OCD and relationships

Not just relationships.  Boy-girl relationships.  Romance.  How does it work?

I’m thinking about this because I just had coffee with my dear friend Caitlin and we were talking about when we were first discovering that we had hormones.

Two memories for me:

1) Reading YM Magazine beneath a desk with a girl named Lindsay in 4th grade.  We paged through the magazine, and Lindsay would say of a celebrity, “Oh, look at him.  He’s hot.”  I had to think about it.  Was this okay to say?  It seemed kinda risque (ha!), but I figured it was all right.  Page turn.  My turn: “Oh wow.  Hot.  He’s totally hot, isn’t he?”  Repeat.

2) Watching Little Giants with my friend Jacki in 6th grade.  Devon Sawa made us giddy.   Like, lie-on-our-backs-while-screaming-and-kicking-our-feet-in-the-air giddy.  Hormones, I decided, were wonderful things.

As I got older and my struggle with OCD magnified, things got more muddied in this arena.  (Relationships got trickier than a tween crush on Devon Sawa and JTT?  SHOCKER!)

A couple thoughts on love/romance and OCD, the doubting disease.

In tenth grade, I liked Zac Hanson.  Yes, of MMMBop fame.

(Are you loving these pics? Because I am!)

It was 10th grade.  It was a stupid celebrity crush.  And it would drive me crazy– way too crazy for a 10th-grade celebrity crush.  I would overthink my love for him– and sometimes I would think that maybe I liked Taylor instead, which felt absolutely TREACHEROUS to me.  Then I would feel guilty.  Then I would think in circles until I could boil whatever “issue” I had down into one statement, which I would write in a notebook with a Crayola bold marker.

I mention this because I would carry this action with me for quite some time– thinking in circles until I could come up with a “summary statement.”  I can see now that this was my way of trying to get a handle on things that were too overwhelming for me.

I also mention this because, um, hello– this was too overwhelming for me.  And that’s ridiculous.  And that’s OCD.

Next story.

(Is this post getting way too long?  Just wait.  I have several more stories.)

One day in 7th grade, I thought my friend Lisa looked pretty.  Just a simple thought: “Lisa looks pretty today.”  Then I tore myself to shreds wondering if I was gay.  Years later I would discover that this is SO common of an obsession that there’s a name for it– HOCD, homosexual OCD.  Wow.  I was a textbook case.  I didn’t even want to be gay– and I definitely liked men– and yet, somehow (cough, OCD) I still worked myself into a tizzy.

Along came college.

Freshman year I liked a boy who liked me back.  We got along great, had awesome chemistry, enjoyed each other’s company, the whole shebang.  My OCD chewed the relationship up like a junkyard dog eats garbage.  I remember the night that he told me that he liked me.  We sat in his car till late that night, holding hands, talking over everything.  I was on Cloud Nine.  This gorgeous boy somehow liked little old ME– actually thought I was incredible!– and I remember going back to the Northwestern dorms, waking up Tracy to tell her about the DTR.  Then I went back to my bedroom and cried myself to sleep, completely sick over it.

Doubt creeps in that fast.

I spent the next day convinced that I had to end whatever had just begun.  I can’t tell you how sick I felt over it.  It’s that same feeling when you’ve betrayed your dear friend and she doesn’t know it yet.

He was crazy about me, but I couldn’t handle the sick feeling I had (OCD-induced, although I didn’t know it at the time), and soon after, I had to call it quits.  I remember spending many days down by Lake Johanna, doing another of my little rituals– making list after list, still trying to do the old trick of finding a summary statement I could live with.  I convinced myself that I liked his roommate (whom I did not like) even, which is another whole stupid story.  I just felt like a murderess all the time– and so sinful!  It was doomed.

(Don’t feel too sad– in the end, it wouldn’t have worked anyway!  I don’t regret it.)

One last story.  I hope you’re hanging in there with me on this post.

Post-college.  I had a massive crush on the sweetest boy in the world.  He was adorable, nerdy, wonderful, and we were good friends on our way to becoming even better friends.  I convinced myself that I was not “allowed” to like him and that God would not approve of my crush on him.  Let me be clear on something: this was OCD-induced, not Spirit-induced, which is clear to me now.  It was agonizing.

I felt torn between this boy, whom I loved and who could have helped me to grow in my relationship with Christ, and Christ Himself, who I half-convinced myself was against the relationship.  Notice: half-convinced.  Some days I was certain that it was sinful for me to like this boy; some days I thought I’d be throwing away God’s gift to me if I were to let him go.  OCD, the doubting disease.  I shredded my heart.

It’s interesting to look back through the years now and see OCD’s clear but ugly hand pulling the strings in my life.  What a thief.  Thanks be to God who has rescued me from such an ugly enemy (who sometimes masquerades as a friend!!  LIES!).  When the time comes, and the right boy comes along, this time I’ll be ready for him.  All glory to Jesus for that!!

11 thoughts on “OCD and relationships

  1. I could completely relate to your blog post – this is the type of OCD that tortures me and it doesn’t let up. I am just now learning some great coping mechanisms after being tormented in my last three year relationship that ended in January. I have just gone on to an online dating site (as per therapist – exposure) and so far it’s going well!! The way I am handling it – I mean. It’s going VERY slowly, but that is just fine when I am learning new ways of doing this whole relationship/dating thing. Thanks for this!

    • With JTT, I truly believed our relationship could happen. I wrote to him and told him that on every letter I sent, I would put a green star; then whoever sorted through his mail could just look for the ones with green stars. I mean, I didn’t expect him to have to read ALL his fan mail. Just mine. 🙂

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