Umm, YES, ALWAYS!!
This was the exchange between myself and a coworker on Friday. We were in the library where our Scribbles! club had just met (Yearbook, Lit Mag, AV club), and as she looked over to the book stacks she paused and asked me the title question: “Can I ask you a control freak question?”
I lit up: “YES, OF COURSE YOU CAN!” How did you KNOW that I spend my life waiting for that question?! Is there something at all that I can help to put in order, set right, make perfect?!?!
She walked me over to the shelves of books and we had a brief exchange of ideas about how this genre should be displayed. She expressed worry that if by changing the work someone else did (a volunteer whom she’d asked to do the organizing), she was being too anal. I assured her that her display idea was the right one—that she wasn’t “correcting” the work, she was “improving” it!—and to go for it.
There is a compulsion to believe that by making order of the world, we are safe or the world is fixed or that we are the reincarnation of Atlas, ensuring the world is hugged and held properly for ourselves and everyone on it.
My mother tells me that her mom had OCD. I don’t know the veracity of this, but my mom tells me that her mother would lock the door a certain number of times on the way out, check over the oven range knobs a certain number of times, and whether OCD-related, that she’d wash a slab of meat with dish soap before cooking it.
I laughed to my coworker on Friday, as we sussed out the perfect book display, that it was a sheer wonder that I never developed OCD.
My deep-set desire for the world to lack chaos has certainly manifested in a myriad of ways. My desk at work is generally lickable (should one ever desire to), two people in the last week called me “diligent,” and I’ll straighten all the place settings in a restaurant once I’ve sat down, touching everything just so, not as if I can’t enjoy my meal if it isn’t aligned, but just… well, it makes me calmer to feel like everything is set “correctly.”
While none of these impulses leaks over into the compulsion category, my desire for order in the world can mean that I have little tolerance for very many things that involve other people: The person who doesn’t understand that merging is a “you go, I go” zipper up the highway, the physical disarray of another person’s home, receiving a promise from someone to do something and that promise not being fulfilled…
Allowing for the fact of others’ good intentions, without seeing the actual proof in the pudding, is agonizing for some parts of myself. You told me you would do X, and you didn’t. You did X, but it’s not right, and now I have to ask you to do it again. You did X, and it wasn’t right, so I took it on myself to do it even though it wasn’t my job and now I resent you.
So many thought cells devoted to how others are “behaving” or not, how others “should” be or not… how “right” I am or not!
The elemental desire for hospital corners (not that I ever have or will put those on my bed!) can bring friction to my relationships. I want a perfection of my own invention, whiiiich relates back to my blog recently about being the “bitch” and demanding everything from others to be just so. But, I have zero true desire to be a bitch — which is also to be alone.
There is zero effect I can have on others. So I suppose I try to find it by organizing books, cupboards, and forks.
If this ordering of the world brings me solace, then, yes, I’m happy to remain a conduit for “control freak” questions. Where this ordering causes me to suffer in the world, then, yes, I’m going to have to accept, release, and remember that I am Safe.