I write this post after reading a brilliant one on St Therese of Lisieux and her insights into purgatory. I would highly recommend reading that post.
My own perceptions about purgatory was created in the black mine of ignorance about God, fueled by doubts about his love and my Catholic Catechism classes.
Catechism wasn't to blame. They gave me the knowledge.
"Purgatory is is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God's grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions."
My definition of purgatory was something else. It was on the lines of a minor hell, boiling tubs of steam, heat and misery, tears and pain. All of imperfection boiled/ broiled away...
I lived in mortal fear of purgatory till someone told me that purgatory is place where the chosen are perfected in love. Our earthly sojourn is one where we learn to 'know God, love God and serve God' and the greatest of these is to Love him.