Every once in a while, I do something that makes me question how rational, maybe even how sane, I am. Friday was one of those times. On Friday morning, I had my first appointment with a new cleaning person who came highly recommended by my friend R. She works with the cleaning staff at R’s work site. A few months ago when I told him what happened with the woman I hired to clean my place and do my laundry, but who chose to take advantage of my situation instead, he put out some feelers to see if there might be someone willing to work for me on a casual basis. Lucky for me, someone on his staff responded to his request. After playing a long round of phone tag, we finally connected, and I laid out for her the kind of things I need done and the rate I’m able to pay. She accepted my offer then we agreed on a day of the week that works best for both of us.
Here’s where my insanity kicked in. Before she arrived on Friday morning, I felt panicked. My place was what I consider a disaster area. Although, to most people who come to visit me it still looks clean and organized, I can’t cope with the mess I see. I got out of bed earlier than I needed to and started cleaning up. I put away the pile of clothes that had grown on the side of my bed I don’t sleep on either because they were not put away the last time my laundry was done or because that’s where they land when I decide an item of clothing isn’t what I want to wear. I rolled up my yoga mat and put away my sneakers. I washed the pots, measuring cups, utensils, and bowls I used a couple of days before to cook asparagus and mushroom risotto, but then didn’t have the strength to clean up after eating what turned out to be a delicious meal. Then I turned my attention to the growing assortment of art supplies I have, which I packed into one of the many boxes they arrive to my home in that needed to be put out for recycling.
I know how this sounds, but I couldn’t help myself. The clean freak that’s been living in my head since I was a little girl insisted that I make a good impression on the person who was coming to clean my home for the first time. I still can’t believe I did that: I staged my home to look less messy so I wouldn’t be judged. Even pain can’t override the unachievable expectations and rules hardwired into my brain that make me behave irrationally. I’m so embarrassed that I did this I haven’t told any of my friends or family. The funny thing is that if one of them told me they did this I would laugh at them and tell them how ridiculous it is to do something like this when the purpose of paying someone to do it is so you don’t have to. DUH!
Being a perfectionist has been a significant issue throughout my life that stems from a need to control things. Even though there has been an upside to it, like having a strong work ethic and being independent, the downside is tremendous. Feeling that other people in your life can’t live up to the standards you set for yourself is one of them, especially when it’s impossible for you to meet them yourself. It also becomes a problem when, like on Friday, you hire someone to do something for you but question whether he or she will judge you because you can’t do it yourself or if they are competent enough to do what you need – she did an outstanding job by the way.
One of the things I’m learning about perfectionism is that even if you don’t ask the questions out loud, your actions ask them for you. I clearly still have a lot of work to do to overcome the need to control my environment and my image; and I must let go of this need soon because the potential downside now is the added harm to my health.
Enchanted – Happy Working Song