, like I've messed up so badly that it's not worth studying at all," she said. "And it's likely to take me a while to get going again."
<snip> I think of the great pianist Vladimir Horowitz, who reportedly loved great restaurants but, no matter where he was, ordered the same dinner: soup, sole, boiled potato, asparagus vinaigrette, and creme caramel. Think of all the great veal dishes that he missed out on, the Chinese food!
Adhering too inflexibly to your routine can subject both you and the people around you to unnecessary pressure. I saw this in Eleanor, a housewife who was driven to keep her house in impeccable order, hewing to a fixed schedule of chores throughout the day. For instance, she liked to get all the laundry done by eleven each morning. She had to serve her home-cooked meals precisely on time, and if the family sat down to eat even a few minutes late, she felt vexed - even if the delay caused no particular problems. Always in a hurry, Eleanor usually worse a serious expression on her face. She resented any interruption - a call from a relative, a request from one of her children for a ride to the park - as an intrusion that could throw her whole schedule into disarray.
<snip> When circumstances or other people force the habit-bound obsessive to change his pattern, he will often feel annoyed or anxious. When I moved to a new office, a patient named Muriel made several disparaging comments about it, even though the new location was actually more convenient for her.
<snip>Another patient, an eminent attorney, was in the habit of opening his mail as soon as he got home, and paying any bills on the spot. <snip> So he doggedly wanted to stick to his routine one afternoon when he and his wife returned home - even though they had a group of friends in tow. "Martha insisted that I ignore the mail and get everyone a drink, and we almost wound up fighting about it. I finally humored her, but I felt extremely irritated."
Yes, he "humored" her. When you have an OCPD loved one, and you insist that s/he take the stick out of her/his a$$ and go with the flow, you may get grudging cooperation, as did the attorney's wife, above. But you will not get a shrug-of-the-shoulders, it's-all-good, happy attitude. S/he may be in a bad mood about life (or, perhaps, blame you) for hours, days, weeks, because s/he had to deal with something s/he was not expecting. Something that changed the Sacred Routine.

"Normal" people understand, $hit Happens. Those who are OCPD will pay lip service to this bromide, may be in total intellectual agreement that things happen out of our control all the time, that people need to be flexible, but emotionally... one minor bobble can send them into a tailspin.

I admit, when it comes to food, I too have my "safe" stand-bys, though I certainly don't order the same thing in every restaurant. I get annoyed sometimes, when an unexpected project lands in my lap at work, or elsewhere. But, after being annoyed for a minute or two, I just figure out a way to make it -  whatever "it" is - work. It never "ruins" my day, or even half of my day.

I can't imagine deciding as a student, that if I needed to study for two hours and fifteen minutes for a math test, for example, that I would have to spend exactly two hours and fifteen minutes apiece on English, social studies, and other subjects, as opposed to simply studying until I felt I knew the material.

I've heard many, many stories about other SO's who struggle with this facet of the disorder. Of the many, many areas of OCPD that were difficult, this was a biggie for me and the ex. We fought a lot about his inability to accept a change in routine - even if, like the patient dubbed Muriel, above, the change was something that was something good. I kept snapping back to normal-think, so to speak, and every time there was a tiny change in routine, like an unexpected phone call from a beloved friend or family member, and my ex got upset, it surprised me. (He would snarl obscenities on the rare occasions the phone rang in the evening - though he used a warm, radio-announcer voice when he actually answered and said hello.)

Are you caught in ruts?
Do you have any funny (or not so funny) stories to share?
Your thoughts?