During the many years of my life when OCD was in charge of me and not the other way around, one thing that it demanded was that every single thing I say be true– literally true.
There were no sudden exclamations to friends of “You’re my favorite!” No declarations of “This is the best!” If I was leaving a voicemail at 12:14, I wouldn’t say, “Hey, it’s quarter after; call me back.” There just wasn’t any room for that in my mind and in my life.
Lyrics were difficult. I was very careful with what lyrics came out of my mouth; I didn’t want to make any promises or statements that I couldn’t hold to or that weren’t true. I had to stay one step ahead of the singer to gauge whether it was okay for me to sing those words.
I remember one evening, I was singing along in my car to an Andrew Peterson song. In it, he is singing to God, and the lyrics are, “I will sing your song from sea to shining sea.” As soon as the lyrics flew off my tongue, I started to think about how I now was required to plan a cross-country roadtrip just to keep my word.
As a writer, I was very timid about memoir, believing that if I didn’t get every detail right, it would amount to a sinful travesty. Dialogue? Way too risky.
Even sarcasm was difficult sometimes, though I never entirely abandoned it. I did wonder for a time if writing fiction was sinful in and of itself, since the stories were made up … you know, lies.
I tiptoed for so many years. I was so exact, so literal, so bent on perfection.
Today, I am an honest woman– but I have freedom. When I tell stories, I don’t worry about getting every detail right. I have space in my life to breathe.