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An electrician, or something like him


Photo by cashjocky

Being obsessive-compulsive without realizing it is like going to sleep at night and having an electrician sneak into your house and rearrange the electrical panel. You wake up in the morning, turn on your bedroom light and instead of the light coming on, the TV on the second floor comes on. So you turn the switch off, and the TV goes off. You turn the switch on, and the TV goes on. And then you turn the switch on and off, on and off, on and off, without even realizing what you're doing until you do realize what you're doing, and then stopping takes a willful effort that just seems wrong somehow, and then you're obsessed by trying to find, in another room or on another floor, the switch to turn the bedroom light on, even though it's daylight and you don't need the light anyway.

I recall incidents in grade school that in retrospect were clearly symptoms of my OCD. Whenever I was doing homework and made a mistake, I couldn't be satisfied by just drawing a line through the mistake. I could only be satisfied by erasing it and writing the correct answer, but if the erasing left even a little ghost of the mistake's image, I was compelled (a word I do not use lightly) to erase again, often to the point of erasing a hole in the paper, which meant I had to do the entire assignment over. And things got really serious when we graduated from pencil to pen along about fifth grade. There was no erasing of mistakes then.

OCD grows inside your brain like an African violet's roots grow inside a pot. Pretty soon, the pot is full of white roots the thickness of human hair. Pretty soon, your head is full of habits and beliefs you don't realize are related to OCD. Today, for instance, I was walking into my cellar with my arms full of empty beverage bottles and cans. We keep the empties in the cellar until a local youth group, any group, goes door to door for a fund-raising can drive.

Anyway, I always try to make it down the cellar steps without dropping anything, but today, I dropped not one can but two, and they tink-tink-tinked down the stairs with a final tinkrattle when they hit the concrete floor. I immediately scored the errand as a failure because of the deficit in my sleight of hand, but then I realized:

It's OK to drop a can once in a while.

Even if it's not a can.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
nodressrehersal
Jul. 30th, 2014 01:11 am (UTC)
That's a noteworthy realization - thanks for sharing it.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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