Friday, August 5, 2011

Lesser Things

You might be wondering where I've been. Am I in some exciting locale, pondering the mysteries of culture and commonality? Am I pontificating on the vastness of love and falling head over heels for sparkly eyeshadow?

Alas, no.

I've told some of you, upon email or conversation In Real Life that I haven't had time to write lately. I've been busy! I have kids that need quality time with their ever-so-amazing mother. I've had lots of cleaning, many appointments, and too little sleep.

I realized tonight that I've been running away from the idea of sitting with my own thoughts. I can talk about sparkly eyeshadow and why it isn't fair that it looks stupid on white girls older than 22, but I still manage to come out with a greater understanding about who I am, what I believe, and what I want out of life. I can lie to your face with no problem. This computer, this blog, these words...they are my  mirror and I have a much harder time lying to myself.

Too sad for Beatrice? Well, it is almost midnight and I dare you to not be introspective when the night morphs into the next dawn. Plod on if you will, though I dare say we will leave the eyeshadow behind and talk only of the raven. (Midnight and Poe go quite hand in hand, don't you think?)

I was diagnosed a couple months ago with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Aside from the giggles at my truly odd thoughts (When I see knees, I feel like I am biting into a bowlful of crunchy mini-knees. I know, you don't understand. OCD is nothing if not odd.) I have been reassessing my life in light of this realization.

Nobody is a label anymore. It isn't ok to say that someone is black or a Jew. Ask me if my friend is middle-class and I'll wonder why you are low-class enough to ask. Nobody wants to be boxed in, which is good and fair. On the other hand, a label helps. If you are addressing a group of people, it might be good for you to know that they all have Japanese ancestry, and won't take kindly to little jokes about the war. If you are buying a gift for a family member, you might want to know their size. You don't want to be rude, of course....but you also don't want the gift to be completely useless.

Labels exist for good and ill, and can be taken for both. With that being said, I know that I am more than Someone With OCD. And yet, I have it.

What does this mean?

Mostly, as I said, I've had many a laugh or aha! moment as I recall the various memories of my existence. Pillows facing out, all stuffed animals lined up in the precise order, sheets tucked in a certain way near my feet, on the side of the bed further from the door, all correct 'anti devil' prayers being said, or TERROR WOULD ERUPT UPON THE EARTH! All this and I was only 6.

We all have quirky traits, and not all indicate compulsions in the true sense. I'm still figuring out the difference. My face looks like a Picasso, really and truly. This is OCD talking. I hate bugs. This is my personality.  Not all idiosyncrasies are indicative of a problem, which is kind of sad because the problems at least give you somewhat of an excuse. (Sorry I didn't wash the dishes, honey...damn old OCD strikes again.)

My struggle isn't that I am facing this issue. It has actually been a relief to know that the odd mental pictures or feelings of DOOM have been caused by a little brain hiccup that I can learn to live with and mostly overcome.

I'm about to get as honest as I can be without posting nekkid pictures. Just love me through the thoughts, mmmkay?

Some of my compulsions (a reaction/response against a thought/feeling) are very much centered around spiritual things. This is normal, even for someone who has zero spiritual beliefs or background. My therapist extraordinaire says that OCD loves violence, religion, sex, and straight up grossness. If you can combine them at the same time, so much the better! Those with OCD struggle with unwanted ideas, thoughts, and pictures that they haven't conjured up or created. In order to negate or forget those ideas, they do things like wash their hands, check the lock on the door, or count syllables in a sentence. I'm a syllable counter, in case you are wondering.

So as I unravel this thread that has woven in and out of my life since time unremembered, I am further distressed to discover that my compulsions have tried to assuage my guilt that I have a huge problem believing what most people around me accept as truth.

I believe in a deity, and call it God.

Right now, that's all I've got. The rest seems a bit hazy, especially in the foggy humidity of the South.

You'd have to be a total liar to say that all the stuff in Christianity doesn't sound completely insane. This doesn't indicate its veracity or lack thereof, of course. Talking about my love for my kids sounds insane and completely impossible, and yet it is true. But still...'we' are supposed to believe in things that are so otherworldly it isn't comprehensible except in small snatches. A miracle is just that because it is unexplainable and unexpected. To say that belief in a dead man/god who kicks demon ass and wants to 'know and love you personally' is totally acceptable and normal and good truly does sound crazy.

