Craving Order and Ancient Filmstrips

Okay, I’m not exactly a Blob, per se. But there is a fine line between anxiety and OCD in a few ways that someone with either may not readily acknowledge. And that line blurs what each of us may define as “control”.

And, thank you, Mr. Blob, the world *is* indeed chaos. But that being what it is, underneath, and behind our own closed doors, we have all experienced things that project us into scrambling for that “control”. In any way that brings us comfort. Over time, through navigation of social acceptability (not chaining ourselves to a radiator and swatting at flies), some of us have learned to keep a number of these quirks a secret. Those of us with true OCD take issue with the word “quirk”. I understand this. It can be a very painful disorder that reaches far beyond simply needing those bits of control. But this is where the fine line is. In the more accessible, manageable aspects. While the word “quirk” can seem as if it belittles certain pain, it is sometimes just a more comfortable way of saying, “I got issues“…and I do!

Anxiety can come out to mingle with OCD in many ways. At all times of day…and night. Boy, howdy, all night. One of the more prominent ways this happens for me is in Circular Thought. There was never so riveting a movie as the one that plays in your head all…night…long. Regardless of the fact you wanted to shut it off and go to bed hours ago. So, where I may happily shoot pistols off over my head in the town square and cackle while I just willy-nilly ball up my socks in pairs, I may also lay in bed brooding at night with my finger on the rewind button of the VCR in my mind. Why on earth would I use a Blu-Ray when I’ve got a bumper crop of this grainy old, poorly edited shit to review? Racks and racks, my friends.

Now, because of my own personal challenges, I do have a need to control my environment to a certain extent which can get me labeled as “fussy” or inflexible. Okay, not fun. There, I said it. I keep things clean and efficient. I’m picky about people and activities. Noise. Weather. Crowds. Waiting. And my schedule has to function properly for the most part or I do start feel a break down through the tiers of my sanity. All things I can control in Mr. Blob’s World of Chaos. When these basics are not met, anxiety results. And this is, consequently, when I start breaking out those old video tapes when I should be sleeping! Ah, if only it could have been avoided….well?

Controlling the finer of the cogs of this chaos looks different to everyone. But our reasons are similar. If we control A, then we avoid B. I have a similar theory that the root of all fear is death…*listener slowly backs out of room smiling politely* I know. But the Control to Avoid Theory stands. If I control Environment A, then Anxiety B rests. Does one beget the other in some offshot self-fulfilling prophecy, I can’t say. So here, again, the line between the obsession or compulsion to “control”, and actual anxiety becomes murky.

Through reinforcement, either concrete or coincidental, we strengthen these neural pathways by taking them repeatedly out of whatever we see as survival at the time. They become the default. Ever tried to change defaults on your phone or computer? You bash the keys and holler CHANGE DEFAULT, JACKASS! But, default is Strong, Like Bull. And it just knows…you’ll be back.

I’m going to end this with my father’s favorite quote from the show Taxi when Bobby tried to leave the garage.

He’ll be back… they all come back… the only one who never came back was James Caan… and he’ll be back!” – Louie DePalma

Go easy on yourself, we aren’t all as brave as James Freakin’ Caan.

Sam

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17 thoughts on “Craving Order and Ancient Filmstrips

  1. And all this time I thought I was just being anal. 🙂

    Well said, as always. And I *knew* this instinctively, although you say it better than me. 🙂

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    1. It’s easy to get labeled when everyone’s reason or need for “control” varies so much and is such an individual experience. Looking at my process has helped me understand both of my daughter’s “quirks” and allow them that space instead of me saying ‘you can’t control everything’. When I look at their reasons and what their controls are *solving* for them, it makes me worry less about the Dear, God, I broke my kids!

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  2. Dead on. Good post

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  3. Instead of a mind movie, I called mine “The Chorus In My Head”, my older daughter has “The Hamster On It’s Wheel”.
    Living in chaos definitely causes anxiety! I’ve dealt with my share of control issues.
    My younger daughter, through brain chemistry, genetics or whatever, has severe anxiety with panic attacks and OCD. It’s much harder for her than for me and my older daughter.

