Have you ever had a Thanksgiving like this? Me neither.
But for some reason, every year I get my hopes up anyway. Do you think it would it help if everybody was passed a link to the Official Thanksgiving Rules ahead of time? Prolly not... we all pretty much know what to do, but there's always somebody who just can't help herself.
Yesterday, B-F came over to my place in full Hoover mode for Thanksgiving for just the two of us. Totally intending to behave and charm me.
Now that I know about OCPD, I can see all the landmines for him. The things that would be no big deal for a normal person, are complete booby traps if somebody's got untreated OCPD.
He had to come to my place, and he was planning to spend the night, so he had to pack a bag. Shower, shave, grooming - normally this is an all morning stressful activity if he doesn't also have to pack an overnight bag. And he was bringing down a packet of instant mashed potatoes, a thingy of gravy, and a can of cranberry sauce. We (okay, he) had to have at least three phone conferences during the week about the food he was bringing. And he had to go outside whenever he wanted a cigarette.
Still, he did very, very well. He brought down some movies he'd recorded for us to watch, because he doesn't like any of my movies, and we must watch movies. Okay, fine. He had to bitch a bit about where I hung my speakers on the wall, and where I decided to set my stereo up, because he told me where to put it and I just wouldn't listen to him. I never listen to him, even though he knows all about sound systems, blah blah, woof woof.
In OCPD-speak, of course, "listen" means obey. I did "listen" to him, originally planned to arrange the stereo and TV according to his ideas, but then realized this wouldn't allow for my other furniture to be configured in the way I really liked for space, flow, conversation... So, even though it meant I would be unable to blast the stereo, I decided this was okay. If I have friends over, I don't need the sound that loud anyway, because then we can't talk, and if I need to hear loud music, I can wear headphones. Which give me more dynamic sound anyway.
Okay, fine, his grumbling about the stereo tapered off fairly soon, probably in part thanks to the massive hot toddies he was drinking to cope with the stress, and the chills from going outside for his cigarette breaks. (I really, really like not having cigarette smoke in the apartment, and so do my lungs, though it's not just my rule, it's an apartment rule, and my smoking neighbors have to go outside to have their butts, too.)
We watched some of the movies he brought, I worked on craft-y things, we had pleasant conversations.
He came into the kitchen and helped finish making dinner, without trying to take over, without telling me I was doing it all wrong, though I could tell it was an effort for him. We had a nice meal on my grandmother's china, though he felt he needed to remind me never to put it in the microwave (all the pieces have gold rims.) Okay, fine. He thanked me politely several times for the meal.
Afterwards, more cigarettes, and drinking, and music. He doesn't like the way my stereo works with my iPod, and then that brought up the issues with volume limitation, again, but I was able to cue up the things he wanted to hear, at a reasonable volume, anyway.
I find it highly ironic that this is one of his favorite pieces of music.
Hey you, out there in the cold
Getting lonely, getting old
Can you feel me?
Hey you, standing in the aisles
With itchy feet and fading smiles
Can you feel me?
Hey you, dont help them to bury the light
Don't give in without a fight.
Hey you, out there on your own
Sitting naked by the phone
Would you touch me?
Hey you, with your ear against the wall
Waiting for someone to call out
Would you touch me?
Hey you, would you help me to carry the stone?
Open your heart, I'm coming home.
But it was only fantasy.
The wall was too high,
As you can see.
No matter how he tried,
He could not break free.
And the worms ate into his brain.
Hey you, standing in the road
always doing what you're told,
Can you help me?
Hey you, out there beyond the wall,
Breaking bottles in the hall,
Can you help me?
Hey you, don't tell me there's no hope at all
Together we stand, divided we fall.
If anyone is trapped behind a wall, it's him. And he (mostly) doesn't see it. I would love to stand together with him, to help him break down the OCPD wall, and fight the alcohol with which he self-medicates, but he always had a million excuses as to why he didn't need or want help. He's been having problems with his teeth again, was up Wednesday night with a raging toothache/infection/swollen cheek. He applied hot compresses - and that's his plan for treatment. Period.
This was one of my issues with him before - his Demand Resistance about seeing a dentist for the teeth that are literally falling to pieces in his mouth. He couldn't see a dentist before, because, well, well, they can't do anything for you anyway, if you've got an infection. So he was going to see one once the infection went away. Then he was too busy. Then he didn't know where to go, and didn't want to drive out to see my dentist. (Uh, 1-800-Dentist - how many zillion times have we seen that commercial?) Then he wanted to get insurance or a discount plan, first, so it wouldn't cost so much. I gave him information on discount plans... four years ago. I offered to pay. No, no, he couldn't do that...
