September 7, 2011

Neat and Tidy, Part One

I've been called a lot of things throughout my life: Perfectionist, Anal, Neat Freak, Obsessive, etc.

This part of my personality has truly been with me since early childhood. Part of it comes from the influence of my mom, who has always kept a very clean, organized, clutter-free home. In fact, on several occasions when I was a kid, my friends would comment to me, "Your house is so clean!!" And since most kids don't notice/care about that kind of thing, the fact that our home stood out to them says a lot.

But my neat-freakishness also comes from another place, one much more deep-rooted in my psyche. You see, when I was nine years old, I was diagnosed with an Anxiety Disorder. It's something that became so severe, it kept me from going to school for months at a time, or even leaving the house. This is something I'll share with you another time.

With my anxiety disorder comes obsessive thoughts and tendencies. These were most pronounced during my periods of intense struggle with my anxiety, where I truly exhibited obsessive compulsive tendencies with my things and how they affected my overall well-being. I don't really exhibit obsessive compulsiveness anymore, but as I always have, I often wrestle with my own obsessive thoughts and keeping them under control.

But the fact of the matter is that I've always just been someone who prefers to keep my things neat and orderly. I don't really care about other's things, it's just my own that affects me. Aesthetics are the most important part of my organization, even before functionality. Thankfully, as I've grown up, gone to college {meaning sharing rooms with others}, and gotten married, I have loosened up TONS on my perfectionism.

Growing up, my room was always just so. My sister nicknamed my room "the museum room," and her friends used to comment to her, "does your sister actually sleep in there?" My sister also used to think it was funny to move things in my room by mere inches, or switch two decorative items, and then giggle as she watched me notice within seconds of entering my room and have to fix it right away. She also turned my friends on to playing this trick on me whenever I left them alone in my room for a few minutes. Looking back, I can admit that it's pretty funny! They all teased me in good fun about this side of my personality, like when after having sat on my bed together and getting up to leave the room, I'd instinctively go and smooth out all the wrinkles on my comforter and replace the bed pillows just so.

Here's some evidence from my childhood:

Age nine. {Seriously, what kid does that with Halloween candy?!?}

And a story my dad likes to tell about my perfectionism:

Around age 6 or so, my dad read me a story at bedtime and tucked me in for the night. After goodnight prayers and kisses, he put the book back on my bookshelf and turned off the light. As he was leaving my room, he saw me from the corner of his eye quickly get back out of bed.

 "Deanne, what are you doing?" he asked.

"You didn't put the book back in the right place." I said.

And then I put the book back in its proper place and got back into bed.

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