For the past six months Andre has decided that he will only wear the color blue in a particular hue. Heaven forbid, the shade may not be a Navy blue, dark blue-gray or even Robin’s egg blue. No, Andre’s blue has to be bright, brilliant, and leap tall buildings in a single bound. So today while I was waiting to pay for Andre’s all things blue, the clerk chuckled: “You’ve certainly got a lot of blue there!”
“It’s for my son,” I said with a sigh. “I wish I could get him into something else.”
“Is blue the only color that your son will wear?” asked a 50-ish man dressed from head to toe in black waiting for the clerk to locate something for him.
“Well blue is his favorite and, yes, it is the only color he will wear. Why do you ask?”
“Sounds to me as if he has OCD,” said the man with a gentle smile.
“Do you know someone with OCD?” I inquire.
“I have it,” the man in black says with a grin. “If you notice I am dressed in all black from my head to my toes. Once in a while I will throw in some gray but for the most part black is what you would see me in every day of my life. In fact, people keep trying to get me to wear color ALL THE TIME. Friends and relatives keep giving me shirts that are bright red or green but in all honesty they go to the nearest thrift store without ever being worn.”
“Why is that? Why does color bother you so?”
“It isn’t the color per se, it is that I know that in order to keep my anxiety down, black is what I need to wear. If I wore blue I would obsess that I was wearing blue all day long. I might feel itchy because I was so uncomfortable. I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on much of anything except the fact that I was wearing a blue shirt. Do you understand?”
“Yes, I think I am beginning to.”
“Think about it this way. Let’s pretend that you see a gorgeous pair of shoes that you have always wanted. An outrageously expensive pair of Jimmy Choo’s. The only catch is that in order to have them you have to wear those Jimmy Choo’s 8 hours a day… and they are two sizes too small. How would that work for you? Sure for the first five minutes you might be happy with them but as your toes began to rub together and cramp pretty soon you wouldn’t be thinking about how glamorous the shoes were instead you would begin to spend your time obsessing about how much your feet hurt. The next morning the thought of putting on those shoes would probably be almost unbearable and the closer the time came to put them on the more your anxiety would rise just thinking about having to put them on. So the question is, why would you start your day full of anxiety when there is no need to do so? Instead, you just go find a pair of comfortable shoes and suddenly both your physical and emotional selves are soothed. That is how it works for me. It is silly for me to try to wear something that is going to totally mess up my day and make it impossible to get anything done due to my obsessing about it. Who cares if I wear black everyday and why should it matter to anyone else if I do so anyway?”
“Thank you,” I tell him. “You have given me some valuable insight into my son and what you have said makes total sense. You have scratched out another line on THE LIST OF THINGS I HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT IN LIFE and for that I will always be grateful.”
At that moment the clerk called the man over. He had been on the phone searching for a particular pair of black shoes for the man and had found them.
“How many pairs do you want?”
As I turned and walked away it was then that I noticed…the man wore black sandals out of which popped his painted black toe nails.
“Why black,” I wondered. “Why not brown, or yellow or green? And as I walked back to the car I began obsessing about…why, blue not black or, why, yellow and not green? And that’s when it hit me….none of it mattered…. and neither did Andre’s blue shirts. All that mattered was the I continue to try to seek and relate to Andre in ways that acknowledged the uniqueness of who he is and that I continue to honor those things that made him feel comfortable in his own skin. For in the end the why’s really just don’t matter.
Last night I walked into Andre’s room and headed to his closet.
“What are you doing mom?”
“I getting rid all of your shirts that are not blue. No sense in filling you closet with them is there? We both know you won’t wear them anyway, right?”
“Okay, well if you ever decide you want to wear another color let me know, okay?”
“Sure mom. And thanks for doing this. I feel like you really heard me and even better you showed me that you did. Who cares if I don’t wear red, yellow or green. Who cares?”