Monday, July 12, 2010

It would be funny it was a character in a movie

I'm not going to lie. I've always had a touch of OCD; a special penchant for re-checking the previously checked, worrying about catastrophes that never come, and just generally fretting needlessly.

Virtually no amount of calm reassurance from cooler minds is able to convince me that someone besides myself can check things properly - or, more importantly, will remember to check everything.

During stressful times it's worse. On Christmas Eve, for some odd reason, it's next to impossible to control. Leaving the house to go to my in-laws for dinner involves frantic racing in and out of rooms to ensure that everything is locked, turned off, unplugged, stored properly, sealed, closed, put away - that the whole house is thoroughly, unequivocally safe and sound.

Why I think some catastrophic event is going to happen on Christmas Eve is beyond me. But it sits in my brain and taunts me with its fiery, very un-Christmas like possibility.

In the years since Thomas died, I've noticed that while the OCD (which is self-diagnosed, thanks to my Internet degree in psychology - I also have one in reproductive endocrinology, by the way) isn't necessarily any worse, it has expanded in scope. Morphed into something new.

Now, it seems, I can turn even the most benign non-event into a catastrophe-in-the-making. If there's a way for someone to die because I dropped a stray elastic band in the living room and forgot to pick it up, I'll imagine it. And it will haunt me until I retrieve the elastic band and dispose of it properly.

Only then is peace restored. Only then are those around me safe. Until, of course, I misplace a paper clip.

Do you know the myriad ways you can be injured by a paper clip? Sweet Jesus, do you?

I know where this comes from. Of course I do. Five people died on my watch. I absolutely do not want to be responsible for any more deaths - I can't be. I just can't. So my spastic little brain spends its time calculating the probability of mortality of all those around me at any given moment as I wander through the day living, and checking. And re-checking. And pointing out dangers to others because it's my new responsibility to keep everyone safe - like I'm some middle-aged, chubby, neurotic little suburban superhero.

I've been quiet about this. I fully recognize the batshit craziness of it all, so it has always seemed best just to continue picking up elastics and keeping it all to myself.

But then, as is so often the case in this wonderful virtual world of gut-spilling, I found a blogger who does it too. A blogger who totally gets it.

She wisely pointed out that once you've seen death - once it has crashed in unannounced and violated you in the most horrific way imaginable - you know it's out there. You know the unthinkable is actually possible and that it can come when it is least expected. Like when a baby dies the day after it's just been born.

And you can't un-know it. You can never un-know it. And it taunts you, that knowledge. And it makes you think elastics can kill.

Long slow sigh. There is so much mind-fuckery in grief. So much endless work to soothe a mind so thoroughly and meticulously shattered.


Kami said...

I went in the opposite direction and decided no one has any control. Not me, not you, no god, no energy. It is chaos.

My sis has a bit of OCD and after talking to many friends, I think we all have it to some degree. I suspect it was a good survival trait way back when. Certainly traumatic events wouldn't heighten that energy.

Polka Dot said...

I'm the same way. My morning thought processes always - always - include the following thoughts "Is today the day I die? Or be carjacked? Run over? In a wreck?" You always hear how people never saw it coming. And somehow my imagining and wondering if today is the day seems to give me some false sense of control.

I also hate leaving the house. I'm ok for short jaunts, but every time I would go out overnight I was positive I'd left something on, plugged in, turned wrong ... whatever. I'd have to keep reminding myself that I'd triple checked everything. Only when I was at least an hour away did the constant fear subside.

So I get it .. I totally get it.

B said...

Yes. I babysat my sisters child the other day and I noticed that a part of me was surprised my neice was OK when my sister got home. I just expected something catastrophic would have happened.