?How To Stop Being A Freaked Out, Overachieving Perfectionist?
Ugh, so the first episode of the Paranormal Academy For Troubled Boys serial is ready to publish. Why ugh? Because I’m trying to figure out how the fuck to post this story without burning myself out during the process.
I’ve been realizing some big stuff this summer. One is how I’m an overachiever who undervalues herself so much I couldn’t even tell I was an overachiever. Two, that I’ve locked down my subconscious so well in the need to ‘adult’ that I haven’t allowed myself to daydream or think about stories that aren’t about building the Sadie Sins brand—aka, this is why writing is no longer fun. I’ve been so focused on trying to turn my writing into a living that I lost what I loved about writing, which was the fun, crazy ideas.
Thirdly, and probably most damning, I found a connection between my health problems and PTSD. A big connection. :/ We’re talking psychosomatic death feigning, learned helplessness, and dopamine suppression as the brain forces the body to ‘give up’ a fruitless task to stop it from neurotically obsessing until it breaks. I realized that living with the anxiety PTSD gave me for over 30 years had turned me up to 11, and when I ‘got better,’ I only calmed down to something like an 8. I’m still stressing myself out, I’m still holding onto twisted values that keep pushing me to do, do DO! And I have become so used to this stressful drive, that I couldn’t see it, like, at all.
I’m a control freak (okay, I already knew that) but I didn’t see how bad it really was. Because I was the crazy fuck who, when I thought I was dying, decided it was time to start a business just to pass the time. Yeah, my body was so sick, exhausted, and burnt out from my overactive immune system responding to everything, but I decided to ‘push through’ like a WINNER and ignore all that. Because I am fucked in the head and only just now seeing the extent.
My body is trying to stop my self destructive patterns by literally stopping me flat. And I thought at first, whoa, that’s crazy. How could I even think that about myself? But then I started practicing mindfulness again, started really looking at what happens right before the Parkinson’s flares and the messages happening in my mind. I had a flare right after a bad driving scare—literally life and death response. Then I had a flare when I had the house to myself for a day and then my bf came home and I realized, nope, I’m not okay with sharing a bedroom indefinitely—I want my fucking space! But it wasn’t until I faced that feeling that the flare stopped just as quickly as it started. I started getting a flare when out on a long walk, and instead of ‘suffering through’ like I normally would, I stopped, stretched, regrouped my emotional core, and the feeling passed and my energy returned.
So yeah, it’s me. I’m stressing myself into sickness.
I figure it’s like this…
My body got used to breaking after 5+ years of mold toxicity and low dopamine, and now that everything is ‘fine,’ it has decided certain triggers—thoughts, emotions, behaviors—are going to start that cascade effect all over again. The neural pathways are still there, set deep into my brain and nervous system. It’s not the smell of mold setting me off anymore, but when I feel emotionally trapped in a situation. It’s not dust mites or cat dander, but when I ignore that my muscles are tensing and I don’t relax my body as needed. I don’t have to worry about pollen anymore—I got a little pill for that. But I have no pill for the stress I weigh myself down with when I put too much expectation on myself and the simple things I do.
It’s such a contradiction to who I am in so many ways. Because I know—I KNOW— the value of a person is in that they exist. That’s it. If you exist, you are already worthy of compassion and respect. You don’t have to do anything or achieve anything or have a buttload of wealth or be super nice to be valued. You exist and that’s enough. I know this, but my subconscious is still running on old trauma wiring that tells me that I can only be worthy if I do things, and I have to do them really well, and people have to like them, and if people don’t like what I do then that means they don’t like me and I must be a terrible person. And how do I know if people like what I do? Well, what does society tell us? We learn that unless we have great wealth, we are not valued by society, that we are worthless enough to die outside a hospital with no one caring. Not being wealthy means you’re a lazy, worthless person who just isn’t trying to contribute to society, right?
It is difficult to be a human in this world of humans that was crafted around the idea that people are only valuable if they appear to have succeeded in life. Even as I know that these ideas of success are absolute nonsense, a lower part of my brain absorbs these messages and pushes me to survive by these irrational rules. It’s exhausting. I have spent years unconsciously trying to gain self worth from something that has absolutely nothing to do with my worth—and it hasn’t helped that the self improvement industry sells these ideas to us like they’re spiritual enlightenment. Really, think about it. We don’t have gurus like Ghandi anymore who discarded his worldly possessions and his ego to do what he could to help the world. We have CEOs swearing if you reach enlightenment, you’ll be wealthy beyond your dreams, you’ll be valuable to society, recognized for your greatness and intelligence. You’ll win the human lottery if you just figure out how to be spiritually, physically, mentally, and motivationally perfect. Discard your want of worldly possessions and you will be able to hoard all the shit you want in a giant mansion. If you overcome being an overachiever, you will be able to DO MORE THINGS! (not fucking joking; this was the message that smacked me over the head when I started looking up how to stop being an overachiever.)