    Talking about mental health is still so difficult for so many people. There’s more awareness but the stigma is still there. Like somehow a person is “weak” because the have problems with their mental health. We wouldn’t tell an asthmatic or a diabetic to “get over it” or see it as a weakness.

    Anyway, the point of my long-winded comment is that I applaud you for sharing your ‘issues’! And I love the way you wrote this💌

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    1. Hahah, we always borrow from Tropic Thunder and the term “head movies”, it’s been so long I can’t think of it as anything but that, a damn movie…stuck…on loop!
      People (you know the ones) would always tell me “oh, you can’t play into their control by giving in” on and on and on. Well…sometimes that’s true when it becomes a dictatorship by short people. But like you said, thanks to the genetic cesspool we swim in, I have to understand that the majority of the time they, and myself, are actually soothing one thing by controlling another. Not just being fussy or demanding! My youngest has OCD and the more I allow her to soothe in her ways, the more I see thise tendencies lessen. Soo worrisome to see it start that young a few years ago. I kept thinking, geez she has her whole life still to be “…fun” like me, NOT YET, please! 😂😂😂

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  4. “The Soundtrack of My Life”. If I can keep the volume of that turned down, everything stays in place better. Some days are easier than others. Another well done post. Thank you.

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    1. See, mine works in reverse. If I control the ‘steadies’ otherwise, that soundtrack in my head stays boxed up! Thank you so much! 🤗🤗🤗

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  5. “I have a similar theory that the root of all fear is death.” I agree 100%. I have made it a point every day to die to any expectations I have for how things “must be” in order for me to be safe. In surrendering to chaos I cannot control (40 middle school kids in art class surrounded by paint, water and cel phones they have snuck in DEAR GOD THE FXXXXIN CEL PHONES!!!) I have more peace. I try really hard to start each day in meditation. It’s an anxiety buster for sure because, in getting quiet, I am giving space to the God of my understanding to come on in and reshape my brain. Here, God, I am ready to let old default ideas die! Come on in and help me out! Oh, in five minutes. Coffee first.” Yes, I meditate with coffee. I”m not a stickler. (And grateful to my hubby for bringing it to me. Gratitude is my new default after a year of practice and it’s changed everything.) GREAT POST!

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    1. 😂😂😂 Thank you so much! Meditation is a LIFE saver! It is thee quickest way to deprogram yourself, shift your perspective, and boost your functionality as a human who is not in need of a straightjacket. And it really does give the power of being able to release “the things I can not control”. And an extremely large part of that is other people! I would absolutely agree that it opens the door to reshape the brain!

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      1. And, can I add, that’s it amazing that when I am centered OTHER PEOPLE BEHAVE. Crazy how that works! 🙂

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        1. Right, lol!! 😂😂😂 Amazing! Ohmmmm

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  6. Rarely do I find someone that can tell my story so sensitively and eloquently without ever having met me. I actually have known people who suffer, and I mean suffer, with OCD. My toolbox houses c-ptsd, which was misdiagnosed so many times it wasn’t even funny. That being said just to tell you what a wonderful post this is. And I really appreciate your writing style.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely and there is so much stigma attached *to* that suffering that those outsiders find it easier to back away. Especially when they haven’t experienced it…or at least haven’t acknowledged that they have. In reality, there is something in everyone’s toolbox! And we have to find our own ways of coping for survival. I find it’s become easier for me to talk about in this manner than let it grip me the way it truly can if I allow it. Seeing the manifestations in my kids has helped me tremendously. Nice to meet you, and thank you again! 🤗🤗🤗

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  7. Here’s to learning to utilize our toolboxes! ‘Pleasure’s mine.

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  8. My mother is 81 and I have just figured out this year that her awful need to criticize and control everyone and everything is a manifestation of strong anxiety. Understanding doesn’t make her any easier to live with, though. It is still cruel, oppressive, and mean. But at least now I understand why. Thanks for validating my theory.

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    1. It is still difficult, I know 😔 My father was much like you’re describing when I was growing up. Sometimes an alternate perspective helps understand them when we can’t change it, once we realize we can never, in fact, change it! Which takes forever to come to terms with when it comes to the behavior of others. So hard not to take it personally. You’re welcome, and thank you for sharing your experience 🤗

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