Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Little Obsessive + A Little Compulsive = OCD? You Be the Judge

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.  OCD.  I bet everyone has it to some degree in some way, don't you agree?  It is not my intention to make light of anyone who suffers from debilitating anxiety over every day situations that lessens the quality of life.  I am simply admitting to some of my  own idiosyncrasies. Writing is my therapy.  "How will I know what I think until I see what I say?" (E.M. Forster)

Who among us DOESN'T have a preference for the way the toilet paper hangs?  Don't we ALL??? Does that mean I have OCD if I think your way isn't the RIGHT way?  Maybe.  I probably won't change your toilet paper roll in your house.  I said probably.  But I have to FIX the ones in mine on a regular basis.  No one in my house changes them back; thank heavens.  It would be terrible if we all fixated on rolls of toilet paper.

(A side note.  My fifteen year old is over my shoulder, proofreading this with me. 

"STOP," he orders.  "Whenever we go to Grandma's, I have to fix her toilet paper roll because the paper is hanging backwards."  We high-five each other.  Yes, my job here is done here, folks.  I've passed my WEIRD genes on to the next generation.)

I MAY have a touch of OCD.  The last few years, I have noticed that I count while waiting.  You know, while the water dispenser fills my cup from the fridge door, while the microwave reheats an item, while I dry my hair.  I'm not sure it has any purpose...except for the microwave.  10 seconds is the magical number if I want a homemade roll to taste like it did when it was first pulled from the oven.  And so I count to pass the time.  Or because I'm obsessed.

Numbers have always been a thing for me.  I was one of those moms who said, "Don't make me start counting."  (Briefest of pauses.) "One...two..."  You know the type.  Ever hopeful we've followed through enough times on our threats that we'll never hit THREE again as long as we live.  A mom can dream.

Even though I'm very language-based in my thinking, I am FASCINATED with numbers.  When I would explain my line of reasoning on solving an algebra problem, a fellow math teacher would just shake his head, and say, "That's INTERESTING.  If it works for you, use it.  I wouldn't solve it that way, though." Patterns are cool.  I love the fact that my dad's area code in Virginia was 804 when mine in Utah was 801, and when his changed to 434, mine changed to 435.  That's not just weird, but it's AWESOME, too.

My favorite number is TWO, and 222 is my ultimate favorite number. According to Bridger, my soul child, my mathematical logic is faulty. 22 should be the perfect number; it contains 2 twos.  Three twos seems "off," according to him. 2 twos sounds like "tutus" to my linguistic mind, and a tutu is something a ballerina wears. Two-two-two rolls off the tongue with a staccato of my numerical notes being repeated.   Bridger can pick his own favorite number for his own strange reasons!  I just love 222. It figures prominently in most of my passwords since it is the BOMB of numbers.  Here's a little fact about Adam Levine of Maroon 5 fame:  he has a tattoo of 222 on his arm because it is HIS favorite number, too.  I fell for him a little harder when I learned that little tidbit.

Some people are number freaks.  I guess I'm one of them.  You may have heard of 11:11 wishes. When the clock has those repetitive ones on a digital clock, you make a wish.  Ever since my kids were little, we've been wishing on ANY repetitive number.  Who knows how many disagreements in which they've been embroiled because their weird mom went a little too far with the wish thing. ("You can only wish on 11:11!"  "Nuh-uh.  MY mom says...")   My kids at school know that many times when reading to them before lunch my head would pop up from our novel, and I'd interrupt the story with, "It's 11:11!  Make a wish!"  That may not have been the best time to bring that up.  My bad.

Guess which teacher freaked out over 12:12 on 12/12/12.  Yep, that's right.  MOI.  I was giddy all day.  We talked about the SIGNIFICANCE of this day in our morning meeting.  When the fateful minute arrived,  I grabbed the clock off the wall, one of the kids pulled the calendar off of the bulletin board and all 36 of us crammed on, near, and around our crummy class couch for a picture.  I sent it to a friend, who must have some OCD tendencies of her own.  "What is WRONG with your clock?"  I inspected it.  Oh, no.  The clock's hands were loose and it looked like we were celebrating 11:12 on 12/12/12.  I couldn't have that.  I had one of my kids take it to the custodian for "immediate" replacement (translation: at his earliest convenience).

