The Little Things

by thethreepennyguignol

You ever see those adverts for Pepsi? The ones that list off a bunch of adjectives in a row about how great Pepsi is? Lip-smacking, thirst-quenching, ace-tasting, and so on and so forth. I get them stuck in my head a lot, because my useless hellbrain likes to torment me with nonsense that serves no purpose in my day-to-day life.

Anyway, I was humming it to myself the other day while I was trying to untangle the cat’s claws from my bra strap, and realized that it was a perfect way to encapsulate all the silly bullshit my OCD demands from me on a daily basis. Tree-slappin’, door-tappin’, stat-countin’…I could go on. It would be extremely catchy, but I’d have to do it nine times before I could stop to sate the raging pit of anxiety that exists inside of me at all times, and by then you would have probably all gotten tired of it. I know I would have.

I’ve spoken about some of the more extreme, destructive forms that my compulsions have taken in the OCD series on this blog, but honestly, most of the time, the stuff that I do is pretty benign. If I’m reading a book, I have to turn to page ninety-nine before I close it. Tap all the walls of my house but one before I leave. Throw out not one piece of food at a time but at least two, so they don’t get lonely. It’s stuff that I honestly didn’t think anything of for years and years because it didn’t have any effect on my life – I got described as a manic pixie dream girl type for these small quirks, and I really thought that’s all it was. Bad luck to the people who dated me based on this and discovered the black hole of anxiety that I would helplessly toss their affection straight into. Anyway.

When I first started identifying these compulsions as part of my OCD – and I know that they are, because they’re all tied in to this notion of control and protection and safety – I was pretty gung-ho about cutting them all out of my life. Because if one had to go, they all did, right?

Thing is, there are parts of my OCD that are just baked into the way I move through the world. Some of them are destructive and negative, can get in the way of me having a good relationship with myself and with the people around me. But others are just sort of there. They are a symptom of something which isn’t entirely excellent, but they themselves don’t cause me great distress, or serve to get in the way of my relationships, or my happiness. It’s tempting to try and scorched-earth them out of my life, to pretend that this stuff wasn’t ever in me in the first place, but that would be futile, since it always has been.

So recently I’ve been trying to parse out what really matters in terms of addressing the symptoms of my anxiety disorder. I have an all-or-nothing view of the world, built into me, and that makes it hard to do things in steps – I’m either all-in committed to getting better or lying on the floor in a pit of my own self-pity promising myself that this is what I deserved in the first place. All that tree-slappin’, stat-countin’, wall-touchin’ stuff, that can wait. I have to address the first and foremost now, the stuff that is really getting in the way of me living a life that I’m happy with and in. I have this overwhelming desire to obliterate all my issues related to a certain problem at once, but living with the little things has reminded me that sometimes they don’t need to be seared out of my life.

These are little things that are probably always going to make up some part of me. Because getting better doesn’t mean scrubbing every trace of my OCD from every inch of my life; it means accepting that this is a part of me, and that existing with it doesn’t make me any less worthy of actually taking on the difficult, destructive stuff for a change. Maybe, as I get a better handle on my anxiety, that stuff is going to take a back seat – or maybe I’m always going to be reciting that Pepsi advert in my head ad infinitum until I die. Either way, I think, for now, I can live with the little things.