Well, it’s finally time for me to admit something that I prefer to live in the dark recesses of my mind and nowhere else. Only two therapists even know about it. It’s dead now, and I just shared about it in a comment to someone else, so now seems to be as good a time as any. It’s The Intrusive (Obsessive) Thought of my life.
Post last updated on: January 30, 2015
THE POOREST, BRIEFEST OF SUMMARIES:
“I botched things with the love of my life. (It was nobody’s fault; it happened while I was in the midst of my 1st mental breakdown). In the end, after more than 7 years since he and I broke contact, I was still waking up just as sad and heartbroken every morning as the first day. Finally, for me, because I have OCD anyway, I finally realized it had become basically my OCD taking me over. So I tried blocking out the thoughts instead of taking them so seriously, and sure enough, they came up all the time out of the clear blue, haunting me, bringing me to my knees in tears and heartbreak time and time again. They had become intrusive thoughts. They only left me altogether about half a year ago (when I experienced so much mental pain from other things; something must have changed in my brain). But I still consider him my “soul mate” and I haven’t connected with anyone else since then. It’s been 12 years now since he and I broke contact.”
Okay, so that was my summed-up version. What’s closer to the reality of it?
THE GOOD TIMES:
In 12th grade, I connected with someone very strongly. I have never trusted anyone so completely, before or since. We spent so much time together, and he was my best friend. We could do absolutely nothing. Just sit on the porch and enjoy the day. Or we could do activities like sledding, walking, bowling, whatever came up. We could talk on the phone, face to face, in text. We were on a very similar wave-length. That was the happiest time of my life. (It coincided with two other, big changes I had made: No.1: I was studying Buddhist Death Awareness at the time, and No.2: I had cut out nearly all refined sugar from my diet.) So I was studying Buddhist Death Awareness. He was studying Taoism. Whatever, we just meshed together.
I remember the last moment of seeing him as his parents drove him away from my house on his way to college. We were both crying very hard. I watched him leave, and I sat down right there in the driveway and just cried and cried. I had given him my stuffed animal dog to take to college. You don’t know this, but I used to have highly, highly anxiety-provoking intrusive thoughts about that dog getting damaged somehow, burnt up in a fire, etc, and many of my hours have been spent wondering how I can make sure that my dog and baby blanket are cremated with me, assuming my body is found whenever I do die. Anyway, so I took my baby blanket to college with me, and I had my stuffed dog go with him to his college. [When my parents later found out that I had let my stuffed dog out of my sight, they were both in complete shock.] (As I sat and cried on the driveway, my mom let our family dog out with me, who normally kept a little distant from people, but she came right by my side and sat down and leaned against me. It was actually amazing.)
Rewind. I had asked him if he wanted me to attend his school. I had already been accepted and offered a high scholarship to a far away one, but he couldn’t answer me. It was the Taoism, you see. He lived his life based on the belief that it is not for him to make life decisions in that direct of a way; but rather, to see what comes in life and let things go as they will. I had so wanted him to say yes. I would have scrapped everything and gone with him. But he couldn’t answer and I stayed the course (moved far away).
I assumed we’d do just fine with a long-distance relationship. I already knew I wanted to marry him and raise children with him. I was studying Korean so I could speak with his family, and I was learning baseball team names because that was his favorite sport. You know how it is. I had even written to my grandma about him, which was a big, big deal to me (not that I ever sent the letter, but that’s typical for me and neither here nor there).
He wasn’t my first date or anything. A lot of people assume that. I had dated about 4 people before him and had other friends. He and I just really, really clicked in an amazing way.
THE BAD TIMES:
Well. Of course, nobody could have predicted that the moment I touched foot on my new campus in my new location, I would become a very different person. I would quite literally forget the majority of my past, including the names of my schools and friends. Nobody could have known that. Nobody could have known I’d join every club, participate in every activity possible on campus. Nobody could have known that would become my priority over sitting on a computer and typing to him.
But everyone there knew about him. I wrote him by hand letter upon letter. Every spare moment of every day, I was writing to him. Thick, packets of envelopes of letters. I don’t know how much I ever got around to sending. But he was in my thoughts at all moments.
