Guilty Party, Table for One…

I have a confession to make. Well. sooner or later I’m  confessing about something to my mother, my therapist, sometimes anyone who will listen. Guilt is a constant companion of mine, never more than two steps away and ready to pounce.  I will feel guilty over not doing things exactly right as my mind dictates is right. I must perfect my methods so that I might be as good as everyone else. I want to be perfect, nothing less, even though logically I know that is impossible for anyone. Feeling angry sends waves of guilt through me, though I seldom get angry at anyone but myself, and it becomes a rage inside me, not going away until I call myself every name in the book and sometimes I hit myself just to kill the anger. Not too hard, just enough to smart a bit. Frustration OCD -style is a bitch.  I wouldn’t hurt any sentient creature on this planet, human or animal, but  myself is another matter.  I never was overly fond of myself for as long as I can remember and I am eager to point out my failures to myself.

The guilt feeling can come upon me when I haven’t even done anything, often giving rise to taking an inventory of what I said or did that day.  Even more irksome are memories, faux pas minor or major, that flash into my head unbidden. Things that happened the other day to something I did as far back as age 5 or so. Not many people can say they feel bad about things that happened that far back.  Most people forget, and if not, they are at least kind enough to make note that they were young and one can’t expect adult reasoning in a child or teen. I am accepting of  almost everyone, their lifestyles, their flaws and strengths…..everyone but me!  Other people are fine the way they are, but as hard as I try I will not measure up to other people.

So what am I feeling guilty about tonight? Night before last….

I had just settled down for a long spring’s nap,

When all of a sudden there arose such a clatter,

but I did not rise to see what was the matter.

I of course can’t be certain what happened without having got up, and I would have got up if the noise had continued.  It sounded like someone punched someone, the squeal of a woman and the sound of a punch. It might not have happened. I had Coast to Coast AM on at a low volume to mask my tinnitus, and the people across  the hall from us could have just been having their normal drama. The woman’s son is rather fond of  drink and whatever else he can get hold of it seems, and occasionally he comes to visit his mama  when totally shit-faced.   I don’t think he had ever hit her…At least not out on the stage of the hallway. I haven’t seen his mother to see if she has a shiner. Hopefully, they were just having a loud argument, because their arguments are loud.

So why do I feel guilty? Because I didn’t look out the peephole. If he took a swipe at his mom and then left, I wouldn’t call the cops, but what if he kept on at it? I don’t suppose he did, but if he did, wouldn’t I be in some way just as bad for not doing something?

Aw hell, like I said, I’d have done  something if it continued to happen. It just occurred to me that this is dumb. Seeing things in print sometimes does that I guess.

After all, there was that time the son picked  a fight with my friend down the hall. I am fond of my friend down the hall (she now lives in another building because that was the only way she was getting new carpet, but that’s neither here nor there). Friend- Down-the-Hall has a daughter who indulges in similar pursuits as Dude-Who’s-Mom-Lives-Across-the-Hall (whatever it is she’s on , it’s made her lose her paunch). Anyhow, Dude was screaming at my friend and i feared her coming to harm because he was getting really close to her. It was late, like 2am, but I was still dressed, so before I could lose my nerve, I opened the apartment door and stepped just far enough out to be noticed, but not so far as to not yank myself back into my  apartment. My reasoning was the more people witnessing the argument the less likely he’d be to hit my friend who is in her 60s.

Now, you may be thinking, “Hey Genius, why not just call the cops?” Because: A) Didn’t want anyone getting in trouble. B) because I would have to contend with my mom, who’d be afraid they would know it was me, and C.) they hadn’t actually come to blows. As long as they were just having a shouting match and not hurting anyone, they could do it as long as they had voices to yell as far as I was concerned. Everyone saw me except my friend. Either way, nothing happened and Dude’s mom apologized for disturbing me….I felt bad she saw me.

I’m very shy, but am apt to come to someone’s aid.  I really hate seeing anyone upset or hurting and if I don’t do something I would feel like it was me who harmed them.  I get overwhelmed by the feeling of being responsible for bad things.

I have called the cops a couple times and the first time I wish I didn’t. In the building across from us lives a man with mild cerebral palsy, it just makes him walk different and not as fast as others. Well, he and this guy that lived next to him, got into a fight. Now this guy that lived next to him was a badass. A very tall, very strong , very drunk badass. And he said, “I don’t care if you are a cripple, I’ll still beat your ass!” But Guy-with-CP wasn’t planning on backing down and it wouldn’t be a fair fight by any means.

