The OCD process

So, yesterday afternoon, I asked why I would be willing to quilt a quilt three times. And, now I know the answer. Several of the bloggers I follow have been sharing their processes about quilting, so I thought I'd share mine...which has much more to do with my OCD than my quilting.

Work has been very uncomfortable. I've been asked to step outside my normal comfort zone. I've dealt with difficult people and difficult processes and a workload that is overwhelming. The pace has been fast and the meetings have been plentiful. And, there's been school; back to school nite to meet the teachers, the stress of having to dig out the grain of truth from my child's nonsensical stories, my first game in the stands since 1985. And, that has worked my introvert self to a frazel. And, it has upset the apple cart of my compulsion to be perfect...or at least darn close to perfect.

So, when I pulled out that particular quilt to work on this weekend, it was with an overwhelming need to have some perfection, because my last two weeks had been anything but perfect. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with that quilt and it was a good plan and had a high likelihood of near perfection.

Two years ago, I would have taken out my need for something to be perfect on Rob or the kid, the most important people in my life. And, when one of them did something imperfect, like leave a piece of trash on the counter or something else equally trivial, I would have said angry and hurtful things because they weren't perfect and that would have made me feel worse because it showed I was not perfect.

And, the process went around and around; I'm not perfect. But, the therapist has been having us work on the process of handling our emotions instead of the words or actions we use when we're handling them. Now I can shut myself in the sewing room and grumble ugly words under my breath about how imperfect I am and shake my fists at my imperfection. And, that is improvement. I'd much rather quilt for two days and then rip it all out, not because it didn't look great, but because it felt rough and was not perfect.

At some point in the future, I want to change the process again so that I don't need something to be perfect when I'm under heavy stress and outside my normal element. But, for now, I'm going to celebrate the fact that I can lock myself away and deal with my need for perfection instead of expecting those around me to satisfy that need. Because we are many things in my very happy little family, but perfect ain't one of them.

Whew! That felt good. At some point of the morning, when I was still pulling out stitches, I realized all this and acknowledged it and now I'm sharing it. I'm hoping that acknowledging it as part of the process of dealing with my emotional discomfort will help me change the process of dealing with my emotional discomfort. At least that's what the therapist keeps promising. And as much as I keep paying her, I need to believe in her promises. And, it has worked this far.

So, I hope that today I have an imperfect day and that I'm okay with that. Or, that I have a perfect day and I know I'll be okay with that. Or, if I have a really crappy day, I hope I'm okay with that, too. Because these are the days of my life.

and, you know that when I finally get happy with that poor little quilt, it's gonna be darn near perfect. it might not have any backing fabric left, but it will be darn near perfect. and it's better to hope for that than to hope that my kid or my partner or I will ever be perfect. we're so much more fun just the way we are.



Rhoda said...

It's better the fabric on the quilt be worn than your relationship with your family! My mom was OCD and I feel for people that have it. I am only a perfectionist about my sewing, so I understand you in that. However, I now know that my FMQ may look like the pits when I'm doing it, but when I look at the whole it will look good, or at least acceptable.

Elizabeth said...

I can see that my comment the other day that finished is better than perfect was less than helpful. Sorry about that. I know what you mean about wanting a little control in your life. Life is so messy. Sitting down to a project where I know I have absolute control is something that makes me happy. When I get frustrated with the people around me, I think about this quote:
Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be. –Thomas à Kempis

I have to remind myself of that a lot. It helps me to realize that the only person I have control over is me, and I can't even make me do everything I think I should. How's that for irony?

Thanks for sharing your process. It helped me to connect a few dots. I had a quilt top nearly finished and decided that it wasn't quite right, so I'm on the process of pulling it apart to make it right. I've got another top all finished and ready to go, and I'm seriously thinking of pulling it apart too. Both tops are really nice. But they just aren't quite right. the second top requires a TON of unpicking to pull it back to a place where I could begin remaking it, so I might just decide that I can live with it. I'll have to see how I feel after I remake the other top.

Hope your day is a good one.

xo -E

Momma Made This said...

Oh Lane...

I understand issues (got plenty myself!!!), but dang it all.... perfect is boring as all get out!

I'm glad you are enjoying your fabulously fun and imperfect family! As for the rest, I know you'll do the best you can to deal with what comes! Hang in there!

And I loved the part about "it might not have a backing left, but it will be darn near perfect!" Funny!!!

~ Ronda

lw said...

I can sure see myself in this post-- the do-overs, the kicking myself in the back end because of some little stupid thing I said...glad to know I'm not the only one out there.

Becky said...

Good post and good insight. Hang in there!

Angie Padilla said...

As a former type A personality learning to embrace and become a type B, I relate to what you are saying. I have learned that it begins with my own attitude - I try to start out each day with this thought: at the end of my life, what will I want to be remembered for? And it definitely isn't for being nit-picky, or "perfect." What has helped me to let go in my quilting has been to start dabbling with art quilts and mixed media. It helps, because there are no rules here, and I find I am able to let myself go and let the fabric and process lead the way. Maybe something to try? In any case, thank you for sharing. I think you will find there are many, many people who relate.

oldbatt said...

Lane, I am totally not OCD but I have taken apart a whole finished purse just to put the handles on another purse and then I HAD to go back and re-finish that first purse. It was just a need I had to fulfill so it was done and done right. So I do understand a little of what you are doing by pulling out all those stitches...twice! Best, Lisa

Shevvy said...

Well I hope you have a wonderful day, perfect or not.

I've never handled the stress around me in that way but I can certainly understand the need to grumble at yourself for a few hours.

I've just started training to be a counsellor and one of the core conditions is unconditional positive regard. But I can't do it for myself! In fact when discussing it I said "I can't show unconditional positive regard for myself, silly cow!!!!" My tutor had a lot to say about that!

Cynthia L. said...

It seems that many of us "quilters" want things perfect, even though we know nothing in life is perfect. I know that with your families help you will work this out. I have gone on long walks and cleared my head instead of grumbling. I have to get away from issues sometimes.

Pauline said...

I only allow myself one Obsessively Compulsive action. My straight quilting pins MUST be in a certain order on all pincushions! Now how bad can that be? The red tomato with only white glass pins and the pin cushipn by the machine only 12 blue one. In my eyes, my reasoning is great. I can account for all my pins at any time and I don't ruin a rotor blade cutting or lose a pin in material only to find it in my finger then bleed all over my material. My obsession is harmless, I don't dwell on it and I've put everything else in this catagory..."Don't sweat the small stuff, and everything is small stuff." I'm happier and if others don't like it, well who cares? Chill out Lane, you're a great guy, enjoy life and your neat family!
Love to you.

Shirleymac said...

I'm a perfectionist too. I have trouble every time I wash the bathroom floor cause the trim needs painting. That means that I really have to push myself to wash the floor at all. I get a defeatest attitude. Why wash the floor when the room will never be perfect? I'm working on it. I have one placemat that I did that the binding is bothering me on.Ripping out the stitches would feel good and I decided yesterday I'm going to do just that. Better than me obsessing every time I think of them.

Vesuviusmama said...

Your strategy actually sounds pretty healthy to me, not just for you, but for those you care about as well.