I have a lot of fun alone.
K, yeah. That way too. But that's not what this article is about.
What I mean is that I genuinely delight in my own company. I make myself laugh when I do stupid things. I shimmy in the kitchen and use utensils as microphones with conviction. I talk to myself as I putter around the house. I think I am cute and hilarious when I drop things. In Easy A when Emma Stone decides to spend an entire weekend with a musical card that plays "Pocketful of Sunshine" I discovered my solo anthem. Basically, I would date me.
But I haven't been in what I would call a committed relationship for a few years now: I've been flying solo and figuring out how my brain works (or how it doesn't more likely.) It's been so long that I'm not 100% sure what kind of partner I would be, I guess having had this much introspection, I get to choose...
My baggage used to be an invisible pet elephant that came along everywhere I went. I was so anxious so often that I came off distant, uninterested or shy. Really I was just negotiating in my brain how vile a person I chose to believe I was that day. OCD will always be in my brain and she's welcome as long as she knows her place (hello Though Monster Management 101). I am excited for a future partner but what gives me pause is how life changes can trigger relapses and take good things and ruin them with new vulnerabilities. And what's more vulnerable than loving someone?
I'm not a person who loves freely, but I admire people that do. To give and adore without reservation inspires me, even when it leads to frequent heart break. I have years of caution and damaging thoughts that diminish my self-confidence romantically. Intrusive thoughts about committing murder? No problemo my friend. Intrusive thought about "being too much"? That shit still needs work. (affirmations are helping yeesss.)
Sometimes I look back on relationships and wonder "did I leave because the person was wrong or because the anxiety of a highly committed relationship was overwhelming." The thought itself is a symptom of the thought. Or is it? Meta. Meta? (metaaaa). It's the ultimate love self-gaslighting. It's exhausting. Good stuff being poisoned by OCD's anxious, narcissistic interjections can leave a person feeling like peace will never exist, in relationships or otherwise.
OCD sufferers don't have the monopoly on relationship stress. We're all just little blobs of water and emotion and we all experience the fears associated with vulnerability. The difference between relationship OCD and regular stress is the level of detriment that occurs in your life. Its a difference found somewhere on the spectrum between doubting if a partner is good for you based on a non-negotiable situation vs. questioning if you love someone every day based on small aspects that you constantly measure to determine worthiness.
I'm no expert in relationship anxiety but my heart goes out to you, dear reader, if this afflicts your intimate relationships. I can relate to a few of the symptoms listed here but not all. OCD is like casserole: your version baking away will never be quite the same as everyone else's.
I have put in the work (that's ongoing, are we ever done?) to course correct the burdens I put on past partners and myself. I was always trying to cover and hide and pretend I was fine. That's a shadow of who I can be and dear reader, you and I deserve to share our full selves boldly, OCD or no.
I know my future partner will be signing up for more involvement in my thought processes than others. I know I will need long hugs when I'm panicking. And words of comfort when I think I'm sick. And maybe a cool hand on my forehead when I'm hyperventilating or lying on the kitchen floor because I think my heart will burst it's pounding so hard. But now I know what I need, and that's a huge step forward.
I'm proud of having figured out how to cope with OCD. It has increased my strength and self-respect. It would be cool to share that with someone someday.
But! There's still some things I need to sort out. So wherever you might be, future partner, hello! As soon as I'm ready the door will swing wide. My baggage isn't elephantine any more, its more like an adorable Canadian house hippo with a how-to care manual. And this little hippo will be happy to see you.
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