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Monday, December 6, 2010

The Escape, Part 2

Illusion of Order

A friend once explained to me why he took issue with the casual use of OCD as a term thrown around to describe nervous tendencies regarding order. 

“People like to think they’re special or that they understand simply by putting a name on a behavior.  Well, just because you say something like, ‘I like to have all of my pens aligned and in the right order’, or ‘All of the towels have to be folded my way,’  or ‘I just have to eat things in the order they taste best,’ doesn’t mean you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  In a way, it’s much more beautiful in its complexity and paradox.”

ocd-can-be-torture“I seek order in things.  I think them out with incredible order, but this order leads to chaos.  That’s what the “C” in OCD stands for.  Compulsion is, by definition, unexplainable.  And when there’s no explanation, you just deal.  The only way for me to get past that kind of a wall is to go against my nature.  I do the opposite.  I think the opposite.  I suppose I work to bend then break the rule, bringing order from what I’m sure will bring terror and chaos.”

For me to escape my own anxiety, I needed to go against my impulses and question some of my most fundamental programming.  I, then, had to ask the most selfish question one can ask, “What do I want?,” and face its implications as they floated at the forefront of my mind. If you put your happiness before everything else, you’re going to become a terrible person, I would tell myself. 

My efforts to please those around me and to construct a harmony for others had left my own internal life in a state of disarray.  Change became a more and more necessary aspect of my sanity.  Without the excuse of school or work, the force driving my life no longer held chaos in confinement.  Meandering and moving more slowly, the mass of motivations and meanings no longer held together.  Pieces slipped out of their places as the once coalesced compartments of my life began their inevitable process of disintegration. 

the widening gyre

The Gay Mormon Boy I knew could no longer exist in the form I had constructed so carefully.  One piece had to give under the pressure of another, and it did.

All I really asked for was peace and happiness, and those simple ideas had been out of reach for so long.  A year ago, I’d believed my happiness depended upon finding that perfect woman that at the core of my heart I knew did not exist.  First, I thought the only (and quite naively) necessary shift to that worldview was based in gender, but it became increasingly obvious that I needed to prepare myself to completely uproot myself and begin anew.  Before, I could do that, it was necessary for me to wilt a bit.

After some consideration, I realized that the answer didn’t lay in the introspection I dwelled upon or in myself, but rather in experience.  If I was going to redefine life itself, I would need to do so by living or remain forever undefined in an enduring state of limbo.  As the last weeks had been a process of closing, the process of opening myself up—to taking in a deep breath after suffocating for so long—suddenly made sense.

chile landscape

As other matters such as my vaccinations and teaching materials for my impending trip to Chile began to take precedence and the idea of looking for what I wanted became much more welcoming.  Anti-charitable as it might sound, the fact that I was taking three months of my life making a difference in the life of kids a continent away provided me with the solace allowing me to break through my sense of guilt and selfishness for wanting happiness outside of Mormonism.  You are a good person.  You deserve to be happy. 

With that assertion, I recalled the joys I’d experienced in the arms of Mark before he’d taken up the mantle of missionary, of finding someone so well adjusted, happy, and normal in Evan, and finally the connection to someone striving to be a good guy after returning from a mission and accepting his homosexuality in Anson.  Those were the happiest times of my life.  I found joy in my experiences with these other men and in myself and not in the dictates of the consciences of others. 

You will find your answers—your happiness—in people, I picking up a package of stickers.  Dozens of smiley faces peered up at me, each happy in their own distinct manner.  Do not hide your light. 

Find it. 

Share it.

smiley face stickers

3 comments:

El Genio said...

Torres del Paine!! Someday... **sigh**

naturgesetz said...

Difficult to comment in the middle of the story.

But in Ethics, in college, if I recall correctly, a basic point (axiom, to borrow a word from geometry) was that man naturally seeks happiness, and that what is ethical conduces to happiness, rightly understood. It was all quite Aristotelian, and of course happiness could not be equated with "fun, fun, fun," (to borrow a phrase from the Beach Boys). One is happy by being as fully human as possible, by realizing one's human potential.

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