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Perfectionism And "we Are All Sinners"


Guest keri
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I was directed to this forum because I mentioned my OCPD + Asperger's elsewhere and how certain things I learned about God as a kid were fairly traumatic to me, because of my disorders. Looking through the forum, this seems like the best place to ask (I really don't know - is there an intro section, or something?), so, background stuff first...

 

 

 

I was diagnosed with OCPD when I was eight, and I believe that it's a result of the Asperger's Syndrome (an autistic spectrum disorder) as well as genetic. It manifests primarily as obsessive perfectionism, where my thoughts revolve around being perfect at everything, and if that is impossible, or if I fail, then not only do I hate myself for it, but I give up on trying at all. I guess an example would be drawing - if I can't make my drawing look exactly the way it should, then I get angry at myself, and the next time I draw something, I figure I may as well not put any effort into it at all, since I can't do well anyway, which leads me to get angry with myself for not doing well. Often, I give up before I begin rather than get into that cycle.

 

I grew up in the Catholic church and went to Catholic school K-12. I also grew up in a city where there's practically a church on every street corner (I heard once that we have one of the highest densities of churches to population in the state, but I don't know how true that is), and lots and lots of Fundy/Evangelical Christians everywhere. I went to Sunday School at my grandparents' Church of God many times, too.

 

Basically, I was getting hit with "Jesus Loves You!" from every corner, and I also learned that "We Are All Sinners" and God doesn't love sinners. BUT he forgives us anyway! Which made me think that he's a bit of a condescending bastard (though I wasn't able to put those feelings into words until recently). I mean, I was terrified of not being perfect and then I'm told that God wants me to be perfect as well, but I can never, ever, ever, ever, ever be pure enough for God, because of course, we are all lowly sinners. And even though I was told that God loves unconditionally, it seemed a bad job on my part to not strive towards perfection since otherwise I'm letting him down.

 

I don't know, it's all kind of crazy when I think about it now. See, I've gone to therapy and I've learned to recognize my perfectionist thought patterns. I know intellectually when I'm being irrational and letting the OCPD get ahold of me.

 

 

But I can't shake the idea that I have no worth as a person or that I'm a selfish, narcissistic, lazy, good-for-nothing. I was terrified as a kid of vanity and sloth and so on. I just knew that every time I looked into a mirror to do more than brush my hair, I was being less than the perfect being God wanted me to be. I was never afraid of hell or anything, because I knew God would forgive me if I went to Confession, but I didn't think I should have to go to Confession in the first place. ("Should" is a word I'm supposed to avoid in my thoughts, I know this thanks to therapy :P)

 

I actually embraced atheism a year or two ago, after being agnostic since high school, because I realized that a lot of my OCPD owes itself to those thought cycles that I picked up as a kid. I figured that if I could shake God from my tail once and for all, that I could start to overcome them. But it hasn't happened! I know intellectually that there's no reason for me to believe that I'm a horrible person, since people seem to value me and enjoy my company, and since I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, I've realized that there's no way I can live up to certain expectations of society, because I simply require different things in order to cope with the daily stresses of life, so there is no reason for me to feel guilt about it.

 

 

 

Anyway, my big question is this: how does one regain self-worth and self-love after growing up Christian and being told that you're never good enough?

 

I can't avoid the "we are all sinners" talk right now, because I still live in the town where I grew up with all the churches and religious stuff everywhere, and it's like a PTSD - when I hear that crap, I am reminded of how terrible a person I am, and I have to then remember that I no longer believe in any of that. But it's difficult, and the OCPD makes it worse.

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Welcome. So many of us live with the same thought patterns when we deconvert. It takes time. Hang around this place and read. You will find a lot of wisdom on this topic. Glad you found us

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Hello, Keri.

 

My nephew is an Aspie. Religion adds another layer of confusion and dead-end thought trails for everyone - it's a bigger burden for Aspies than most others.

 

Sorry you had to endure the brainwashing. There are others here who share your syndrome and can be of some help.

 

All the best!

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Do you have a secular psychologist or counselor that can help with this? I understand the dilemma, it's a double edge sword to love the god that condemns you to hell for being a sinnner, but who will forgive you if you humble yourself before him.....damn lie! And it keeps us in the "victims" role. Breaking out is the best thing you could do for yourself. In addition to the freedom of thought, I have also been learning how to accept myself with all my flaws. Learning that it's ok to be human was a trick for this xtian-super-mama!

