In my last blog post, I talked a little bit about my history, and I also explained my user name 🙂
Although I've found a lot of encouragement and hope through Buddhist teachings and meditation, I still struggle. Some days, weeks or months are better than others. I go through periods where I almost forget I have OCD. And then I go through periods where it seems to control my every waking breath – where my thoughts are constantly watching over my shoulder, reminding me that they're there. Now is one of those times, which is what prompted me to join this online group. It's hard not to feel very isolated and lonely when dealing with this thing, and I hoped that by joining this community, it could break some of that isolation. I was also hoping that I might be able to offer some comfort (or maybe just empathy,) to others on this site.
Does anyone else feel like this sometimes? You have a good week, a great weekend, and then all of a sudden… SMACK! A thought hits you between the eyes and takes the breath out of you. You're standing there in your kitchen, on the bus, or driving down the highway, and you feel that familiar grinding in your stomach, the shortness of breath creeping up on you, the panic ofI have to fix this right NOW.
I realize that OCD is a constant companion. I realize it will always be there and that I can't "get rid" of it. But I do reallyfeel like there is one very big piece missing from my OCD treatment: ERP. You see, I've neveractually doneERP. I've gone through some exercises which are similar to ERP, but I've never worked directly with a therapist who does exposures.
I mentioned my old therapist Amanda in my last post. She was really helpful – we did exercises like writing thoughts down, writing evidence for and against the thought and being mindful of my reactions before and after the process. This helped, for sure. But unfortunately, Amanda moved to Toronto after a year, I moved to Colorado, and I had to start the process over again of looking for a therapist.
A little less than a year ago, I found Mileah. Mileah is a wonderful, caring person, and she's the one that really encouraged me to start a daily meditation practice. I'm really grateful to her for that! I'm also really grateful that she's encouraged me not to give in to the need for reassurance from either my mom or my husband. She's definitely helped me to stay strong with that – (although today I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle. Some days are like that.) But unfortunately, Mileah doesn't have training in ERP, and she's definitely not an anxiety specialist.
I talked to my psychiatrist about that, and he's got me on the waiting list to see an anxiety specialist who works with "OCD'ers" (as he affectionately refers to us), but unfortunately, I’m on a waiting list, and I’ve been told it may take a couple of months before I can see her. She gave me the names of a couple other people who are supposedly specialists, but I’m worried. Switching therapists is scary! I would love to hear from some of you that have gone through this on your journey to get the right kind of treatment for your OCD.
I want to be brave. I want to face my fears.
One thing Mileah has done is help me to uncover what my fears actually are. I don’t mean what the obsessions are – I mean what’s at the core. What am I REALLY afraid of? For a long time, I didn't know. I didn't understand my fears because they kept morphing – changing shape again and again so that every time a new obsession came up, it looked like something different and unique. I'm starting to realize though, that it's never all that unique. Most of my obsessions come down to two, annoyingly banal fears:
That there is something terribly wrong with me, and/or
That the ones I love will give up on me/ leave me/ stop loving me/ hurt me
So there you have it. The heart of it all. The heart of my fear.
I don't know about you all, but my fears turn up in all sorts of interesting, ridiculous and frustrating places, and they convince me that there are real, legitimate things that I can do to eradicate their presence from my life, i.e..:Just ask for reassurance one more time about one more thing,they tell me.Just keep searching the internet and you'll feel certain – you'll destroy all your doubts and then you'll be happy!
The thing is, of course, that the rational, intelligent part of my brain knows that there will always be uncertainty in life. There will always be something new to fear. There will always be new triggers and my brain will always come up with creative new reasons that something might go wrong.
One of the many manifestations of these fears comes in whatI'm pretty sure is a text book case of ROCD, or relationship OCD. I've heard it said that OCD will attach itself to what is most important to you. That couldn't be more true for me. I love my husband with all my heart, but for years I've been tormented by various fears: that he isn't the right person for me, (or that I'm not the right person for him,) that I'm not good enough for him, that he will leave me, that I will fall in love with someone else or that he will, that he will cheat on me, that he has cheated on me, that he doesn't really love me, that he's actually gay, that he's actually a bad person, that we'll get divorced,etc., etc.
The problem with these worries, as those of you with ROCD know, is that they can be very damaging to the relationship if you keep bringing them up. My latest obsession is driving me crazy because I can't talk to my husband about it directly without causing him significant pain and putting our relationship under significant stress. The obsession is about something that my husband did in the past, long before he was my husband, and possibly before we were even exclusively dating. That’s the thing that tortures me – did it happen before or after we became exclusive? This has become an all-controlling obsession for me, even though I’ve talked to my therapist and my mom about it and neither one of them think I need to be concerned.
In my heart, I know it’s not worth it to talk to my husband about the contents of the obsession. I know it’s not worth it to ask for reassurance, to drill him endlessly with questions… do you love me? When did it happen? Why did it happen? Are you sure you love me? Etc., etc. But of course, OCD doesn’t necessarily care about logic. It doesn’t listen to logic. It doesn’t even speak the same language as logic.
I’d love to hear from some of you about how you deal with ROCD in a committed relationship, and how you deal with your specific obsessions.
Thank you all for welcoming me to the tribe!