Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and shades of purple. Then black, white, and dresses. That’s how my closet was organized for years. There was a special spot for jeans and dress pants as well. I had a precise system for my 60 plus pairs of shoes too. They laid strategically upon shoe racks in order to maintain their shape.
You may be thinking “Okay… but how is that OCD? You might have been just really organized.” The difference is that I would feel physically ill and have a true breakdown when something was out of place. Tears would stream down my cheeks, my chest would get tight, and I would feel extremely nauseous. This happened often after my husband would put the laundry away. So, I either began putting away the laundry or I fixed it when he did.
My daily activities revolved around habitual rituals such as: Setting the volume on an even number, writing my name on the steamed mirrors after a shower, praying/wishing at 11:11 AM every single day, and setting the timer for my TV to go off at exactly 2 hours at bedtime. My brain would tell me that something awful would happen if I didn’t adhere to these rituals. I truly believed that this was how I could control my anxiousness and fate.
Then my first son was born. I wanted to be able to handle everything. I wanted to be able to protect him with my built in safety system of controls… My OCD. Slowly I had to let go of control. I couldn’t keep up with the demands of an infant in addition to maintaining my rituals. Slowly but surely, my obsessive compulsive behaviors dissipated. My son deserved better than a mother consumed in false beliefs.
Eventually my OCD was gone. I stopped focusing on rituals altogether. However, my anxiety moved from the backseat to the driver seat. As my older son grew, I was constantly worried about everything that could go terribly wrong. Eventually, my anxiety led to high blood pressure in addition to more severe migraines than what I had it the past.
One day after almost literally stroking out at age 32, I was given a chance to get ahold of my anxiety, high blood pressure, and migraines as well. I started medication, then eventually therapy, and a better eating lifestyle. It helped for a while. However, anxiety doesn’t just “go away.” I guess having OCD helped cover up a lot of the anxiousness. Then, when it was gone out of necessity, it brought my anxiety to the front.
Anxiety is always there, but it is treatable. It occasionally seeps past the medicine and therapy, but I’m able to clean it up. I’m thankful that my OCD is no longer a factor in my everyday life. However, there are still triggers that I avoid so that I don’t go down that rabbit hole. I enjoy having a clean household, but I no longer stress about how it is done or if it gets done immediately.
Having children allowed me to focus on them more than perfection and rituals. I’m okay with that. I prefer to focus on their laughter, growth, and love. They may cause me to be anxious at times, but I’m thankful that they saved me from a life of seeking perfection that doesn’t exist. I would be searching forever, and believing that ending on an even number would somehow make or break my fate.
There is NO control through rituals. It was a hard pill to swallow, but worth it. Once I realized that; I focused my energy on becoming a better mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister, cousin, niece, and human being. I choose to make good choices because I want to leave my legacy as an ambassador of goodness, not perfection.
My fate isn’t determined by a ritual, it’s determined by enjoying a fulfilled life with the ones I love.
That’s how my children saved me from my OCD.