May 17, 2012

The Pain is a sign of growth.....

If emotional pain is any indication of emotional growth, and I believe that it is – then I would say that I’ve done my fair share of growing in the last.....let’s say....year or so.  For the first time in my life, I’ve put some genuine, concerted effort into facing my OCD demon, I was side-by-side with my mother through to her death, dealt with grief, and the family dysfunction that has resulted.  I can’t believe the lessons that I’ve learned, and there are days when I honestly do feel as though I’m coming out on the other side.  I don’t tend to be a super spiritual person, but if I had to label my spiritual beliefs, I would say that they lean more towards Buddhism.  The other day during my session with my therapist, he made an interesting comment to me.  He said: “In order to really conquer OCD, you have to let go of attachment to any outcome.”  Without sounding too dramatic, this was a profound statement for me. 

There’s been some recurrent “themes” that I’ve been noticing in my life lately, some of which I wanted to share with you. 

1.       Avoidance of emotions – especially the difficult ones.  This is something that I’ve become a master at over the years.  You see, in my family, we weren’t allowed to have feelings, especially the “negative” ones.  So, I learned to avoid feelings such as anger, sadness and frustration.  Even worse than that, certain feelings were labelled as “bad” and certain feelings were labelled as “good.  So feeling lazy was a “bad” feeling because of course BEING lazy was a bad thing.  It’s only in the last several months, through working with my therapist and reading many books on meditation that I have started to realize and accept that feelings aren’t good or bad – they just are.  And if I allow myself to feel them without judgement, they will pass.  But wow – this is still so difficult for me, especially when triggered by strong emotions.  And in all honesty, some of it just has to be about discipline.  I am learning to start to ACCEPT and BE OK with difficulty.  I need to be less “addicted” to “good feelings” and less “averse” to difficulty.    

2.       Letting go of attachment to outcome.  In other words – living in the moment.  For those of us with OCD, heck, even for those who don’t have OCD, our minds can be torturous to us.  I think it’s especially worse for those of us with OCD though, because of our creativity (and, perhaps our high level of intelligence? ;o).  We seem to have an incredible ability to create so many possible outcomes in our minds.  Now, I understand that everyone wants to have control, no one likes feeling out of control.  But for someone like me, if I have the ability to think of some scenario (whether it’s really horrible, or really good), then I seem to want to do everything in my power to make that happen.  The problem with this is that it takes the sincerity out of things.  I’m not being my true, genuine self.  And it creates a lot of fear and anxiety. 

I’ve had my eye on a guy for quite awhile.  I’m sure I’ve probably written about him before on the blog.  Let’s just say that I’ve had a HUGE crush on him.....and since I have ROCD I will say that at times it was obsessive.  I would only see him periodically, whenever he came into the bank and I would serve him.  We would chat for awhile, and every single time I saw him he would ask how I was doing after the loss of my mother.  I felt “head over heels” in love.  Now, I’m rational enough to know that it wasn’t true love, it was just deep infatuation created by my mind.  I don’t know this guy really at all.  That’s not true love.  But it sure FELT like it.  Anyway, without getting into all of the details, one day I finally decided to give him my number.  Eventually after several weeks, he called me.  He called me just last week.  I was ecstatic!!!  I had already created in my mind what would happen next.  We would go out on a date, then another, we would fall head over heels in love, and we would go down to the orphanage in Mexico that he volunteers at, and live happily ever after.  You know, all that fun stuff.  Fantasies.....not reality. 

Our phone conversation was brief and pleasant.  He didn’t ask me out.  I was stuck....anxious.  WHAT SHOULD I DO????  Finally after a few days, I texted him.  We immediately launched into a very intense flirting texting conversation that lasted from 9:30 AM until 2:30 AM the next morning.  The energy and attraction was palpable.  We laughed.  We talked about a lot of, my Mom, etc etc.  It was fantastic.  But it was intense, and sometimes it crossed lines that shouldn’t have been crossed.  Already, I felt out of control...........obsessing.  Does he like me?  Is he a nice guy or just playing me? What does he want?  Am I going to get hurt?”

We discussed the situation the next day.  He said that he wasn’t ready for an intimate relationship (for various reasons).  I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t know what to say.  We continued texting for the next four days.  I told him that I wanted to actually see him face-to-face.  He seemed to avoid that.  I felt incredibly vulnerable.  I felt frustrated.  I REALLY like this guy.  And I was trying to control things too much.  I wasn’t hearing him.  I wasn’t listening. 

On Sunday night while we were texting, he crossed a boundary again – a boundary that he had set.  I got angry, because I felt frustrated with where we were at.  The situation wasn’t healthy.  I was trying to respect what he was telling me he needed, but he was giving me mixed messages.  The thing is though, that I was giving him mixed messages too.  This man had clearly told me that he didn’t want a relationship.  I clearly told him that I did....and I didn’t have the strength to walk away. 

I haven’t heard from him in two days.  I think that’s for the best in all honesty.  I am mature enough to know that healthy relationships don’t start that way.  But it’s amazing how much I still have the urge to try and control it – to “fix it”, when in reality I just have to let go....let go of any attachment to any outcome.  Maybe someday in the future I will see him again.  Maybe someday in the future I will be able to contact him while coming from a healthier place.  But at the moment, I am struggling with intense compulsive urges......The urge to text him......the urge to drive by his house.....the urge to compulsively search the Internet in order to learn more about him so that somehow I’ll learn how he ticks and I will feel better about the situation.

It is all very painful.  I was obsessed.  Plain and simple.  I created something in my head that I wanted to see through to fruition.  And that didn’t happen.  I’m disappointed – that it didn’t go any further (because I really do like this guy), and disappointed that I didn’t behave in a healthier way right from the beginning. 


  1. Wow, sounds like you've done a LOT of learning. I loved it when I was in therapy and something really hit me like a lightening bolt. Letting go of the outcome. That's a tough one. It sounds like one of the premises of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

    I was always a big avoider of emotions too. Very difficult to deal with that.

    I'm sorry this guy played games with you. You deserve more than that.

  2. POC, great post! You see so clearly many of the lessons that you've learned and the emotional growth that you've made.

    Letting go of the outcome--that is so hard for me! I, too, want to control things--relationships, work, what I think, what others think, etc.

    I echo Sunny--you deserve a better guy and better situaion than the texting guy.

  3. Your post gave me goosebumps. I had a friend. She was in fact my first friend and I have met her when i was already 41. She was 23. Our friendship was really strong. We shared everything. She was always controlling me, and I have allowed that to happen because It felt good. I needed her. One day, she decided to break this friendship and said: I find myself continuously trying to fix you. I'm tired, and on another hand you became obsessed. If one hour passes without a text messages you panic and call crying and asking what is wrong? I refused that word. Me? Obsessed? No way!!! never!well, I think I was. It was hard to get over that experience, but it is a lesson learned