The One About OCD

It must be that time of year again. The kids are back in school, the summer light is smudging into orange, and my OCD is on overdrive. There are some benefits I guess. I get plenty of steps in when I hike across the house to touch the side door locks for the fifth time.

In that way, it’s great exercise and prevents me from cheating with my pedometer by beating it against the tabletop until I get my 7000 steps for the day.

Yes, you read that right. Apparently, the only thing I hate more than The Jersey Shore is not hitting my pedometer goal for the day. You would think, being OCD, cheating would bother me.

You would think wrong.

Anyway, after years of therapy and better living through chemistry, I can now say the words: “You are not (entirely) crazy. Your OCD is only acting up because you’re stressed and your subconscious is having flashbacks to school years spent getting stuffed into garbage cans.” But it doesn’t really matter what I say because I can’t eat the middle of my sandwiches.


Sometimes, we’re flying so high I can feel my teeth itch and my hair breathe. Other times, it’s an exhausting passenger living inside my skin, hijacking the controls: Touch this. Oh, God, don’t touch that. Don’t touch that either. Oh, but do touch that! Yeah, touch it again. And again. And—

You get the point.

I guess I should be grateful repeating certain actions is really the farthest my OCD goes. I don’t feel the need to press my nose to things or see green germs running up and down people like I’m living in my own personal version of The Matrix. My crazy is relatively easy to dress in drag and hide. And, even though there are days when forcing yourself to be normal kinda feels like you’re bleeding to death, it’s certainly safer than wearing your coat of many creepy colors.

It’s the ones who wear their crazy nakedly—either because they don’t care or don’t know—that amaze me. There’s a girl out at my barn who’s like that and, for the sake of this blog, we’ll call her J.

J is her own little person. Unlike me, she does not fake any part of herself. She’s the same with everyone and has a sort of genuine cluelessness that lends her confidence and cushioning from other people’s frustrations with her.

Or, at least, I thought so until she came sobbing to me in the barn parking lot and told me her dad was dying. The woman’s grief was bottomless, utterly raw. She was crying in that way where your sobs threaten to shiver you loose from your bones. I didn’t know what to say. And, really, what could I?

J’s dad is the one person who understands her and sees her as she was meant to be seen, as she wants to be seen. With him, she’s not weird. She’s just herself. Without him, the girl she is vanishes while the girl everyone else sees and ignores lives on. And though J may be crazy, she’s lucid enough to realize the terrible loss of this, how the self she operates in this world will be irrevocably diminished without him.  Because, wherever he goes, so does her acceptance. It will never be the same again.

In that light, there’s no comfort that can be offered. There aren’t enough Hallmark cards in the world to heal this. God knows I had nothing to offer. So we sat in the driveway until she was ready to go home. It took almost an hour and I never did think of something worthwhile to say…except maybe this: we spend so much time trying to fake it, so much time pretending we belong on the inside with all the sane people that maybe we’d be better off letting ourselves rest on the outside.

Seems like quite a few of us live there anyway.