The Twins, Part 1 – Procrastination

Entwined Geminis, Safavid Dynasty, Persia (c. 1635), Author Unknown, Source pinterest.com (PD)

Entwined Geminis, Safavid Dynasty, Persia (c. 1635), Author Unknown, Source pinterest.com (PD)

This post was written in collaboration with Marie Williams whose remarks are highlighted.  Marie blogs at Come Fly with Me, https://mariewilliams53.wordpress.com.

“Most of my life has been spent circling or avoiding important things that I need to do and I get very frustrated with myself.  Sometimes, I find myself trying to locate passports or important papers at the 11th hour, when I’ve had ample time to deal with matters like this.”

-Marie Williams

Procrastination and perfectionism are patterns of behavior well familiar to abuse victims, twin destructive forces that have deep meaning for those who have suffered abuse.

We invest the necessary (the “shoulds” and “musts” of life) with the power to annihilate us, or at least demolish the fragile image we have of ourselves.  Then we defer, delay, and defer again – certain that we will fail to meet our own expectations.

Failure is a foregone conclusion, given that our expectations are, by definition, unattainable.

Let’s unpack that dynamic.

Real Deadline/Chaotic Life

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven…” (Eccl. 3: 1 NKJV).

Federal income taxes are due April 15.  This is a real deadline – not a secret and not a surprise.  Still, we delay gathering our tax receipts and other records together.

“You live in a state of confusion, and therefore mundane ‘every day’ matters become muddled and murky.  You cannot quite get to grips with simple but important tasks.  You know that you have to present your driving licence for identity and you know it’s in a box somewhere, but it really is too much trouble trying to locate it in good time.  So you (at the last minute) hunt around like crazy trying to find it – it happens not to be in the box you thought it was in, and you have to turn everything upside down to find it – and all this adds to the chaos of your already chaotic life.”

-Marie Williams

Created Dilemma

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down…” (Prov. 12: 25 ESV).

We may dither over whether to rely on our long-time accountant; visit a less costly tax preparation agency; or use one of the computer programs which now allow us to do the taxes, ourselves.  We may put off making copies or doing something else insignificant, related to tax preparation.  What that is does not matter.

We, in other words, create the dilemma.

“I think I first became aware of procrastinating in my teenage years.  I had real difficulties around disciplining myself to settle down to the matter in hand.  I would cast around hopelessly trying to fill the time with small unnecessary activity which bore no relation to the task that I had to deal with.

An example of this was my attitude toward school work.  I would leave homework to be done until the very last moment.  Say it had been issued a week before, the thought never occurred to me to do any preparation during that week.  That was far too simple.  The thing to do would be to engage myself in a book (Enid Blyton was a favourite author at that time) and get completely lost in other people’s lives.”

-Marie Williams

Mounting Fears

“…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5: 7 ESV).

Perhaps we have neatly labeled envelopes for our tax deductions:  business expenses, charitable donations, medical and prescription charges, etc.  Perhaps we simply have piles of documents – one on the left side of the desk, one on the right; another on the floor; still another out of sight in a folder, at the back of the closet.

Either way, vague fears begin to circle like buzzards over a carcass.

Do we have enough documentation?  How can anyone dig through all this paperwork?  What if we have overlooked something?  What if the accountant overlooks something?  What will we do if the IRS audits us?!  Is there a chance we might actually be jailed for tax fraud?  After all, Leona Helmsley was.  The comparison with her does not strike us as funny.

“Feeling panicked, anxious, worried, afraid, uncertain, sure to be punished was part of the fabric, the essence if you like, of my being.  Those feelings were familiar.  I felt ‘safe’ feeling panicky.  I felt cushioned by my anxiety.”

-Marie Williams

The longer we delay, the more menacing the choices, documents, envelopes, and piles seem.  The task begins to feel overwhelming, as if the future of mankind depended on it…or our very lives were at stake.  Keep that in mind.  It is a clue.

The Twins, Part 2 – Perfectionism will be posted next week

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

Advertisements

21 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Rape, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault, Violence Against Women

21 responses to “The Twins, Part 1 – Procrastination

  1. Once again Anna, you have given us a clear, compassionate and sensitive view on the ways in which abuse affects the lives of survivors. I don’t personally believe that procrastination affects only those of us who have been abused because it is something that can be present in the lives of everyone to some extent. But here we are talking about how chaos affects those of us who have experienced severe and traumatic abuse and how procrastination manifests itself in a way that makes a survivor’s life even more difficult than it already is.

    In contributing to this, I learned many things myself. It became a light-bulb moment for me when working on this with you that I used procrastination as a means of making sense of what I had had to endure especially in my formative years: living a chaotic life was something which had become so ingrained, a lifestyle, a way of surviving that I found ‘comfort’ in putting things off until the 11th hour. I was comfortable with the feelings of anxiety because that was all I knew.

