For me, looking at things gives a sense of finality. With my obsessive-compulsive fear of staples, pins, and other sharp objects, there is a feeling that I can’t look at these objects while eating or swallowing, lest I somehow accidentally swallow one (?!?). This applies even if I’m looking at a book with staples that’s all the way across the room. But recently, I noticed this isn’t my only instance of ruminating about the act of looking at something. When I’m about to fall asleep, I feel like I have to look at something very blank and neutral like a wall. If the last thing I look at before I close my eyes is a person (no matter who that person is), I feel like I might not be able to stop thinking about that person. It’s similar with certain types of objects. But if I close my eyes looking at a blank wall, I can be relatively assured (for some strange reason) that my thoughts will not center on any one specific thing.
My explaining this doesn’t mean any of that logic actually connects to reality — I have a feeling if I did look at people or things like food before falling asleep, I probably would not get them “stuck” in my head as much as I fear I would. But for some reason, I get that feeling.
So sometimes, this appears to be a compulsion — looking at something bad (staples) and then “protecting” myself by looking at something “safe” (in the case of countering a staple, looking at pretty much anything that’s not sharp would help, but preferably something large, non-sharp, and not a choking hazard for small children). Other times, the obsession is actually that looking at something holds disproportionate importance. With the staples, it’s not so much about importance, but the idea that somehow I might accidentally come in contact with the object just from looking at it — nevermind that not making any real sense.
Sometimes I forget how stressed out I can be over scissors. My new mall job has me hyper-aware of my fear of heights; I can’t stand being on the second floor and anywhere even remotely close to the railing where I can see the first floor. Even worse, I’m hyper-aware of the fact that someone could accidentally (or perhaps on purpose) push me off the edge if they carelessly walk by. Or I get this thought like: “OMG I hope I don’t just jump down there; that would be really bad.”
But last night had me reacquainted with an old fear: scissors. Well well well, if it isn’t my old friend, Scissors; so we meet again. How are you, Scissors — besides creepy? I have to work slowly when I work with scissors, and it’s certainly good that I’m not careless with them. But I have to filter out lots of thoughts of anytime anyone I know was injured by scissors or something like scissors. I get images from when I was in school and my art teacher hurt her finger with the paper-cutter. I get images about that time in school when I randomly decided to take the scissors and cut off a very small, unnoticeable portion of my hair just because I could. “I hope I don’t cut my finger just because I can.”
Of course, I never (or extremely rarely) end up injured and when I do, it’s not the injuries I think about or am afraid of happening. But that’s OCD for you.