The Power of Fear

I had a bad case of OCD when I was a kid. Although this disorder was a hindrance in my life, I discovered that I had a certain amount of control over it. I could make it come and go depending on who was standing there, because I didn’t want anyone to know what a little sociopath I was. I was already a buck-toothed, four eyed nerd that received way more attention than I ever wanted based off that criteria alone. Adding mental illness to public opinion seemed a selfish monopoly of their curiosity. So while I knew I was a little nuts, no one else had to. That’s the genius of crazy people and the reason most people don’t realize others are crazy until it’s too late.

So this is sort of a story about how I broke myself of my compulsive habits utilizing fear instead of doctors, medications, or exorcists.

I’ve found that fear is a two-headed monster. On one hand it’s a great motivator; on the other a debilitating, utterly unrewarding emotion. Let’s clarify the distinction here.

When I was a kid I was in love with a boy named Brad. I would pedal my bike by his house with the hopes of getting a mere glimpse of him. These days they call that stalking. Most days it was a phenomenal waste of time because he was never outside, but on one particular day it looked like all my efforts had finally paid off.  This time when I passed, Brad was outside playing around the family’s motor home. He didn’t see me, so I decided to pass again, a little more obviously this time. I pedaled by like an everyday rockstar, laid back, all cool, my fro blowing in the wind. He didn’t notice.

I passed again. He still didn’t see me.

Well shit.

What was I going to do if he saw me anyway? Strike up a conversation about my ability to obliterate ants by positioning my glasses in the sunlight just the right way? Or how about whether or not I would need stitches, since on my fourth pass I face-planted after hitting a pothole in the road.

Of course he noticed me then.

And being the nice boy he was he came out in the street to help me up. Not only that, but he also invited me over to see his parent’s motor home and get this…even offered me a 7Up.  I was pretty sure he was in love with me.

So there we were, chatting it up like old pals, when suddenly I had the overwhelming urge to pee.

I thought to myself how, if I asked to use the bathroom, he might think I’m weird. Or what if he misunderstands and thinks I have to poop? Then I think that we’re having such a nice time, if I use the bathroom, the moment will be lost and when I come back he'll tell me that his mom is calling him. Especially if he thinks I went and took a dook in his bathroom. Mostly I was just afraid to ask. So I didn’t.

This is an example of how fear is a stupid, stupid emotion. Instead of asking to use the fucking bathroom, I peed my pants right there in front of him and pedaled home crying like an asshole.

I never looked him in the eye again and avoided him in the hallways. Had I just asked to use his bathroom, I could have come back, resumed playing and begun planning our June wedding.

That type of fear has no place in our lives, but sometimes fear can motivate us to make positive changes, and that’s good. This kind of fear is why I no longer flip light switches on and off 8, 10, or 12 times (but never 7, 9, or 11), or why I don't count cracks, or tiles, or breaths. That’s how I discovered how to utilize fear to my advantage actually, standing in my bedroom flipping the light switch on and off, off and on. I remember thinking that I was getting to the age where I may be invited to slumber parties and other functions with kids from school. I was mortified by the thought of them finding out my dirty little OCD secret. I can recall telling myself, you can’t just keep being a weirdo. You can’t be ugly AND crazy. Nobody bounces back from that shit.

It wasn’t overnight, but eventually I broke myself of my OCD habits by reminding myself that being weird wasn’t an option, which now I think is so stupid because weird is interesting and not stupid. Anyway, I imagined myself doing "normal" things like all the other "normal" people, pretending I was already like all the other girls at school and that soon they would all be my friends and Brad and I would be making sweet love any day now.

They say thoughts become things. The intense need I had to cease my OCD activities manifested with those activities ceasing. My desire to befriend all those little bitches in school manifested into more shallow friendships than I could even count!

*Disclaimer* Not all thoughts become things. There is a loophole in the Law of Attraction. You see, despite my deepest longing to marry Brad, he had an even deeper longing to not marry the girl who pissed in his driveway. So HIS thought became a thing. He basically fucking cancelled out my thought. That book won't tell you that part.

Every once in awhile, some of those OCD tendencies will rear their ugly little heads. These days it doesn’t take much effort to tuck them back away, and I owe it all to that tough, nerdy little weirdo who cared enough about me to not let me endure that crap as an adult. And I love her for it.

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