I got a job on campus too, because I wanted to fly him here. He sounded miserable and depressed up where he was. He wasn’t making friends or finding anything to do with his time but study. His roommates were all sex obsessed and drinking obsessed. I was becoming quite the opposite — more child-like in many ways, due to the influences of those I was around. Everything became pink and chipper and anime and love and hugs and helping others. Positive only.
His dad bought him a ticket and he flew here. It was a disaster. We didn’t know each other. We both cried a lot, as it turned out. Something happened that I can’t write out. Things didn’t work.
The rest of the year, I threw myself more into studying and got good grades and had lots of friends and became very close to my new roommate, who was involved in unsaid above.
I think my parents and I went on a vacation that summer. I think it was Hawaii. I have pictures, anyway. I just remember, I wasn’t there at all. I was not on that vacation. I was dissociating the entire time and was so lost and I didn’t know what to do or who I was or where I belonged. All I wanted to was make things right with him somehow. How could I be anywhere else but making things right. It’s hard to describe. But I was not on that vacation.
The second year of college started. I’m not going to go into that because that’s the traumatic year when shit went down and that’s a different story. The only way I can think to describe it in brief terms is to say I became the sole care taker for someone who was slowly and painfully and fearfully dying over the course of some 8 months and nobody else even knew about it; she died and I had a complete and total mental breakdown [(this is where my desperation to be around other people enters, for those of you who read my previous post on that)] and the dissociation from that lasted 2 years and I’ve never been the same since. (That’s not 100% what happened but that’s the only way I can think of to describe it quickly. And it’s very close to 100%.)
Meanwhile, I came back from college a complete wreck. My main doctor gave me a brain scan (MRI) because I was so different, she wondered if I had a brain tumor. My dermatologist pulled my mom aside and told her she thought I’d been raped. But that’s not what happened.
So anyway, back to him. I still haven’t gotten to how this turns into OCD! Yikes.
So I don’t know what I did and didn’t say to him at that point. In hindsight, I think he was maybe still making an effort. I didn’t know that at the time. I had a foreshortened sense of future. I did not expect to live one more day. I had suicide plans and was just waiting for the day I’d be alone and could do them but my parents did not leave me alone much, and right then is when my dad retired and was home all the time. I was very disappointed at the time. I believed God wanted me dead and my purpose in life was over and I wasn’t supposed to be around anymore. But that was probably just the chronic, never-ending anxiety attack talking.
Anyway, I started dating. I can’t explain why, I just did it. I didn’t know he was making an effort. After I screwed things up beyond repair, I discussed it with my then-therapist and she thought it seemed like he was making an effort. Why else was he willing to come over that one day? But, he asked for his necklace back and it broke my heart because I knew then he had given up.
THE OCD TIMES:
I used to freewrite. Ever since the person died, I started to freewrite. I still have them, burried. I won’t look at them; they’re very triggering. But some of the same sentences came up time and time again. “PLEASE FORGIVE ME.” I wrote this for years. It still crosses my mind.
PLEASE FORGIVE ME. If I could just write you a letter and explain…
Over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again forever and ever.
So my actions spoke otherwise. I dated. I cared for nothing. I was still dissociating but I took any attention, although it was entirely sexual at the time. I didn’t love them or care about them. I wouldn’t kiss them. One guy, I remember I almost elbowed him in the side once when we were in public and he put his arm around me and I couldn’t STAND his touch. Couldn’t STAND it.
As I healed, as I became more human, as I dissociated less, I came to understand that things between me and him were over. But I couldn’t move past it. He was my “the one”. He was who I was going to spend my life with.
Every day, I would wake up only to realize that he was no longer speaking with me. It was over. And if I could just write him and explain. If I could just apologize. If I could just tell him how very, very sorry I was for hurting him.
[Going backwards a little: Even before we broke contact altogether, in person, I DID tell him I was so sorry for what I’d done and so sorry for hurting him. He said he had no idea what I was talking about; I hadn’t hurt him and he didn’t know what I was sorry about. But the feeling remains. It’s just an intrusive thought. I’m sorry for hurting him. I want his forgiveness. I can’t explain what it’s about.]
