Did we lock the door? No you don’t need to check. Yes, please go check. Are you sure we locked the door? You check it. Ok good, its locked. No wait, we didn’t check it good enough, must go back. Over and over and over and over again because you aren’t doing it quite right.
1,2,3. No. 1,2,3. No. Count on my fingers over and over and over again until it ends on my pinky or thumb. No. Count again. Start over. Stop. Again. 1,2,3,4,5. Perfect. Now again. Every sound, every word, must be counted. Never stop.
The volume must always sit on an odd number. Try an even one. Try 22. The burning starts. Oh god. No. Turn it to 21. It’s all better now.
Check the oven three times. Bleach every counter top. Dishwasher must be loaded in the correct way. Clean in order. He asks, “Can I help?” No. He cannot. Because he does not know the correct order. Does he not understand that the order is important? It is the most important thing in the universe.
Shower according to routine. Everything in routine.
Repeat things once, then twice, then three times, following the strict procedure. Make him do the same. He plays along, because he knows I need him to.
He doesn’t leave the bedroom door open enough at night; the door is not at it’s correct placement. I sit on the edge of the bed and feel the panic rising up into my throat. No. This can’t be. It’s just a door. But it matters. It matters because everything has to be in it’s place. I have to check the cats. Did they die? I have to check the windows. I have to check the locks. I have to check the oven. I have to count. I have to recheck the cats. I have to recheck the doors. I have to make sure the bedroom door is open to it’s correct place. Then I lay down and everything is sort of okay. But then he will close the door, and I will have to go through this all again.
We will leave the house. And I will panic. Because I know I missed something. I know I forgot something. We will go on an overnight trip and I will have to come home at midnight because I know that I forgot to lock the door. I left the oven on. The cats are dying. Someone is breaking in. We will get home at 2 am and I will clean in order. I will count. I will triple check everything. Then we will all be safe.
He grabs my hand when I’m counting. Stop, he says, you are safe. Yes, I think, I am safe because I am counting. He doesn’t understand that if I stop … I am just begging for a catastrophe.
It’s little things, so many little things. It is exhausting. It burns. And it’s not a choice. But if it were, would I want it to go away? It keeps me safe. It keeps me in control. It keeps me safe. It keeps me safe. Control. Safe. What would I do without it?