There was actually one time I remember going to the grocery store and buying an entire cart full of groceries and I was so excited that I was able to get through the store without seeing any contaminants (Grocery shopping was already a chore because my OCD rituals of having to grab the second item (not the first) on the shelf or having to go repeatedly up and back down the same aisle an even number of times, took up a lot of time). I paid for my groceries, bagged them, and loaded them in the car. I lived about two miles from the store, so I raced home as quickly as possible, because once I got the groceries in the house they would be “safe.” I was about four blocks from my house, when out pulled a truck being driven by a person who I thought was the brother to The Guy. I was so upset, I started to cry and I was so angry because I didn’t quite make it home. If I only would have driven down a different street… I asked God why He did this to me—why couldn’t He keep these people away from me? I drove the rest of the way home, feeling that myself and all my groceries were now contaminated. I showered and ended up throwing away my groceries. There was no possible way I could use them and risk infecting my entire house and my family. I was afraid that one of my kids would touch the groceries and might die, and also, if I touched them I would have to shower. It was easier to dispose of them. From that day forward, my husband did all of my grocery shopping.
There were so many things that triggered the thoughts of something bad happening to someone I cared about (a person, items, places), which had a connection to my past. It could have been a grim reminder of an old boyfriend, a jewelry item, clothes, or a place I visited with someone. All acquaintances, thoughts, and items from high school became infected, all became negative and bad. I wanted all of it washed from me, from my mind. I could not open the windows in my house for fear something or someone would go past my house that in my mind was contaminated. When I saw a trigger I would have to clean my entire house. This meant washing everything including the walls, furniture, and anything else that was exposed. This sucked up so much of my time; time I could have been playing with my children; time I could have been just enjoying life. Was this necessary? In my much distorted mind, it was more than necessary—it was required.
I was forced to lock the door to my house when I was home because I feared a person would knock on the door that would contaminate my house. I was also afraid that someone would throw an item in the door that would cause me to have to clean my whole house, like the dreaded high school ring. If the door was locked I felt pretty secure. Do you know how hard it is to not look out your windows because you are fearful of seeing something bad? I had curtains and sheers to limit my visibility.
There were roads I could not drive on for many reasons. I could not go down streets containing houses where The Guys’ friends or family lived, a location where The Guy and I hung out, or the cemetery where he was buried. This put a damper on ever riding with other people for fear their route would go on my forbidden streets. If that happened, the cycle would repeat: shower, cleaning, the whole routine. So, I always had to be the driver and sadly enough I never enjoyed riding with a group of people to events. I missed out on a lot of fun. I ended up at a point where I chose to just stay home because I felt safe and clean—most of the time.
Each time I went out of the house it was guaranteed the contaminants were lurking, waiting to torment me. I used to pray to God to keep me from seeing anything bad, but there were so many things that triggered me that it was almost impossible to remain “clean.” If I was lucky enough to remain uncontaminated before I returned home, I was ecstatic. Unfortunately, these times were few. The bulk of the time I took my bath, threw the dirty clothes in the wash, took another bath. Eventually work and other mandatory activities were all I went out of the house for, and that was even stressful.
It became harder and harder to relax, simply because if I had time to think, all my thoughts were intrusive and involuntary. Watching a movie could be interrupted by me having a bad thought, such as imagining The Guy’s face out of the blue, and I would have to stop, get undressed, and take another bath.
Sometimes I saw a thread on the floor that was the color of a top I wore years earlier when I dated The Guy, so I was forced to throw it away by putting a piece of tape on the end of a pool stick to pick it up so I wouldn’t have to touch it. Oh yes, then the bath, and clean clothes—You know the drill. Sure sounds like I spent a great deal of time getting clean.
As you can see my OCD not only progressed as I grew older, but definitely ruled my life!
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