June 7, 2021

OCD is not What Defines You.

I grew up surrounded by strong women.

My great-grandmother, my grandmother, and my mother were all strong women.

I wished to be like these women who have endured the great depression, who have loved and lost, and who buried loved ones gone too soon.

They taught me everything I needed to know, which included how to be OCD about just everything.

When we have OCD, things seem chaotic all the time. We must fix the placement of napkins, forks, bath towels, curtains, and anything else we perceive as not right.

We cannot relax until everything is perfect. Therein lies the fault with OCD—our awareness is always heightened.

You see things that need to be fixed, while others may say there is nothing wrong with the napkins, curtains, and everything else in your home. They see cozy; I see chaos.

I came by my OCD from this strong line of women I loved. Looking back to my great granny, I could see her behaviors and now see how they were extremely OCD (Generations ago, we did not call it that). She had to start each day with a handkerchief on her lap, cleaning out her nails. Every single day.

My grandmother had to deal with her mother, my mother, my grandfather, and myself. We all lived under one roof. My mother and I shared a room in my grandparent’s house. My grandmother had to do certain chores each day wearing a smock, so her clothes stayed clean.

Each day she would rise and make us breakfast in that smock. She would clean up and start her list of chores. She did the same chores each day, Monday to Friday, in the same order. I thought, well, that is odd.

Then comes my mother. She watered her plants on Tuesday, even if by Friday they looked ready to die.

She, like her mother, had a list of chores to do and an order in which to do them. I started to connect the dots. Starting with my great granny who, God rest her soul, may have started it all. There were four generations of women with OCD living under one roof.

When I got married, I started showing my own OCD.

We would eat at noon for lunch, or you did not eat. This house is not an “all-you-can-eat-buffet”—all day, every day, you know. Laundry will be done on Tuesday and Saturday and not in between. Spray and wash that stain, but no washing until those days.

And then it hit me that I had become all those strong women combined. I had all their OCD habits with my own thrown into the pot.

Once I realized that I was exhibiting signs of OCD, I prioritized not having my kids be the next generation to exhibit it.

I was telling them to hang their towels and then go straighten them. I would ask them to take out the trash, and then I had to put the trash can back two inches because it drove me nuts.

They wondered what was wrong with me, and so did I.

OCD was starting to take permanent hold of me. I pushed against it as best as I could.

I would leave things askew, and you know what happened? Nothing. They stayed that way, and life went on. The trashcans stayed in the wrong spot, but trash made it into them anyways.

Having my own kids made me see my OCD, but it also made me face it.

I was determined to unlearn it, but you cannot just get rid of a disorder.

When I was small, if I turned five times right, I had to turn five times left. I was OCD as a child, and I did not even know it. I still struggle with being OCD, but I know I come from an amazing line of women who handled it all with grace.

I still fix towels because it does drive me nuts, but I am making a conscious effort to live life with less chaos and enjoy the time I have more. It is a process.

If you have OCD, then you probably understand.

You have probably nodded your head as you read this, but know you are not alone.

You are standing among the strong. OCD is not what defines you, and there are all levels of OCD.

I hope you control it instead of it controlling you.

May you find peace in the chaos (because life is full of chaos), and if we spend all our time trying to control it, we miss life.

We miss spending time with loved ones. We miss living our lives to their fullest. Here is to wrestling your OCD and living your best life.


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