Today I found out that my dad has a tumour on his pituitary gland. It’s benign but he is going to have to have an operation to remove it or it could cause him to go blind. I’m scared for him but also feel very sad as they now can’t go on their holiday in 6 weeks as he might not have had the surgery by then. When he told me and my sisters I just sat there quietly. Didn’t cry or anything whilst my sisters asked questions. I wanted to show emotions but I just shut down when these sorts of things happen. I just want to be left in my own world. I hugged him and text him after apologising for being quiet etc and he said he knows how I react to things and knows I love him. But I wish I could show my emotions. That is what has caused my OCD in the first place. I used OCD as a way of showing them. So as soon as I got home this poem came into my head. I thought I’d share it. It’s my first draft so needs work!!
I don’t know how to show emotions
But I really do care
It might look like I’m hard as hell
But they really are there
I show them in a different way, see
I hide them from your view
They cause me to do strange things
I’d rather not do
Contaminated is how I feel
Covered from head to toe
To scrub away the world for me
It’s harder than you know
I’m not one to kiss and cuddle
It’s what I cannot do
You will never see me crying
At least not in front of you
Instead, my hands, I scrub and scrub
Until they’re red and raw
My eyes, they flick, from side to side
A tick, hope no one saw
But trust me when I tell you this
You’re my dad, I love you so
I’ll be more open, I’ll try my best
My love for you, I’ll try to show
During my latest CBT we also discussed how perfectionism gets in the way of my job. I want everything to be done my way (which is correct!) and so take on too much myself rather than delegating like I am meant to. I know that they won’t do something my way and it grates on me when it’s wrong. My therapist suggested this could also be linked to a heightened sense of responsibility. I guess that is true. Like how I just randomly start cleaning in our office. If I don’t then who will (even though my colleague does it randomly too!).
If I want to move from junior management to management then I am going to learn how to let other people do things even when I feel they aren’t done my way. My therapist suggested I start doing that at work because there are obvious benefits to tackling my perfectionism at work – getting promoted or doing my work faster because I don’t have to make sure all of my letters are joined up when I write. Then I can start looking at my perfectionism at home!
So this is definitely what my OCD is about. I have been working on not doing my compulsions and been challenging my belief that if I do or don’t do something, then someone will get hurt. But last night I hit a road block. My Mum told me that she has been called back for further diagnostics after her routine mammogram. Now as much as I fear my sisters, father or husband dying, a lot of my OCD really centres on the fear of my Mum dying. As I said before, I think this goes back to when I was 4 years old and my cousin died. It became clear to me that my Mum could die or and I was so afraid of that. Or even that I could die and I would put my Mum through all the pain I saw her and my Aunt going through. In fact, I think it is more than likely that. I learnt to hide my emotions almost as a way to protect myself and my Mum so that if one of us died, the other wouldn’t be as hurt. But as my therapist explains, that won’t make the other feel better should one die. In fact, it would probably make them feel worse as we wouldn’t have had a close relationship. My therapist explained that her Dad recently died in his 80s. She was sad but said it wasn’t as bad as it could have been because they had a very close relationship and they knew that the other loved them. So I need to relearn how to show my emotions. I need to be able to show love and not just fear (I read recently that all emotions as based on either love or fear and I think that is true).
I recently became very aware of my trying to hide from my emotions. When Mum told me last night that she was being called back for further tests, even though she said it was nothing to worry about at this stage as it might have been something as simple as an unclear bit on the x-ray, I immediately thought the worst, which is pretty normal. I tried my best not to think about it, which again is pretty normal. But what isn’t normal was my instinct to not think about the wonderful day I had that day for my Mum’s birthday. Or how nice it was when I painted her nails for her birthday. Every time I thought about Mum I would get a pang of worry and begin to imagine horrible things. But because I can’t handle the emotions associated with it, I carry out a compulsion to rid myself of the horrible feeling. How am I supposed to learn to live with emotions when I haven’t for 23 years?!
Part of me also believes that it is my fault that Mum has been called back and it will be my fault if something happens to her. I blame myself because I haven’t been carrying out my compulsions. My rational side tells me that this is a load of rubbish but it is that belief that I need to challenge. My heightened sense of responsibility that I have caused my Mum to potentially get ill. I need to challenge that but I am so afraid that if I do challenge it, her tests will come back showing cancer.