I have a streak of perfectionism, but it’s directed at myself only.
I don’t request perfectionism from anyone around me. I only have power over myself. Everyone else has to do what they have to do.
(Which often leads to me doing more than I maybe should, ya think?)
BUT… having an entertainment partner who demands perfection is… PERFECT for me.
Diana Richardson, producer extraordinaire, is my partner in crime or comedy or drama. Whatever the day demands. She is a little bulldog (and I love bulldogs!!!!!) in her determination to get things right… always right!
I’m an overfunctioner. I just learned that word this morning on the way to work while I was listening to Brene’ Brown’s Rising Strong (a must-read for anyone who considers themselves part of the human race).
I recognized my own tendencies as Brene’ was describing the person who “does” instead of “feels” in the face of grief. Good lord – the very definition of debi in times of sorrow! I push aside the horrible overwhelming feelings and “take care of things.”
But not only that, by taking over so much, I allow others to fall into underfunctioning. According to Brene’, when someone becomes an underfunctioner they fully feel, they allow others to do for them – all the things that I fight so hard against for myself. Underfunctioning can be a two-edged sword. It can encourage drowning in sorrow, depression. But, and this is a big BUT…
Underfunctioning can also be a blessing, one that I need to somehow embrace. I allowed, probably encouraged, my now incredibly capable daughter to be an underfunctioner during times of grief. And it burned her with searing pain at times – feelings she often didn’t know how to handle. But through the years she has figured out how to make a balance. She feels (so much more than I do) grief deep in her soul, accepts it and then she takes baby steps, bigger steps and finally walks boldly away from it. My grief follows me, haunts me, tries to rise above the surface and I just keep pushing it down with to-do lists.
As I was typing this, I listened to Joe Biden speak of not knowing whether he will run for president. I admire the man – he is feeling his grief and not embracing an overfunctioner’s attitude. He stated honestly, with heart-wrenching pain in his voice, that he doesn’t know what he will do, whether he will run for president of the United States. With only a few words, Vice President Biden laid his soul bare to the world. “True bravery and bad-assery” as Brene’ would say.
When will I allow myself to fully feel like Mr. Biden and my daughter do? Will I ever allow it? And if I do, will I ever recover afterward? I think that is probably what I fear the most.
But! I have an extensive support network and I’m intelligent and could navigate to health. Maybe I’ll truly convince myself of that and get there someday.
I really despise the not so nice person I become on occasion. I become snarky and condescending, with a holier-than-thou attitude that is oxymoronic considering my Satan-of-the-moment persona.
Minutes later, I’m filled with regret. I’m horrified at the pain I’ve caused. I want so badly to take it back, purge that memory, time travel and try again (ha – I’m sure I’d bungle it again, considering my track record).
The saddest part is who I attack – the man who is always on my side, who vowed till death do we part. To his credit, he is always gracious. He sees the bigger picture. The extent of his love and patience show me how low on the maturity scale I’ve dipped.
There are no excuses. No matter my glum state of mind, he deserves my best. He deserves for me to take a breath, reflect on who he is, who I am, what we have and then act and speak accordingly.
Maybe now that this is a written testament, I will more often do what is right. I hope so.
My man is really special, and from all indications he likes coming home. He likes our life together. There IS a secret that helps make this possible. At least the empirical evidence of Debi’s life quality points to this conclusion.
It’s all about the honey-do list.
Seriously? Men hate honey-do lists. They sit on the couch for six months saying they’ll “get to it.” Ha.
So I’ll let ya in on my covert formula: create that list with care… Wait! Hang with me. Stop and clear your head. Ready? Now, think… what does he really enjoy (other than sex – that’s a given). My guy – he likes to shop, travel, eat, drink, take long grueling bike rides, talk, watch dark complicated TV shows, dissolve into silly laughter. So there you have it: that’s his honey-do list. As long as I stick to that list, he doesn’t mind me asking – in fact he jumps to do his chores. Works every time.
Example: during last night’s dinnertime honey-do conversation (not that he’s aware we’re executing his list), I blurt my theory out loud. He takes this all in with twinkling eyes. And… next thing ya know we’re researching and booking a 4-night trip to Tahoe in August.
Moral of the story: plan your honey-do list with care.
I look into the face of my dear friend. In the hospital. (Apparently, it’s a recurring thing lately – these hospital visits.) He has aged. I have to admit when I look in the mirror – I have too. Dammit. And dammit that it took the alarm of the ICU to get me off my butt and by his side.
