I don’t know why I write, therapy possibly. Trying I am to understand why I am somewhat dysfunctional. Well I actually know the answer to that question, OCD – obsessive compulsive disorder. Writing helps me gain control, operative word, of blinding emotions and extreme thoughts that push and pull me to complete certain rituals.
“I have six kids.”
This statement runs through my head without conscious decision. OCD. This other half is the basis of who I am. Though I know this is not true, OCD rules my life. Through therapy, I am to think of it as a monster of sorts, something to rid myself of completely. It is difficult to push what seems such an innate part of me, and has for my entire life in various forms, away. Upon those times when I try to push anxiety away, not follow through with the vast outline form of life that resides in my head, “I have six kids” is immediately in the front of my brain. It arrives without warning and seemingly without conscious decision. It is the beginning of a list that I repeat in attempt to decrease fear and anxiety. This way of beginning a ritual is new to me and a great deal simpler than in previous years. I have shortened it, cut off some of the initial thoughts. For me, progress.
I can stop myself there sometimes. It is a bandage of sorts to stop the flow of returning to my REAL lists. Yes I have lists upon lists.
Those that really know me, the members of my family, have suffered greatly as the recipients of my insatiable desire to “make it right”, perfect, organized. In lovely addition, I save; I hoard. Every drawing, test, every newspaper that might have some significance to our family, to ‘our lives together’ has been a source of stress. Do I hold on or give up. Choice of words says much I guess. I have recently relinquished many items that have meaning to me, perhaps they had been inappropriately important.. There is a guilt I feel when not repeating the same behavior with my younger children. Guess not repeating these behaviors is progress. To me it is a type of failure….still. I have a long way to go.
I have tried to explain it as a nesting disorder, in my case, as well as an effort to freeze time. Items, as are photographs, are moments suspended. They represent moments that I cannot begin recapture, unless I have a photograph, or some sort of documentation. The passing of daily life is a melancholy event to me. I find the joy in what is happening at the moment but am greatly saddened when the fleeting moment has passed. I suppose I want to stop the world from turning.
In reference to nesting, I veered, as is my way. As females, in particular, the desire to take care of our offspring is animal. This makes sense as we are such. Survival of the species. This is a biological urge that is very difficult to overcome, should one desire to do so. Within the realm of OCD, this urge can overwhelm and consume.
This disorder manifests itself in various forms. The thoughts, obsessions, dictate behaviors, compulsions. They intrude when not desired. The obsessions resemble a recording playing on a continuous loop. Hitting stop isn’t an option.
Epiphany. 1987. My husband was doing a psych rotation during his years as a student in medical school. One patient that caught his attention in particular had OCD. For this patient almost no movement was spontaneous. He was the male version of me, including his eating disorder. He and I were trying to do everything without mistake…trying to be perfect in some ridiculously unattainable manner. The similarities were shocking to me, as they are to any that suddenly realize that they are moving through life in an extraordinary, different, fashion. This realization though did not impede my behaviors
I remember an article, a short piece in a parenting magazine. (As of this day, I have every issue of every year during which a child of ours was born. I promise I am trying to let go.) The author, as a new mom, refused to let herself not handle all that she had pre-baby. She wrote of the broken, unpolished nails and clothes that were out of style. She wrote of the yard that was strown with toys and the worry of neighbors’ disapproval. I thought her concerns were extremely ill-placed, her priorities silly. I still, though, understood the need to make all just right, albeit with different priorities. This fed my OCD monster.
Everyone has a desire, to some degree, to ‘do it right’, correct mistakes, keep illness and germs away from themselves and loved ones. Within the confines, literally, of this disorder, the drive is much stronger. Nesting has gone awry. Counting, washing, retracing a path, these behaviors are an effort to rid oneself, one’s family, the world, of a negative.
I have come to understand that nothing is in complete order. Fighting that notion is a different beast. Perfect is very different for each one of us AND is unattainable. I am learning. The word ‘perfect’ should be negated from our vocabulary. It is elusive, beyond such, it actually makes no sense. I suppose, with my belief in tolerance and acceptance, I have finally begun to apply that concept to myself. This acceptance is allowing me to try to get rid of the monster under my bed.
It is a daily, hourly struggle. I will somehow move through and beyond this disorder, one day, for the sake of my children, my husband, and myself.