Monday, April 11, 2011
I organized today.
I don't mean clean. I organized. And it's not normally a bad thing. It's never really a bad thing, in a way.
But it kind of is with me.
As I always allude to, my first and second year of college was...terrible. Horrible. Enough where I don't really talk about it with anyone - I cry, I get angry, I get frustrated. So I avoid it and I don't talk about it (what's that? That's not healthy? Hmm...) but I always allude to it because I can't help how much it affected my life.
People used to make fun of how "OCD" I was in college. My roommate first year told me she thought she was living with a crazy person the first month we were in the dorms because I was such a neat freak.
And it's true, I was a freak about it. My pictures on my walls were spaced completely evenly and uniformly. And I mean exactly even. And symmetrically. I had roughly 48 photos on my wall when I began college, and they were organized in exact 6 rows, 8 columns, 2.5 inches between, above and below each of them. I used a fucking ruler.
It didn't stop there. I had to have certain numbers of pens/pencils in the cup on my desk. My laptop had to be dead center of my keyboard slide, despite the fact I didn't even use a keyboard on it. Books had to be in height order. Photos on my dresser were in height order, then by colour. My hairbrush was always in the same spot, with 5 bobby pins, 2 big hair ties and 3 little ones to the left of it. I can't even tell you how bad my jewelry box became and how crazy I was about keeping everything organized. Even my food drawer had a certain order to it, and I could always tell when someone took anything from it or the candy drawer we had below our tv.
As my life took a spiral downward, my obsessions climbed higher and higher. Second year was worse; my pictures had diminished since the people I thought were worth something had too - but the evenness and symmetry remained. My calendar was still kept to the upper left, 3 inches from the top and sides. I insisted that the sleep time on my alarm clock had to be at 22 minutes; any more or less would fuck up my sleeping pattern and I wouldn't be able to sleep. My backpack had to be on my desk chair when I went to sleep. I bought the same foods, the same exact amounts each grocery trip, because each item had specific places in my cupboards and in the fridge, and I couldn't add or detract from it. I rarely shopped because my closet was organized just so and each shirt had a specific hanger and a specific spot. If I did buy a shirt for work, I'd toss another one because I couldn't have it be any more than it was.
It got to the point where I was convinced I could only fall asleep a certain way: on my stomach, head pointed to the left facing the wall, left arm above my head on top of my pillows (always had 2), right arm tucked underneath the pillows, right leg bent, left leg straight.
None of these things had consequences if I didn't do it or keep to it though. Even as I was doing it all, I knew it was pointless. I never felt like someone would die if my pencil wasn't to the left of my paper. The world wouldn't crumble, life wouldn't stop, no one I cared about would suddenly fall ill. These things I did weren't rituals, and they didn't really impede my life. I think the reason none of my roommates really thought much of it is because I didn't have a schedule I HAD to necessarily keep to. Things could adjust around other people or their lives. If a roommate put her peanut butter on the top shelf where my butter usually went, then I'd just put the butter a shelf down in the same spot and a new regular spot would emerge. Oddly, I was flexible in my obsessions.
Some people cut to control. Others become destructive. Some work out, some take it out on their bodies or their food intake because it's a way to control.
It wasn't about needing things to be just so, it was the feeling of being able to control where things went. Of where items belonged, of controlling what seemed and felt normal to me. The world is a shitstorm around me, everything is crumbling to pieces and imploding around me--but you know what? I can still put five pencils in a cup, and it feels good and looks symmetrical. So that's one point for me and my life.
I didn't realize this at the time, of course. Only in retrospect when my life started to get better and the obsessions diminished did I figure out what it all meant. I still like things to be organized, don't get me wrong - symmetry and the aesthetic of it is still something I love. I like to have my DVDs in ABC order, and my books are still organized by height order, hardcover vs. softcover, by colour and genre and classics vs. contemporary. But things are messy now, and my clothes aren't perfectly folded, and my receipts aren't in perfect order.
Today, though...I organized again. Like a madwoman. My bathroom is perfectly in order, with all my beauty products in height order, and nailpolishes in colour order. And I put all the groceries away because I wanted to put all the green vegetables in the bottom crisper and line up the cheeses in the cheese drawer, and I put the chip bags by order of how the family will probably eat them. I lined up the shampoo bottles in my shower to be the exact same.
I've been feeling it for a few weeks now - that feeling of needing to run. Of being scared, and trapped, and useless, and worthless, and not good enough, and alone, and lonely. I'm starting to feel like second fiddle, like everyone's constant backup, like the Plan B to everyone's "well my plans got canceled so sure I'll hang out with you." The "sure I'll see what's up and if I have nothing to do I'll join you" girl. The dependable one, the one who's always there, the one no one notices until they need something done.
It's the same feeling of hanging in mid-air, of being suspended in time, like I'm just waiting for something to come along and jerk me out of this horrible, raw place. And no matter how much I try to infer change, to take my own life into my own hands and make something of it...I can't. I'm too scared to face whatever is it that's holding me back, I'm too terrified to confront what's blocking me.
And so I want to run. And when I want to run, I let things get out of control.
And so I organize.