Until the 4th grade, I went to a school that didn't have letter grades. When I got my first test paper back with 2 x's, I knew instinctively that this was bad, and I should only have check marks, only right answers. My perfectionism started early. An x meant I had done something wrong, and I could feel fear in my chest, and a flush of shame in my face. I had decided that being perfect was the key to being ok, to being loved, to being acceptable. This is a potent belief that influenced my life thoroughly, and when mixed with OCD, extremely painful.
OCD offered a supposed solution, a method for being perfect, if only I analyzed and ruminated enough about every thought I had, every action I took. There are times when I want to x out OCD, draw a big black x through it, banish it, deface it. I'm old enough to remember learning to type on an electric typewriter, and the satisfaction of pressing down the x key and obliterating a whole line of type. My perfectionism is sneaky and I find myself desiring to perfectly eradicate my OCD symptoms, and this slowed me down for a long time, since anything I did wasn't enough in my mind, and any progress I made, I dismissed as inadequate. But over time, through the love of my husband and my friends and the help of my therapist, I have learned compassion for myself, for the girl I was, the girl who could never make a mistake or else she was worthless and doomed. If you struggle with this kind of self-loathing, know that it is possible to learn kindness for your own self. A child doesn't know there is hope or that perfection is impossible, but as adults, we can step outside that suffocating room of condemnation, and move toward freedom.