Now, of course, he can't see a dentist, because he Can't Afford It At All, since I moved out. For once, this is one guilt trip I'm not taking. He's afraid to go. If you are afraid, if in your heart you really don't want to do something, you can come up with a hundred reasons (excuses!) why you can't. And if somebody gives you a hundred reasons why you can, you can always find another excuse - a dozen excuses! why you can't.
I simply said, it's too bad you feel that way, I think you should find a way to make it work, and left it at that. Then we went to bed.
As I said, he's been pretty good - for OCPD - up to this point. And I understand that just being in my place, with my rules, instead of an environment he can control, is in and of itself extremely difficult for him. But then he started to torment the cat.
Now, this cat is bonded to him, and he adores her. Worries, well, obsessively about her when I've traveled, when she would go off her food or be acting weird. He always talks on the phone about how much he misses her, how the cat and I are his family. Even calls me "Mom" in front of her, like she's a child or something. (I'm rolling my eyes)
So, we're in bed and he's petting the cat, and she's happy, purring, and then he starts patting her butt. She's never liked that, and he knows it, and he knows I know he knows it. Ya know? She starts making "I wish you would stop that" cat noises. He keeps patting her butt, and she starts growling, and I am telling him, "Knock it off, she's telling you to quit it," and he's not listening to either of us. Demand Resistance? Taking out his stress and aggression from being relatively "good" for the day out on the two of us? Total lack of empathy and compassion? Deliberate cruelty?
Finally, she's in full cat hysteria.
Admittedly - this is pretty funny - when it's somebody else's cat. When it's your own neurotic cat, and you know she's feeling confused, scared and betrayed by somebody she loves and trusts - kind of a Metaphor there.
She hisses at him, claws at him, and then retreats to the foot of the bed, by my feet. Where he now wants to bring over his feet to poke at her some more. Which I block. Then he start whining about "but what if I want to make love to you," and I tell him that's not gonna happen right now. I try to get him to settle down and watch TV, and he fiddles with the remote for a while, then tries to poke at the cat with his foot again, which makes her start growling again. I just want to smack him with a two-by-four at this point.
So he lays his head in my lap, and I run my fingernails over his back in the way he likes, and he puts his hand on my crotch, and I move his hand, say, "Not right now, stroke my legs instead," which he does, for about two minutes, then zooms back to the crotch.
Now, there are times when I don't mind having a man's attention bypass all the rest of me and go directly to the spot marked X. This isn't one of them. I am the furthest thing from aroused right now. I'm willing to be physically affectionate, and if eventually that leads to something more, okay, fine, but I'm too angry with his cruelty to the cat and too keyed up from the stresses of the day to jump right into "let's have sex!"
I "get" that it's been a really hard, stressful day for him, too, and he wants me to "prove" to him that he's more important to me than the cat, to put her out of the room and make love, but I don't want to.
He pouts. He rolls over. He demands I scratch his back, which I do, then remarks that maybe he should just go home and sleep in his own bed. I say nothing. He lies in bed for about five more minutes, then sits up, flicks on the light and starts getting dressed.
I'm sure at this point, he wants me to say something to him, to apologize, to beg him not to go, or even just ask, "Where are you going?" which would give him an opportunity to reel off a list of the things that have upset him.
I say nothing, and he says nothing. Shortly, he is gone. My only feeling is relief.
More and more lately, I've felt that it is time to simply call the relationship quits. I know this man didn't choose to have OCPD. I know that untreated OCPD itself is part of the problem with resistance in seeking help for anything, but I am just so weary of this battle, of the constant squabbles and nit-picking over nothing that mostly I have learned to tune out and ignore, but that sometimes get under my skin anyway.
It seemed to be unfair, breaking off with him while he was trying so hard, and too, unkind to do it right before the holidays. He is so very alone now, so few friends, no family with whom he is close...
What I can't sort out, is whether my hesitation is misplaced guilt, co-dependency, kindness, or some fear or need in myself I haven't acknowledged. Why can't I just pull the trigger and be done with it?!
I do know, if he announces "This is it," and never calls me again... I will be okay, fine, with that.
Have you experienced sudden random cruelty with your untreated OCPDr? Occasions where you knew the other shoe was gonna drop - and then it did? And mixed with the anger and frustration is a feeling of pity, that no matter how hard they try, they can't keep up the "normal" mask? Tell me about it in the Comments.