When I was just a wee girl, I’d avoid cracks in the pavement. We’ve all done that right? After all, I did not want to arrive home to find my mum with a sudden and pretty serious back injury. Ok, pretty normal.
Things evolved. To get the nerve up to jump from a diving board, or do anything I was scared to do, a little voice in my head would inform me that if I didn’t do it by the count of three – ‘your mum will die!’. Wow! Talk about escalating the consequences!
Walking home in the dark? “If that car passes you before you reach the lamp-post, your mum will die”. GULP! I must have looked like a crazed sprinting deer in those cars headlights.
Obviously ‘it’ had it in for my mum. ‘It’ knew my weaknesses and played upon them.
As I got older, I reasoned with myself that these were irrational behaviors. SO – my mind came up with fun new ones! JOY!
I got stuck for a while doing a ‘teeth’ thing. (Not as bad as Poe in “Berenice”).
I’d have to click my teeth together in a quick bite action then make a little sound in my throat. Next came having to blow into glasses to make sure there was no dust inside before using it as a vessel.
(To be fair, that one might actually have spawned from an occasion there was actual dust in a glass I had selected from the cupboard – who knows).
Room messy? That’s OK. But God forbid one drawer be open even one inch. I could be completely comfortable, deliciously sleepy and no matter what – I’d have to climb out of bed and close the drawer. Sometimes more than one drawer was actually ajar, but ‘it’ fixated on just the one. (does ‘ajar’ apply to drawers, or is that just doors?).
I conquered the tooth thing, stopped making the little noise in my throat and weaned myself off of blowing into clean glasses. It was pretty excruciating to be honest. But I did it.
‘It’ wasn’t amused. Next came having to tap my bottom teeth on the underside of a glass before taking a drink. 3 times. AND in a certain pattern. 1 … 2,3. UG. Hey, at least I hadn’t needed to blow in it before the tap ritual!
That one fizzled out over time. (took the teen years to adulthood but hey! Better late than never).
“Must touch” was next.
One example, when I worked for a bank here in town , I HAD to touch a certain ficus leaf every time I passed it. I tried hiding it at first, then realized everyone knew and by then, no one actually cared. They were used to me and my oddness.
I got over that one too. I’m not sure if it was ever actual OCD – or stress related – or what, but one thing I’ve always had issues with is my affinity for inanimate objects.
Oh yeah, at the office, at home, in the yard … public places. (I’m the one that put the box back on the shelf that you stepped over in the grocery store, you’re welcome).
Rewind to the ‘wee girl’ again. I HAD to have all of my stuffed animals on the bed. Not for a cozy security reason, but because I didn’t want to hurt any of their feelings by not choosing them. I could have smothered in the night there were so many!! No joke! But, if I left any of them out, I just knew they’d come alive in the night and kill me.
As I got older, the empathy part grew (thankfully not so much the fear that objects were going to kill me).
Food: ALL items in a can must come out of said can.
How is that poor lone baked bean going to feel if it’s friends get to be part of dinner and achieve their destiny – while it was grown, chosen, processed, packaged – only to land in the garbage, in the can??!!
It gets worse. If I touch a piece of paper, oh, let’s say a fax cover sheet, then let’s say I’m interrupted and accidentally pull another slice of paper out, I’m screwed.
That first sheet thought IT was going to be used!! And now, the second piece is all excited thinking it’s the chosen one. ARG!!!!!!!!!!!
I have literally had to take two pieces of paper, (or envelopes, or folders) out to a co-worker to pick for me.
I still feel awful for the one that didn’t get picked, but a lot less anxious.
The good news is, this madness seems to wax and wane.
I can usually override the need to follow through with rituals. OK, once in a blue moon I still tap my teeth on a cup or glass, but usually only when I’m stressed.
And it’s perfectly normal to hug my son 3 times, give him 3 air kisses, in sets of 3 every night – right??
And it’s totally nothing to worry about that when I’m standing outside, watching as he walks up the road on the way to the bus stop, he turns to wave 3 times …