I just started writing and ended up with this long thing. If I saw this written by someone else, I would probably take one glance, get anxious at the length, and leave. But well, here it is:
It seems it takes a long time to peel back the layers of my dysfunction. It's been nearly four years since I finally admitted to myself that I have OCD (though when I look back, I remember symptoms of it from the time I was four or five). But OCD doesn't come from nowhere…at least, I'm realizing that I don't think it did for me.
I used to believe that it was just there…that I was born with it. I probably was…at least, with the tendency toward it. But it takes stress and trauma to bring it out. Previously, I denied this because I couldn't figure out what in the world could have caused it. I felt like my life was normal and I had no major trauma in it. I felt I had no right to claim that anything I've gone through could be so horrible, because of the horrific things others have been through. In fact, that is the same reason why it took me so long to admit that I had OCD; I felt like to even consider that I might have it would be insulting to those who *really* had it. I have a long history of downplaying my own suffering.
I realized not long after admitting I had OCD that I also had PTSD. This, too, was hard for me to admit because I felt like I was somehow making it up. But how could I deny it when I was having flashbacks (mostly of emotion) that would freeze me? It was terrifying, because I felt I could no longer perform simple tasks. I was the only one there, tending to around eight children, all under the age of six when I had a flashback and froze. It was one of the hardest struggles of my life to force myself to get back to the task of paying attention to was going on around me. At that time, my PTSD seemed to only be from something that had happened about a year before.
It wasn't until last year that I made myself think about things more while I was discussing PTSD with some friends who also suffer from it, that I realized where it had originated–it was something that happened when I was thirteen. In some ways I have dissociated from that event, so I didn't realize how much it had truly scarred me. I can relate everything that happened at that time with almost no emotion–unless my mind calls for true honesty. Then I must remember the emotions. And that, I cannot bear.
Well, recently, I have begun to peel back yet another layer of my dysfunction. I still feel like I'm crazy to think this. I feel like I'm a horrible person to suggest it or even think it. I don't know if I dare say it. I think I'm terrified of it. If I reveal what's happened to me, will people brush it off and say I'm crazy to think it's substantial? Or will others confirm that it was bad? Maybe that's just as scary.
Then I am still stuck in this fear of letting anyone know anyway. All my years growing up, I had to hide. Don't let anyone know that our house is a mess. Don't invite them over for fear that they'll see the mess. My dad used to tell me that if anyone saw how messy our house was, they would call child services and my sister and I would be taken away from him and our mom. I admit that it was very messy. For some reason, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't seem to keep my room or anything else clean. I still wonder what was wrong with me…what is wrong with me even now, that I can't ever get anything organized or keep anything even remotely clean. I don't even mean spotless; I don't care if it's spotless. I just want it to be livable.
My parents argued all the time. I really don't think that's that unusual. But then, how would I know? I was pretty isolated from other people. Even though I had some friends, I couldn't dare let them know…well, anything about my life that was bad…at least, within my home. Especially since my dad was/is a respected professional in the community. Couldn't ever let it be known to anyone that he wasn't perfect. I was taught that by my mother. That's why she wouldn't try to go to marriage counseling or go to a therapist for her depression–because she couldn't tarnish his reputation to his peers.
For years, I heard my father threatening my mother with divorce and asking "Which kids do you want?" when they got in fights. I comforted myself by telling myself that he didn't believe in divorce. He would accuse her of "poisoning the children against" him. Besides this being stupid, I found it insulting, because I had a mind of my own and could figure out for myself what I believed.
Besides this, if anything, he was the one poisoning the children against my mother. In private, he would complain about her to me and with no…compassion or attempts at understanding her behavior. (He still does this, in fact.) According to him, she was manipulative and mean. Oh, but in public, he's completely in love with her. My mother, on the other hand, would talk to me about all the ways she was trying to learn to understand why my father was the way he was–she was always compassionate.
My father also makes condescending jokes and makes derogatory remarks often. He makes jokes about my mom's weight–which she is touchy about. She is overweight, but it's not really her fault. And even if it were, uh, what the hell?! I've also heard him make condescending jokes about my mother's family. He complains about her not taking showers often enough (in his opinion)–he's even made those complaints to me in private. Perhaps it's because I wasn't sleeping in the same bed as she was, but I never noticed her being stinky.
He would complain about what she would watch on tv, how she would clean the house…claim that she didn't clean the house. He would make major purchases without consulting my mother first. (To which, I would get an earful from her about how upset she was with him.)
In recent years, he's started to do similar things to me. Because of my anxiety disorders, I haven't been able to work much. And last year, I was living with my parents again for awhile while getting my teeth worked on. Since I was out of town so long, I lost the job I did have, so I lost my source of income. Thus, I had to ask my parents to buy some things for me. I bought what I could with the little I had saved up. Every time I asked my dad to buy me something (always a necessity), he would complain about the expense. My mom confided in me that he does the same thing to her. He was often saying it in a joking manner, but I didn't find it funny, because I already felt guilty for asking. Further, I found out later, that he was e-mailing my sisters, complaining about the expense of buying things for me. I only ever asked for bare necessities! Food (nothing fancy), moisturizers (an absolute necessity because of my eczema), and medications. Granted, he was also paying for my tooth extractions (an expense that was nowhere near as high as I am having to pay now that I am back home, because the clinic there had much lower prices for our income bracket). He also complained to my sisters that I never did anything to help out around the house. This was not true. I simply didn't advertise it to him or do it when he was around most of the time. I don't work well with other people around.
I feel like an ungrateful whiny brat. And I must be crazy. I'm the one with the problem, right? :/ Am I crazy to think that exposure to this kind of behavior could really mess me up? Maybe I'm just making excuses and not taking responsibility for my own actions and own state of being. Maybe all of this is completely normal. And yet I am terrified. Not of my parents, but of the world around me. But realization that this fear may have originated with my parents makes me terrified of everyone. Especially now that I have been in and gotten out of an emotionally abusive romantic relationship. And the truth is that I never would have gotten out of it if he hadn't left me. Am I doomed to this kind of thing of being attracted to people who are like this because I grew up around it and don't know anything different? Oh, God, help me!
Or am I just making up something that's normal to be something crazy just to distract myself from the break up and the realization that my ex never cared about me?