Monday, February 13, 2012

The Rituals of Our Lives

Oh! Hi! I didn't see you there. I was too busy having deep thoughts about this week's theme: rituals.

Everyone has them. Some of us more so than others. Sometimes rituals are just cycles of life repeated in the same order, sometimes they're hallowed and sacred, and sometimes they're less than pleasant. But this week, the Alliteratus will tell you all about a ritual, or rituals, we find ourselves using in our lives.

Not every ritual has a structure. Some, like getting ready for work in the morning, seem to happen on auto-pilot. (I don't actually remember putting on my clothes this morning, but I appear to be wearing them, so that's good). Some rituals only crop up every now and then, and others aren't really rituals so much as superstition. But all of them have one thing in common-- rhythm. Rituals are the rhythm of our lives. We live our lives in cycles, circles, relationships-- and rituals. Go to sleep, wake up, get ready, leave, drive somewhere, do stuff, come home, make dinner, go to sleep.

The thing is, I find a lot of comfort in rituals. A large part of this has to do with a mental disorder I suffer from. I'll share more about that at some later date, but for right now it's enough for you to know that I have it. This disorder makes me uncomfortable with surprises, especially social ones. I have my daily ritual-- do the things that everyone else wants me to do, and then there's my free time. My free time is especially cherished, it's usually when I write, or decompress from the day by looking at pictures of cats online. If something comes along on a day when I'm really looking forward to my free time, I will do everything I can to avoid it. If a friend wants to make last minute plans, I usually can't make it. Give me a couple days' warning next time, I say.

I have a handful of very impulsive friends. They are the friends I see the least.

It's not that I don't want to spend time with them, or that I think my free time is more important than spending time with them. In fact, I often find myself sitting at home later thinking, "I should have gone. I miss ____, and it would have been fun to see them/ spend time with them."

A large part of it has to do with being physically (mentally) unable to change course on my day once I've decided what I'm going to do with it. That doesn't mean I'm inflexible; in fact, I'm far from it. And I'm not certain exactly where the threshold is. All I know is that once I've reached the point where doing ANYTHING except going home and relaxing sounds fun, I probably can't make myself do it.

I actually really hate this aspect of myself, because I know I've disappointed friends and family with it in the past. Sometimes, I do already have plans. Sometimes, they're self-imposed deadlines on a project I'm working on. Sometimes, I'm just done for the day and have already decided exactly when I'll go into shutdown mode. Either way, that ritual, of coming home and turning off-- usually after a full day of being ON-- is the one ritual I can't seem to break. At least not without warning a day or two in advance.

As for other rituals, well-- I could, quite literally, write a novel about them if I had to. It is, after all, the nature of my disease. Luckily, most of them are mental, which basically means I spend a lot of time stuck in my own head, and forgetting about real-world responsibilities. So if I've ever forgotten to email/ call/ text/ facebook/ tweet you back, I'm sorry. You deserve better. Thanks for being patient.

This was a tad more depressing and a bit more forthright than I'd planned, but you know what? I regret nothing. Sometimes, seeing a window into the head of someone you know helps you understand them a little bit more. Maybe you'll understand me a bit better after reading this.

Do you have any unbreakable rituals?


Unknown said...

I'm the same way. I go into shut down mode after a certain hour and unless I have specific pre-concieved plans to stay up I go home. I'm not very good at switching gears once I have a plan for what I'm going to do next in place.

L. T. Host said...

I always really like hearing that I'm not alone on stuff like this!