When I was I kid I was pretty OCD.
Turning doorknobs 3 times, 12 times, 24 times, 17,634 times.
Jumping over cracks in the pavement.
Counting the words and letters on movie subtitles.
How many times I’ve chewed bites of food, how many times I’ve sipped from a glass of water, how many pages and words I’ve read out of a book.
Obsessive washing – of everything.
I can’t say I was troubled by it and my parents never suspected, but it all looks laughable in retrospect.
And it is.
Basically, the idea was that if I didn’t follow some number-based superstition, if I stepped into the wrong crack, if I made things less than perfect by some nonsensical arbitrary standard, bad things would happen.
It wasn’t some psychological disorder in the everyday sense of the words.
I was consumed by fear – of death, pain and change.
I was terrified. Not that life wouldn’t give me what I wanted, but that the future wouldn’t be like the past and the present. Which is a guarantee.
I was inventing superstitions and rituals in an attempt to gain control.
When I was about 8-9, I broke my desk lamp and cried for hours because I wouldn’t have the same desk lamp anymore.
There was nothing special about it.
Until one day I decided not to care.
I had started reading Freud and understood where the rituals came from – attempting to maintain the illusion of control.
I had the same questions and the same things to fear, I wasn’t enlightened or anything, I didn’t get caught or do it out of shame.
I wasn’t become some Zen master.
I just decided it had to stop. No reason – just stahp.
So I did.
No parents. No shrinks. No pills.
And the world didn’t keel over. (OK, OK, maybe it’s keeled over a little bit since then.)
If a scared kid can take charge of his own mind, why couldn’t you?
In your mind, you make the rules.
That is your kingdom – by birthright.
Never forget this.