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.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Setting the Curtains on Fire

You can buy these curtains here - but why?

What would you do if somebody in your family walked up to a window, flicked his Bic, and set the curtains on fire?

(If they were these curtains, you might say thank you.)

Seriously, you'd probably yell, scream at them, dash around like mad putting out the fire.  Afterwards, there would be more screaming and yelling, because you'd want to make damn sure they didn't pull a stunt like that again.

The problem in living or working with somebody with OCPD, is there tend to be a lot of occasions that are "curtains on fire" emergencies to them, that aren't emergencies at all, to somebody with a healthy, working filter.

Stuff like, oh putting a stirring spoon on a spoon rest.   "Don't do that!  You're getting it all dirty, and then it'll have to be washed."

Uh, yeah.  That's kind of the point of a spoon rest - but I was never allowed to use mine.  Stirring utensils were to go in an empty can, or on the counter.

Funny, it doesn't look evil.
Or putting a fork tines up in the dish drainer.  Tragedy!  (I was taught this was more sanitary, but...)

People who don't have OCPD can usually differentiate between the big things and the little things.  We don't sweat the small stuff.

People who have OCPD don't know what small stuff isEverything is potentially dangerous.  You see, that fork, you could prick yourself with it when you go to take it out of the dish drainer and put it away, and then, then you could get blood poisoning and die.  Or become permanently disabled, and then your partner will have to take care of you, because you just didn't think, did you?

One friend I know battling his OCPD signs himself  "Only Contemplates Potential Disasters."

It goes to the Myth of Control, as mentioned in Too Perfect - that by being super-aware, super-alert, by mentally carrying out each scenario to the worst possible extreme, that all disaster can be avoided.

It can't.

The reality is that we are all going to die someday, no matter what precautions we take.  Maybe it will be of natural causes in our nineties, maybe it will be an earthquake followed by a tsunami, in which case the way the chopsticks were placed in a Japanese dish drainer probably didn't make a whole lot of difference.

For "nons" - the more you give in, the more forks you arrange the way the OCPDr wants, the more of the world s/he thinks s/he has to control, the more anxious s/he becomes.  If you stop catering to these fears, eventually s/he will learn that even though you are terribly obtuse and don't realize the danger you're putting everyone in, the sky does not fall when you do it your way, after all.

For those who have (or suspect they may have) OCPD - you don't have to live like you do.  Living like your co-workers, your partner, your children - will set the curtains on fire at any moment, if you are not on guard, ready to spring to action and try to teach them differently is not only eating you up inside, it's alienating the very people you are trying so hard to protect.

Get help - it might take a while, you might have to go through several therapists, but there are professionals who can help you cope with the fears and anxieties that are making your life so hard.

People who are smart enough to realize they need help and get it are smart, strong, admirable people.  Don't rule out anything : medication, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, meditation, support groups, prayer.  Treat yourself like a beloved child who has cancer - is there anything you wouldn't do, to save your child's life?  Is there any article you wouldn't read, any drug you wouldn't try, any rock you'd fail to turn over?

Sadly, though my ex b-f swore he loved me more dearly than his own life, getting help was something he wasn't willing to do.  His fear was bigger than his love.

Your thoughts?