“It sauntered up to me that night and hissed, ‘Hey, babe, it’s been a while. Miss ya, girl!’ Wink. ‘I’ll keep you safe. Always have, right?’ OCD is that awful, worthless boyfriend we’ve watched our friends make one mistake after another with while we yell at the movie screen that is their life, ‘Don’t fall for it! He’s no good!'”
It had been many years since I’d had an OCD flareup this bad. For me, my intrusive thoughts had been at their worst around the age of 13 and then again after my first daughter was born, when I was 30. Though I’ve dealt with it on and off over the years since then, it had never been as tormenting as this most recent episode: a reminder of why I keep talking and writing about it.
My ex-husband had told me he was picking up my 9-year-old from school that day. He’s not forgetful, especially with his kids, yet I laid in bed that night panicking, thinking, What if he forgot to pick her up and some psychopath abducted her, and we each think the other parent picked her up and meanwhile this whole time she’s been abducted? The OCD started in at that point, and all manner of scary scenarios took root.
Over the years, I’ve gotten good at sitting with the uncomfortableness that OCD brings. But, oh boy, does it ever know how to get our attention. It sauntered up to me that night and hissed, “Hey, babe, it’s been a while. Miss ya, girl!” Wink. “I’ll keep you safe. Always have, right?” OCD is that awful, worthless boyfriend we’ve watched our friends make one mistake after another with while we yell at the movie screen that is their life, “Don’t fall for it! He’s no good!” Hey, it could be a good-for-nothing girlfriend: not picking on the guys here.
But, did I fall for it?
Well…yeah, a little. I didn’t call my ex to verify my daughter was with him because it was 1:00 a.m.—OCD loves for me to prove my love and devotion by missing sleep over it. Bad boyfriend analogy again, right? What I did was go upstairs to my oldest daughter’s room and ask if she saw her little sister while she was at her dad’s house for dinner—little sis spent the night; big sis did not. Well, the eldest wasn’t up late gaming as usual. She was asleep. So, I feigned not knowing that she was asleep the moment I opened the door. Gimme a break—my youngest might have been abducted!
“Oh, uh, I didn’t realize you were already asleep,” I said. “You’re usually still awake.”
“Did you see your sister while you were at your dad’s house this evening?”
Recovering her senses, she said, “Yup, I even have proof. We made a funny video.” She offered proof because she knew what was up with my anxious behavior. She had just finished a yearlong series of ERP (exposure and response prevention) therapy for severe intrusive thoughts.
“Oh, okay. If you’ve seen her, that’s fine.”
Luckily, I could get to sleep with one confirmation. I remember a day when that would not have sufficed. Not at all.
The next day…I was thoroughly busted! My daughter has a check-in with her psychologist every 6 weeks to make sure she is still doing well. From the other room, I heard her ratting me out over telehealth.
Damn it! Are you kidding me?
“Did you tell her she should sit with the uncomfortableness?” the therapist asked. I could hear the smile in her voice.
I was always the one reminding my eldest daughter of all the tenets of ERP over the past year.
Yeah, yeah, the teacher has become the student and all that good stuff. Maybe I’ve gotten a little cocky over the years. At any rate, I don’t resent a little reminder. It keeps me humble. It keeps me mindful of how painful OCD is.
May we always remember…
Keep moving forward.