It’s Only A Problem If Other People Refuse To Ignore It

Recently, my therapist told me that I do not have obsessive compulsive disorder. However, she did follow up on one of the three other times I made her confirm that by saying, “But you do have some obsessive tendencies.”

My obsessive tendencies tends to manifest itself in ways that, individually observed would seem like normal quirks. Collectively, they make up a list of coping mechanisms that help me get through a day without crawling up into a ball under my desk. Mostly. Because the truth is that some days I do end up in a ball under my desk, right after IMing my coworker that, “I’m down. Divert any traffic heading towards my office.” And he does. Because he’s awesome like that.

It all stems from my inability to control so much of my anxiety, my phobias, other people, life, the weather (to name a few) that I comfort myself in the things I can control. Here’s a snapshot list of a handful of the things that fall under the heading of “Ways I am obsessive.”

At home, I am a little extreme about my organization. At least, according to the people who look at me and say, “CALM THE FUCK DOWN, ALREADY.” My closet is organized by garment type, color and shade for anything that hangs up. Shoes are organized by type and subtypes and my running shoes the subtype is by distance run in each (which I obviously track with a special spreadsheet created just for that single purpose.)

The kitchen is kept organized by what I consider probably a generally normal way when it comes to dishes in cabinets and drawers. But I also track everything in my pantry, freezer and refrigerator in an app (I used to do this on a spreadsheet) that shows item, expiration date and size. The items are organized in the cabinets by type, then color and size. All labels face forward. Attempting to get something out of my pantry is truly an “At your own risk” activity, because I will rant like a crazy woman on a corner sure that the apocalypse is pending if you put the green beans in the wrong place, so no, I don’t want your help putting away the groceries. The refrigerator and the freezer are much the same, with any homemade labels having to match exactly with font and size.

This trend continues throughout my home. Cabinets, personal items, DVDs, bookshelves, board games — all are organized by size, type, color, use, function — everything has a specific place and they will all go into the correct place.

And I clean. I don’t just clean, I clean after I clean. For example — once I’m finished cleaning a room, I clean off the cleaning supplies before I put them away. I vacuum and then I clean out and dust off the vacuum so that it looks perfect before putting it away. Oh, and I vacuum every single day. Which isn’t actually good for your floors, but I must do it. I also do laundry every single night. Whatever was used during the day is washed and put away before I can go to bed. There are never any dishes dirty in my house for more than (at most) 12 hours. If I think I won’t be home within 12 hours of breakfast, then I wash dishes before I leave.

This isn’t because I just love to clean. It’s because I feel like I have no choice but to control what I can in my environment. It’s the only thing I know with any certainty I can control, so I control that like a freaking olympic medalist.

And I’m just as obsessive about other things — I have spreadsheets, and (ugh, I hate that I’m admitting this to the internet) a spreadsheet that tracks my spreadsheets. Yep, I’m that freak. It’s a complete documentation of everything in my life that functions as a sort of thin thread I hold onto when I can’t deal with the things that are out of my control.

What makes this most difficult for me is that I lack any ability to relax about it. I can’t just “let it go for tonight” as I’ve been told so often by someone else. My best friend will tell me, “You need to just go to sleep. That’ll be there tomorrow.” But I can’t. It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s not that I don’t realize that the world in general won’t explode if I don’t. Logically, I know that everything will be okay if I let it go for a single 24 hour period. It’s that I am just unable to let it go.

There is so much about my life that I haven’t been able to control. My anxiety, my fears, my father’s suicide, the fact that my guy continues to wear that ugly green shirt every few weeks. The way my brain compensates for the things I can’t control is to hold on to the things I can. And if I occasionally stumble upon a book with a red binding in with the books with a blue binding and yell at everyone nearby, “IF YOU PEOPLE DO NOT LEARN TO PUT THINGS WHERE THEY GO I WILL KILL SOMEONE AND RUIN THEIR MOTHER’S CHRISTMAS.” then I honestly think that my friends and family should look at it as my own little quirk and try to find it endearing.

Because, after all, I haven’t burned that green shirt yet, so I think that means I’ve got this under control. It’s only a problem if they refuse to ignore it.

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