OK, before I get into this one, this will be a LONG post (but I promise it will be worth it if you read to the end!)
I've always known that everyone has SOME degree of 'crazy' that's just, well, ingrained in us. I recently observed a woman at my work who seems to have some level of OCD (DISCLAIMER: I am not a licensed medical practitioner of any kind, and am not trained to make any kind of diagnosis! I just know crazy when I see it.) So, "OCD Lady" has this routine every morning when she arrives at work. When she parks (far away from any other cars) she sits in her Prius until precisely 8:55 (maybe listening to a radio program?) then she gets out of her car, takes out her efficient little tote that fits perfectly on her shoulder, then walks around her car (apparently checking for scratches or dings?) and takes out her CAR COVER. It's always perfectly rolled up from her previous afternoon's routine, so she can easily - but CAREFULLY - place it over the top of her little car, and roll it out from back to front, then roll down the fabric over the driver's side, and then walk around to roll down the passenger side fabric. She then circles the car one more time to make sure all is IN ORDER before she walks inside the school.
That's right, I said SCHOOL. As in, elementary school. In super-safe suburbia. Where NOTHING is going to happen to her car, even if she *gasp* parks near other cars, or leaves the car cover off.
Now, the first time I saw this routine, I thought 'what a paranoid bitch!' Then I began to sympathize a little, and wondered what horrible thing must have happened to her to make her so paranoid.
Then I began to see my own OCD husband just a little in her crazy routine. He has this NEED to check, and double check, all the car door handles after he locks it with the little remote. Even though we all hear the 'click' of the lock, and the little beep of the car horn to confirm that the remote has done its job...he is just never satisfied with that. Everywhere we go, the kids and I have to stand there (sometimes with our hands full, and even in the RAIN) while he walks all around the car and pulls each handle up two or three times to make sure each door is really locked. To me, this is excruciating! I try so hard to just smile and know that he needs this, but it is just freaking PAINFUL to watch.
And its painful to watch OCD lady sometimes, too. I mean, PAINFUL. I felt so sorry for her, for whatever has trapped her in this time-consuming routine.
But one day last month, it hit me:
she finds COMFORT in this routine.
I have my own specific routines, things I HAVE to do a certain way, and these routines can calm and comfort me when my life is in chaos. At first I compared my own routines to OCD Lady's car habit, and thought, 'yeah, but my routines are all about things that MATTER.' (to me) Like, I have this thing about my towels not fitting in the linen closet if they're not folded "RIGHT". It comes from this teeny tiny linen closet that we had in our last house, and now, after 5 years in this house with THREE linen closets, I still have this need to fold the stupid towels 'my way'. My mother in law folded a load of towels here while I was in the hospital giving birth 9 months ago, and I actually took them OUT of the closet and re-folded them 'the right way'.
Anyway, here's the major epiphany that I wanted to write about:
What matters to me, does not necessarily matter to other people. And what matters to my husband RARELY matters to me.
I think, when we were dating, and even early in our marriage, we cared about each other's causes simply because we cared about each other. But now, I find it harder and harder to give a damn about the things he is 'crazy' over, and he rolls his eyes at my obsessions. We barely ever even watch TV together any more, because our taste in entertainment is so vastly different. I think this last deployment really highlighted a lot of our differences, because we each had nearly eight months of each being able to do things our own way - and struggling to come back together this time, with all of our OTHER issues (his PTSD, my PPD, and all of our idiosyncrasies, old and new) has just seemed like more trouble than it was worth.
But when it comes down to it, HE matters to me. And I know I matter to him. So, we have to find ways to focus (once again) on the things we have in common. The things we BOTH believe in. Our kids. Our faith. Our home. OUR FUTURE.
We need to develop some of our own crazy routines TOGETHER, don't you think? Something comforting, something that's always the same, no matter what.