Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lyme Rehabilitates the Control Freak in Me

When I was little, my Mom used to say I was a "sock and belt roller." Meaning, I was so organized I literally would roll my socks and belts in a drawer so they were all lined up in a row. I made my bed before I went to school. I liked to make "to do" lists. Order made me feel like I was in control. As an adult, that translated to my own apartment, work environment, car etc. Everything needed to be in it's place and orderly. I liked to count things and I liked things to be even. Odd numbers bothered me. If I walked into my kitchen and certain things were out on the counters, I had to put them away to feel like things were "right." Can you say, obsessive compulsive? It never occurred to me that this was over the top, until my roommate in L.A. said it was stressful to live in that environment, because EVERYTHING had to be in it's place. Only then was I able to step outside of myself and see my obsessive need to keep things in order, and laugh at myself because of it. Even my desk at work was like that...every paper where it should be, things neat and clean and orderly. My appearance too...I ironed shirts and pants before work, never allowing myself to leave the house with a wrinkle. Even when I didn't feel well I put on my make-up and tried to present a perfect front.

Up until now, I had never come up against anything in my life that I couldn't organize and order into some kind of sense. And then lyme disease arrived. My whole life I have been about setting a goal and laying out the steps to achieve it, a very orderly system. I keep trying to "organize my illness" and it is almost laughable, because lyme disease will just not jump into line. It is teaching me that not everything has to be rolled up neatly in a row. That sometimes it's really messy, that I'm really messy, that things are ugly and imperfect and that even if I organized the hell out of everything around me, that the illness is going to be there anyway. So I've learned that I can let things go sometimes, that it doesn't matter if everything is clean, shiny and orderly. That I can let myself be ugly, messy and out of control and that I can still be lovable that way. Most importantly that I can still love myself that way. That I don't need the counters to be clean and things to be put away to feel safe. That what I need is my own forgiveness, love and compassion.

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