I am not an asshole.
I see it in the actions, reactions, even simple eye movements of more people than you can imagine. I sense it every day, in everything I do1… every reaction to my action. I’m an asshole. I’m stifling, insistent, demanding, unwilling to go with the flow, unable to play the give-and-take standard expected of humans. Being around me means expending energy that people just don’t want to spend. Asshole, me.
You probably see where this is going, I’m setting up a verbose excuse for being an asshole. I’ve already all but admitted it with caveat. Admitting with caveat is pretty much a set-up for excuses. No, this isn’t about excuses. I realize my faults, but in keeping with the purpose of this site, it is important that I explain the mind of one with OCD and how that plays out in the society I interact with- close relationships, acquaintances, people I manage at work, my friendly drug store cashier, everyone in the world I’ve been placed in.
Let’s start with the simple conclusion to all of this and work backwards: I am careful. I am obsessively careful. And I expect people around me to be the same. To me, the benefits of being obsessively careful outweigh the way I see others going about life, and I cannot stop myself from knowing (thinking?) I am right about carefulness.
The term “careful,” by my own definition, is packaged with obsession. I check, double-check, triple-check2. Everything. I abhor mistakes, to the construction of a universe- almost a multiverse- that exists in the future where I can sense every mistake that can happen. And being careful means checking off each of these potential mistakes to make sure they do not happen.
So this gets me in trouble. It is not so much that things people do aren’t good enough- I am surrounded by people who are more expert than me on many things and I fully embrace that. However being an expert and being careful are two different things. Experts make mistakes, and I cannot handle mistakes. I should word that more accurately- I cannot handle people making mistakes that they could have avoided by thinking of every eventuality of their actions, and the entirety of the tentacles of realities that could happen from said actions. Foreseeing mistakes, I insist on it from myself and thus others.
A common characteristic of OCD is we cannot separate ourselves and our mental wonkiness from the way people without OCD think. That lack of separation comes of as- lets keep this boiled down and frank- assholism. But it is important to note that we really don’t want things done our way. It is more nuanced than that. We want things approached our way. We are willing to let people do things the way they wish to do them. I currently manage a whole department of people, and have managed forty plus people at times. I am perfectly willing to let their expertise fly. I am not a micromanager- even beyond work, I am not. What I do expect is people to approach things with obsessive carefulness. Because I know- irrational or not, I’m not sure- I absolutely know this works. This avoids problems. And problem avoidance is The Biggest Deal.
This concept of being seen as an asshole is a major problem for me. I often feel silenced- duct tape over my mouth trying to scream out that I see problems that can happen. That duct tape is often put there by others, and many times by myself. I put it there because it takes as much energy from me to take energy from you. I don’t want to be seen as an asshole, I know I am not an asshole- I just think in a more voluminous way. Not a better way, no one can judge that, and I’m not about to say I think better than the average person. But I think more voluminously. I have more thoughts- that is OCD! My brain is constantly filled with all the eventualities of any single action.
It has to be delineated again: “done right” by me and “approached right” by me- two different things, the latter being the only thing I insist upon. And knowing this delineation, and which side I stand on- it is very possible that you can step back and see me not as an asshole. Try it! Ok, there’s noting specific to try here, so… think about a scenario where I am stifling, insistent, demanding, unwilling to go with the flow, unable to play the give-and-take standard expected of humans. Think about me like that and realize it is my OCD asking you to approach things in a certain way with your own skills and attributes free to be used as you see fit.
I don’t want to be seen as a demanding asshole, so how’s this for a deal- you go through life with whatever skills you have, and let me direct the worrying. You’ll have to be involved in the worrying, but I’m convinced it will end up with less problems down the road for both of us. Let me worry, worry with me as much as you can, and be you beyond that. And lay off the “asshole” part. Realize the energy my OCD makes me spend thinking of every possible mistake that could be made, and take from me, some of that.
All of this being said and very important to me, I must note: sometimes I am truly an asshole. Remember, I don’t trust you. And now I am giving you eye movements towards that actuality.
1 Unless I’m putting on my nice persona to shield myself from all sorts of shit that the unfiltered me would get if I just went with my thoughts
2 Sometimes I go back a forth or fifth time just to make myself feel good, it’s pretty much after checking something a third time that I know I’m just being silly. Three times is good.