June 12, 2011

Really? My OCD talk with my parents......

I had a very interesting weekend, and at this point I can’t even put a finger on how I am “feeling”, but I had to blog and sort through it all.   

My parents were on a little road trip down to Oregon and they suggested that I meet them in Washington for the night.  Great idea, I thought.  We can do some shopping and have a little visit.  If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that my relationship with my parents in the past has been strained (especially with my father), but for the most part lately it has gotten better.  I suppose we’ve come to a level of “understanding” or perhaps “acceptance”.  Our relationship is very surface, and we don’t have a lot of intimacy, and that still makes me very sad at times.  In addition, spending extended amounts of time with them can still be a huge trigger for my OCD.  This weekend was no exception. 

We met yesterday and had a nice enough afternoon.  As I said, I’m quite guarded with my parents, and don’t give them a lot of information about my life.  (However – they are two of the few people who actually know about my OCD, and know about the content of my fears (ie: that I am or will become a lesbian)).  In the evening, we stayed in the hotel room and had some snacks and watched some TV.  As the evening progressed, my dad started asking questions.  They started like:  “How have you been feeling lately?”  I replied “some good days, some bad days”.  He kept prying, and I got sucked in.   

Let me be clear that I am VERY guarded with my father.  Why?  I usually refrain from using labels, but I am going to come right out and say it – he was emotionally abusive to me.  We were never allowed to have any negative feelings, and if we did, we had to quickly “put a smile on our faces” or “suck it up”. I was called a “wimp”, “difficult”, “bossy”, and many, many other hurtful terms. My dad and I had HORRIBLE fights, which were never resolved.  They usually ended with us screaming at each other, him saying incredibly hurtful things to me, and me leaving the room.  But most of all – I never, ever felt like he loved me unconditionally.  I also never felt like he really liked me as a human being.  My dad has to be one of the most emotionally inept people that I know.  I’m not sure why, but I think it has to do with the fact that he had an emotionally abusive mother.  He would rather ignore anything to do with emotions or conflict than face it head-on.  Which is why – even though I know that my dad knows that I have OCD, he has done NOTHING to educate himself about the disorder.  He would rather pretend it doesn’t exist. Or, perhaps he doesn’t know how to deal with it himself.  Probably the more likely case.  Anyway – in my opinion that is incredibly WEAK and a massive COP OUT and very disappointing to me. 

My Dad’s (and mom’s as well – don’t get me wrong!) inability to have any compassion or empathy for anyone is what prevents me from even trying to help him understand what goes on in my OCD mind.  Plus, I can’t help but think: “I’m your daughter – why don’t you take some time to read about it and find out how you can support me????  Isn’t it the least you could do?”  And last night’s conversation is exactly WHY I just don’t go there with them. 

This time I decided to take more of a risk and give them some more information (note that my mom was listening on the side, but purposely staying out of the conversation because she would NEVER want to disagree with my father and cause conflict).  I let them know that I feel like I am making progress, but that treatment is hard because it involves confronting your fears.  My Dad just didn’t understand.  And the thing that really pisses me off is that I am certain that I’ve sent them the link to this article, and asked them to read it.  I’m sure he didn’t.  I tried to help him understand, but I really don’t think my dad even BELIEVES that people who have these thoughts really aren’t going to act on them.  When I used the example of someone who obsesses about becoming a pedophile, he said “and none of these people ever actually do these things?”  He’s just so ignorant.  And there’s really no excuse for that. 

We spent about 15 minutes discussing it, and after trying to help him understand exactly what OCD is, and what took place during the process of treatment, he said to me: “So years ago – you thought you were a lesbian – do you still think that?”  REALLY???????  I almost spit in his face.  I wish I could have.  He clearly doesn’t understand OCD.  What was my response?  “No dad.  I have OCD.”  I lay in bed after our discussion, stewing, and thinking about things that I WISH I had said.  I really wish I had said to him: “Would it matter?” or “I don’t know – I guess time will tell.”  But I didn’t.  Oh well. 

I am going to re-send them this link  We’ll see. 

I still have times of immense feelings of bitterness towards my parents.  This was one of them.  Of course – this bitterness towards my father, who fell seriously short in the father-department also feeds right into my OCD.  I have an EXTREME sensitivity towards people "pushing things under the rug" or "ignoring problems" because that's exactly what happened in my family with MANY, MANY THINGS. 

