My Asshole Friend Named OCD
by Matt Staff
It’s a full-cigarette-Friday-yeah-I-got-you-kind-of-day, yiipppee! I’m out walking with my sunshine-infused swagger on. The air’s warm enough for a tee without goosebumps. The trees are a bright golden green, and they’re swaying with the salty wind coming off the Puget Sound, and the birdsong of Spring from the tops of the trees makes you feel like the earth is waking up and smiling about it. With a fresh cigarette lit, I’m all easy smiles and relaxed shoulders. This moving picture of life has all the makings of a beautiful day. No work to show up for, and no plans to fulfill, and ain’t that the best plan. So I’m out walking through the sunshine, easy rolling through the afternoon. I stop to stare at the water. It smiles back at me in shimmering blue jewel like insanity. Seagulls are swooping and gliding and singing the song of the Sea. I cry for a minute. This is worth crying over. A break from the clouds and the constant grey and the rain pelting our faces, to enjoy some sun and warmth by the water without having to buy a plane ticket to a faraway paradise. The way the varying greens of the trees come alive when lit by the sun; electrocuted with radiance. Life, its beauty stings the soul, and a weeping soul tastes like teardrops running down my face. I wipe my eyes, and notice other people for the first time. A man and woman walk by with a couple caramel colored dogs on leashes. Both the dogs look the same, and so does the couple. They’re older, grey-haired, heavyset, thoughtful eyes behind big-rimmed glasses, and maybe they’ve spent that special long amount of time together where you start looking like your partner. And you know what; that’s just what it looks like when the two halves of a soul have been sewn back together with the passage of time shared living alongside one another. This is beautiful too. I cry some more. They think I’m the saddest gonest boy man they’ve ever seen, and I’m the happiest man alive. I’m crying and smiling through the tears and thinking now that I’ll walk and find a patio at a bar where I can dream into a tall cold gold beer for a while. Yes yes, that sounds nice! Suddenly he starts in; my asshole friend named OCD.
He’s been quiet all day. I’d almost forgotten he was around. Maybe he slept in. But he’s waking up now. He’s studying this moving picture of life and beauty and sweet sunshine, and my idea to go get a beer at a bar. He’s figuring he’s going to instill it all with fear, conspiracy, and apprehension. A familiar cold shot of fear rips through my mind’s spine. He’s telling me I better start looking back over my shoulder, cause maybe that old couple with their dogs, bumped shoulders with me. Maybe I hurt them without remembering it. You know, a total loss of control, and no memory of the feeling that something horrible could’ve happened by my hands. So, I look over my shoulder. I walk a few steps, I look back again. They’re happy and slow-moving, easy living as ever. I hear one of them laugh. I’m momentarily at peace, relieved even, that everything’s okay.
Now I’m listening to my asshole friend named OCD like whatever he says is the absolute truth. According to him, you can never be fully certain of what you might’ve done in a moment, or what you could do in the future. So, you need to be in control all the time. I’m still walking though, and getting closer to a dive bar in my neighborhood. It’s got the long old oak scarred wooden bar, the jukebox, the dreamers, the drinkers, the snorters, the vein-shooters, the insane, the sane, the softhearted, the life-hardened, the angry, and the ones who came to raise a glass to giving up on everything. OCD the Asshole is really pitching a fit now. He hates it when I fill my tank with alcohol. It’s a gradual loss of control. It’s the easiest way to lean into not fixating on everything. You know...the dirt, the germs, the smells, and the risks that lurk in the fabric of every moment of living in a universe of chaos that has no plan written into its DNA. The idea that I could be this terrible person without realizing it, and obsessing over it like it’s my fucking religion. He feeds me hazy memories of old times when I overdid the drinking. How I couldn’t remember whether I made an inconsiderate, loud-talking, bar-smacking ass of myself; If I disrespected people; If I didn’t move through the roads of life upholding honor, while wielding a steady moral compass. He’s got me sweating now. My hands are clammy, and I’m taken away from the vivid beauty of the present moment. Instead now, I’m in the middle of a war inside my head against this asshole named OCD.
He’s shouting at the top of his lungs that I need to isolate myself. Back in my apartment, stowed away from the world, I’m safe, he yells. I can watch the world roll on by through the blinds. I can observe, creep on the music of the crowd with all of its laughter, pitched cries, and commotion without being a part of it myself. Comfortably removed from the picture as a submissive outsider. He’s screaming about how I’m a violent risk to the world if I don’t maintain control over every moment. And that even then, I need to double, triple, and another double check that I haven’t hurt others as I walk by them down the path of the world. The beer, once a celebration of all the beauty that the Spring golden sunlit day of radiant warmth possessed, has devolved into a bitter acceptance that it might make me feel normal, steel my nerves, and slow me down. And hell, why stop at one? Maybe feed OCD and me another one. Really slow him down. Get a shot of whiskey in there. Study the burn of that clear brown poison in the bottom of my belly. Feel its fire grow and eat my self-awareness. Begin to care less, less about everything and everyone around me. Study the Scripture of Whiskey Wisdom and learn to accept the world and all of its moments, without stopping to slow down and obsess over one. These obsessions my asshole friend named OCD feeds me, are dark and fucked and twisted. Sexually and violently intrusive. He’s got some kind of way with lighting up the world as I see it with paranoia and grim, crude, depravity. He’s the Champion of Depravity. Yeah, yeah he is. I learned some time ago, how to talk him without a drink in my hand though.
I learned to call him what he was, and treat him as the mental illness that he is. OCD is a real damned but potentially beautiful thing. It enlivens your imagination. You don’t see the world the same as the others. You’re probably busy right now thinking about whether or not you locked the door, fed the cat, turned the stove off, paid for your meal at the grocery store, bumped shoulders with a kindly woman on the sidewalk, and if you’re evil cause OCD doesn’t have any boundaries about what you “could” do. It just imagines all the crazy shit that’s better off in a horror, crime, or thriller movie. You’re probably sensitive as hell. Sensitive to the room around you, and people’s feelings about you, how you conduct yourself, and bigger than that, the beauty of the world. You might cry easily, and get confused why you do that. Maybe you think something’s wrong with you. You might be a little depressed, often. You’re just in touch with your emotions. You’re able to listen with your eyes, ears, heart, and soul to the beautiful pulse of the world. And when you wrestle against that asshole named OCD, think about stepping back, and listening to him. He’s got all these crazy ideas about your world and who you are, as you know it. He’s the most believable conspiracy theorist your world has ever seen. He lives inside your head, and he’s not paying rent. So kick him out when he shows up to couch surf.
Feel free to chat with him in the comfort of a mindful moment when you understand he’s just come back around with a new story, fixed to upset you, to disrupt your grasp on the present moment. Maybe start writing some of those musings down, cause he does have a hell of an imagination. Just consider his ideas as that—imaginative.
And now you work on all that, and I’m gonna bid farewell to this asshole named OCD for now, cause I’ve got a sunny afternoon and a dive bar’s back patio, and a tall cold gold beer to dream into. And not a worry to obsess over. Instead, just the beautiful moving picture of life to appreciate. And fuck it, I’ll cry comfortably without shame and I hope, I believe you can do the same.
About the Author
Matt's a Seattle-based writer. He lives by a lake in the middle of the city with his Love and their highly neurotic cat named Basil who might be the smartest being on the planet. He loves working with the words to try to take your busy mind to recess.