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OCD

Let me begin by saying I don't have OCD. 
Or, perhaps, I should say I don't have any papers to prove I do have OCD. I'm quite certain if I were to go have a mental health checkup with a psychiatrist they'd find something. A whole list of things. I already know I've got things. I don't need to pay some other crazy person 100 bucks an hour to have him tell me I've got things.
Lately, though, OCD seems like the thing to have. Like it's cute to say: "I'm so OCD!" because you like clean counters or because you sometimes have to go check and see if you locked the door. Or you think you're a "hoarder" because you buy Scotch tape in bulk and save wrapping paper and have more than three magazines on your coffee table.

I just get a little...obsessive. About things. A single word or line or phrase from something. A number. Not stepping on cracks or, conversely, stepping on ALL the cracks. An imaginary friend or the storyline in a particular daydream. Going to the Goodwill. Watching my auction sales on eBay. Yogurt. Lemons. Pickled herring. Pie.
It's never anything useful like clean counters or checking to see if I unplugged the iron. Or where I put my keys.

Then there's the other part of what to do with those spiraling thoughts:

I will not throw my keys down a storm drain.

I will not count the number of pumps on my hair conditioner. See? I don't need 5 pumps. I'm gonna do 6. Which turns into: well then I should do 8. And then, every time after that, you're doing 8. Until you have to rein it in and go back to 5 because 8 was starting to use up too much hair conditioner.

See? I do not need to avoid stepping on the cracks. But then for entire next block, you can't stop humming that line from the DEVO song. And then you have to debate whether the line from the song or the crack-stepping thing is more annoying.

I will NOT go to Goodwill.  I have to do this tedious, awful thing and I just can't go to the Goodwill. I don't even want to go to the Goodwill. 
Except. 
Except this might be the day that someone left an Hermes bag or a Chanel jacket. So I will go to the Goodwill. And I will only buy something that is as good as an Hermes bag or a Chanel jacket...

I will not have pie. I will focus on something else. I do not need pie. I am not even hungry. Especially not for pie. 
Pie...

It's like an itch and the more you try not to scratch it, the more it sort of whines like a mosquito in your ear: "iiiiiiitttttccccchyyyyy. I'm iiiiiitcccchy. Scrrrraaaatchhhh me...." 
Or like chapped lips: "Liiiiiiiiick em. Just liiiick em.!...For the love of god! Will someone come and lick this poor idiot's lips?????"
Sometimes they're fierce and short-lived. Sometimes they sort of limp along for years. None of them are particularly hazardous or intrusive. Well. The exercise addiction took up a lot of time. And maybe the pie.

But then! One day, they just...evaporate. Pssssssss. A lot of them tend to leave at the same time--like yammering guests at a dull party. They've been saying the same dumb things over and over and then they all just sort of look at each other, jingling their keys in their pockets, and they're all, like--"yeah, let's blow this popsicle stand."

I have tried to describe the feelings that come when obsessions finally run their course: relief, obviously, and the euphoria of freedom; but also embarrassment, exhaustion, a yawning, blank abyss where the obsession previously dwelled, and bewilderment (what the hell WAS all that about???) 
There is also a new intellectual clarity and a gratitude for the patient friends who tried to understand, stayed with me, prayed with me, and just hung on for the ride.

It's difficult to re-cultivate an obsessive habit after that. I have never re-acquired a hankering for ice cream or donuts or white wine, for instance. Even things like frozen yogurt, hush puppies and champagne became collateral damage in those skirmishes. After decades of building complex imaginary worlds, populated with rich characters, I lost the map to those particular rabbit holes when I tried to discipline myself to "be in the moment" and "be present," and all those other dull things.
 
So, for those of you with the useful, cute kinds of OCD--Yeah--you can come over to clean my counters. I was too busy eating pickled herring and buying fabric on eBay for a year or so. 

And sometimes, I really miss my imaginary friends.

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