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, August 13, 2011

It's Just A Flesh Wound (Or Is It?)

One of the things that happened to me, after I found out about OCPD, is I was filled with an overwhelming feeling of love and compassion for my poor, unaware OCPD boyfriend.

He couldn't help himself.  He had a disorder.

Therefore, I "shouldn't" feel hurt when he said something or did something cruel or controlling.  Just get on with business, like this guy.

Except that telling ourselves it doesn't hurt, pretending "it's just a flesh wound" doesn't actually help make it feel better.  When somebody cuts off one of our arms, it's gonna bleed.

We need to recognize that living with somebody who calls us names, takes over our space via hoarding or going through our pockets, tries to micromanage everything right down to where and how we eliminate our bowels (see Crazy Rules for how some with OCPD have attempted to control this down to bathrooms used and toilet paper consumption)... it's not going to leave us unscathed.

When we tell ourselves, "I know s/he has a disorder, I shouldn't feel bad," it's like we're kicking ourselves when we're down.  First we feel badly because a train in the form of our disordered loved one has just run us over.  Likely, unintentionally, and if they are aware and actively battling their OCPD, they may even feel sorry about it, but we have just been run over by a train. It is crazythink on our part to say, "it's just a flesh wound" and to pile guilt on ourselves because it hurts.

It's okay to feel the pain.  It's okay to let the disordered person in your life know that s/he has hurt you, just like you'd yell, "Ow!" in the theater if some clumsy person tramped on your toes.  It's okay to take a break - go for a walk, see a movie, spend the night in a hotel, or even take a longer separation, if the pain is too intense to cope for a little while.  

It is more than okay, it is vital to take good physical and emotional care of ourselves (whether we're in an OCPD relationship or not.)  See a good therapist who can help nudge us back on track when we are becoming unbalanced and crawling with fleas.

Even now, over a year since I moved out, many months since I ended the romantic relationship that continued afterwards, I am still only beginning to understand how deeply damaging it was to my spirit to live with Debbie Downer.  (It's funny as a SNL skit, horrible to live with.)  I have my life and my joy back, and yes, I have pain, too, as I allow myself to feel all the things I stuffed down inside.

I'm not suggesting - if you live with such a person - that you leave.  Only you can decide if you should leave, or stay, and if you do decide to leave, when the right time would be.

But you need to take care of you.  Be as kind and loving and patient to yourself as you would be to a friend going through what you are.  Don't beat up on yourself for not feeling "the right way."

Let yourself be in the moment.  Feel what you need to feel, without trying to talk yourself out of it, smother it, swallow it down with food (unless it's Haagen Daz, that doesn't count), or otherwise rush the uncomfortable or painful emotion out of the room.  Let it pull up a chair and stay for a while, let yourself learn the lesson it is there to share with you.

Do you have an experience of letting yourself be with emotional pain?
Please share any tips, below.