When my girlfriend and I were first dating, she wasn't quite aware of the depths of my OCD and neuroses. It's not something you really want to lay on someone right away or they'll just be overwhelmed by the depths of your cray and won't give you a chance to discover some of the beautiful things just behind the obsessions and compulsions.
One day I came home from work and found flowers on my door. Awww, sweet. Except I have OCD. So sweet was also mixed with terror. See, in my rational brain I knew they were probably from Andrea. But in my OCD depths of anxiety I thought...
There's no note on them. Maybe they aren't from her. Maybe they're from a murderer and they're going to kill me.
OMFG. Why are they WRAPPED AROUND THE DOOR HANDLE?!?! Clearly, I will have to take them off the door handle to get inside. That's probably the aforementioned murderer's plan! There's probably a BOMB in them. OMG. I'm going to die from a flower bomb. This murderer is very tricky. Good thing I'm smart and saw quickly through their plan.
And then I had to get a grip.
Well, sort of.
I said to myself, "Self, these are probably not a flower bomb. They could be, and if you blow up when you open the door a) that will suck and b) at least your fears will have been right for once. So, let's do this. 1...2...3..."
Turns out, they weren't a flower bomb. Just regular flowers.
After I let out a huge sigh of relief and went inside I texted Andrea to ask if the flowers were from her (still not entirely sure since there was no note) and to thank her if they were.
After a short discussion about the flowers and how she didn't have paper or a pen in her car when she dropped them off, hence no note, but that she adored me and wanted me know...I said, "Wanna hear a funny story?"
She didn't think the story was so funny.
She was like "WHY IN THE HELL WOULD YOU THINK IT WAS A FLOWER BOMB?!?! WHY CAN'T I DO NORMAL ROMANTIC THINGS FOR YOU WITHOUT WORRYING ABOUT YOU TOTALLY SPAZZING OUT?!?!"
Ok, maybe it wasn't in all caps, but it felt like it. The old feelings of shame and embarrassment crept in and once again I was feeling crappy about being a wacko with an OCD brain.
So then I had to tell her about the little girl who got her hand blown off at Kmart by a pipe bomb that someone had planted as a "joke." This happened in Indianapolis the year after we moved there from Santa Cruz. The move from SC to Indiana was quite traumatic for me (which I didn't realize until recently after yearssss of therapy -- but more on that later in another post). For a kid with undiagnosed, untreated OCD, shit like this stays seared in our brains FOREVER. So 16 years later my brain instantly goes to "What if these flowers are a bomb that are going to blow me up?"
This was Andrea's first BIG introduction to coping with a partner who has OCD. She knew it affected me before this, but after years of living with OCD I had gotten pretty good at hiding or not sharing most of the ways in which it affected me. However, with this new relationship, unlike those in the past, I decided she needed to know the "real" me before we got too serious. Because shit was only gonna get weirder from here. When I am not in close proximity with people copious hours a day, my OCD can go mostly unnoticed. People think I'm quirky, but rarely do they guess at the storm brewing in my head. But once I spend hours and days with you, it becomes a lot harder to hide and the OCD comes seeping out the cracks in my facade.
The flower bomb incident was a good introduction to my OCD. We had a long talk about it. Andrea had time to reflect and process it and decided that although my OCD may sometimes tarnish "romantic moments," in the end, my quirkiness is something that adds MORE to me than it takes away. She has learned most of my triggers and avoids them when and if she can (not always possible), and is infinitely patient when new ones emerge from the depths. I wish I could list all the ways in which OCD affects my life so there would be no more surprises, but there is SO MUCH that I often forget small but important events until something happens to rush them to the forefront. Or sometimes something new crops up that uncovers some trauma I've forgotten. Life isn't always smooth and easy for me, and that means it's not always smooth and easy for my partner. But Andrea continues to tell me that I am worth it and that OCD makes our life exciting and that she's dedicated to sticking by me through it all. I can only hope that she always feels that way. But then again, that's mostly just my OCD brain that worries and doubts her. And she understands that and hopes that one day I won't have as many worries, but is prepared for a lifetime of worries that may or may not be rational. Thank god for her. At least one of us has our shit together.
And she now knows to put a note on any surprises she leaves me. And that she probably shouldn't attach anything that could be a bomb (which is pretty much anything) directly to a door handle.
And now we can laugh about that one time she tried to kill me with a flower bomb.