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 25, 2012

Too Perfect Tuesday - Chap 9 - Chronic Leisure-Deprivation

Grand Canyon, North Rim - view of Cape Final.
Only four miles round trip but in the altitude it kicked my butt!
This post continues with CHRONIC LEISURE-DEPRIVATION from Chapter Nine.

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.

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.

By definition, workaholics don't have much free time, and chronic leisure-deprivation in itself may cause both psychological and physiological damage. Among the varied medical ailments attributed to overwork are fatigue, irritability, sleep disturbances, difficult in concentrating, depression, gastrointestinal malfunctions, coronary disease, hypertension, headaches, and muscle spasms.

<snip> Of course, burnout afflicts both those who are forced by circumstances into overworking, and those who are psychologically driven to work all the time. But of the two groups, overly driven obsessives are less likely to be able to enjoy whatever small amounts of leisure time they do have. <snip>

Other workaholics might cook elaborate dinners or take on complex home-improvement projects. Such laborious "play" can be truly pleasurable, but it's also very common for demand-sensitivity insidiously to drain the fun out of freely chosen leisure activities, making them feel like things that should or even must be done - in other words, like simply more work.

<snip> Caroline, the marketing director for a large clothing company, one day described her feelings about spending time with her baby and preschooler on the weekends.

"I love my children more than anything else in the world, and I don't have that much time with them during the week. Yet I find it very hard to spend completely unstructured time with them. Half the time I devise activities for us: we go somewhere or we undertake some project. About the only way I can force myself to just hang out with them and play spontaneously is by telling myself that it's my 'job' as a good mother to do that. And then it's okay. But it's sad that I can't fully surrender myself to their world."

<snip" Danielle was a perfectionistic workaholic who used her vacations to travel extensively; once on the road, she was a relentless sightseer. If she wasn't out the door and heading for a museum by nine in the morning, she became tense; should a vacation end before she had hit all the "things to see" in her guidebooks, she felt cheated and unhappy. These underlying tensions burst into full bloom when she started to travel with her boyfriend, Jack, who took the view that touring should be leavened with long mornings in bed and lazy breakfasts spent with coffee and local papers. <snip> to my surprise, I found that I actually sort of preferred this schedule. I began to think, 'Maybe there hasn't been something wrong with Jack. Maybe it's wrong with me.' And I just started to enjoy relaxing and hanging out more. Since then, I've made the conscious decision that I don't have to see everything while traveling. I've learned to prioritize and try to see just the best."

Mickey greeting guests at Disneyland Park
Mickey greeting guests at Disneyland Park
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
No matter how minutely or how well you plan things - other "stuff" is going to happen, too. Sometimes much better "stuff" than you could have planned. I remember taking my son to Disneyland (a not particularly cheap day trip, FYI, if you've never visited) when he was about three. I wanted to schlep him to this ride and that ride, to get his picture taken with Mickey Mouse, and all that. And he wanted to sit on the benches behind Dumbo and watch through a gap in the hedges at "Casey Jr." the miniature circus train go by.

OMG, I wasn't getting my money's worth! Then I realized, I was, because the point of the trip was for us to have a good time together, for my child to have a good time at Disneyland, and he did. (Even though by the time he was ready to move on, after over an hour of train-watching, I was bored out of my gourd.)

A few years ago my ex and I went to the Grand Canyon, and yes, we had a fair amount plotted out in advance, because we had to (accommodations and so forth). But while I was there I picked up several books about the Grand Canyon, and I'm pretty sure Harvey Butchart, subject of Elias Butler & Tom Myers' book: Grand Obsession: Harvey Butchart and the Exploration of Grand Canyon, was at least somewhat OCPD. The man spent decades hiking and rafting in the Grand Canyon, virtually abandoning his family for weeks and months in order to cross another summit climb or canyon map off his list.
A self-described perfectionist, Harvey constantly assessed his hikes in terms of time and distance. Companions remember him as a man absolutely preoccupied with his watch - how long it took to hike from point a to point b, how this compared to the last time he had been across the same piece of ground, how long he could go before having to turn around, etc. <snip>

Susan Billingsley, a former river guide who first came to Grand Canyon in the 1960's, explained," I didn't do that much hiking with Harvey but I never particularly wanted to. Because he didn't hike, I don't think, for the beauty or anything else, he hiked to get to a certain point. You'd go look at his slides and they would be of the route, you know, there was never a beautiful slide of the Canyon, or who was with him, just - the route. He was so focused on that. He'd just get up in the morning and eat in his sleeping bag, and then get up and hike all day, and get in his sleeping bag and eat and go to sleep."
Grand Canyon. For myself, the constant beauty left me breathless and awestruck
Butchart, a mathematics professor, covered over 12,000 miles, made hundreds of maps and had a few books published on the subject. He was extremely competitive though he did enjoy exchanging letters with others who shared the same interest. It wasn't a spiritual experience, or about drinking in the sights. For him, it was all about plotting the hike or the trip, getting there as quickly and efficiently as possible, then turning around and getting back as quickly as possible, like Danielle from Too Perfect, who felt she had to hit every spot in the guidebook.

Maybe for some people, that is as good as it gets.

Have you been affected by leisure-deprivation?
Do you ever have a hard time just letting fun happen?
Your thoughts?
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