These are the Rules of my Life

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There was a time when I thought I was OCD. I still jokingly refer to myself as OCD, but I don’t believe that’s really me anymore. Upon further research I feel that I have more of the qualities of someone with OCPD. Here’s a quick synopsis, thanks to our friends at Wikipedia:

A pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:

  1. Is preoccupied with details, rules, lists, order, organization, or schedules to the extent that the major point of the activity is lost
  2. Shows perfectionism that interferes with task completion (e.g., is unable to complete a project because his or her own overly strict standards are not met)
  3. Is excessively devoted to work and productivity to the exclusion of leisure activities and friendships (not accounted for by obvious economic necessity)
  4. Is over conscientious, scrupulous, and inflexible about matters of morality, ethics, or values (not accounted for by cultural or religious identification)
  5. Is unable to discard worn-out or worthless objects even when they have no sentimental value
  6. Is reluctant to delegate tasks or to work with others unless they submit to exactly his or her way of doing things
  7. Adopts a miserly spending style toward both self and others; money is viewed as something to be hoarded for future catastrophes
  8. Shows rigidity and stubbornness

I believe I hit each point dead on with the exception of number three and that is only because my job does not require me to give up my personal life. I could see myself becoming a workaholic, but as of now that isn’t an option.

I should be embarrassed to admit some of my rules because even I can see that the things I do and the ideals that I force myself to live up to are not flattering. For as long as I can remember, I’ve lived by the “rules.”  I’ve been to therapists to try to figure out why I live by these made up by Caroline standards. Where did I even come up with them?

Here’s one … I’m obsessed with waste. I hate to waste paper. At work, I collect all the print jobs no one picked up throughout the day and I use the other side to either print on or to keep notes and make lists. I have a small stack of half sheets of paper that I cut and keep for notes. I hide post it notes because it bugs me when people use them to leave me notes. Why can’t they use the scrap paper I have sitting out?  I can see the post-it notes were made for that purpose, but I still don’t like them.

To further my paper waste obsession, I refuse to use paper towels. I have them in my house for cleaning (windows only, for everything else, I have rags) but I can’t stand when a guest grabs a paper towel instead of using the hand towel I have hanging on the stove. They’re probably just being polite because they might think it’s for drying dishes, but it’s for drying your hands … and I wash the towels regularly.

This one I know I picked up from my grandfather who lived through the depression, but I reuse napkins. If it’s not really dirty, I’ll set it aside to use during another meal.

I take my shoes off when I enter the house and I cringe when people walk through my living room with their shoes on. I don’t have new carpet, there’s no reason for this, it’s just one of the rules I made up in my head. My parents refuse to take their shoes off when entering my house and when they leave, I have to immediately run the vacuum to clean up the dirt they tracked in.

Here’s a really good one … I used to write down what I wore every day to work. I’ve been doing it since my sophomore year in high school. I refused to wear the same thing twice in one month. In college, there was a point when I didn’t wear the same outfit for an entire semester. Why?  Do I really think someone’s tracking my clothes?  I have since overcome this obsession and I’m extremely proud of myself. 

I have clothes in my closet that I’ve owned for fifteen years and I know I will never wear them again but I save them “just in case”  In case what; in case I decide I want to look like a teenager one day?  I have shirts that are too short and I keep them to wear under things … even though I know I’ll never wear it under a sweater because it’s too short to tuck in and my back would get cold. I can reason with myself but I still can’t part with the item in question.

I have two paper clip jars on my desk, one for small clips and one for large. Why did I do it that way?  Because I hate to grab for a paper clip and get the wrong size … then you have to dump the whole thing out and dig through the clips to find the one you want. My method avoids that problem.

I’ve grown to accept that this is who I am and I’ve actually relaxed some of my rules so as of now, I’m proud to be me, quirks and all.


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