Have you seen Sleeping with the Enemy?  Julia Roberts plays the wife of an abusive husband with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder.  His canned food labels are all facing forward and the cans are in alphabetical order.  Hand towels are folded perfectly in half and hanging straight.  Their house is immaculate.  I'm afraid that last one would have caused me to jump ship, too.

OCD somehow lost any hold it has on me when it comes to cleaning.  I will wait until images outside  become murky before tackling a window cleaning project.  My toaster feels a little tacky. My stainless steel appliances rarely have that Better Homes and Gardens glow. (Those are an OCD person's nightmare, let me tell you.  When I DO decide to clean them, they're only clean for a nanosecond before some small smear can be detected.)  

I can let my floors go forever.  Ask my brother Eric.  On more than one occasion I watched him walk across my kitchen floor, lift his bare foot, and wipe some odd crumb off on his pant leg.  We'd chuckle, my cheeks tinged with pink.  You see, Eric and his wife share an OCD passion for cleaning.  Deep weekly cleaning.  I admire it.  I envy it.  I don't have it.

Besides toilet paper rolls, I have other things that drive me a little crazy in the bathroom.  I am an obsessive tooth brusher, weigher, mirror checker, hand washer, and sink wiper.  AND... see this all-but-used-up tube of toothpaste? There are those who shall remain nameless who would have the AUDACITY to throw this away.  When that happens, I dig it out of the trash and I hide it. That toothpaste will last me for WEEKS, people! ("Me, too," I hear Bridger's soft voice over my shoulder.)  We don't need to use a whole LINE of it so that it's dripping off our brushes into the sink for people like me to wipe up later!

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" seems to be our motto.  Yes, my mother passed her thrifty gene on to us.  I'm extremely tight-fisted when it comes to using up health and beauty products...and food.  There are itsy bitsy containers of food that plague our fridge and freezer.  I am such a penny-pincher when it comes to pennies.

But just like my other selective OCD tendencies, the frugal one is limited to certain areas of my others, not so much.  I'm not so thrifty when it comes to spending in general.  I do love to spend money, especially on luxurious towels and bedding because, just ask my kids, I have a THING for touching stuff.  My hands glide over every exposed piece of fabric in stores.  I love plush towels, soft blankets, smooth sheets...mmmm...yes, it's nearly a fetish.

Back to the bathroom...  I LOVE scented soaps from Bath and Body Works.  Every single season, there are tantalizing smells that make my mouth water, and I swoon in front of their hand soap displays.  The names like Coconut Lime in the summer...Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin in the get the idea.

BUT WHAT IF THE SEASON IS OVER AND THERE'S STILL SOME LEFT?  Yikes.  That's a quandary.  I've done two things:  1.  Tuck the unused portion in the cabinet for a year.  That bugs me because I know I haven't used it up, and I started a new bottle.  2.  Keep using up the Winter Candy Apple until summer is nearly over.  I am getting a lot of flak over this current solution from Bridger .  

"Loving this winter soap in the summer, Mom."  

"Yeah, I know.  Get over it."  There are some who would solve all of our problems by throwing away the half inch portion remaining in the soap dispenser.  I would just dig it out.  It is a terrible, terrible thing to be haunted by these insignificant matters.

When conflicting OCD behaviors collide, my mind gets jammed.  No solution seems satisfactory.  I force myself to not obsess about it by focusing my attention elsewhere.  Maybe I'll develop a new one on which to fixate.  The gas pump game is one I finally terminated awhile back.  I could always return to THAT nonsense... Sometimes I just have to laugh about my crazy mind.  I don't even want to think about being crazy.  That would make me really...well, crazy.


  1. The toilet paper has to come off the front so you can find the end in the dark. Unless of course you have a psycho nascar driving cat that unrolls an entire roll at lightening speeds, then the roll has to hang off the back so at least there is TP on the roll in the middle of the night.

    1. The cat would have to be locked out of the bathroom! ;-) MUST have it drop off the front! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I loved this. I, too, am enthralled with numbers - yes, even at the gas pump! I once moved into a house numbered 210, only to work for a lawyer at 110, whose mother in law grew up in the house we bought.

    1. Thanks, Shelley. It's good to know I'm not alone on the numbers game!

  3. This is great! I always thought I was subtle about arranging the Monopoly money so it's facing the same direction {because it has to be, right?!?!?} until I caught my 3 year old putting the money in backwards on purpose to see my reaction. Too funny! ;-)

  4. Oh my. The things we have in common. Great post.


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