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Saturday, August 20, 2016

More exposures....moving along

     Well, school started this last week and that means my summer of downtime and some heavier exposures is now finished.  I have to say that I have done pretty well this summer.  Almost everything on my list of exposures to accomplish I did, minus 2 or 3 things.  As always, there are frustrating things that happen every week, but there are also areas that I push myself and find success.  It seems I am continuing to follow a pattern of improvement, so I am pleased about that.  This is by far the best I have functioned in the last 3 years. 
     It seems my post are following a pattern of talking about my steps forward and my steps back. so I will stick with that for now.  It helps me to be able to document my progress and at the same time my thoughts on frustrating events that did happen or things I am anticipating (as those can cause a lot of anxiety).  Last week, I had a pretty big day on Tuesday.  I had to make a trip to the DMV to renew my drivers license in the morning.  That was pretty uneventful.  Then my daughter and I went to the dentist for our 6 month check ups.  Dental visits have created an issue for me in the last several years for two main reasons:  first of all, the spit factor and worrying that the instruments are not clean enough.  Secondly, the hygienist always takes chemical disinfectant wipes and cleans the entire chair right before we sit down.  Now sometimes it is still even pretty wet from the wipes as we sit down.  The feeling of chemicals on my clothes is very bothersome to me.  I always feel icky after we leave there, and of course wash those clothes separately and wipe the carseats down.  There has been times in the past where I've stretched my dental visits out to closer to a year between (simply to avoid dealing with this more often than I need to), but I've really been trying to get there every 6 months now.  Things didn't go too bad though.  She did drop the mirror instrument on the chair as she was cleaning my teeth, so of course I was concerned about that going back in my mouth especially since it was on a surface just wiped with chemicals.  I wanted to go home and use mouthwash immediately following the visit, but by the end of the appointment I wasn't as concerned about it anymore, so we went to out.  The next exposure of the day.  Since I already felt the clothes were contaminated, I thought it might be helpful to sit with that anxiety for several more hours, so we headed out to one of my favorite restaurants, one which I hadn't been to for several years.  This is an Italian restaurant where they serve unlimited bread and salad with your entrée, so that has always made me nervous too.  How do you know that this is really done sanitary?  Also another weird thought I've had with the breadsticks is worried that somehow they brought someone elses unused bread to our table (like someone else didn't eat all the breadsticks, so they "recycled them" in a sense for the next customer.  I really hope things like that don't happen, but those are my thoughts.  I still haven't managed to eat with the restaurant silverware yet this summer, so I did bring my own.  But it was swapped out easily and things went well.  It was a nice meal, I enjoyed it, and ate a ton of bread and salad. 
     I also celebrated my birthday this past weekend.  We ended up getting take out from the same restaurant again, it was just so good!  I was a little more nervous about this time though, because my husband ordered seafood which really concerned me because that is an allergy trigger concern.  I opted to get take out this time, because eating out with my husband means added stress during the meal.  I know he does not like the thought of me swapping out my silverware (even though it really doesn't affect him and no one else even sees it), but in order to avoid the argument, eye rolls, etc. I thought it would just be easier to get take out.  Before we ate, all three of us went out driving through car lots, in preparation for the new car I will be getting very soon (more to come on this later).  This bothered me immensely because I am really bothered when sitting that close to my husband.  I am very concerned that he is going to bump his arm into mine or touch my seat somehow and I feel like I am constantly watching him out of the corner of my eye while I am driving.  It is very stressful being in the car with him, and I need to try to push myself to ride together more as a family, but that is hard...
     A few nights ago, my parents took our family out to dinner for a late birthday celebration.  I have avoided going out to eat with my parents for years, for many reasons.  Usually my sister and niece would come along and that concerns me as they are more highly contaminated in my mind too.  Also just the thought of contaminating myself unnecessarily in a public seat has made me avoid this in the past.  Also wanting to avoid the hugs, etc.  Also the fear of someone coughing across the table without them covering their mough while I am eating and then feeling trapped, like I can't finish my food.  These are still thoughts that go through my head, but I decided to go ahead and accept the invititation.  I know in the past few years my parents have gotten increasingly frustrated with my behavior (beause they don't know about my OCD) and things have been going better with my parents  recently since I've been to many more family events over the last year, so I decided to give this a go this time.  No hugs involved thankfully (my parents aren't really the touchy-feely type anyway), so that part went okay.  The one snag I did run into is instead of a table as I was hoping for, we got seated in a tight booth.  My husband sat down on the end of the booth and slid down to the other side, which meant I had no choice but to sit where he just sat.  I actually sat down where my husband sat.  And it didn't bother me as much as I thought it would (although I have no idea where he pulled his clothes from in his room, but at least they didn't appear visibly dirty), but it still bothered me enough obviously to want to get rid of that contamination.  When we got home, I showered (as I would anyway at night normally), and cleaned my car out.  I also was able to rewash those clothes, which surprised me because husband contamination is at the top of my hierarchy.  These ones still feel dirty to me though, and I'm not sure if I will move forward treating them as such or not.  This will be the first time that I have sat somewhere he has sat knowingly, and rewashed that outfit and reworn it.  I think this is easier because the contamination occurred in a dirty zone anyway.  This does NOT mean by any means that I could have him contaminate something inside my house, in my safe zones and feel okay with it.  But this leads me into the next situation, which I am going to have to force myself into fairly soon.