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Guest Marty
I was directed to this forum because I mentioned my OCPD + Asperger's elsewhere and how certain things I learned about God as a kid were fairly traumatic to me, because of my disorders. Looking through the forum, this seems like the best place to ask (I really don't know - is there an intro section, or something?), so, background stuff first...

 

 

 

I was diagnosed with OCPD when I was eight, and I believe that it's a result of the Asperger's Syndrome (an autistic spectrum disorder) as well as genetic. It manifests primarily as obsessive perfectionism, where my thoughts revolve around being perfect at everything, and if that is impossible, or if I fail, then not only do I hate myself for it, but I give up on trying at all. I guess an example would be drawing - if I can't make my drawing look exactly the way it should, then I get angry at myself, and the next time I draw something, I figure I may as well not put any effort into it at all, since I can't do well anyway, which leads me to get angry with myself for not doing well. Often, I give up before I begin rather than get into that cycle.

 

I grew up in the Catholic church and went to Catholic school K-12. I also grew up in a city where there's practically a church on every street corner (I heard once that we have one of the highest densities of churches to population in the state, but I don't know how true that is), and lots and lots of Fundy/Evangelical Christians everywhere. I went to Sunday School at my grandparents' Church of God many times, too.

 

Basically, I was getting hit with "Jesus Loves You!" from every corner, and I also learned that "We Are All Sinners" and God doesn't love sinners. BUT he forgives us anyway! Which made me think that he's a bit of a condescending bastard (though I wasn't able to put those feelings into words until recently). I mean, I was terrified of not being perfect and then I'm told that God wants me to be perfect as well, but I can never, ever, ever, ever, ever be pure enough for God, because of course, we are all lowly sinners. And even though I was told that God loves unconditionally, it seemed a bad job on my part to not strive towards perfection since otherwise I'm letting him down.

 

I don't know, it's all kind of crazy when I think about it now. See, I've gone to therapy and I've learned to recognize my perfectionist thought patterns. I know intellectually when I'm being irrational and letting the OCPD get ahold of me.

 

 

But I can't shake the idea that I have no worth as a person or that I'm a selfish, narcissistic, lazy, good-for-nothing. I was terrified as a kid of vanity and sloth and so on. I just knew that every time I looked into a mirror to do more than brush my hair, I was being less than the perfect being God wanted me to be. I was never afraid of hell or anything, because I knew God would forgive me if I went to Confession, but I didn't think I should have to go to Confession in the first place. ("Should" is a word I'm supposed to avoid in my thoughts, I know this thanks to therapy :P)

 

I actually embraced atheism a year or two ago, after being agnostic since high school, because I realized that a lot of my OCPD owes itself to those thought cycles that I picked up as a kid. I figured that if I could shake God from my tail once and for all, that I could start to overcome them. But it hasn't happened! I know intellectually that there's no reason for me to believe that I'm a horrible person, since people seem to value me and enjoy my company, and since I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, I've realized that there's no way I can live up to certain expectations of society, because I simply require different things in order to cope with the daily stresses of life, so there is no reason for me to feel guilt about it.

 

 

 

Anyway, my big question is this: how does one regain self-worth and self-love after growing up Christian and being told that you're never good enough?

 

I can't avoid the "we are all sinners" talk right now, because I still live in the town where I grew up with all the churches and religious stuff everywhere, and it's like a PTSD - when I hear that crap, I am reminded of how terrible a person I am, and I have to then remember that I no longer believe in any of that. But it's difficult, and the OCPD makes it worse.

 

Have you been peeking inside my head? Some of the things you wrote could have been written by me! To top it off, I was never good at math, despite tutors and summer camps, yet everyone in my family told me that it was MY fault I was failing math, I was just lazy and didn't want to do it. Their proof? That I could play music and know all the lyrics of a song after hearing it once or twice. That I taught myself piano, or the fact that I play 4 instruments. So now, no matter what I do (I've even gotten awards for my work!) it's never good enough, usually complete crap, and not worth my effort because it will only be crap, so why bother? Even with my music I'm still like this!

 

On a side note, where in Florida are you? I'm in east SFLA, Pompano/Deerfield Beach area. Not many heathens in my area...

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