I would cry. Every day these thoughts would come, just as strong as the day before. Every day, I could be trying to live my life and BOOM there he was in my mind. PLEASE if only I could write him a letter and explain. If only we could meet someplace neutral and I could just talk to him and make sure he knows how sorry I am and make sure there are no hard feelings.
I felt like, maybe I could let go if I could just know he knew how sorry I was. If he could just know what happened out there. If I could just tell him the “WHY” of my fuck-up.
SUICIDAL FEELINGS CAME UP A LOT. I WANTED TO DIE, I FELT SO MUCH DESPERATION AND HOPELESSNESS. But at the same time, I didn’t want to kill myself and then have him think I was trying to manipulate him into talking with me. So I did nothing but experience the desire.
Years like this. Years. I came to understand it as likely an OCD thing. That was me who decided that. I began to think of it as an intrusive thought and it behaved that way. It definitely came up more when I was stressed.
I did send him emails. I did write him letters. I wrote the best one, the most thorough one, my “final goodbye” letter while working with this one psychologist who was really good. Probably, I was already blocked by then so I doubt it went through. Either way, it was supposed to be for ME to let it go. That was before I realized it was an OCD intrusive thought and no matter HOW MUCH WORK I DID on letting go, on letting live, on moving on, it would never matter because there ALWAYS came some random, out-of-the-clear-blue morning where I would just wake up, heartbroken and devastated all over again (and often suicidally hopeless), like I hadn’t just worked my ass off for months trying to move on.
So I finally accepted it as an OCD intrusive thought 100%. Nothing more. So I learned to let it GO when it reared its head. I learned NOT to take it so seriously. NOT to write him. NOT to seek out his friends and hope they would make sure he’d get a letter from me. NOT to look him up online. Just accept it as an intrusive thought and let it go, however long it stayed around. Don’t let the desperation and urgency fool me into action.
And I did a lot better after a while. I got married five years after he and I broke contact. The intrusive thoughts hadn’t gone away but I knew them for what they were and I dealt with them.
I got married, knowing full well that I had already blown it with “The One” / “My Soulmate”. [I kept all of this secret.] These intrusive thoughts came up during marriage, especially in the first year, because that year was very stressful. My husband was having some issues and often he was depressed, or always in an online computer game, or in a rage over something. I took a lot of anxiety medicine that year and these particular intrusive thoughts came up a lot.
I should perhaps not admit this online, but at night, there were many times I was too afraid and anxious to sleep, and I would picture him laying beside me instead, and feel instantly calmed.
I did fuck up some times in those first two years. I did create a Facebook account specifically to see if he was on there (he was). I did make sure my own pages were bright and cheerful and seemed like a normal, non-scary human being before I tried to write him. Of course, I did not hear back. I don’t know how many times I tried to write him. I wrote to one of his friends, as well, but I did NOT ever try to arrange a meeting OR try to have the friend deliver content. Believe me, that was a feat of sheer will power. Because when those intrusive thoughts are there, all of this seems like an EMERGENCY and I MUST get through to him somehow, if I could only explain!!! Even as a final goodbye. You know. Like maybe, just maybe I could let it all go and move on with my life if he and I had some final exchange.
AND FINALLY, THE NEUTRAL TIMES (UP TO THE PRESENT):
Anyway. The thoughts did lessen after more years of marriage. Then came the time period just before my divorce, which was so exceedingly painful and frightening, I swear it changed something in my brain. Those intrusive thoughts appear to be GONE. I have not had a single one since then. Gone. Let go. No more tears for him. To mark the time it took to get this far, it’s been 12 years since we broke contact. This intrusive thought lasted 12 years.
But I still don’t know if I can ever find anyone else I trust and like as much as I trusted and liked him.
He and I were like, you know how you spend so many adolescent and teenage nights just staring out the window into the darkness and watching the stars and wondering, am I all alone? Is anybody out there seeing what I’m seeing? Well he was the one on the other end. When he and I had met, it was like instantly knowing that we hadn’t been alone watching the stars all that time after all. We’d always been there. He was literally on the other side of the planet during those years, but he was doing the same damn thing.
He was the most gentle, heart-felt, deep person I have ever met in my life. And for a time, he truly loved me too. That’s all I’m going to write on this topic for now.