Perfect Everywhere Except with Family

saint on building

A saint at Oxford

Growing up, most people had one of two comments after talking with me for a little while – “You are so sweet/perfect/nice/angelic/holy/happy!” or “Did you grow up under a rock?’

Neither one of these comments is completely true or fair. I certainly was not raised under a rock, in a barn, or locked in a tower. Also, I am not perfect. My family can attest to that.

Being thought of as an angel on earth was reassuring at times but also stressful. Suddenly, the pressure to be perfect came not only from myself but also others. Everyone seemed to expect me to do the right thing, keep a smile on my face, and never understand anything crude or kind. Thus, I constantly worked to be innocent, cheerful, and sweet.

However, the thought that someone would find out the “true me” was terrifying. What if they knew that I was angry about not having a solo? Suppose they knew that sometimes I had obsessive thoughts about hurting people? How would they respond if I liked a film rated higher than PG?

Much of the pressure I felt probably came from myself. My therapist pointed out the other day that I understand comments as black and white because of apsergers. If someone said that I was “a saint,” I took that to mean they literally thought that about me. However, according to my therapist, that person might have simply meant I was morally upright and good-hearted. They did not actually think me a saint or even having all of the characteristics of a saint. Realizing this was a great discovery and something that I will use in the future.

Anyway, the extreme stress that I put myself under when in public ate away at me. At home, I could not keep up the same image. Instead, all of my pent up feelings came out at my family or myself. This ended up hurting everyone involved and making me hate myself even more.

All of my mental illnesses also acted against me. Or I should say, act against me because I still struggle with being a much more anxious person around my family than in other social settings. When people compliment me in front of my family, I cringe. They have every right to hate me or wish that I was never born, in my mind. If they were to think this, I would not blame them.

Anxiety causes panic attacks at the littlest things such as eating supper outside on the deck. Depression hindered my ability to do homework my mother assigned and lead me to sob at the smallest irritation. OCD tendencies make me upset if someone else is the banker in a board game or sets the table the wrong way. PTSD sends me scurrying away from nice guests to the embarrassment of my parents. Anorexia forced my family to watch me nearly die while causing me to be unable to spend quality time with them at meals. Self-harm confused and frightened my sisters. Aspergers butted heads when I could not understand or agree with someone else’s actions.

All in all, I am nearly impossible to live with and certainly imperfect.

However, my family still stands by my side, and I am so grateful for that. Thank you all so much, Dad, Mom, Christine, Maria, and Mario! You are amazing and all that I could wish for in a family. Also, great thanks to all other support people. You endure so much for your loved ones. That will not go unrewarded, I believe. You rock!

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8 thoughts on “Perfect Everywhere Except with Family

  1. jefairgrieve says:

    You truly deserve a medal for writing this, Anna Rose! You have put into words probably what many of us think but don’t express. I have a more accurate idea now as to how the black and white literal thinking of Asperger’s can make life so, so difficult for the people who have the problem and for the other people in their lives. I’m so glad you have such a loving and dedicated family! None of us is perfect, and somehow you and your family have hung together in imperfection. This in itself is inspiring to all of us! Thank you! Jean

    • jefairgrieve says:

      P.S. Your post calls to mind a quaint, innocent little song in the Episcopal hymnal that despite its quaintness and innocence is a favorite of mine. It’s on YouTube and is called “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God” and is sung by a little girl named Rachel. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DK0pmGPp7SM You may have heard it when you were in England, although it usually is reserved for All Saints Day. Even though it may seem dated, I find the song inspriring. It gives me hope. But then I’m old, so I don’t know how it would be for young people.

    • Thank you so much, Jean! Your comments always make my day so much better. 🙂

  2. celinemurray says:

    “However, the thought that someone would find out the “true me” was terrifying. What if they knew that I was angry about not having a solo? Suppose they knew that sometimes I had obsessive thoughts about hurting people? How would they respond if I liked a film rated higher than PG?”

    I think that’s something a lot of us struggle with, but we never think that someone else would too. (In other words, that’s how I feel a lot.) Thanks for being so honest. 🙂

  3. MEM says:

    We love you, Anna Rose!

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