My OCD seemed to unexplainably subside throughout my high school years, where I decided it was time to let loose a little and rebel. I had many friends in high school and certainly had fun attending various activities and partying. My thoughts were of boys, partying, and just having fun, so the obsessions quieted a bit. I never chose to partake in sports or other groups, simply because I had convinced myself that I was not good enough. I remember going to cheerleading tryouts, looking around at the pretty, skinny, confident girls, and I knew I wasn’t meant to be there. Also, my dad added to my insecurities as I overheard him tell my mom I was “Worthless” while lying in bed one morning at the vulnerable age of sixteen. All of the girls at cheerleading appeared to be anything but worthless. Other than personal insecurities, my severe OCD wasn’t really present in my daily life—a little counting here, a little hand washing there, but incredibly enough I felt like I was in remission from the “Monster.”
From this point forward, when I refer to a “contaminant” or “death germs,” it will refer to a small number of people in my town who were friends with or related to a person I knew who died in a car accident. He was a young man (who I still cannot say or type his name—I will call him “The Guy”) I dated a year before graduation from high school. We had relationships and I felt very guilty. When he died, my first thought was of relief because now nobody will ever find out my little secret of sleeping with him. I was glad he was dead—what a terrible person I was to think this. It was not long after his death that my OCD convinced me that seeing, or God forbid, touching anyone or anything connected to him would cause harm to my family. (By the way, I am sweating and feeling quite sick to my stomach as I even type this. I am actually having thoughts of needing to bathe). I always feared even thinking about him, so this is the biggest, bravest step I have ever taken in recovery from this issue. I feared that I would want to throw away my computer after typing this, as it would be contaminated.
Contaminants could also be a clothing item that resembles something I wore when I was with him, a high school ring that looked similar to his, a place we were at together, and his families’ or friends’ homes. Since he had visited my parents’ home when we dated, everything magically became contaminated at my mom’s house around age twenty-one. Thank goodness my mom remodeled a lot of her house, two years after my dad died, when I was 25 years old. She painted, changed the carpet, and bought new furniture, so visiting became less stressful.
So, every time I left my house I was scared to death that I would see his mother, dad, brother, or a friend of his. I even felt contaminated if I saw a car that looked like one of theirs—my logical mind said it wasn’t theirs, but my OCD insisted it could be. This happened continuously day in and day out.
Here is an example of the stress and horror this brought to my life. My mom gave a shirt to my sister-in-law that I wore while with The Guy, so every time I talked to her on the phone, I would ask her what she was wearing, and if by chance it was that shirt, I had to take a bath, wash the phone, clean the area I was standing or sitting in while on the phone, wash my clothes, and take another bath. This could take me close to an hour, just after one phone call. I avoided seeing my sister-in-law for many years in order to lessen the chance of seeing her with that shirt on. I was so angry with my mom that she gave that shirt away and didn’t just dispose of it. I was angry at my mom who had no clue she had done anything wrong. I missed out on spending time with my sister-in-law over a shirt. This was just one of many, many contaminated people, places and things that would haunt me for the next three and a half decades of my life.
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