I was 19, and had my first boyfriend. We would have long conversations on the phone, and then after I hung up, I'd work on reconstructing the conversation in its entirety. I filled scraps of paper with keywords. If I could not remember the order in which something was said, or what brought up a particular subject, I would sit there, frozen, going over it, hoping to jar the elusive chronology loose, dredge up the missing details. If I could not remember every line, I would feel a tightening in my chest, a vertigo of fear and anxiety.
The thought of losing even the smallest scrap of conversation drove me to document everything. I was hugely frustrated when I discovered the keywords were not enough to remind me what they were about. I knew this need to reconstruct was not normal. It ate up a lot of time and mental space. I half-heartedly wrote that if I wanted to be a therapist, at least I would be very good at writing verbatims of case sessions.
I was all alone in my fears. I couldn't tell anyone what I was doing. They would think I was loopy. I was living in a new country. I was homesick. My father had left. I really never expected anyone to love me. I was afraid of losing this boyfriend. OCD latched onto this with a vengeance--Just write it all down. Capture it. Preserve your relationship by hoarding every word.
OCD Flashback #1
Tuesday Q&A: Aaron Harvey
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