A Response to “OCD”

My idiot half-brother harmlessly, unknowingly sent me a link.  A link to a spoken-word poem about falling in love.  Well, falling in love when you have OCD.  I watched it and cried.  Then watched it again.  And again.  And again.  And cried.

Friends saw it and said, “That’s intense” or “Aww, that’s nice.”  And I realized we were not watching the same video.

We all watched, and heard a poem that flawlessly (and strikingly) explained what it was like to love with OCD.  They heard the words spoken.  I felt the meaning in the layers behind them.

They’ve never had to try and explain to friends, strangers, potential love interests why they keep touching the sides of their fingers to nearby objects, preferably wood, or to their legs.  Why they waste so much food because once an idea has popped into their heads about why it’s inedible, it takes off and it is just easier to get rid of the catalyst than to try and make sense of it.  Why, when the incessant torrent of information playing on loop becomes too much, they shake their heads in an attempt to physically take themselves out of it.  To stop it, if even just for a second.  They don’t live with an inherent fear of everything or the lack of control over the superstition, ritual, and debilitating meltdownsIt is hard for them even to understand when they see it.

It is a daily struggle to focus on work or conversations or dating or reading or writing or relaxing when there are mistakes, moments – good and bad (and if they’re good, talking myself out of believing them for fear I will get too comfortable and confident) – fears, things to do, things not done, things I want to, should be, could be doing or saying constantly filing through my mind.

I have found it impossible to explain that while I don’t fall often, hardly at all in fact, I fall hard.  Because those butterflies you get when you’re in like or lust or love, for me, they drown out some of the noise.  They make the dirt seem less dirty, the odd numbers seem less odd, and the constant anxiety feel less arduous.  For me, feeling like or lust or love has tangible, physical, concrete effects.  For me, it’s the difference in checking four times instead of eight.  In typing and then deleting the “j” key two times instead of four.  In sleeping through the night instead of vaguely drifting off in front of the TV.

And because of this, it makes letting go a little harder.  It makes a breakup – at any level – feel a little more tragic.

When you can’t put it into words as eloquently, when it isn’t performance art, when it’s your every day, your reality, it isn’t “nice.”  And it’s a feeling, a quality, a sensation, I never quite knew how to explain.  I still don’t.  But he does.  He did.

“How can it be a mistake when I don’t have to wash my hands after I touch her?”

I wish I could say I didn’t understand this.  I wish I could say it wasn’t repeating in my head because I’ve never heard so much expressed so succinctly, so perfectly, so powerfully.  I wish I could say the idea that sometimes, someone has the ability to make it all go “quiet” was a foreign one.

But in the meantime, I’ll keep watching and listening, amazed, comforted in someone’s ability to put it into words.  And hoping someone, some day, will understand too.

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