So Nervous Nelly here called the law. And they nearly arrested the guy with CP too cause he had some garden stick or something and I mentioned he was trying to defend himself  with it. My bad.  I felt terrible. I feel terrible, but I will never confess it was me who called the police to him. Luckily the badass soon got evicted because of something else. My mom was terrified he’d find out it was me who called the cops for getting into a fight with Guy-with-CP and rejoiced when Badass moved.  Yep, maybe shouldn’t have called. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The other time I called the cops was when we were coming home late one night and I saw a guy slouched over in his wheelchair by the side of the road.  I called so they would check on him. Later I told the chat room I frequent and did they ever make me feel bad. “You should have stopped and asked him if he was okay!” they said. I got clobbered. Maybe I deserved it, I don’t know, but it was late at night, sort of isolated, and while our neighborhood isn’t exactly “da ‘hood, it ain’t the garden district either. He could have been the next incarnation of Ted Bundy for all we knew or as harmless as Al Bundy. We didn’t take the chance. I hope he was okay.

Garden of Good & Evil

In Which Nervous Nelly Explains How OCD Thinking Isn’t Always a Bad Thing

Well, my name isn’t really Nelly. It’s Lisa, but  “Nervous Nelly” hits the nail on the head. On the head and right between the eyes.  In the  32 virginal years I  have graced this planet, I can say much of the time is filled with “what if this or that happened and what would I do?” I ought to try to stop myself by now, as 90% of the time, the bad thing never happens, and if it does it’s seldom as bad as I thought. This is the good thing about being obsessive-compulsive I would say.  When the shit hits the fan, it’s not the giant sewer leak that is in my head. The worst case scenario becomes a peaceful stream thanks to my gargantuan imagination which envisions oceans in mud puddles.  I suppose I could give you examples instead of melodramatic metaphors, so I’ll give you two examples:  

Example One – Lisa and the Homicidal Insane Cook  

I worry about murderers, carjackers, rapists, etc. causing harm to my mother and sometimes to myself, but mainly to my mother when we are apart. Look at the news, awful things happen ALL THE TIME. But when something awful could have actually happened I was calm and I handled it.  

Ok, so 3 or 4 years ago we tried out a newly opened Chinese buffet. It was later in the afternoon,  just past lunchtime, so there was only a couple other patrons and they were in another section of the restaurant (this was before  the state made smokers into lepers and my mom could still smoke inside). We were eating, the food was good too, which makes this all the greater a tragedy .  Suddenly, one could hear yelling in the kitchen.  It kept up steady and seemed to stay in the kitchen, so I felt confident  in my safety at grabbing something else. Oh what to get, what to get. Soup? Or a couple of those slivers of cake?  

Oh, the possibilities! Oh…….. oh …….oh shit!  

The shit had now officially hit the fan.  The argument spilled out near where I happened was, no further than 12 feet. A man was  surrounded by 3 guys and 2 women, and boy,  was he ever pissed.  It was a good thing I don’t speak Chinese,  but some things are universal,  a psychotic rage is distinguishable from someone mildly miffed that he burned the General Tso’s chicken. Psycho Cook then took a soup bowl and smashed it on the floor, but this must have not been cathartic enough, for he soon lunged at another cook.  I remained unnoticed and began to deliberate what to do. I wasn’t panicked I remember, a little nervous and disconcerted, but panicking? No, not really. Would someone else have totally freaked out? I’m not sure . Perhaps they would have the common sense to be scared, not just a little frightened. So I weighed my options, a little list in my brain:  

A:) Every woman for herself, haul ass out the door and hope your mother will follow.  But I would never leave my mother if  if any harm could come to her, so scratch that.  

B:) Run past the offending party back to my mother. Run, fat girl, run!!! No, that didn’t seem sensible either. Let  the lunging crouching tiger become  aware of  Hidden Dragon here? Not a good idea in my estimation.  

C.) Act normal (or fake it in my case since  I ain’t never been normal, just seen the brochure once or twice). Yes this is the best idea. If  I ignore whatever the screaming, striking  cook is doing and act like an unconcerned customer I might have more of  a chance at not attracting the ire of  this poor guy.  Time to not be too particular, so I grab a bit of orange and start back, walking as far away from Psycho Cook ‘n pals as I dared. One of the waitresses sat at the table with my mom kind of hiding out.  The waitress said to us, “I hate Chinese people. All they do is fight.” ( disclaimer: She was Chinese or Malaysian herself, so she could say that I guess). She proceeded to tell us the story of  the restaurant. Appears a few guys got the idea of opening a restaurant together. Too bad that among the angry lot,  one was totally insane and off his meds.  Happens in the best of restaurants.  

Meanwhile, the fray  moved more towards the kitchen and another waitress came over. “We got to go now! He threatening to kill people.”  

Ever the scrupulous idiot that i am I tried to give them money fast, but they said not to worry about it. Fair enough, but I did manage to give the waitress 10 bucks at least and wouldn’t  take it  back.  This all happened really fast.  One or two of the men stayed with the wigged out chef and everyone else made for the door. When outside several people got into one car and left. The other patrons had already left before hell broke loose.  

Safely away my mother and I were like “well…that was….different.”  

And the even funnier thing is when I was 14, a crazy guy jumped out at my mom and me when we were walking at night. He was probably as scared as I was, maybe more, and I can honestly say I had never been more afraid in my life. So scared in fact that for the next couple years I had an intense phobia of men in general. Then the fear waned and now I’m not that afraid of crazy people, though I’ve always been a little scared of guys if I’m alone with them and I have mega social anxiety.  So there, go figure.  