     This is the anxiety provoker for me and this is the situation that has been weighing heavily on my mind the last few weeks.  If you've read my last couple of posts, you'll remember that a new car was on the horizon soon.  Well, that time is here.  We did get a vehicle purchased, and will be picking that up in a few days.  Here is the strange thing which will show that I did not always have contamination issues:  the car that I am currently driving is 10 years old.  It was bought used when we got it several years ago and I was okay with that at that time.  We actually purchased that vehicle from a dealer several hours away from us and my husband went and picked up the car himself and drove it home.  I got in the car immediately and started driving.  No cleaning out process of the car, and no concerns that it had been used.  Also no concerns that he had been in it.  I drove that car for several years like that, until one day something clicked in me and the contamination grew worse and before I knew it I was cleaning off the seat and becoming more concerned about keeping it "perfectly clean".  In a sense this vehicle has become comfortable to me now through the years.  It has become one of my safe spots and I am very particular about keeping it contamination free.  I really don't want to let this car go, because transitions are difficult with OCD.  It has had several things need to be fixed over the last few years and my husband is growing tired of fixing it, thus wanting to get a new vehicle.  I know that he has had his eye on a certain vehicle (that I think he really likes the make/model, as he is really into cars) and I've been telling him numerous times over the last few weeks that we need to sit down and have a talk about this.  I needed to explain my concerns about having a new car, having him sit in the passenger seat, the level of contamination concerns I have with him, and all that entails (see previous posts for further details).  He texted me the other night and basically said they were finishing up a deal and if the dealer took his offer we had just purchased the vehicle.  I was very upset at first, thankfully this was over text.  I couldn't believe that he would just decide to do this without having this conversation yet, especially when I've tried on my end to have this conversation multiple times.  I was fairly certain that when we had this difficult conversation about my car concerns, that he would never expect me to say "you can't sit in the passenger seat".  Now I'll be very honest (I hope that he will never sit in my passenger seat), but I knew I needed to make some kind of bargain so that this didn't sound so terrible and offensive to him.  If you are new to my blog, I have a zillion issues with my husband.  One of the things that I would really wish he would do is to clean up his room and sort through his clothes.  Because all of his clothes are laying around on the floor, clean mixed with dirty.  Nice professional work clothes mixed together with dirty stained farm clothes.  Nothing feels clean to me anymore.  It all gets washed together, it all goes in dirty and it comes out feeling dirty.  I have a HUGE problem with his clothes (thus why I basically can't sit anywhere he does meaning we have our own couches, kitchen chairs, clothes put in separate bedrooms, and I have my own bedroom) and I was really concerned how this would affect a different vehicle, one in which I would ultimately be riding in the passenger seat when my daughter learns how to drive in a couple of years.  I ended up calling him after I got the text, so that we could have this.  I knew we needed to have this talk beforehand, because I absolutely wanted to make sure this was agreed upon before the car came home so that it would not cause any future arguments.  I basically tried to explain where I was at with my OCD, how much trouble this would cause me if I were to try to jump into this right now, and reminded him of how hard I have worked and how far I have come and hoped he could have some compassion and understanding with all of this.  I tried to explain that it is not him that I feel is contaminated persay, it is more his clothes and that being spread to different areas.  I reminded him that this is not directed solely at him, as I have my own issues spreading contamination and won't even sit on my own couch after I have sat in a public seat, necessitating washing/cleaning of my safe zones.  I explained that until he cleans up his room/clothes situation I did not want him riding in the passenger seat.  That he would either need to sit in the back seat or we could all take his vehicle when we go somewhere as a family (which would still cause me immense problems, but it would be easier than having him contaminate my car).  I don't want to sit in his car, but this is something I am going to have to force myself to do coming up very soon.  I thought we had a fairly productive conversation on the phone and I thought all was well.  I made sure he agreed to this if he was going to go through with the purchase, and he did.  I said I didn't want to have any future arguments about it and he said that was fine.  We agreed that whether he cleaned up his room/clothes this weekend or 3 months from now (and I was able to feel that he had clean clothes that could be worn in my car), that would be the clicker for when he could sit in the passenger seat.  But...then he came home, and boy were things different.  He walked in the house and declared a magic solution to the problem--a car seat cover!  As if ar seat cover is not something I'd ever thought of before.  I explained that a car seat cover takes care of the car seat, but it does not however solve the problem of the seat belt being contaminated.  And wow...that set him off.  He told me I was "changing my story" and had not mentioned anything about a seat belt before, only the seat.  I tried to explain that it is all one and the same to me.  Everything about the seat needs to be clean, that includes the seat belt.  I understand he doesn't get this, because people without OCD just don't think about these things.  And unfortunately this is a really gray area, as is everything with OCD.  I really don't have a clue how to navigate this.  But I am really hoping this is not going to turn into a problem.  I know he is upset because as I stated earlier he is "car person" and I think he is irritated to think can't ride in the passenger seat in a vehicle that he wanted very badly.  To be fair about it, I did not push for this vehicle.  I was very happy to settle for something different, something less expensive, something that he would not think as so "cool" to get into.  I understand that the OCD is my problem.  But I am really not there with my OCD as to contaminate my car.  Am I wrong to expect that from him?  I have been willing to give in other areas and I do believe that my OCD affects him much less than it used to, because of all of my hard work.  But I feel guilty, as I typically do when my OCD butts in.  I just wish that he could understand not take it personally.  Honestly we don't ride often in the car together anyway, maybe twice per month tops.  But I can already envision him scowling in the backseat when we go places.  I can see myself being panicked to ride in his car.  I am very afraid of feeling so contaminated after being in his car, that I am worried about starting to throw my clothes away again because I may feel they aren't clean enough.  I am worried about this situation potentially making things worse.  I am very anxious.  We will be getting this vehicle in a few days.  But the good news, that I will keep remembering and focusing on, is that I am stronger now.  I can push back against my OCD, I've proved that in other ways.   This will be another challenge to get through.  I will update soon.  Hope you all are doing well. 

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