Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

There Is No "Trying It On For Size"

Milton H. Greene [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
Like a lot of women, I have no f@#king clue what size I wear, most of the time.  It's not my fault that I don't know.  Some clothing manufacturers vanity size their clothes - so that a size 12, like Marilyn wore, is today equivalent to a size 8.  Other don't do vanity sizing.  Still others size their clothing slightly smaller than industry norm.

I have had times in my life where a size 8 hung on me like a sack, while a size 14 was way too tight to wear.

Guys, now do you get why clothing shopping can be so stressful for women?

We learn what colors and styles suit us, mostly, and a general guess as to our current size for most clothing makers.  Still, women often need to do a lot of trying things on when shopping.

Let me meander over to the point.  One of the things I noticed about OCPD ex-b-f, was his absolute misery whenever I wanted to "try something on for size" around the house.  For instance, there was a spot on the wall that needed a picture, only we weren't which picture should go there.  My way of handling this would have been to hang the primary candidate, live with it for a few weeks, and see if it "felt" right to us.

His way was to think about it for 2-3 years, and only then could we hang the picture I wanted to put up (one that he brought into the relationship, btw, not one of my own.)   He would go absolutely spastic whenever I wanted to decorate for the holidays - and I love decorating for the holidays, all of the holidays, not just Christmas, but Valentines' Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween...

This seems to be a pattern for many with OCPD, similar to something that autistics experience.  Nothing is supposed to changeEver.  If you've read earlier comments on this blog, you'll know that one reader has an OCPD husband who will rake the lawn down to dirt, because he can't stand it when there's a single leaf on the grass, even for one day.  I had a friend tell me about a similar "trying it on" experience.  She'd wanted a clock in her living room, and they were throwing one away at her work, so she brought it home and hung it in her living room.  She wasn't sure that she liked it, but hey, the price was right.  So she wanted to hang it and see if she liked it after a few days, or didn't.

Her (suspected Asperger's) boyfriend absolutely freaked out, could not sit still, couldn't focus on conversation with her, but sat drumming his fingers against his knee (stimming) because of this one change she'd done in her living room.  She had to take the clock down and rehang the picture she'd had up on that hook, so that he could calm down and get back to normal.  (Normal for him, that is.)

The other night I was on a chat session that included both people with OCPD and "nons."  I asked them about the "trying it on" experiment, and it was interesting as one of the OCPDrs tried to explain to me, that he needs to know a comparative value.  How can one know if the picture on the wall is good or not - you need something to compare it to (uh, a blank wall?) and who's to say, and how can one say, if this is a quantitively good or bad "fit"?

Another young man had posted that following being placed on medications (not just for OCPD, but for ADHD, and other conditions) he was able, for the first time in years, to go into a store and try on clothing, and buy pants that fit.  He had always felt too self-conscious and "weird" to try on pants before, so he would just guess at the size, and if he got them home and they didn't fit, he would throw them in the closet.  (Taking them back to the store would have been too embarrassing.)

Photo by dailyfood at Flickr
The idea that decisions about minor things don't have to be made, once, for all time <imagine a long reverb effect on the "for all time-time-time," please> seems to be beyond the grasp of many with OCPD.  It's not a case of this time they can choose the salmon at the restaurant, next time something different; they feel they must choose something good every single time, or... what, exactly?  We don't know, but it must be terrible.

This behavior is one of the things that drives Significant Others up the wall, and yet, it seems so petty when we speak or write about it.  So they don't want to order anything different when you go out to eat, so what?  So they don't like moving around the furniture, or putting up holiday decorations, what's the big deal?

One at a time, these things are all minor and no big deal, but all together, because the person with OCPD will often apply them to many, many areas in their life, it is a big deal.

What are your thoughts or experiences with this behavior?