Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Obsessive Compulsive, Dear?

“What are you doing?”

“Shelving my books in our new bookcases.”

Simple question, yes. Simple answer…not by a long shot. My husband has grown accustomed to my ‘farce’. My obsessive compulsive behavior has followed me from childhood to middle age sometimes creating embarrassment, ridiculous situations and at times a circus of misunderstandings.

I decided early on to try and cherish my mild OCD, so much so that my protagonist Grace Marsden has become my alter ego struggling with her mild OCD. When my son comments, “Mom, that was strange, even for you.” I say, “Thank you.”

Lots of people obsess about things: did I lock the door, set the alarm, lower the garage door, turn off the lights, blow out the candle, etc.

Some of those people are compelled to check more than once or twice or even ten times before they can let it go. That's when it gets problematic.

My husband recognized my quirks when we were dating. He thought the way I separated my veggies from my meat on my plate was cute. He liked that I used only cloth napkins at home. (Green before Al Gore invented it). He was okay with lining up the shoes in the utility room. He thought it was cautious of me to blow out candles in a particular order.

Unpacking my books and settling them into bookcases in our new home twenty four years ago revealed my quintessential personality disorder.

I had wanted to pack my books but my work schedule prohibited me from doing so and my husband, the movers and sister-in-law removed them from all the nooks and crannies of my apartment packing them carefully but in no particular order in over twenty Bankers boxes.

My heart raced (I think I hyperventilated) when that night at our new home I realized the helter-skelter approach they’d taken with my books. I wanted to rant about order and precision. Instead I ate the pizza and swilled the beer we had on hand for the last of our steadfast friends who’d help move two households to one.

It was 2:30 in the morning when he tip-toed into the spare room designated office and library. Through bleary eyes he looked at his new wife seated cross leg amidst piles of books and stacks of boxes. In a sleep weary voice he asked, “What are you doing?”

“Shelving my books in our new bookcases,” I answered.

He innocently commented on the lateness and suggested we wait until Saturday, two days away, to do this. He offered to help.

My expression must have cued him to my state of mind. I whispered, “It’s okay, I’ll just be a few minutes. I have to finish.”

We had our first argument in our new home at 2:45 in the morning. He said it was illogical to do this all now.

I said I had to finish.

He said it made sense to wait until Saturday or at least that evening after work.

I said I had to finish.

He said I could sort them later, just get them on the shelves for now.
I said I had to finish.

His voice remained calm albeit filled with frustration.
My voice rose in pitch and panic.

He squatted next to me and gently pulled a book out of my hands. He held both my hands until my breathing slowed. I remember thinking how I wished he’d go to bed so I could finish. Then he did the most remarkable thing. He stood and lifted me with him, brushed my forehead with a kiss and took a deep breath.

“Okay, it’s apparent you have to finish. This must be covered under some part of our wedding vows so what do I do and where do we start.”

We finished at 6:30. My library was once again cataloged by genre/sub-genre and alphabetized by author.

April 29th is our 25th wedding anniversary. He is such a keeper!

Luisa Buehler
BUY The Rosary Bride Now!


Mary Cunningham said...

What a beautiful beginning to your marriage! You made me smile.

And, my dear husband and I will be married 25 years in May!

Thanks for brightening a very rainy day.


Luisa Buehler said...

Happy to have made you smile. Congratulations on your 25 years!

Margot Justes said...

That is so incredibly romantic-you're darned right he's a keeper.
Vic just finished reading The Lighthouse Keeper and said Luisa writes brilliantly about OCD...hmmmm. By the way, he can't wait for the next one.
Margot Justes