We share news of kids and grandkids (his) and great-grandkids (his again – yes I’m envious). Nearly four decades of communal history are in the room with us… like it all happened yesterday: crazy dangerous fun, laughter, pain, loss.
He says he doesn’t want to grow old. This scares me. So I ask him, “But if your quality of life is good, old is good, right?” I can’t bear losing him.
But I don’t think I’ll lose him any time soon. He’s a tough bird, “older than dirt” according to his estimations.
He’s side-stepped doctor recommendations for a good long while now, hence ICU and the once-again stay in the hospital. This time they’ll be keeping him for a while – in the pulmonary rehabilitation wing. The fun of youth catches up.
(Seriously!? Are we allotted just some quota of over-the-top living!?! I suppose there’s no rhyme or reason to the life and death cycle TIMING thing but it’s REALLY hard to not contemplate and wonder if there is some allowance-of-fun-score-keeping device that pulls the plug on us through death or discomfort.) Sigh… Enough ranting.
I wish you comfort, my friend.
And LOTS of old age that we can share together.
From Wikipedia: Psychological manipulation is a type of social influence that aims to change the perception or behavior of others through underhanded, deceptive, or even abusive tactics. By advancing the interests of the manipulator, often at the other’s expense, such methods could be considered exploitative, abusive, devious, and deceptive.
Manipulation can be demeaning and frustrating. In extreme cases, it may even be dangerous, as detective Nick Curran of the SFPD found out in Basic Instinct.
There are also times we are manipulated for “our own good”. We’re often grateful for this kind of benevolent leading; e.g. a trusted relation gently swaying us toward a better life decision.
But we should make an effort to distinguish the difference; know when someone is deliberately or otherwise leading us down a wrong path. Do you recognize the signs?
Manipulation can hide behind numerous disguises; tactics are as varied as the individuals employing them. Our personalities determine the methods we’re prone to use. Do you know your particular brand of control? Let’s find out.
If you don’t already know your Enneagram personality type, take the test at this post, remember your type number and return here.
Look below, find your type and see if you recognize behaviors you’ve enacted toward others. Conversely, peruse the list; unless you’ve lived in a bubble, you should see underhanded ploys tried on you.
And keep in mind… as we observed with Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner… who is manipulating whom?
Type 1: The Reformer feels that to be loved he must be good, and to be good he must be right. Whether his argument is correct or not is irrelevant; his method of manipulation is to persuade others to agree with his views in his attempt to satisfy his underlying needs.
Type 2: The Helper feels he must earn others’ love by putting their needs before his. His method of manipulation is to learn and cater to the needs and desires of others hence creating dependencies in his attempt to satisfy his underlying needs.
Type 3: The Achiever feels he is worthy due only to his achievements and performances. Leaving his true self behind to be “successful”, he will manipulate by charming others and by assuming whatever facade seems appropriate in the attempt to satisfy his underlying needs.
Type 4: The Individualist is on a life-long search for his identity. In his insistence that he is unlike anyone else and that he is true to himself, he manipulates through making others very uncomfortable with his moodiness and eccentricities in the attempt to satisfy his underlying needs.
Type 5: The Investigator can only recognize self-worth if he feels a degree of expertise in at least one area; if he has mastered some thing. He will manipulate by staying preoccupied and detaching emotionally from others in the attempt to satisfy this underlying need.
Type 6: The Loyalist longs for support and guidance and the ability to stand on his own. Though it may undermine the support he strives for, he will manipulate by complaining and testing the commitment of others in the attempt to satisfy these underlying needs.
Type 7: The Enthusiast desires to be happy and satisfied, escaping anxiety. He feels OK if he has “all he needs”. In the attempt to maintain these heightened feelings, he will manipulate by distracting others and insisting they meet his demands.
Type 8: The Challenger fears dependency of any kind in his quest for autonomy in this hostile world. Feeling he alone is strong and works hard, he will manipulate by demanding others to do his bidding; becoming domineering in his attempt to satisfy these underlying needs.
Type 9: The Peacemaker desires peace of mind and stability in his inner and exterior world and believes all is OK if those around him are OK. He will manipulate by passively-aggressively resisting others and by disappearing into his daydreams in his attempt to satisfy these underlying needs.
Armed with this knowledge, can you visualize maintaining a more disciplined, forthright mode of interacting? Can you visualize banishing the games and relinquishing control over others’ lives?