What a Pothole is Teaching Me About My OCD & Letting Go


I’ve talked here before about my OCD problem. Not in great detail but enough to let you know that I’m a raging control freak.

Therapy and some meditation sessions over the past year have helped me realize why I have OCD and why I absolutely suck at sitting still. It goes something like this:

Growing up, I always had to be doing something: cleaning, reading a book, outside watching the dogs, doing chores, ANYTHING to minimize the opportunity for my father to beat the shit out of me. He pretty much did anyway, but the likelihood of it happening more than once a day reduced significantly if I was alway occupied. Sitting still was only allowed when we went out to eat places-during those times talking and movement were prohibited. I was to eat and once done, go back to being motionless. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time staring out the window people watching and reading and re-reading those little cards they put at the end of the tables to advertise their latest specials. Most of my daydreams and fantasies involved me looking at the people on the other side of the glass and wondering what it would be like to live their lives. I’d make up stories about them, like where they lived, what kind of jobs they had, what kind of toys the kids played with….anyway, the point is, sitting still and doing nothing pretty much left me open to attack. When I experienced sexual molestation later in my teen years by my stepfather, this same survival strategy kicked into soverdrive.

So now that we’ve established why I have a very hard time sitting still & am a chronic daydreamer (hello ADD!) let’s move on to my if you let me do it my way you’ll see my way is the best way and things will get done right control freak issue. I must have control…not because I enjoy it and let’s make something completely clear: I don’t like nor do I want to control people. My father did that. That is not me at all. My need to control stems from being so restricted as a kid. I had no independence, thinking for myself wasn’t allowed. From what I ate, to what I wore, to how my hair was styled, my father made every decision and didn’t care if I didn’t “like” anything.

So as an adult, I’ve fought very hard to strive for independence and making my own decisions, and even if they turned out to be bad decision, at least it was mine to make. When I became a single parent nearly 6 years ago, this need for developing my own independence, evolved into a desperate need to be self-sufficient and rely on myself. Sure I did have people to lean on during the early years of Brennan’s life, but I had to always be aware that at the end of the day our survival and his care depended solely on me. The responsibility of parenthood definitely gave me a full-blown case of “I must be in control of ALL the things, and they will only get done right if I do them.” As if that weren’t enough, as I’ve gotten older, I noticed during my pregnancy with Alex that things like dust bunnies on the baseboards and cans in the cabinets not being in a certain order made me antsy. So antsy that I couldn’t sit still or go to sleep until the dust was wiped clean, the cans placed with labels facing out and in their perspective categories….clothes organized according to color and hanging all in the same direction. I could go on, but you get the picture.

So, what do my control freak issues and OCD have to with potholes?

This:

guess which one got f*cked up by the crater in the street?

Tuesday we made our daily trip to the YMCA, dropped off the kids, and I headed out to Lady Bird Lake trail across the street for a run. 4 miles. That was my goal. I guess all of the adrenaline for my impending run rushed to my brain and it forgot to tell my eyes to look down at the big ass, crater-sized pothole in the ground. Next thing I knew I was laying on the asphalt in one direction and my ankle bent in another. Pain started shooting up my leg as I tried to get up and walk it off. Some guy asked me if I needed a bandaid. My “WTF do you think?” stare answered his question and he moved on. I called Bertski-he came, looked at it, walked with me for a few minutes and said he thought I could still run on it. Since I had stopped hobbling around, I decided to go for it and finish. 4 miles. I ran 4 miles on that ankle and then practically hopped my way to the van so I could tear my shoe off.

So. I f*cked up my ankle. The verdict? Torn ligament and a hairline fracture. Damn. Treatment? Crutches, brace, bandage, AND ABSOLUTELY NO

WEIGHT ON IT. None. No walking, no hobbling unless Nature calls and definitely no rowing. I want to kick that pothole’s ass.

I have 3 legs

This morning though I realized that aside from not being able to workout or run, what’s bothering me the most is that I can’t control the one thing I feel like I have control over these days-my home life. My being out of commission means there are toys in every section of the house, clothes adorn the couch and ceiling fans, (SERIOUSLY?!) laundry goes undone, I don’t get to make Brennan’s lunch or get him ready for school, cooking and pretty much all of the house operations are in Bertski’s hands. He’s capable. I know he is. He’s awesome. He rocked it while I was in the hospital two weeks ago, but the first thing I did when I came home (instead of resting)was start cleaning up the “mess” that was there. Mess & clutter are two of my biggest triggers & so cleaning was my way of trying to feel normal and put together, & not the out of control mental wreck who had landed in a psych ward in Waco, TX.

Cleaning & my compulsive behaviors give me the control I feel I need to feel less of a wreck mentally and be the composed, “together” woman I feel I need to be for my family. My compulsions help me cope with the madness in my mind. I feel as though if I can keep things in order & organized in my home, somehow my mind will magically become this way. I know it sounds “crazy” and maybe I shouldn’t feel this way, but I do.

So even though I want that pothole to feel my wrath, I’m trying to feel grateful that this happened. It’s forcing me to sit down, let go of the need to have control and order, and is helping me give Bertski the room he needs to be dad and caretaker. It’s teaching me that I really can lean on someone else for my care for once. It’s not easy. The guilt and shame monsters are torturing me. But I’m trying. I really am. For the first time in my life, I feel safe knowing that I can let go, and just be without anyone coming to harm me.

That’s huge. Excuse me while I go have a good soul-cleansing cry. And take some Motrin because this ankle is throbbing something fierce.

Where I’ll be spending the next 2-3 weeks minimum

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5 thoughts on “What a Pothole is Teaching Me About My OCD & Letting Go

  1. I’m already dreading not being able to do everything next week after surgery. Luckily I’ll only be down and out a couple days. Luckily his parents will be here to help. But man I understand.

    And more importantly, HUGS.

  2. I can’t belive you ran 4 miles on that ankle after you hurt it!! thanks for sharing, it’s amazing what unexpected things can teach us and how they can cause us to take a step back and look at our behaviors. hugs, I hope your ankle is feeling better soon!

  3. U are amazing! I can’t believe u still ran 4 miles. Super woman!!! I totally feel you on the cleanliness and clutter. That’s my OCD also…. Few others… It was really hard when I had knee surgery not to do anything. ( and I broke the rules) which don’t do!!! It’s weird to know why u have OCD. Mine comes from my mom kicking my butt daily and my dad dying. It hard to not do ur thing.. This is going to be a great challenge and I’m sending you lots of strength that u will succeed.

  4. Pingback: Running: Getting Back On Track | ButterflyConfessions

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