Finally, second example. then I swear I’ll shut the hell up.  

Example Two – Lisa in “Well, At Least the World Isn’t Ending”  

When I was little I was afraid of the world ending, and particularly that either my mom or I  would be roasting in hell-fire for eternity. I went to a Christian school, mainly because the school had afterschool care, and Mom figured I would mainly be saying my prayers and learning about Jesus.  Um wrong.  

I learned that I was A SINNER and God spared only those who were true Christians and had the Lord in their hearts.  

But I was a SINNER, EVIL, EVIL SINNER and off to Hell I would go where I would suffer eternal agony. Forever and ever. This is a tad much to swallow at the age of 6. Especially when our teacher would say such comforting things like, “If you think you see or hear things in the dark it’s just the devil trying to scare you, but if you’re a Christian he can’t hurt you.” Well joy to the world.  It would have been a comfort to me IF I was sure I was really a Christian. BUT WHAT IF I WASN’T  REALLY A CHRISTIAN???  What if I wasn’t saved? Maybe I didn’t say the prayer right? Maybe I might not love Jesus as much as I am supposed to love Him?  

And so I prayed.  And then I prayed, and when I got done with that pretty soon I prayed some more.  Same thing every time. ”Please come into my heart, please forgive me of my sins.”  I didn’t feel Him inside my heart literally or figuratively.   

One day, when I was safely delivered from the good teacher and her views of the devil, etc., the end of  the world occurred.  We had a new teacher because thankfully our first teacher got mad and walked out in the middle of class  when her best friend got fired. I  was so happy. God was in His heaven and all was right with the world. This woman actually liked me, where as the previous teacher despised me. In fact, this teacher almost worshipped me. Never before and never since has anyone liked me that much (I don’t think she could have children and me being the odd one out, I sparked an overwhelming  desire to have a child , and my mom worried she would kidnap me -but all that’s another story for another time). Yes, she loved me and it was wonderful, so I doubt it was artifice and she really did think the world had ended.   

One day the sky seemed thick and cloudy, and an orange haze filled the air. In fact, there was even big ashes snowing down at intervals. Everyone speculated that the world was ending in our little school, and if the teachers believed it, then it was true, right? I remember being very afraid. What if I never saw my mom again?  

Yes, the world was ending…..That is until the principal’s husband showed up and told how there was a bad forest fire in the next county and the wind was blowing ashes and smoke all the way over here.  Jeez, I was a stupid kid, but at least the adults were dumbasses too.   

Well enough of this childhood trauma stuff and fast forward to being 24. By that time I had made my peace with Jesus. I now believed that Hell didn’t exist, that a loving God would not condemn  the world to being rotisseried for eternity. I had no interest in judging others when I was such a flawed person myself and believed (and believe now too) that Jesus was a bleeding heart liberal like me though he was cool with the Republicans too.  We’re all people, right? (Except Ann Coulter maybe, heh).  So this is my mindset on that awful day of September 11, 2001, though I still prayed to excess on my simple goal of being perfect, the world ending got filed in the back of my mental filing cabinet of fears.  

We hadn’t had the TV on all morning. It was now around 1:30pm and my mom was driving me to class, so I turned on the radio to listen to some music. I had it on an R&B station, but instead of the usual waiting to hear a half-way decent song,  the announcers were talking about praying for the nation and how Washington was under full alert.  No planes in the air, they told, and they don’t know if we’re being invaded or how many thousands might be dead.  

Now may it never be said that I claim to be the sharpest nail in the toolbox. What did I think was happening? I had no idea, but it was awful. The sky was finally falling, Chicken Little, like you always knew it would.  It flashed in my mind that the world was ending. I felt like that 6 year-old I once was, waiting to be left to hell in the final judgement.   So when I heard what had actually happened, that the world had not ended, Lord help me at the relief I felt.  It was like “Oh, thank God the world isn’t ending. It’s just a terrorist attack!” And in this way. my OCD once again spared me from reality by expecting the worst of the worst and numbing me to the thing that was almost the worst of the worst. I stayed home from school for a couple  days since the state port and federal courthouse are near the community college, but I remember no real panic on my part for myself, but I also could have been in shock. I didn’t have to think the  horror until it was a little easier to take. Numbed by my joy that the world was not ending I didn’t have to think about the things that would later become vivid and terrible in my mind. The terror of the passengers on those planes.  The picture I would see of the priest being carried out lifeless when he had been there giving the last rites to the dying.  Not knowing whether your family and friends were alive. Would I have followed orders and stayed in the second tower like bosses had told their employees?  And the worst one…..having to decide between death by falling out of a window or being burned alive. So I’m grateful for the OCD and/or stupidity that spared me a bit on that awful day.  

Well, now that I have totally bummed out myself and anyone else  who has the misfortune to read this, I will bid you adieu for now.  


Answering Service