Chasing the imaginary bullseye.
The Practice:
Allowing enough to be enough.
“Something’s Wrong”
I completely understand the feeling of needing to do something the “right way”–I just found out recently that there is something called, “Just Right OCD”. I had no idea, even after writing my book, “Leaving the OCD Circus,” that there was such a classification. I always thought “perfectionism” was the label for this strand of my symptoms! Now, I know differently.
Just Right OCD for me, and maybe for you too, is like having an internal drive and narrator inside that pushes me to unreal expectations and allows no room for me to be human. It’s really no fun at all and comes with a lot of agony and depression.
My OCD, used to assign himself the job of monitoring and filtering all the information that came into my head. He motivated me with feelings of deeply penetrating fear that I could never be quite worthy. Simply put, my OCD could take any good news and turn it into bad news, with the drop of a hat or the snap of his spindly fingers.
At the height of my illness, OCD found minute to minute entry points, grabbed a thought and said, “Let’s freak out! Something is not perfect, something is not right! Go into action and correct the problem immediately!” For example, “Kirsten, you didn’t say that right! Kirsten, you picked the wrong plum out of the fruit pile, ya big dummy! Kirsten, you didn’t throw that plum in the garbage the right way.” The smallest of things had monumental importance and significance.
Deep inside my core, I believed that if I could do everything right and perfectly, I could finally be loved and deemed valuable. The prizes my illness promised were substantial. If I could do ALL things perfectly and please OCD’s standards of perfection, then I could feel right, and for someone who always felt wrong, this reward was great. It was layered. If I could feel right, in all things, then I could begin my real life. Now I try to embrace the idea of being uncomfortable, because being uncomfortable is a part of life.
Recently and ironically, I found out that there is something called, “Just Right OCD”. I could hardly believe it when I heard it. I literally just came across this information! How did this get past me for decades?
Even though I am healthier, enjoying freedom and joy throughout my daily moments, my crusty and old OCD piped up with joy, just like he used to with “important news,” before I put him into retirement. “Kirsten, there is something WRONG with your book, you clearly have “Just Right OCD and you didn’t even talk about that in your book, you missed it. Wrong!”
Unhealthy me sides with OCD immediately (old habits die hard), “You are right, my book is wrong!” Time to pull the switch and panic!
Healthy me says, “Cool it OCD, my book is right enough. Sometimes, incorporating the word enough into my world is liberating, you should try it sometime if you haven’t already!
Sure, OCD might try again to bring me down. However, I let go of false ideals and move on. It is freeing to move on, slip into the next moment with clarity and without obsessions.
My healthy side says, “OCD your bullseye is imaginary.” Then I remember from my OCD combat skills developed long ago—the strangest way to shut him down is just to agree with him. “You are right OCD, I am not perfect. I am human. I learn new things, grow and evolve because I am healthy, living and breathing. I am expansive, and if you want to hang out with me, get in the side car, I’m the driver. OCD belts himself in and says sheepishly, “enough said.”