Sometimes I have a problem looking past something annoying to the beauty beyond. This can happen both mentally and physically. These days instead of looking at my fabulous view of trees and sky out the front picture window it’s the two-inch beetle clinging to the outside glass that catches my eye, not unlike a fishing hook on a windy day. His tiny body is all I can see and when I manage to look past his little grey-black shell my eye always rolls back to him. Instead of thinking ahhh at the pink and blue clouds chasing each other across the sky I think ewww there’s another coming to meet him.
It doesn’t have to be a bug, another window had bird poop coiled like a baby albino tape worm at the top of the windowpane for four months. I finally had to drop the blinds an extra two inches so as not to see it when I looked out. But then, I noticed how the trajectory of rainwater altered direction down that window channeling rivets parted and rejoined mid pane, reminding me of the poop stationed above my gaze. What is wrong with me? Why do I fixate on such things? It is a constant wrestling of my focus back from the annoying, weird, or ugly to see the big picture over and over. And wrestle it I do, every time I catch myself fixated on the ick, or minuscule amount of what is not working, instead of all the things that are going really well and are beautiful.
I am an optimist, generally looking at the bright side of things and expect good things to happen even by chance. When I lived in San Diego sometimes, I would check my back steps just to see if someone left me a present. This was not on my birthday or anything I just thought… well you never know. So, I’m not sure where this hyper-focus on the icky comes from exactly, but I am familiar with the neighborhood it resides. I told my sister years ago that my mind is like a bad neighborhood: I can’t spend too much time there alone.
Frank described me years ago as hyper vigilant. The amazing and insightful Frank is a psychiatrist who worked with scores of Apple employee’s like me. We passed around his contact information faster than the details of a good noodle restaurant. My hypervigilance at that time caused me to build, script and maintain a plan, A, B, C, D, E and F for any situation complete with dialogue for everyone involved. This was so no matter what went awry I was ready with a solution. These days I only have a plan A and half of a plan B, after that it’s up to the Universe, God, the Great Space Monkey whoever is up at bat at that moment.
I have learned through tough times that being prepared is great, but spending my life preparing for 90% of things that never happen is a waste of life force. The things that took me down, brought me to my knees I never saw coming and I still managed to do just fine. My skills and ability to problem solve, find resources and support was all I ever really needed.
That being said, I am still a preparedness person, a planner and a woman who loves a list. I have to be watchful of my stress level and my predilection to hyper-fixate on tiny bugs and bird poop as mentioned above. I can release this laser focus, but only after recognizing I have slipped down the rabbit hole just a scooch and then procced to have a wrestling session with my brain. That ability to recognize how tightly wrapped I am is tricky. Getting tightly wrapped or hyper focused is a gradual change from when I go into ticking things off a list and plowing through work to tweaking the shit out of my life without taking a break, stepping away to play or taking care of myself in general.
In talking to a friend about his Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) diagnosis, I realized my hyper fixation can be seen through this lens as well. When stressed and over functioning it feels like I go past obsessive-compulsive behavior (OCB) but not quite into OCD a disorder level. When super stressed my tendencies run to upping my aesthetic: straightening, checking doors at night, adjust my canned goods with the labels facing out, tweaking towels to be an even length… everything is just a little more in order. I needed a term to describe this level, not a proper diagnosis level of life derailing but between OCB and OCD there should be a midpoint. Which we know in the alphabet is C, so was born OCC. It’s where I am when I am spinning a little too fast that is the wrong amount of extra.
What the C stands for in Obsessive Compulsive C….. I have not decided but it’s the perfect middle ground. Whether C turns out to be Continued, Circuitous, Circling, Concentrated, Controller, Cyclone, Cyclops because my single hyper fixated vision, I don’t know. I do know it sends off an alarm in my chest and gut to redirect my bossy, busy brain to pull back and emulate The Dude from The Big Lebowski.
I have learned ways to unhook from the spinning whether that be my eye, my heart or the biggest repeat offender my head. I do small Scarlet O’Hara exercises in distract and denial to interrupt the spinning, the what if’s, the mental gymnastics and rants. These exercises may be taking a walk where I can only think about my five senses: what I can see, hear, smell, taste, touch in that moment. There is no jumping forward or backward in my head. I have to stay right there. It’s a walking meditation of sorts forcing me into the moment.
Other times a conversation with someone who makes me laugh, a good book, as well as any kind of yoga, creativity, or something I can get lost in pulls me out of the spin. Even writing is a great way to exercise these demons and find humor in the ick, dark or stupid rattling around my brain. I look through my bag of tricks for something or someone to help me break the spinning and break the cycle of negative fixation, the OCC, bugs and bird poop. Taking these steps is like doing a factory reset to my calmer, happy, Zen self but of course not before I write it down so I can pass along these images to you for maybe a laugh and then maybe you’ll think ick too.
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