I have what I call OCB – Obsessive Compulsive Behaviors. It’s very possible I have OCD or even fall somewhere on the Autism Spectrum (my son has a spectrum diagnosis). At almost 40 a diagnosis for me would mean more harm than good. I share this with you because storms happen often in my life and I have to find the calm in many ways, otherwise I’d cease to function completely.
Living with OCB means I have a strong desire to control my environment. I can go with the flow but only if it’s not my house or my work or really my life. I can do just fine with an outing but even then I’m all about lists – we’ll do this, then this and then this. I need to know what is coming up next. However, that is not how life works.
It doesn’t take much to set my world into a spiral. I remember one bad day, the day that made me realize that I wasn’t “normal”. My husband had made me lunch. I’m the one that works outside the home so he has made my lunch for the majority of our marriage (except for a few years when the roles were reversed). He’d made me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The bread was put together wrong. I know you are asking yourself how does that happen. Well when you buy bread, it’s slightly tapered so the majority of pieces are either slightly larger or smaller than the piece next to it and there’s a bit of an angle to the crust. I pull the pieces of bread out of the bag together, noting how they fit together and put the filling in the middle. My husband grabs two pieces and puts the filling on the outside of the pieces or sometimes on the outside of one and the inside of the other. You are learning so much about bread, aren’t you?
Well, I pulled my sandwich out at lunch time and cried. I actually choked the sandwich down between my tears. I knew this was not a rational response but I also felt that if he had loved me at all then he would know how to make my sandwich. Those are really bad days and sadly they happen most when I let others do things in my life.
We are told that letting others help relieves stress. Not for me. I’m never happier when I have thoroughly scrubbed my bathroom with a toothbrush. I may grumble the entire time only because I feel like if no one else used my bathroom then it wouldn’t have looked like that to begin with.
So what do I do when the storms hit? I cry a lot and have a tendency to yell. That’s not helpful but I’m still learning. I’m only human.
Control is a hard thing to have. I can’t control tomorrow but I can plan. Having a plan always helps. I not only have a plan but I have several back-up plans. I know exactly how to pay my bills if I lose my job because I think about it. I put together contingency plans. It’s not 100% because I can only work with what I have.
Faith is another thing that carries me through. I find it very sad when people I love don’t believe in God. I don’t care if they have a religion but I know that I would not have survived this long without that knowledge that there is someone out there who loves me and helps shoulder my burdens.
I’m not a traditional pray-er. I do talk with God but when times are really tough I do two things. I journal. I take all that negative energy, that pain and sadness, and set it on paper. Sometimes just that small act allows me to see the situation more clearly. I write my journal pages as if I was explaining the situation to someone in charge. I try to leave out all the emotions except to explain. I do talk about my feelings but my goal is to explain. Eventually I either burn out the negative emotions or I see the truth about the situation which helps me to resolve those feelings.
The other thing is my God jar. This is a lovely jar that sits on my work desk. Near it sits an envelope filled with bits of paper. When something weighs me down, a worry can’t be planned away, then I give it to God. I feel bad that he only gets my worries in the jar and I’ve thought that maybe it needs to be balanced with a gratitude jar.
As a human, I can only do so much. I was given special challenges when I was brought into this world. I was given some amazing talents to help balance them out. My storms don’t stay often but I know it’s hard on my family because they don’t understand. They are not like me. Not even my son who shares a lot of traits with me. They don’t realize that I can only take so much of them moving my stuff, especially if I’m feeling overwhelmed all ready. I have to live a life of order even if it doesn’t look it to them. They have never understood the concept of organized chaos – the calm inside the storm.