What I’m Trying to Learn to Say

by Matt B. on July 13, 2014

When friends ask how I’m doing, I often tell them that I’ve been struggling with OCD stuff. There was a time when this was hard to acknowledge, and doing so brought relief – even a bit of pride.

These days, though, “OCD stuff” doesn’t feel specific enough. I want to do more than gesture in the direction of my struggles.

When I try to shade in the outlines, my first instinct is to specify what I’ve been worrying about (hands, eyes, knees, balls, whatever). Again, this felt useful for a time – a way to provide my listener a glimpse down the cauldron without too much risk that I’d fall in. Anymore, though, it doesn’t provide much traction. After all, the worries are always somewhere.

That’s not to say that eye-related worries feel exactly the same as teeth-related worries, of course. Each anxiety projects a distinct future; imagining blindness feels very different than imagining being unable to write. Still, there is a constant feeling underlying all of these neuroses – a crouchy, mingy way of seeing myself and the world. And this is what I want to talk about. It isn’t really a matter of which number came up on the roulette wheel today. It’s what it feels like to be trapped in this petty, unwinnable game.

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