Are there really men out there who are decent and won’t end up disappointing me?  I seem to pick the ones who consistently fall short of my expectations.  And of course I wonder – am I being too perfectionistic and I have to face the fact that all men are emotionally inept jerks, and I just have to accept that?  Or – have I just not met the good one(s) yet?  See how this can trigger my OCD?  I was hurt VERY badly by my father.  I REFUSE to put myself in a situation where that will happen again. 


  1. I'm sorry your visit was hard. Not all men are socially inept jerks. :) You don't necessarily need to find perfect ones, just men that are in sync with your emotional needs or who can at least communicate through any problems.

  2. I think you are being a bit hard on your parents, part of OCD is that things go around and around in your head but that is in YOUR head.

    My parents are the same as yours in that they say stuff like "do you still have those thoughts?" "Are you better now?"

    But I think that it is fair enough, I am not sure that someone who doesn't feel it can ever really understand it. I have wondered a lot about the shrinks i have seen also in this way.

    I just smile with my parents and say "no I am fine" they would only worry otherwise and they can't help anyway.

    By the way I have been reading your blog for a while now and I am impressed with you, you're not alone :)

  3. Ann - thanks for your support and positive words! I could use them right about now. :o)
    Anon - I appreciate your perspective and reality check. You are correct that really - you have to experience OCD in order to understand that. I really agree with what you said there. But what bothers me about my parents is that they would rather sweep it under the rug than take an active role in trying to understand what I'm going through. Thanks for your support too!!

  4. Yeah I understand that, thing is I have parents who took an active role in understanding, they even met with an OCD specialist to find out more and you know what happened? Nothing, their understanding simply doesn't make your OCD better or worse. Perhaps they feel that frustration with you, if they read up about it and really got into it I promise you it won't help you feel better.

  5. Have you discussed this with your therapist? There is help out there for emotionally abused children ( i know, i was one; it was my mother) It took me a couple of years- i saw my counsellor only once every 2 wks- but when it was all done i had learned how to deal assertively with my parents as well as not take anything they said to me so personallly. We have a surface relationship, and i'm now ok with that and i don't try to have anything more. it didn't change them much but it did change me. It feels like hell going thru it ( why do i have to feel all this pain again and they're just having a happy little life). But now i go on with my life and am not always trying to get them to like me.

    Now about the ocd thing, anon above has a point, neither my parents nor my dh have read anything about ocd- i dont think- (dh doesn't like to read anything much except what he has to for work). that used to bother me too, but it is really hard to understand if you dont have it. i remember watching a pbs program about ocd long ago and the girl on it had hand-washing/ contamination ocd. She was talking about how she couldn't touch park equipment and how she washed her clothes based on contamination, not colours and i just was glad i didn't have that but i didn't get it either. I knew at the time i had some ocd tendencies but even so i didn't get her obsession with it. now of course, i understand completely. i do/ did the same thing both with the laundry and the parks. I have worked hard to overcome this- i am ok now about parks, the laundry is still a problem, sort of ( i don't seperate the contaminated laundry anymore, i just do a VERY long wash and must put them in the dryer rather than on my dring rack to 'kill' any left-over contaminants that the washer didn't get.)

    Now, my mom when i told her i had ocd, told me it was a punishment from god for not going to church anymore. After all good little mormons DONT have mental illnesses. I just asked her ' then why did i get it after i had my first baby? She didn't have anything to say after that. She has the inability to understand anything unless it matches herself. But as i said, i had already gone thru the hell of getting over my childhood (and adulthood stuff, as emo. abuse can continue long after childhood), so while that comment hurt, it said more about HER than it did about me. They don't ask how i am doing, mom gets insulted if i ask her if she's washed her hands after putting something in the garbage ( my ocd problem, but i am finally working on it) See, i CANT hide this ocd, like i could when it was just thots. But mom gets upset at me, as if i am insulting her cleanliness habits, instead of seeing it as OCD talking. I try not to let it bother me.

    That's why i was soo happy to find ocd blogs. peole who GET it. And get the pure thrills i have when i actually accomplish something that is so mundane for everyone else.

    Sorry you dont have supportive parents.


  6. oh if you want to read a good book ther is one called Toxic Parents, by Susan Forward that explained emotional abuse very well and also discusses what to do about abuse in part 2. it was my starting point.