    It has been a real privilege working on this with you on many levels, Anna, not least because it helped me tremendously in making sense of things and I feel blessed that you allowed me to do so, Thank you.

    • You give me far too much credit, dear friend. I often think that traumatic events like abuse set off a kind of hand grenade or IED in our lives. We are left to try and make sense of things, in the wake of that random destruction. Surviving at all is an achievement. Victims who like you continue to love, believe, and create beauty are beyond inspirational. I’ve been blessed by your friendship, your encouragement, your faith, and your poetry, Sam. I am sure all those who know you feel the same way. ❤ ❤ ❤

  2. nessa3

    Just recently have I been struggling with procrastination. All the rest of my life Ive been a perfectionist and very responsible. It makes me very frustrated to have to deal with this issue. I dont get why now? Is it from PTSD?
    I also cant seem to get motivated to do things I use to love to do.

    • While I am no psychologist, I think that perfectionism and procrastination can be related. They have been in my own life.

      In the aftermath of emotional abuse, victims may try desperately to be perfect — at home, at school, at work — in the hope of winning the approval denied us as children. Of course, we should not have to “win” love at all. It should be freely given, certainly to children. As for procrastination, the longer we put off a task, the greater the likelihood we will fail to complete it “perfectly”, perhaps fail to complete it at all.

      As victims, we tie ourselves into these knots, certain of our deficiencies. But the knots are not proof of our inadequacy. They may instead be proof of our abuse.

      A lack of interest in what we once loved can have many causes. One is depression, a serious condition which should not be ignored.

      These are only generalizations. I do not know your circumstances, and would not presume to “diagnose” or advise you. Sometimes though a change in our behavior occurs because old methods of coping no longer serve us well.

      My best suggestion would be for you to get professional counseling. That way you can explore your concerns with someone trained to provide you the direction and support you need and deserve.

      May God watch over you.

      A. ❤

  3. Reblogged this on ComeFlywithme and commented:
    Once again Anna, you have given us a clear, compassionate and sensitive view on the ways in which abuse affects the lives of survivors. I don’t personally believe that procrastination affects only those of us who have been abused because it is something that can be present in the lives of everyone to some extent. But here we are talking about how chaos affects those of us who have experienced severe and traumatic abuse and how procrastination manifests itself in a way that makes a survivor’s life even more difficult than it already is.
    As Anna Waldherr says: “In the aftermath of emotional abuse, victims may try desperately to be perfect — at home, at school, at work — in the hope of winning the approval denied us as children. Of course, we should not have to “win” love at all. It should be freely given, certainly to children. As for procrastination, the longer we put off a task, the greater the likelihood we will fail to complete it “perfectly”, perhaps fail to complete it at all”.

  4. Well, this is a genius way to present this very important issue. I look forward to reading the one on perfectionism. Though I’m not the victim of abuse, I believe my abandonment issues contributed to needing to be perfect in every way possible.

    • People often call children resilient. And they are. Children are, also, though vulnerable. It does not take a great deal to harm them. Fear of abandonment certainly qualifies.

      Children recognize instinctively that they need protection and nurturing from adults. That is one of the reasons children blame themselves for abuse, rather than blaming the loved ones inflicting it. The thought that children might be left to fend for themselves in this dangerous world is overwhelming for them. It is why they cling so desperately to the fiction of fault on their part, even carrying it over into adulthood.

      The fact you have survived and thrived despite your abandonment issues gives others hope and confidence. You must, however, give a stern lecture to Marie. She does not seem to recognize her own vital contribution to this post. ❤

      • I am constantly amazed (although I ought not to be) at how well you explain everything expertly, with compassion and without judgement. One day I will believe in myself and it may take a while, but until then, I still think that the way you ‘unpack’ things is far superior to the way I ‘pack’ them. Your comment in your final paragraph has touched me and brought tears to my eyes.

      • There has been much poetry written about roses. Roses by moonlight, roses with fresh dew on their petals, roses in bouquets and at banquets. There is even a fairy tale named for them, “Snow White and Rose Red” by the Brothers Grimm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow-White_and_Rose-Red. Yes, everyone loves roses. But roses do not know this. Since most of them cannot read, they have not read all that poetry about them. This does not make roses any less lovely. Of course, a rose that can actually write poetry is the rarest of all. That, my friend, is what you are. ❤

      • Speechless …dumbstruck….tearful…this compliment is the ‘rose’ of all compliments – thank you.❤❤

  5. Have a very nice wednesday dear Anna
    Kisses

  6. This is an amazing post….powerful and poignant…..you both have shared something that adds light to the world…thanks for sharing 🙂

  7. “I felt ‘safe’ feeling panicky. I felt cushioned by my anxiety.” I can relate to that very much. Never thought about it that way. Thank you.

  8. I love the wonderful outlook you have. Nominated you for ‘One lovely blog award’. Details are on my latest post. Happy blogging 😊

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s