One of my friends has had her obsessions flare up again (she is worried that her brother will die on his spring break trip), and she emailed me for prayer and advice. I asked her, “Do you want tough love?”
Her response: “Yes, okay, just hold on a second I have to prepare myself.”
A minute later: “I am ready. Go.”
I wrote back:
I’m not going to reassure you about this because LIFE IS FULL OF UNCERTAINTY, and we have to learn to live with it. I’m not saying this to be mean, but the truth of the matter is that he could slip on the Minnesota ice outside and hurt himself that way just as easily as a trip to California. We DON’T KNOW. We CAN’T know. All we can do is make decisions based on the evidence available. The evidence available suggests he will be fine. Whether you worry about him or not won’t change anything except for how YOU cope with his spring break.
The best thing that you can do for yourself to keep from spiraling is to repeat to yourself, “I can’t know if he’ll be okay. He might be. He might NOT be. Either way, he knows God, and I have to just live my life with uncertainty.”
I want to reassure you. But that would be just silly—who am I (who is any mere human) to reassure you of something like this? Our lives ARE like a vapor! We have no way of knowing.
The evidence available suggests that most healthy young people live till their 70s, so that’s what I’m going to plan for.
My friend thanked me for the tough love; I think I’m allowed to dole it out because she knows about how cognitive-behavioral therapy changed my life. CBT is really just a giant act of tough love, isn’t it? We’re put through torture so that we can barrel through the hell of daily life with OCD. I know I am so glad to have gone through it myself, and that is why I am not willing to reassure someone of something we can’t know.
Life is full of uncertainty, and each obsessive-compulsive wants to eliminate it– which is just not possible. Still, we go to great lengths to attempt this impossible feat. Really, our rescue is in learning to embrace the uncertainty.
If it boggles your mind a little, that’s okay. It still does mine too, and I’m a success story!
For those of you with OCD, is it hard for you to receive tough love from people? For those of you who love an OC, is it hard for you to dole it out?