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The blog of m/m author Jaime Samms. 

*Was* I born that way?

Jaime Samms

Let's talk about neuroses. Just for fun (And because I just finished a book with a MC who is OCD and has an anxiety disorder.) The book was very good, by the way, and I enjoyed it immensely. cute kitty mirror

But it got me thinking. Do I honestly think I'm OCD or ADD? No. Um. Probably not. (more on that later) But I do know I'm not the only one I'm related to who maybe looks in the mirror and wonders. Who looks at their reflection and understands that maybe some of the things we do are not what one might call conventional behavior.

That we think about things, worry over things, stress about things that a) are 100% out of our control and b) are 99.9% unlikely to happen and c) at least in my case, don't even matter a whole lot. Yet we, or I, at least, make little rituals that obviously are not going to influence these things or make them happen or not happen.

I only wish this was my closet

For instance, there's a pretty high probability I'm never going to completely loose my eyesight in my lifetime. And if I do, there's a pretty high chance there won't be anything I can do to control it. Certainly, hanging my clothes in a certain order in my closet so I know where everything is, should I suddenly not be able to see any of it, isn't going to stop it happening, or change the likelihood of it happening. And lets be honest, if it did, there are a lot more pressing issues to worry about than what I'm wearing, Stacey's and Clinton's opinions aside. And if that was really a concern, why wouldn't I line up my socks and T-shirts in my drawers, too? But I don't. How they're folded is another matter, and I have been caught unfolding everything someone else has folded and refolded it before putting it away, just to be sure, even though my daughter knows how I like it, and generally does a good job of doing it that way, just because she's nice like that.

So, yes, on one level, I have a fairly descent understanding of what's going on in my brain. On a completely other level, it's an utter mystery. Because I've tried this: I've moved the clothes in the closet. Sometimes hung them randomly. Sometimes just moved a dress from one end of the dress section to the other. I've done it and gone to bed and couldn't sleep. Tried going to work, and couldn't stop thinking about it. Obsessed over this little thing that in the grand scheme of things? Honest to goodness, I know doesn't matter. But it does. And there's no explanation as to why. OCD?

I also know I have other rituals I do obsessively out of very real fears. Like I plot out and print maps and write directions when I'm going somewhere new. I live in terror of getting lost, so I plan and study and make sure I know where I'm going before I step out the door. Why? Because I have concrete experience that if I'm going somewhere alone, even if I've been there before with other people, I can get lost. I can get hopelessly turned around in my own neighborhood and get utterly lost. That's real, and it's terrifying. My daughter had a better compass in her head when she could barely talk than I do even after a lifetime of this careful, obsessive map studying and direction plotting.

I have very specific routines involving house keys and wallet and phone and the tag to get into the building where I work, because if I stray from the ritual, I will forget something. I've always put this down to being easily distracted by the stories, completely unrelated to my life, that constantly scroll through my head. I'm forgetful and distracted and flighty. I always have been. I have ways to compensate for the things I know I'm not good at. ADD?

As far as I know, these aren't issues other people deal with. I never catch anyone else refolding their laundry or patting their pocket for their phone every time they cross a threshold to another room. So I do look in the mirror some days and wonder. Am I normal?

kitty lion morrorAnd my reflection looks back, rather slyly, and seems to defy me to even define that word, 'normal'. I spent so much effort in my life trying to be normal, that it was a surprise when I recently found a new path in life and had to stop and really take stock.

I'm happily married to a guy who gets me and have been for 16 years now. I have two wonderful, happy, healthy, very bright children and the very real possibility opening up in front of me to make a living doing things I love with all my soul. So if it took this convoluted, laundry-folding, map-making, phone-checking path to get to this place, and there was no other way to get here, then maybe normal is the problem. Maybe it's time, as Hubs keeps saying to me, to accept that whatever I am, it's working, and I should just go with it and to hell with convention.