Tonight I am writing with equal parts frustration and sadness. Once again, OCD has reared its face and thwarted our family plans. I’m feeling a little bratty about it. I want to tell on it, chastise it, turn on my heels and take my toys home – except I live here with it.
Tonight we had plans for a family game night. It was Blake’s idea – a kind of celebration that all four of us are home on a Saturday night. He had a game all ready to go; it was one he had been wanting to play together for days.
We ordered in a pizza. My hubby had been craving one all week. I made us a salad to go with it and the boys set the table, but as I was working, I noticed that the table was only set for 3. Those of you who have read other posts may recall that Blake has a lot of rules around food. I often don’t know what they are, and I try not to accommodate to them even if I do know. I try to present a wide variety of foods at each meal and hope that he will eat.
“Blake, there’s only three place settings at the table,” I noted.
“I’m going to eat over here,” he told me. He pointed to the kitchen island where he was setting a place for himself.
I knew what this was about. The food we were eating didn’t conform to his rules. He had already asked me if he could make himself a different meal. I didn’t argue; he made himself a something different than the rest of us were eating. What I hadn’t seen coming was that now he was eating clear across the kitchen from us lest our food might somehow contaminate his.
“Blake, come join us at the table. Please.”
“I can’t, Mom. I can’t be near the stuff you guys are eating.”
So, three of us ate at the table while Blake ate his meal alone. It was sad for me, and I was hoping it was at least a little sad for Blake not being able to directly be a part of our conversations and stories. At least we could look forward to playing together once the meal was over – but that’s where I was wrong.
When the table was cleared and the leftovers put away, we all sat down to play our game. Blake brought it over and held it protectively in his arms. Like a referee he looked around at the three of us and made an announcement.
“Guys, I need you all to wash up before we play.”
My head shook as if clearing cobwebs away. What? Wash up? Huh? …And just like that, OCD took the reins at game night.
“Wash up? Why?” my older son asked.
“You guys all ate food I won’t eat, so before you touch my game I need you to wash up,” he announced.
The truth of the matter was that I had already washed up, but I stopped short of telling him. That’s because I knew in this case that it was OCD making demands, not Blake’s rational mind. To offer up that I’d already washed would have been offering reassurance, something that to Blake, and many other OCD sufferers, is like a drug. My hubby and our older son were savvy to the “OCDness” of this request, too.
“No, Blake. We’re not going to wash,” my hubby said gently, but with conviction. “You can get through this. Let’s just play.”
“Yeah, c’mon Blake,” said big brother. “You’re not gonna eat off the cards.”
“No, guys, I’m standing firm on this. I’m not going to change my mind. I need you all to wash up.”
“Blake, are you really going to let OCD hijack our game time?” my husband asked him.
“I’m not going to change my mind.”
I stood up. I wasn’t in any mood to get into a long-winded discussion about this. Sad and frustrated as I was feeling, I was done.
“In that case, I guess we won’t be playing.” I said, and I walked out of the room.
My husband offered one more time to just play, but Blake declined and my husband turned on a college football game on T.V. His big brother tried one more time to reason logically with him, but got nowhere. He sat down, looking dejected, and turned his attention to the laptop in the room.
Blake ended up still holding his game, his arms folded over it. I’m not really sure how he felt about the whole thing, but I suspect he thinks it is all our fault that we wouldn’t comply with this small request. As you’re reading this, you may also wonder why we couldn’t just comply and get it over with. The reason is this: if you give OCD an inch, it’ll take a mile. One little thing is never enough to satisfy OCD; it always asks for more and more. If we comply, managing Blake’s OCD becomes our problem too, as we have to ever adapt our behavior to its continually changing requirements.
Now I sit here writing. I put it here instead of taking it out on Blake or anyone else in the family. Would I rather be playing a family game? That’s for certain, but not on OCD’s terms. Perhaps I will get us another game and at least 3 of us will play. Maybe Blake will join. I look forward to the day when we can sit down to play without the uninvited guest.