I remember turning my car’s fuel cap a few times. I remember my husband looking at me and shaking his head and saying, “Don’t do that.”
Later, he gave me a different perspective on what I’d done.
We had driven our vehicles—his truck and my car—to the gas station together about a month ago so he could pump my gas for me after he pumped his own.
I’m capable of pumping my own gas, but if he’s with me, he’ll do it for me. It’s a sweet thing for him to do.
He had to move his truck out of the way of another customer before the tank in my car was full, so I finished up the job.
Larry walked up as I was putting the fuel cap back into place.
I heard it click. But one click didn’t seem to be enough. So I turned it some more. Then some more.
I liked hearing those clicks because they seemed to tell me that the cap was properly closed.
Once we got to a restaurant to eat lunch, Larry said, “You need to control your OCD with the cap, because if you break the seal, it will have to be replaced.”
Larry said once I heard that one click, the cap was sealed.
“How do you know it was OCD making me do that?” I asked.
I wanted to know what he had noticed.
He then gave me a description of what I’d been doing. I turned the cap, yes. Then I stopped and looked at it. Then I turned it again. Then I stopped and looked at it. Then I turned it again.
Yep, obvious signs (in me) of checking OCD.
And I had no idea that I had done anything that anyone else would notice. I thought I was keeping my checking to myself.
At first, I was horrified.
Of course, Larry probably noticed because he knows me so well, knows my OCD so well. And he wasn’t concerned about me showing my OCD as much as he was concerned about me breaking the fuel cap seal.
But I had examined the fuel cap in public, where others could see me. Did anyone else see me?
The incident got me thinking. I’ve always thought that I hid my OCD from others so well. I certainly try to be careful to not let anyone witness my compulsions, or rituals: my staring at lamps, my fiddling with things like water faucets and light switches, my habit of picking up pieces of lint from carpets.
In fact, I try not to do the compulsions in the first place. That’s my goal.
But if I do perform a compulsion, and if others notice, what am I so afraid of? That they’ll think I’m weird? That they’ll think less of me?
Do I really care? I’m not sure.
If they care about me, they’ll ignore my compulsions or ask me about them. If they ask me about them, it’s an opportunity to educate others about OCD.
And if they don’t care about me, why do I care what they think of me?
I don’t want to make a spectacle of myself. But in reality, that’s not likely.
Perhaps I’ve spent too much time worrying about people seeing my OCD. Instead of thinking of ways to hide my OCD, maybe I would do well to focus more on getting better.
If you have OCD, how hard do you work at trying to hide your compulsions from others? Whether you have OCD or not, how would you like to react if a friend performed an OCD compulsion in front of you?