I think that everyone likes it when they can relate to a character in TV, film or book as it automatically makes us empathetic to their actions and want to follow their story. This has not happened to me so prevalently as when catching up with Banana on 4OD. Though I am not a lesbian, dating or in Manchester, Amy from episode 6 had fears and a vivid imagination which were practically a mirror of my own.
I have described before that I suffer extremes and struggle to find a balance; whether too happy, too sad, too loud, too quiet, too organised, too messy – I live in a land of polars. I understand that for my own sanity, and for the sanity of others around me, being on a constantly tipping scale is no way to live and I have to find middle ground that I am comfortable with. This mysterious middle earth seems to come easy to most people but, for me, it is a conscious effort that I achieve through a series of rituals and routines.
Though I did not grow up in a strict household there were of course certain rules to follow and basic expectations to meet. Manners were a number one priority, kindness and sharing were encouraged, superstitions were not to be laughed at and praying every night to thank God and bless those around you was advised. My family were not particularly religious and I was not even christened, however, it was obvious from their superstitious nature and advocacy of praying that they believed in a higher power.
Just like Amy in Banana I concluded my nightly prayer by asking God to bless the longest list of people known to man. If I forgot one person I genuinely believed that they were going to die.
One particularity clear memory of just how serious I took this ritual was when my little cousin was born. She was so new that I forgot to add her name to the list, I could not just ask God to bless her after I had said Amen as he is a very busy man so had wait until the next night’s prayer.
Those 24 hours of waiting were hell, I could not concentrate all day at primary school and dreaded my mum picking me up from my childminders as she would undoubtedly have to break the news that the latest addition to our family had died. Not only a horrible tragedy but I could not comprehend how I was going to live with the guilt of killing her.
I am pleased to inform you that she did survive despite my forgetfulness, however, I was so thankful for this miracle (and maybe a little bit because of Buffy) I decided to wear a cross at all times. I probably would have also gone to church to show my respect for the mighty man, but by that point in my young life I had already been asked never to return to Sunday school and was still in a bit of a huff with the grown ups about it.
Last year I realised that I had lost my faith and was only praying out of habit so decided to stop. This was a huge step for me learning to let go, but it was not an easy one. Despite rationally knowing that it was statistically improbable that ALL the people on the blessing list were all going to drop down dead, I felt a huge anxiety and the first 48 hours without talking to God was almost unbearable.
I am not sharing this with you to encourage people to stop praying or believing, I am just using it as an example of both how Amy and I were similar and also how I can transform a gentle suggestion into a matter of life, death and doom in my head.
This is an extreme example of my quirky behaviour, but there are also plenty of everyday ones: like not being able to step on a uneven amount of drains, my love for putting things in lines, having to check the door three times if I lock it, even if I have not straightened my hair or cooked that day I constantly worry that the house going on fire, or my office going on fire because of something I did, touching red every-time I see a post van, my fascination with numbers, counting and time are also pretty weird (this list could go on and on)
I know that some of you will be wondering why I choose to share such embarrassing behaviours; well, these are things that I have been doing since before I can remember, but tried to hide because I was worried about judgement. Watching Amy dealing with the same sense of impending doom made me realise that there are more people like me out there. I wanted to share my own experience as knowing this made me feel less isolated and maybe me writing about it can do the same for someone else.
Do you guys have any coping mechanisms that others find strange? Is there any fictional characters that you can completely relate to?