Hey guys, as promised and with just a few weeks delay, I’m sharing on my learning journey: moving in with someone when you have OCPD and anxiety.
Three years ago, I moved in with my other half. This was by far the hardest thing I had to do (and I’ve climbed mountains). I put myself through hell because I thought I could do it without having to “come out” to him.
OCPD is — in part — an urge to clean and tidy your space, your territory. When I was living alone, I could do that without a problem, at any time of my choosing, without having to discuss or justify my choices. When you’re moving in with someone, especially a boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s hard to hide the out-of-control obsession with order and perfection in your “shared” home.
I went into depression quickly after we moved in together. I was in a constant battle with myself. I had to see myself through his eyes, and face it, re-ordering the couch cushions every time he sat down on the couch was irrational. But I couldn’t help myself. So I started therapy and started taking medication (if you want to know more about medication, I’m happy to discuss!). The best work I did though was through my relationship.
Crying out loud
Eventually, I accepted that this “ridiculous” dilemma was hell for me. I wasn’t so secretive about it anymore, I cried in the bathroom sometimes. I was ashamed that I was frustrated with his socks on the floor. I cried because he and I both didn’t understand the size of my anger and frustration, it was ginormous. I cried because it felt like I was forever going to be — and be in — a pain and never find peace in my new home.
I realized there was no way to explain my pain but there was a way to actually show it. So, I started to cry out loud, to cry in front of him, to burst into tears of distress and desperation so he could feel the pain, and understand a little more of the consequences to this “hell”, not focusing so much on understanding the reasons why.
Saying how you feel, not only why you feel
In tears sometimes, I would reason: “maybe it’s because of my father”… “maybe it’s because I grew up in a strict environment”… Mind you, these are the reasons why I developed OCPD (to compensate for a lack of control growing up), and it does help to say it but it doesn’t help as much as saying how you feel.
This works when you’re not dealing with an issue between him and you by the way. Of course, if you’re resolving an issue between the two of you — certainly, Sinek’s tip is gold.
I started to say more about how I felt: “I feel like my own person is being stepped on”… “I feel like you don’t respect me when you don’t pick up after yourself”… “I feel like I need to keep order here, otherwise, everything will fall apart and I won’t know what to do with my life”… “I feel like if things are not under control here, I could go crazy, walk in the middle of the road and have no sense of structure anymore”… “I feel like this space is the first thing in my life that matters, everything starts here”.
It helped. But sometimes, it didn’t help right away. Maybe he’s rolling his eyes, thinking about how it doesn’t make sense. But remember there is such a thing as your own reality. You have your reasons, people don’t need to know or understand them. Your reaction to your reality does not need to be understood every time. But the way you feel in consequence can be seen, heard, respected and supported.
Thinking together about how to make it better
For quite some time — a year or so — I was giving him advice on what to do around the house, and how to do it. “Surely, because I’m the one suffering, I know what makes it better or worse”, I thought. I wasn’t listening to anything he’d say about it — it was my mental health above all. Only, I confused the true meaning of “mental health”. Back then, it was simply about caving into my addiction so I’d feel no frustration. Until it became clear that it was about working on it so I can sustain a normal, peaceful life. And be in a happy relationship, in a happy home.
Having his input eventually helps more than not having it. It isn’t easy but after seeing my pain, having heard how I feel, and thinking through this together, we meet each other half-way.
How I do it? I continuously tell myself that everything is better in its natural state; that life is more beautiful having been untouched by men. That dust is a natural part of the process, that things lying around, moving from one place to another, are signs of life flowing.
That a bit of disorder means that my focus has shifted to truly vital things in the present life, like giving a hug, listening intently, cooking a meal, loving, laughing and having fun.
I still struggle, but I remember that my field of control and consistency is in my values, my inner beauty, building my identity based on those values and inner beauty.
Next BBP: almost at the end of my acupuncture treatment — tune in next week to hear all about it!