…is the worst thing for my OCD.
Of all the situations I encounter in real life-while battling the constant twisting and turning of observation, reaction, and summarization inside my head1-the whole concept of surprise is the worst place for me to be in. Intended or not, it is all the same.
It goes without saying that we with OCD like the predictable. Well, if it doesn’t go without saying-we with OCD like the predictable, and now you know. Not just “like,” but truly fetishize. Predictability gives us all the feelings normal people take for granted as “good feelings.” It makes us active, it gives us clarity, it is-by any definition, but to stay with the simple-good. I wish the entire world was predictable until my death. I truly think that, I stay away from irrational hyperbole on this site2.
If I knew everything that was going to happen in my life, I think I would be at the pinnacle of happiness. That is not romantic, sexy, or any of that… stuff, but I don’t care. It is my goal, and of course completely unattainable, However, lacking omniscience3, general predictably will do.
I like to know where people around me are going. I mean “where” in every possible definition of the word. I do not wish to control anyone, I have enough work on my hands controlling myself. But I like to know physically where people are at around me, which I admit may be an odd thing that most people don’t think much about. You probably thought I’d start of by the non-physical “where people are going.” No, let’s start with the physical-people’s placement around me is something I obsess over. I cannot, for example, no matter how much I trust people, have someone walk behind me. Ever. I need to see everyone, as much as possible, or I become nervous. Funny thing is none of this comes from trauma or any bad experiences. I was born this way.
Then there is the non-physical. Where are people going with conversations, ideas, thinking? How does this affect me? More apt-How can it affect me? Because I’m going to think of every possible way.
So we take the long road to the subject at hand-I cannot stand the idea of surprises. There are two types of surprises-intentional and non-intentional. Let us focus on these in the order I’ve listed them.
Intentional surprises are often done out of love. Often gifts-that’s the most obvious kind here. I do not at all discount the love that goes into them. However, I have to note that the concept of the surprise raises anxiety in me. I begin to think-did I not get this person enough to warrant this? Did I do enough to warrant this surprise gift? Now I’m thinking.. an my thinking leads me to-am I an asshole for thinking these things? This is often the crux of my interpersonal relationships. A carved out part of my mind that is always present to ask-“are you being an asshole thinking ____?”
Unintentional surprises. Well. That’s pretty much a large percentage of the entire world we live in. We do not live in a predictable world. Discounting the billions of people in the world I do not interact with, I’d assume in a typical day, let’s say I am affected in some way-from the tiniest to the largest, and most importantly the direct and indirect through others-by maybe the actions of a thousand people. There are varying calculations4 as to how many moments a person has in one day. And almost every moment can be correlated with an action. If we say one per every three seconds, we’re talking about 19,200 actions each person takes in a waking day. Multiplied by one-thousand, we’re at about nineteen million actions. Screw all my math, if it’s off by a number here and there the whole point is as you weave these together in a web, the number of actions which can and do affect me are staggering.
And almost each one a surprise. Except for the relatively few I can predict. And I loathe that which I cannot predict. You can now understand I am-by just the nature of existing in a world with people-am swimming in that which I abhor. All the time.
I try not to let it affect me, I cannot possibly think of the millions of ways a day can twist and turn. No one can. Not even savants5. But I do know of the potential. Of surprise. I know-irrationally or not-that at any moment my whole life can change. I feel that all day long.
Thus surprises are not welcome. Because of my every-eventuality thinking, and my awfully pessimistic version of that, I assume the worst from surprises. I want to know what is going to happen before it happens, and I want to know the end result. Of everything. But I can’t, and thus the fog of anxiety takes over-as we are dealing with possibilities in the millions I am trying to take in.
So do you know what you can do to help? Well, really nothing. I’m not going to refuse gifts6! But beyond that, you’re going to be human. And unpredictable. I can’t ask for that to change.
Something that has bothered me since I was a young child, and still does to this day…
…no loud, sudden noises!
1 I almost just used the term “demons,” but that is a little on the nose. Nuance is important here. [BACK]
2 Well, except for the “Inside an Ongoing OCD Episode” series. [BACK]
3 I do lack this, ya know. I also just noticed omniscience is a combination of “omni” and “science” all into one, nice word. Huh! [BACK]
4 I’ve read too many of these calculations to come up with a number I believe in. [BACK]
5 I am not a savant, I think I’ve told you that before. The mere fact that I think this and do not know this, should be enough to prove I am not a savant. I am smart though. For what that is worth. [BACK]
6 It is to be noted that I’ve managed to figure out what gifts I am being given before getting them at around a ninety-five percent clip. [BACK]