It is normal for compulsions to center around religious practices. It is not normal, however, to have those compulsions. Imagine my horror, shame and disappointment in myself when I discovered that so many prayers were offered as a ward against my own anxiety and brain malfunction. Does this make me a liar? No, I don't think so. Does this prove anything about the existence of a God? No, I don't think so.

And yet, my place in the world feels so altered, I cannot seem to find a foothold. I spend my life centered around a building in which many wonderful people (and a few buttholes) congregate and talk about their collective belief in someone and something that I now don't identify with in the way that I did before. Whether or not Jesus was a real person who did the things the Bible claims is not what I'm trying to discover.

But as for discovery, mine is that when I thought I was looking at or talking to one god, I was really interacting with a disorder that has proved time and  again to trick me into thinking that reality wasn't real, and vice versa.

I don't feel that I'm expressing myself well. All I hear from my own words is something like "Waaaahhhh I stubbed my toe, Jesus isn't real." Or, the more common, "I'm just tired of hypocrisy so therefore can't be real myself."

In my heart, however, it feels so disconcerting and excruciating and embarrassing. I can live with this thing, and make fun of it, and move on with my life. This week, however, I'm stuck with crunchy knee cereal boxes and the horrible realization that I engaged my religious beliefs in a mental disorder that lies all the time. Sometimes, I've seen angels. Other times, it was serotonin. How then do I ever trust myself in either circumstance again?

I'm going to post this before I lose my nerve and think of all the people who read this and will judge me because I'm not gifted enough to pull these thoughts from my troubled little Prozac-coated heart.

Next time I might just post the nekked pictures. I won't show you my knees.


jonmenzies said...

I certainly won't judge you. In fact, I'd love to have a conversation about this soon.

Ginger said...

Brilliant post. You expressed what so many, who if they are completely honest with themselves, have gone through...but don't have the courage to admit. I call mine "a crisis of faith" that began when I got so sick after Amanda was born (yes, 11 yrs ago), and continues to this day. I have good days & bad days...happily, the good ones have started outnumbering the bad. Again, thank you for your transparency. *hugs*

Mr Lonely said...

walking here with a smile.. have a nice day ~ =D

Regards, (A Growing Teenager Diary) ..

Sospitas said...

I don't really know you but I love the honesty and transparency. No judgements here, we're all on our own journey. I wouldn't expect you to judge where I am anymore than I would presume to judge where you are. Kudos.

Leila said...

I don't know what to say other than I just love you. Thank you for your courage, for the permission this post gives all of us to pull back the veil and reveal the authentic self. I'm struggling to make sense of stuff too. As a coping mechanism, I count steps, phone poles, the slashes on the road (which get pretty difficult going 70 miles an hour!) I have a freakish ability to know what someone is going to say before they say it - and I often believe my own press - even before it actually happens. HA! I relate with Anne Lamott: "I've thought such awful thoughts that I cannot even say them out loud because they would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish."

ReflectionsByPj said...

Cliche as it is, you will learn... time, patience, and a fiery-spirited red-head filled with knowledge, the will to gain more knowledge and understanding, filled with determination, humor, and a beautiful love... you will learn. Sometimes, for me, it's writing on this mirror that helps me work it out, or at least gain a better understanding. You are loved. You are beautiful. You are labeled, who of us isn't - it's figuring out which department store we're hanging in or in our case, which bistro. (I heart you.)

kimberlywenger said...

I can see why faith in God could be a huge struggle after such a revelation. I think you expressed yourself very well. I've struggled with how to relate to God based on my own lack of ability to hear Him. There have been times I was SO SURE it was God speaking, only to discover later that I was simply attributing my own desires to Him. I had to accept that I'm the one who is flawed and thank Him that He loves and accepts me anyway. That sounds clique, but it was a huge revelation to me. I applaud your bravery for sharing these thoughts. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to count my steps back to my bedroom and perform my ritual preparations for bed.