I need a mental break from myself and this fucked up world
One of the things I noticed when I realized what the fuck I was doing to myself and how destructive the messaging surrounding me was that I started to be able to let my thoughts wander. I allowed myself to be bored. I’m thinking about stories that I don’t see much immediate financial gain in, but I do see fun in the journey of writing them. But this is not an overnight process. I have been wired to break myself at every turn—just the crushing guilt of not publishing in months has been brutal—and I need to find ways around that through habits, healthy messaging, and a fuck ton of mindfulness. I need to exposure therapy myself out of perfectionism and need for control.
Under it all is this little, vulnerable voice demanding if I just do everything right, I will never be hurt, I will never feel alone or sad or like a failure. If I just plan enough, stress enough, double/triple check until my eyes bleed, I will be safe. It’s a very sad, lonely voice who already feels like a failure and is just projecting it onto everything I do. It is very tiring to live this way, so driven to achieve something where I can’t even notice that I’m breaking myself out of poor self esteem. I don’t know how to relax—all those years stuck in bed and I never learned how to relax, just how to ignore the pain and exhaustion I was feeling. Really, it’s seriously sad to even think about.
I found myself in a profession that has a lot of excuses to give into that perfectionist voice. I’m not just talking about editing and ensuring my grammar is perfect along with spelling and comma placement and every pointless fucking rule in the English language that rears its head. (If you have a visceral reaction to hearing that the rules to our made up language are pointless, you might want to see if you’re dealing with perfectionist issues. Not joking.) This self publishing shit is about pattern recognition, algorithms, SEO for keywords, genre trends—there is so much fucking minutia in publishing your own books that can really trigger that obsessive voice in my head to DO THINGS RIGHT, which then in turn freezes me because it’s just too much stress—gotta get the ARCs out before the book goes live, gotta start marketing and setting up networking to coincide with the release date, gotta create the perfect blurb hook, gotta space those book releases 3 to 4 weeks apart before you fall off the Amazon front page from the KU new book boost—There is a lot to this process that just screams for perfection while whispering if you do it right, if you hit it the right way, you will be rewarded and never stress again. You will win the book lottery where you will finally be recognized and rewarded for killing yourself over fucking fantasy.
It’s a misery fest for my already fucked up mental stability. So I gotta find a way to balance this shit so I don’t self destruct. It’s like poking at a pimple until you realize half your face is swollen and you have a giant bloody wound in the middle of your cheek because you can’t just let shit go.
I don’t know how I’m going to handle this, I’ll be real. Part of me wants to throw the book on Amazon and not anything else, just ignore it. That seems self destructive in its own right where I can only do something by not being part of the process. I’m considering a preorder, something where I can force myself to slow down and take a month or something so I won’t be allowed to overwhelm myself by trying to do it all in one moment. I know nothing about preorder stats and ranking, so I can’t fall into the pattern recognition game of NEEDING TO DO IT RIGHT! I don’t know what’s right for it, so it will just be what it is, a way to give myself a break.
The book is done, the cover is made, it’s all edited, I just need to create some space between me and the actual publishing of the book so I don’t fall into the shit that hits me after every book release.
Learning to be idle
So… yeah, that’s my crazy rant of the week. I’m facing the fact that I torture myself over everything and in doing so, have lost all sense of fun and enjoyment in what I do. It has been on such a subconscious level, I couldn’t even see the connection to the apathy, the exhaustion, the emotion = body stopping. It has slowed me down—I don’t want to think of getting past overachieving as a way to achieve better productivity—but the truth is, the psychological shit I’ve been weighing myself with has absolutely resulted in a level of writer’s block. And it’s fucked, because I designed my website to get around the pressure of self publishing and freaking myself out!
It’s all in my head. =_= I will carry this with me no matter what I do until I figure out how to let it go. I’ve been reading some essays on the wonderfulness of being idle, trying to get into a mindset that is so alien to me after all these years. But that too could be the PTSD. When you’re running from your own thoughts for years, giving space to think can feel overwhelming too.
I hope everyone is enjoying their summer and not being an obsessive, neurotic wreck. ^.^ The crickets sound amazing just buzzing in the quiet night.
You finally get it Get and stay well. Enjoy life. Good luck and thanks for all the insight and quality reading.
*hug* Thank you for the compassionate response, Eric. This has been a long journey, and I know it’s far from over, but I do feel like I can relax a little bit more.