I’m back from my vacation, and amazingly – OCD gave me some much-needed reprieve. The hardest parts from an anxiety perspective were “getting there” and “getting back”. Don’t ask me why.
I was in Palm Springs with three friends. One of them was my closest girlfriend who I’ve known for over 25 years. We don’t live in the same city anymore, and she is married with kids, so it was a fantastic chance to re-connect, re-live old funny memories (we laughed so much!) and just relax. The weather was fantastic, and I had a wonderful time.
While we were visiting Palm Springs one of the large events taking place was an event called The White Party, which is a HUGE gay party. I laughed with my therapist that this would be a fantastic exposure for some of his male HOCD clients. For me, not so much. It was just a bunch of great looking athletic men walking around town. I did have a few triggers while on holiday though. One of them was reading one of the local tourist magazines – I read that Palm Springs has a large gay and lesbian population. Estimates are that at least 40% of the population is gay or lesbian. My mind said to me “With that large of population what are the odds that you’re not going to run into a lesbian???” Amazingly though, it wasn’t on my mind continuously. Another trigger was while we were at a restaurant. I was just people watching, and I saw two women walking out of the restaurant with their arms around each other. Then one of the women proceeded to grab the other’s bum. A small surge of anxiety, but nothing much.
I’m struggling with my exposure. And when I returned from my holiday, my therapist slammed me with reality. He was pretty hard on me (well, as hard as he can be on me…..he’s really a very kind guy). But he was realistic. You see, my latest BIG fear is that someday, given my history (horrible father relationship, unsuccessful relationships with men), I will meet a lesbian woman, become friends with her, and then fall in love. It’s along the same lines of my ROCD fear that I have when I’m in a relationship. I avoid other men because I’m afraid that I’ll fall in love with someone else and have to leave my partner etc etc. My therapists response to this was: “Would that be so horrible if for some reason you found yourself in love with a woman?” (Of course then my OCD says “your therapist really thinks you’re bi-sexual and he’s now trying to help you come to terms with that”.)
WHAT? OF COURSE IT WOULD BE HORRIBLE!!! That’s why I have HOCD!!
I just really want to be able to let go of this fear. And my OCD wants me to figure out WHY I have this fear. Does it mean that I’m really afraid of my true self? Does it mean that I won’t ever truly be able to be happy until I figure this out? It’s so hard to find love these days, am I sacrificing my whole happiness by not opening myself up to being with a woman? Maybe I’m really bi-sexual? All of these crazy thoughts go through my head. It’s horrible.
(Just writing this blog post is an exposure for me, because my OCD is saying “These people are going to read this and think that I really DO sound like I might be bi-sexual.”)
Why can’t I just be like anyone else and live my life until something actually happens????
This theme is rampant in the lesbian community too. I’ve watched three movies with this theme. It goes something like this: The woman is living happily with her male partner, thinking, feeling straight, and along comes a lesbian woman who woos her into her web and their life is perfect, and wonderful and fantastic forever more. Learning to accept the fact that this might happen to me, and not avoiding is one BIG hurdle I have in order to overcome my OCD. It scares the crap outta me.
Another big theme we’re working on at the moment is the wonderful “groinal” response and arousal etc. For any of you who suffer from any kind of sexual obsession, you will understand the distress that this causes. I watched one of those aforementioned lesbian movies a few weeks ago, and I actually thought the movie was pretty good! (It was practically impossible for me to actually allow myself to like a lesbian movie by the way.) And watching some of those sex scenes were pretty darn sensual. Was I sexually aroused? I don’t know. Maybe? My therapist explains to me that people can get aroused from watching many types of sex scenes. But then my OCD says “You don’t get turned on when you watch heterosexual sex scenes.”. Some times I feel like my OCD wants me to just throw my arms up in the air and say “I’m gay!”. And be done with it all. Anyway, this “groinal response” is another big hurdle for me to overcome in my recovery. My therapist wants me to try and become sexually aroused while watching these lesbian movies. And live with the consequences. Right now I’m just trying not to figure it out one way or the other.
At the end of the day I have to accept that I COULD find myself falling in love with a woman someday. I have to accept that watching lesbian porn MIGHT turn me on sexually. But at this point COULD = WILL, and MIGHT = DOES. My therapist says that I have to want to overcome my OCD more than avoiding this possibility. When he puts it that way I find it SO HARD to commit. It’s days/times like these that I feel like I haven’t made any progress AT ALL.