As the title of this blog (OCD In The Family) would suggest, OCD affects the whole family. Siblings can be hard hit in the whole mix of things. In our family, Blake’s big brother, who is two-and-a-half years older has often felt trapped in the middle of a storm with little he could do about it. From the time he was nine-years-old, he was pulled out of school to attend therapy appointments, has had to watch his brother’s major meltdowns and has felt the loss of mom and dad when we have been pulled to deal with one of Blake’s OCD moments.
While our lives have been much calmer in recent years, there are still conflicts that occur and many situations are touched by OCD’s handiwork. The calm times have allowed for big brother to vent his own frustrations and share his perspective on the situation. The truth is he still harbors a lot of resentments towards Blake and toward his dad and I for some of the ways we have handled things. While he has little trouble telling his dad and I how we fall short (he is, after all, 16), it has been a little tougher for him to clear the air with Blake without me intervening in the process. This past week, though, he found a way to assert himself with his brother.
Big Brother Takes a Stand
Dinner time – ah, yes, the perfect time to start an “OCD is messing up our lives” discussion. Why does it always seem to happen around dinner time? At any rate, as I was preparing for the family meal, Blake and big brother were setting the table. During the process, Blake switched out his placemat and replaced it with a different one. He continued to set the table, but big brother saw this as the perfect time to confront Blake about his OCD.
“What was that about?”
“What?” Blake asked innocently.
“Come on. I saw that. You switched out your placemat. Put the other one back.”
“No. I can’t.” Apparently some food had been eaten using the placemats that are on Blake’s “No Eat” list.
“This isn’t right. This is OCD. It’s not going to affect my dinner. Put it back.”
I tried to interject at this point.
“You know what? If Blake decides that he is going to do something, then that is his business. If he’s not asking for help to defeat OCD, then it’s his thing…”
“Mom – for once take a stand!” big brother implored. “It’s not okay for him to do this.”
Mom Backs Off
I closed my mouth and took a step back. I’ve been more reflective lately and have been trying to allow myself a little measure of peace. For sure, I’ve intervened in Blake’s interactions with his big brother many, many times. I’ve tried to protect him and tried to prevent blow ups. It occurred to me that it was time to step back and let them work this out themselves – as long as no one was taking too bad a beating.
So they continued with their argument – Blake standing up for himself and insisting that this was not OCD, and big brother insisting that it was and that Blake must not give in to it. For certain, it got heated at moments, but no one got way out of line. I’m not sure the situation was ever resolved. What was apparent to me is that my boys need to have the space to sort this out, even if it means it gets heated sometimes. Big brother needs to have a voice in light of his brother’s OCD and Blake needs to hear how his brother feels affected – and he also needs to learn how to stand up for himself in situations like this. Stepping out of it is a big step for me. We will see how I do.
*Note: I am doing much better than I was the last time I posted. The depression has nearly completely lifted. It did give me the ability to step back and look at things from a distance. Blake, on his part, has started relaxing some of his eating rules and is eating a greater variety of foods. I hope it is a trend that continues.