Project 13

“I expect the least from you. You never accomplished a thing in life. I paid for your medical education, you wouldn’t even be doctor if I didn’t pay for you”, says father.

I am only 24. I graduated from medical school only last year and am doing my internship. Such statements, at best, are senseless, and at worst enough to break an otherwise harmonious self into an irreparable mess, irreparable enough to receive a diagnosis from the psychiatrist.

I was diagnosed with OCPD last year. When I was diagnosed, I tried my best to outline the key events in my life that could have messed me up. I found nothing because I couldn’t recall much from my early life. I ended up concluding that my OCPD was purely genetic, and that I could fix it if I wanted to.

Before the diagnosis, I had already worked on at least 12 major projects, all left uncompleted, for my uncompromising perfectionism and my stubbornness to continue committing to projects that I was not well qualified for. Committing to challenging tasks was my obligation. If I wouldn’t do that, I’d be very anxious, feeling that I was wasting life, a one-time privilege. After getting diagnosed, I realized that rather than abandoning my habit of targeting at extraordinary projects, I could train myself in the skills required to bring such projects to completion. I did that. I spent 4 months in learning Ruby on Rails, a web development framework. As soon as I had finished, I started working over my 13th project. Things were indeed different this time. Not only that I was now well versed in what I was doing, I now somehow knew how to keep a check over my perfectionism.

While I was still working over my 13th project, I had to travel to my family in Saudi Arabia for some reasons. That wouldn’t hurt my project as my laptop was almost my entire workstation and I could carry that workstation back home.

I knew pretty well that with OCPD ruling my behaviors, I’d have a hard time keeping balance between socializing with family and working on my project. In anticipation, I had crafted out a sophisticated task management framework to take care of just that, months before traveling back to my family and had been practicing it ever since. I started writing a dedicated journal just to keep track of this balance.

Everything was well planned with one major exception: I had overlooked the other half of the problem: My father’s OCPD.

He couldn’t endure my obsession with my project. “Are you busier than me? Can you accomplish more than me? Do you care for the family more than me? You suck”, said dear father. He made me miss important appointments at least twice. He would force me to accompany him in his usual business long drives. I was cursed badly the one time I refused to go with him because of a critical appointment. I felt so low, so worthless. I realized I had to choose between my ambitions and my family’s harmony and that I couldn’t go forward without absolute compromise in either. As someone with OCPD, I could understand my father like no one else. So I decided to keep my father smiling.

I was met with a drastic challenge: To give up my longing for engagement in any of my projects. I worked so hard to accomplish this near-impossible task. I was successful. Life came back to normal.

But today, for the third day in a row, my father cursed me for “Not having ambitions”, and because I “talk big but are practically useless” and “keep wasting time doing nothing”.  He keeps convincing me how my life is a mess, how the world is miles ahead of me and I’m wasting my life. Normally, this paradoxical behavior was bad enough to fly me into introverted rage. But fortunately, thanks to my high defenses that I had erected in anticipation, I was able to keep my temperament in check. Nevertheless, I couldn’t stop myself from obsessing over my 13th project all over again. I strongly felt as if I needed to prove myself to my father, and to the world, and the project was the best way because it involved doing what I loved.

All of a sudden…

I realized I had reached to the etiology of my pathological longing for perfectionism-tainted engagement in my projects: My father.

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