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Monday, June 1, 2015

Some bigger exposures this weekend!...and I let my husband "contaminate me"

   This past week my daughter turned 12 years old!!!  Last year, due to my OCD, I was unable to have any one come into my house, therefore we did not even have her grandparents over for a birthday celebration.  I still am very particular about my house, my "safe zone", mostly not wanting people to use our bathroom if needed, so I knew I would not be able to have people over again this year.  I wanted to do something for her birthday though, so we invited both sets of grandparents out to eat.  I knew that this would also bring some difficulties for me, but much easier to deal with than people coming into our house.
    Since I am doing better with the clothing contamination, sitting on the restaurant chairs didn't bother me as much.  It is still people touching me, hugging me (or doing those things to my daughter) that bother me, as well as using the restaurant dishes/silverware.  It has been quite awhile since I have eaten at a restaurant.  I will not drink from the glasses (too many obsessions about the cups being refilled and the ice scoop being contaminated and dirty from other customers glasses) and I do not use their silverware (just feels gross to eat off things that others have eaten off and questioning if they truly are clean enough).  The plates bother me too, but kind of hard to eat out without using their provided plates.  So, I brought forks for my daughter and I and swapped them out at the table so we could eat off my "clean forks".  I was able to eat at the restaurant though and ate food off the restaurant plate, so that is actually decent progress for me.  My plan is to eat out several times over the summer, allowing myself to bring my own fork the first few times, but by the end of the summer be able to use restaurant silverware again.  I'm not sure how that is going to go, but it is my goal.  I did notice throughout the dinner that I seemed not so bothered by things that have really bothered me in the past.  For instance both my mom and my mother in law each coughed a few times and cleared their throats (they were directly across the table), which in the past would have sent me over the edge.  I find that I'm still noticing things that bother me, but I'm able to move past them faster and not get "stuck" on those thoughts.
    After we went out to eat, the three of us (husband, myself and my daughter) went out mini-golfing.  I don't really like my husband being in my car, so I figured this was a good time to go out and do something together.  Normally I would freak out if my husband even got anywhere close to me.  If I sense that his clothes brush up against mine or even come anywhere near my comfort zone, I have been known to discard those clothes before.  But since II was already in contaminated clothes tonight, and we were already out and about, I figured if he accidentally contaminated me it wasn't a big deal, because I had a big exposure planned for that night anyway (more to come on that).  Things went pretty well the entire night, actually.  Again I noticed things, but I didn't dwell on them.  When we were mini golfing I noticed there was bird poop on some of the greens, and wouldn't you know my ball landed right on those spots a few times.  But I was able to just pick it up and finish golfing, put hand sanitizer on the car, and not really think about it afterward much.  I enjoyed getting out.  I have forgotten how great it feels to get out and socialize, to be with family, to do "normal things" and just have fun.  I was surprised that the night didn't actually bring too much stress with it. 
  So here is where I topped it off tonight, and did something huge.  I let my husband contaminate me.  And if you've been following my blog for any period of time, you will know that my husband is my biggest contaminant.  I was already in "dirty clothes" and I knew that his clothes were clean because I had just washed them that day (even though his clothes still don't feel "clean" to me, so I felt this was the safest place for me to start, the lowest of my hierarchies with him.  At the end of the night when we got home, I asked him to wash his hands but then I had him come over to me, wrap me up in a hug and just stand there full on contact for about 2 minutes.  Then I had him take his hands and run them up and down the back of my sweatshirt during the hug, so as to completely contaminate my clothes.  Yes even with his "just washed hands", this was extremely nerve-wracking for me.  I don't even know how I will begin to do the higher up exposures, but this was actually a good exposure I think.  It is the first time I have let my husband even make any type of body contact with me in a year and a half.  I will NOT throw those clothes away.  I will probably wash them a couple of times and they will still feel contaminated, after all it is my "contaminated going out outfit".  But I WILL wear them again.  I had already planned on showering right after the hug anyway, because I normally take my daily shower before bed.  So I waited about 10 minutes and walked around feeling "contaminated", then I took my shower and changed into clean clothes.  And once wasn't as bad as I thought.   I realize that ultimately my goal is to let him hug me, not care what's on my clothes and just continue on with my day, but realistically I am so far away from that.  I realize that I could have taken this to an extreme and let him "contaminate" me, and go sit down on my clean safe cough feeling utterly contaminated.  That something to that degree would have a profound effect on my OCD, but I also feel it could be traumatizing too.  I think was a good first step.  He was actually very patient the entire evening, which is not often the case.  And I truly chalk that up to the fact that I tried to explain things ahead of time, and that communication helped.  Usually I do try to communicate as best I can with him, but he is often angry about the OCD.  Tonight for some reason, it seemed different, and I'm still not sure why.  I need to keep letting him "contaminate" me in more ways, and these are some exposures I need to start working on, although I am scared.  I think our family had a really good night.  And it felt good!  I really want to have more nights like that, hopefully with the OCD lessening a bit more each time. 

**On a side note, some other things I've surprised myself with this past week are some eating issues that I would have had major problems with in the past.  But for some reason I was able to not give into these things this time.  I went into a sandwich place about a week ago and as the girl was assembling our sandwiches she was touching her gloved hand to her hat, which does gross me out.  In the past I would have not eaten the sandwich.  But I was able to move past the thought (even though I still noticed what was happening) and still purchase and eat the sandwich.  Another time I went to get pizza and breadsticks at a pizza place we go to weekly.  I saw the delivery guy come in through the backdoor and immediately start working without washing his hands.  He was working with our breadsticks and brushing the garlic sauce on them.  I don't think he actually touched the breadsticks, but I can't be sure.  Also the boy taking the incoming orders coughed right into his hand (although didn't appear sick to me) and then I'm pretty sure he cut our pizza.  Both of these things would have rendered the food unedible in the past, but I took everything home and we ate it.  And I didn't even feel that grossed out afterward, nor did I fixate on it.  Thirdly, I normally buy a lot of pre-packaged donuts from the bakery, and I avoid getting things directly from behind the bakery counter, because they take those paper sheets to grasp the donuts with and I can't ever be sure they aren't directly touching the donut.  I know that in reality the same thing is going on when they prepackage them, but for some reason it's different in my mind if I can't actually see the process.  So, last week I got donuts from behind the counter.  She may have touched them somewhere with her bare fingers, but I got them and we ate them.  Fourthly, I got lunch last week at the same pizza place that I referred to earlier, and they take your breadsticks out at lunch with the same type of paper wrapper.  This is of course after the same person has handled your credit card/money, so that feels very contaminated to me.  But I ate those breadsticks too.  So that was 4 food issues this week alone that I would have never been able to face last week.  I realize they are small things, but every battle counts in this war against OCD!!