Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Saying goodbye to the olde and hello to the new

Throughout my childhood I suffered from what I now know was a borderline Obsessive-Compulsive Personality. I say personality because anyone in the know will know that there's a distinct difference between the Personality and the Disorder

One of the things I was very particular about was hygiene. The irony was, I hated bath-time because I could never just get in, get done and get out. The entire ordeal took about an hour every day and occurred in stages:

Stage 1 - Lather. Scrub.
Stage 2 - Rinse. Lather. Scrub round two.
Stage 3 - Rinse. Lather. Scrub round three.
Stage 4 - Rinse. Rinse again. Wait to semi-dry naturally (because I hated using towels, it only made me feel more dirty)
Stage 5 - Lather skin with cocoa butter and get dressed.

This ridiculous dance with perfection extended to just about every part of my life. I could never go to bed without washing my feet... it didn't matter how tired I was, I'd always either have a bath or wash my feet before bed. I would never be able to fall asleep if my bed wasn't pushed up right against the wall... or if it was even 2 degrees off from the direction I wanted it to face. I'd only ever sit in the same place at the kitchen table, in the dining room and in the lounge etc etc. And if things weren't perfect, or the way I needed them to be, all hell would be unleashed from little me. 

Dynamite really does come in the smallest packages. I'd become physically destructive - breaking and ruining things, obliterating everything in sight - only to begin all over again because I was so tightly wound up and everything HAD. TO. BE. RIGHT. My clothes had to be perfect and fit perfectly - otherwise I'd go bonkers and rip them to shreds.

Looking back, I know now how absolutely fucking certifiable I was. And the full realization of just how unhappy I was. But I also know the reason I was like that. For the longest time in my childhood, I associated that order and routine and structure, with control. And having had a tumultuous childhood where I had NO control over my life/situation/events, I over-compensated by controlling my immediate environment, my actions and just about every other aspect of my life where I could act or take control. And God bless my Mother - a woman who loves short-cuts and who is the most UN-perfectionistic person I know - because I really wasn't the easiest person to live with and I drove her batshit insane on many occasions. 

Growing up, learning to relinquish that control was, at most times, impossibly difficult and resulted in many internal and external conflicts. While I've managed to overcome most of it, there are still remnants that remain and every day is a choice to be different... to let go... to live.

Lately, life has been... odd. For one, I feel like I'm living in denial. Like, I've managed to fool myself into believing that its Spring/Summer and am foolishly surprised every time I go outside and half freeze to death.

For the most part though, I find that I'm breaking those shackles that have remained... the leftovers / end of range / last items... the last echos of a life in which I was a prisoner for the longest time... and letting it all go, for good... to be carried away by a wayward breeze, into oblivion. I had to internalise the fact that I no longer need the routine and structure to feel safe, that I'm ok and I am free in a way I never was before. Now I can sit on different seats in the kitchen and shower-time has been reduced to 15 minutes.

21 comments:

  1. Too many people I know are either OCP/OCD or its polar opposite (the careless flakes, who I sometimes WISH had a few OCP tendencies)- the middle ground is where it's at.

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    1. I think rather be grateful for that middle ground Roving Retorter... OCP/OCD tendencies aren't healthy :)

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  2. All successful people are focused and possibly just a bit on the compulsive side. You need to face facts, you're perfect and if the world doesn't see it that way -- too bad, so sad.

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    1. It's true LL, most people are successful because of who they become in the face of adversity.

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  3. I had OCD tendencies for many years, but it never got to the stage of the full disorder. I think once life got busier, and I wasn't left to linger with my own thoughts alone for so long, a huge part of the problem faded away.

    I'm glad you're free (or almost free). And thank you for the insight of the causes behind it.

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    1. I think that is the key to curbing those tendencies Dreamlife - keeping yourself busy and being productive.

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  4. It took me a good long while to realize and admit that I had control issues but once I knew that was 'me,' I was able to work at it and try to let go. It's a bit frightening at first but so freeing

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    1. I agree Rooth, it's liberating when you can finally let go :)

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  5. jeez, the one thing I don't have are control issues. I have whatever the opposite is. I plan everything out carefully and then ignore the plan. I do have compulsive thinking disorder. I wonder where that is coming from :) great post!!

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    1. Haha Petra! I think a little control is ok... too much though can be hazardous.

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  6. It never ceases to amaze me how we all walk different paths, yet the end realisations are similar. I'm going through a similar cathartic release of the need for safety and it's liberating. This is the year for it Azra, onwards and upwards :)

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    1. Roshan, I can relate and yes, onwards and upwards for the both of us! :)

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  7. i suppose we all do have some form of control issues. it just probably varies in its intensity. it's great that you've realised it and did something about it. i think skydiving would be good for you too :p
    to let go and fall free :D

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    1. I would skydive Jaya, except that I'm terribly afraid of heighs (and suffer from vertigo) so I'd probably die (literally) before I even get to the ground lol!

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  8. Here's hoping you reach that balance. Congrats on the work you've done so far. Keep going.

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    1. Thanks Happy Whisk - like most things in life, the good stuff never comes easy :)

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  9. Azra I still do things by routine sometimes and it is because it makes you feel safe. It's good that you recognise them as being for that reason and are able to set them free. I bet you have the best smelling feet on the planet though :)
    Anyway, I like people with quirks, they're far more interesting:)

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    1. I also prefer the quirks Juliette. It somehow makes me respect the person more...especially when the OWN their quirks y'know. I still have a sense of routine in my life, but nothing as confining or stringent as it once was :)

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  10. Our mothers could have spoken to each other FOR HOURS about us when we were little. How alike we were as children!! I was the same way when it came to hygiene, and I always had to know what time it was. Always. To the point where my father hid all of the clocks around our house. I think I too craved routine, structure, and being in complete control, though I can't say why because as far as I know, my parents were already providing me with a stable environment. Odd, isn't it?

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    1. Maybe it's an Aries thing Michelle. You know our Fire sign can be so controlling ;)

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  11. "[...] associated that order and routine and structure, with control. And having had a tumultuous childhood where I had NO control over my life/situation/events, I over-compensated by controlling my immediate environment, my actions and just about every other aspect of my life where I could act or take control."

    Aw.

    Hugs!

    My version of this is that every time I put my shoes on, I went and washed my hands. OMG. Also, being a perfectionist A+ student...if I got an A- the world would crumble BECAUSE I WAS A FAILURE, waaaahhhh. Nuts, I know. So much crazy. ;-)

    Glad you're breaking the shackles and no longer in that place you were as a kid - yay!

    xox

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