I get it, it is cliché. I have OCD and I’m crazy about containers. About having all the same size, all labeled, all that absolutely fascinating stuff. I could go on, I really could but it’s sort of embarrassing to think of myself in cliché.
Now, we all have to face how we do or don’t conform to stereotypes. All of us. And we all do and don’t in different ways. And that is to say that I—along with everyone else—has elements of the stereotypes about the category of person they fit within. I have stereotypical OCD at times, the kind of actions that would make for a typical character with OCD on a TV show. I can be a muse to those who are… looking for a muse with OCD.
When it comes to organizing—while I really focus my energies on the more esoteric and debilitating characteristics of my OCD—I fully imbibe the beauty that is everything in an order that looks like it took a lot of time and energy.
Yeah, most of my OCD is well beyond keeping things organized and labeled. And that is why I’ve written hundreds of pieces on the subject of my own OCD. But, I can’t pretend I don’t also conform to certain stereotypes. And if I do, and I do, I should embrace them.
So we’ve taken the long way to me saying how much I love containers of all sorts. Here’s the thing though, my OCD creates a world where even what should be a simple pleasure of organizing turns into a round of second-, third-, and beyond-guessing.
I purchase containers nearly by the pallet. And recently I’ve noticed when I do go to purchase these containers, I have this great fear that I’ll never be able to find the same container again. And mismatched containers—while acceptable enough—doesn’t play well into the stereotypical parts of my OCD explained earlier that give me pleasure.
So I over-purchase them. To the point where I have containers of containers of containers. This exists in my office, as we speak. I’m looking at them.
Now, what do I use these containers for? Surprisingly little. Every time I think of something to put into one of the, say, eight medium-sized containers I have… I fear two things:
1. That the items I am thinking of storing in the container are not worthy of using up the container.
2. That I’ll fall so in love with using the container that I’ll find well more than eight uses for the eight containers I have.
This may seem like a silly quirk, but it actually speaks to how my OCD works in total. I am obsessed with how something good can go wrong. I need to think—actually feel—the feeling of disappointment of being so close to happiness. This container stuff… it’s silly happiness. But it is happiness, and my first instinct is to think of it as figuratively contaminated.
No, I don’t think the plastic containers are infested with something that will get me sick (actually, quite the opposite.) Contaminated in the sense that these items hold the power to cause negative feelings. Disappointment, wanting to rewind time and buy more containers, wanting a perfect that I’ve set up as impossible to achieve.
I very much feel a sense of anxiety when looking at these unused containers. It is a real anxiety. I don’t care if people think it is foolish, it is something I feel.
This is no different than any other anxiety that involves wanting to rewind time. Almost every action I take, I want to take back and do over and better. And in this case, while the container itself as a concept makes me happy, there is no way I will be happy with the number I have. I fear using up the containers, so I don’t use them.
Why did I purchase eight containers? I don’t know. What I do know is that we’ve established that eight containers are either not enough or too much, but certainly not the correct amount.
And that makes me sad.