Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Whoa, Nelly!

Miserable, miserable feeling - empty pit in the bottom of my stomach, confusion, panic... I think I failed my notary public renewal exam.

I’m not OCPD (though I may have a few fleas, lol!) But I can’t help but wonder if perhaps this is what those with OCPD feel, in those moments when their world is rocked.

I don’t expect to control every aspect of my life - but some I do, and this is one of them. I’ve been a notary for 20+ years, and I’ve always been a good test-taker. California requires you to take and complete a training course, before you can even schedule your exam, just to try to drum the information into your thick, empty skull.

These last two renewals, I elected to do an online course, rather than go to an all-day seminar. I've done those, and hate being trapped in a room of 60-odd unprepared strangers slogging through a course, when half the questions they ask are abysmally stupid ones, like where their name goes on the paper, or when are we going to break for lunch?  And then the last hour the instructor has to spend rushing through half the course at warp speed to cover the rest of the material.

This year, I took extra time going through my online course, because I sensed, for whatever reason, the material simply wasn’t sinking into my brain. I even went back to it and hand-wrote every single question & answer out on scratch paper, and made sure I knew every single answer, and why. I also rewrote in my own words the ones I had trouble with. Cut short my evening the night before the test, so as to be sure to get a good night’s rest. Ate a healthy, balanced breakfast with carbs, protein & veggies. Brought my notes in and studied before the test - having gotten there not 45 minutes early as advised but an hour early.

And yet, I have the sinking, despairing, sick feeling I missed a lot more than four questions. I feel helpless, sad, furious. Out of 30 questions (you can’t miss more than 4, or it’s a fail) I think perhaps two were similar to questions in the prep material. That’s not fair! It makes me so mad! I feel suspicious - maybe, since the state of California is having budget trouble, they have deliberately rigged the test to force people to fail and have to retake it (for which we have to pay an additional fee, of course.)

So as I’m driving home from the test site, it occurs to me, I wonder if this is how those with OCPD feel? When something they expect to control, is unexpectedly uncontrollable? (Of course, they generally try to control a lot more territory, so they may run into this situation more frequently than I do.)

Not that I’ve been unsympathetic, before, but it fills me with a feeling of empathy and understanding. How miserable it must be to endure this on a daily basis. I’m having a very hard time with how I feel. I don’t want to just relax and just be with my feelings. They’re beyond uncomfortable. I want to wash them away, now.  Perhaps with some major sweets and a stiff drink.

I try to relax and let myself be with my feelings. To step back and look at it analytically - okay, is there anything I can do about the situation now? Well, I can download and print the newest Secretary of State notary handbook, and use that as a study guide, if it turns out I do have to retake the test. (Even if I don’t, it won’t hurt me to have an updated copy on hand. They stopped distributing them for free to notaries some years ago, and my current hardcopy copy dates back to 2002.)  

So, I do that.  I won’t have the results back for about 15 business days, so is there anything else I can do at this time? Not really. <Stress, stress, feeling my heart pound in my chest.>

I force myself to take some deep, cleansing Lamaze breaths. I did schedule my test early, so I would have plenty of time to retake the test, if it turned out I would have to, before my current commission expires. So, if it does turn out I failed, I can retake the test next month, and then again the month after that, if necessary. Hopefully that won’t be necessary. If I did fail, I should be able to remember where I dropped the ball and focus on those areas.

So, having done everything I can for this situation at this time, I tell myself I have to let it go. I don’t want to let it go, I want to keep churning over it, but I know, there’s not a single thing more I can do at this time.

I run an errand - grocery store, not good, too much Halloween candy on display, but I don’t go too crazy on the comfort food. Make myself do some chores, do some reading, get into the pool, and do more breathing, in-and-out, in-and-out. I insist on an evening of "fun" movies with my boyfriend rather than the action or heavy-duty dramatic stuff he favors (we ended up with ‘Calendar Girls’ - not that that was a featherweight movie, exactly.)

Good grief, my "aware" OCPD friends have to do this all the time. Because even if the behaviors are under control, the instinctive, gut-reactions must be very similar to this. (Or so I surmise - feedback, anyone?) And every time they’ve got to rein in those runaway emotional horses, say. "Whoa, Nelly," and take pains to not react in an unaware OCPD way.

I pity, respect and admire them today more than ever.