It’s Thursday morning, 6:32, and I’m standing at the kitchen counter packing my breakfast and lunch so I can head to work. I have a small Tupperware container in front of me with a mix of blackberries and raspberries, their original packaging containing what will be part of Friday’s morning meal. And for the life of me, I can’t remember when or why I started counting the blackberries.
Thirteen blackberries. That’s how many go into the Tupperware container. I don’t count the raspberries. I don’t need to, because for some reason I don’t understand, counting raspberries doesn’t matter. The problem facing me is this – There are only twelve blackberries left for tomorrow’s breakfast. This bothers me greatly. Each morning, I count thirteen blackberries into my breakfast mix. And I already know I only have twelve for Friday. I don’t have time to contemplate tomorrow. First, I have to get through today.
It’s 6:34, and my lunchbox is packed. I’ve gone through four of my five morning rituals, and it’s now time to head into the master bathroom to brush my teeth. Of course, I won’t take off my slippers until after I’m done, because I can no longer brush my teeth while barefoot. I have no idea when this happened either, but it’s now a must, morning and night. My feet must be covered when I brush my teeth, or it doesn’t feel right.
I finally arrive at work. Once in my office, I take the two plastic drink containers and begin the process for filling them with water to drink during the day. A portion of a flavor packet goes into one of the bottles, the remainder of the packet leaning against a pad of hall passes. While I’m waiting for the computer to wake up, I make sure my three pens are there. My main one is a Wonder Woman pen James gave to me. It’s the one I use during meetings, and it doesn’t leave my area. There is a plain black one as a backup (for when I run out of ink in the WW pen), and a yellow highlighter. They are in a specific order next to the laptop, which is finally up and running.
Although I do have some obsessive behaviors at work, I try not to let them show. Most of what gets me through the day revolves around typing and editing – a capital letter fixed here, spacing adjusted there. Everything I type is done so meticulously. I can feel each letter as I click the keyboard, my muscles remembering exactly how to move to create certain words. I take comfort in their memorized patterns.
There has always been an order to my life, patterns I prefer, little things I do that no one else notices which make me feel better. I’ve always known my obsessions were happening, and I’ve always felt as if I could control them. However, lately the compulsion part of my OCD has increased, and I find even if I don’t want to do these things, I can’t seem to stop myself.
I’m a 42 year old, rational, independent adult. I know better, but I can’t feel better.
And so, Friday morning, when I wake for work and start my routines all over again, I’ll take out the last of the blackberries and raspberries. I’ll count the remaining twelve blackberries into the container, and dump the raspberries on top. And I know it won’t feel right, but I will somehow make it through the day. I don’t need thirteen blackberries, even though physically and emotionally, that’s what I want. I’m stronger than my OCD. We fight on a daily basis, and some days, I have to pick my battles. On Friday, I’ll win the blackberry war, and on Monday, we’ll start over.