March 18, 2012

Learning to live in the grey area......

Mindfulness has helped me to get back on track.  Or should I say....mindfulness combined with continued ERP.  I know I said this in previous posts, but the book “The Mindful way through Anxiety” is like a bible to me.  I also said that I would post a book review - and I promise - I will do so in the next couple of blog posts. 

The obsessing about my original “crush” has slowed down significantly.  I’ve stopped with a lot of the compulsions – thanks to being mindfully aware of when I’m doing them.  I’ve also reminded myself of one of my favourite quotes (which I’m quite sure I’ve also posted here but bears repeating):

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space.  In that space is your power to choose your response.  In our response lies our growth and freedom.” – Viktor Frankl

I still have the URGE to compulse and figure everything out (whether he would be a good partner, whether he will ask me out, whether I like him, whether he likes me etc etc), but I just know that it is not possible to know these answers right now, and all the compulsing in the world will do nothing but sabotage any chance that I have for growth.  In all honesty, it has sucked so much energy out of me that it’s taken away from the fun and excitement of it all. 

I’ve been faced with so many opportunities for exposure lately regarding ROCD and in some weird way, I am thankful for them.  But let me tell you – it hasn’t been easy.  At the moment, one of my jobs is working part-time at a bank, and a guy that I have liked for awhile came into the bank for the first time in a really long time.  I won’t bore you with all the details, suffice it to say that a colleague of mine and I concocted this plan to give him my phone number.  I left a note for him that asked him about his tattoo artist, and I left my email address and phone number.  Of course, after I knew that he received the note (I didn’t hand it to him), the obsessing began.  What will he do?  Does he like me?  Will I like him?  If he doesn’t get back to me right away that means he doesn’t like me.”  After not hearing from him for three days, I started to let the whole thing go, mostly to save my sanity because I just HAD TO KNOW WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN.   

Do you see how my mind so DESPERATELY wants an answer to things?  It is almost IMPOSSIBLE for me to sit in the grey area and just live with uncertainty. 

Well he came into the bank three days later and asked for me.  He said he tried to text me - did I not receive it? (Hmmmmm....a bit skeptical about that!) I said that I hadn’t that perhaps he had put the number in wrong or that I had written it down incorrectly.  Anyway, we spoke, had a great conversation for about fifteen minutes, and he then gave me the information about the tattoo artist.  But – he didn’t ask me out.  So, I took one more chance, and wrote my phone number down on a piece of paper again, and handed it to him as he was leaving the bank.  He looked at me confused, and said “I already have your number – it’s on a piece of paper in the car?”.  To which I replied:  “Yes, but maybe that one won’t work.” 

Anyway – the point of all the details here is that I really have NO IDEA if this guy likes me or not.  I have analyzed and mentally reviewed our conversation.  I have asked my friends for reassurance.  And there is nothing that anyone can say that is going to make me feel better.  The answer lies in being able to live in the grey area.  To live with the uncertainty and to not try to FORCE THE ANSWER. 

Wow – this is huge growth experience for me, and honestly – very painful.  It’s like running 15 marathons over and over again. 

But it’s a VERY GOOD lesson. 


  1. I hear you when you talk about how exhausting it is to get caught up in the quest for certainty. It IS exhausting and demoralizing too. I have done so many of the same things--take an action and get caught up in the questions and search for reassurance.

    But you were able to use your tools and pull back and see things more clearly and sit in that gray space. I know it wasn't easy. I am very impressed at your ability to be able to live with the gray, even if for a while.

    I know it's tiring you out, but the ROCD exposures are really showing you how much you've grown and how much strength you have to deal with them. I am so proud of you and so inspired by you!

  2. The bottom line is that you ARE living in the grey area, and what an accomplishment that is. Way to go, POC :)!

  3. First, I want to say that I LOVE that quote. Very powerful and very true. I had not heard it before.

    Good for you for recognizing your need to live with the uncertainty. That is so very difficult. I do think recognizing it is half the battle. Every time you feel anxious about the uncertainty, just keep reminding yourself that you are healing as you live through it. I know it's painful, but it's at least pain with a purpose. Hang in there. Proud of you. : )

  4. 71 - what a great way of looking at it - I LOVE that!!! Everytime I feel the pain of living with uncertainty I will remind myself that this pain is part of healing. Thanks!!!!
    Tina and Janet - thanks for your kind words!

  5. Glad I have stumbled across your page :)

    I have OCD (self-diagnosed, based on reading other's experiences with ROCD, and other compulsions)... and also have had boughts of severe depression and anxiety with panic attacks...

    I will be reading more about your story! And about ROCD and ERP, etc.

    Thanks for posting :)