Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dear Mishaps

Dear Mishaps,

You don't fare well for a person like me.  Little ones are enough to bring on the jitters; bigger ones raise the mercury in the sphygmomanometer.

Jackets hung on the backs of chairs but drag on the floor make me wince.  Handbags placed on the floor puzzle me.  Pants that are so long that the cuffs go under the heel of shoes truly challenge my mental state of health.  Nicely put, I like to take care of my belongings.  Not-so-nicely-put, I suffer from a moderate case of OCD.  That is not to say that my house is always clean.  But when it's not clean, you'd better bet that anxiety starts to claw at my lazy bum until it hurts enough to do something about it. 

On our day off from school, I had lunch with a friend (and all our kiddos) at an Asian supermarket food court.  The drill is, we meet for lunch, then walk through the market to get some groceries, buy some bread from the bakery, and then have ice cream for dessert back at the food court.  As the kids ate their ice cream, my friend and I started a conversation -- related to my OCD -- about entertaining people at home.  She hosts Thanksgiving every year, and her headcount is up in the forties.  As I picked my jaw up from my lap upon hearing this, I felt the need to explain that we do entertain, but only one or two families at a time, because that is all the sanity I can handle.  On holidays, we have a good dozen people at the dinner table, but it is just family.

Dear Son then handed me his ice cream.  I was counting on finishing off his leftovers.  I had my knee-length white down jacket rolled up in my lap (since it cannot hang on the back of my chair), so I picked up my handbag and placed it on top of my jacket to dig out my lactase (I also suffer from the Asian dairy curse).  I looked down at the contents in my purse and was momentarily bewildered.  Hmmm.  Why does everything have a tinge of purple?  When I touched the zippered bag that holds the lactase, my fingertips registered wetness.  Then I looked at the juice box that laid sideways on top of everything and realized that the little foil straw opening was broken.  My heart sank the way roller coasters take your body on its first downward dive.

When we left our table after lunch, I picked up Dear Daughter's juice box -- which felt full -- and tossed it into my purse thinking it had not been opened.  I could have sworn that the foil opening looked intact at the time.  So basically, that box had been sloshing around in my bag for a good twenty minutes, thus showing off its spilled contents in a pool of purplish-red liquid at the bottom of one compartment in my purse.  I should have left my jaw where it was.  I know the only reason I did not lose it right then and there was because I had a great friend consoling me and telling me a very logical solution: take the bag to a dry cleaner.  Because, of course, my bag just took my brain out of my head and stomped on it repeatedly, and mushy brains do not create logical thinking.

As I tried to hold myself together to clean out the pool of liquid, I realized that it had soaked through the bottom of my bag, showing stain marks on the leather and fabric outside, as well as the white down jacket rolled up in a ball on my lap.  All the air just voluntarily exited my lungs.

This New Year has not started off well for the OCD in me.  First, I washed and dried a load of laundry with a Hershey's Kisses in it, causing streaks of chocolate on every single piece of garment in the load.  Then on another occasion, I washed and dried all our winter jackets to realize that DD's lip balm was still in her pocket.  (Thank GOODNESS the cap stayed on.)  And now this nightmare of a juice box story.  You'd think someone with OCD wouldn't commit these crimes, so imagine the horror and the self-blame when they do happen.

So, Mishap, your occurrences not only bring about anxiety and grief, but also the tantalizing reminder that I am aging, and, slowly but surely, losing it.  But I do not surrender.  In reliving this most recent mishap, it occurs to me that I tossed the juice box into one compartment of my purse, and not the other, with clear intent and will.  The other compartment holds my pristine wallet (an anniversary gift), my cell phone, and my Bluetooth earpiece.  Without a doubt in my mind, I know my OCD made that happen.  Because I always see three words that flash inside my head: JUST IN CASE. 



  1. I flew to Baltimore last year for the weekend. A couple of hours after I arrived, I realized my face wash had come open and spilled all over everything in my suitcase. I spent that night handwashing the soap out of my undies in the hotel sink. I have one bra that still smells like tea tree oil, no matter how many times I've washed it.

  2. Steph, Thanks for making me feel better. I'm sure you'll never have that happen again. Another three words from my OCD vocabulary: ZIP. LOCK. BAGS. =)

  3. Sandra, if it helps you I just realized I have a little OCD too, long story... I have been seen a therapist and this is what she diagnosed me with. I also believe I have a form of ADD which combined with OCD makes me feel I have a split personality disorder. Imagine my OCD side trying to get hold of the artistic ADD part of me, I feel schizofrenic (sp?) at times.

    Anyhow...I have plenty of mishaps, I think I mentioned the one about crayons in the drier...not something you can fix, now I check pockets at every wash.

    I have learned to control my OCD somehow, when I get into the urge of sharpening all the pencils in my house or to sort crayons by color I try to stop and tell myself it is not really necessary, it is an obsession, let go. I also try not to become hysterical when the kids make a mess, I really don't want them to remember that side of me.

    I recently had people over for dinner and they asked repeatedly to help me clean the dishes, I told them it was okay I didn't mind, but in reality it is my OCD that can't have people work in my kitchen, I get to annoyed to the point of becoming totally rude. I now know that it is all related to ocd, so I can work on myself and calm my brain down.

    Your juice spill story is funny and even funnier that you knew it could have happened to you kept the juice away from your important things. OCD is useful when it doesn't make up non-functional.

  4. Sandra,
    No worries. Mishaps=life. Well, every hour i have a mess to clean up, a diaper malfunction, all toys thrown out, food all over the kitchen floor,a need to play at the sink in the bathroom, juice on the floor, ice removed from the freezer, a plant taken apart, yes every hour there is something to clean up. I remember the last time I thought to myself, it's quiet...messes are manageable, life is good so I'll make dinner. An hour later we were in the ER so Jack could get stitches. Then as the kids get older we get into social messes and in college we are a mess because we miss them!!!

  5. Laura, I am TOTALLY the same way with my kitchen. I've done the exact same thing about people trying to help me clean or cook (remember Dear Kitchen?). I also try to tone down the hysteria when kids get messy. It was a REAL challenge last summer when I did activities blog with the kids. I kept telling myself to let them make the mess and do their thing. It really is hard for me to stand by and watch them do what *I* wouldn't do. But you know what? I think people with OCD have such an artistic and perfectionist side that can be a strength; just look at your blog. The beautiful food you make and photos you take. You are so right about OCD being a sort of a good thing when it doesn't get in your way! Thanks for making me feel better!

    Helen, That is exactly it. The messes are SO HARD for me to digest. I wish I can just brush them off and let them go. Fortunately, the kiddos are usually pretty good, because they've seen my hysteria and they don't go there. It's a very tiring way to live life, being bothered about so many things. And I hear it gets worse as we age. Look out, World!

  6. Sandra, I just realized I had few spelling mistakes, I was writing in a hurry before taking DD to her swim practice.

    Anyhow, I think that knowing we have ocd will help in the long run. By being aware that we are going into a spiral we can try and snap out of it.

    Is your genetic? I think my dad, and my sister have it too. My sister is the worse of us three. I think I passed it to my dd.

  7. There's only so much you can do with the "just in case" but ohhhh does it come in handy. Here's hoping it ALL gets clean soon. and I'm with ya. Ok maybe not quite to that extent!

  8. Michelle, $30 better get it all clean! My kids are doomed, as DH has OCD in certain areas, too! =)