In Which Mom Loses Her Temper

Costa RicaYes, I felt a little inspired by Winnie the Pooh books for this one (remember, In Which Piglet is Entirely Surrounded by Water?”). Maybe it’s my way of getting a little storybook-esque about what happened last night and getting some distance from something I feel horrible for. Whatever it is, we begin with Mom putting the final touches on family dinner. Michael is away and Mom has worked hard on a nice meal in hopes that the family that is here (Dad, Blake, and herself) can enjoy time together. All are just about ready to sit down together. And then it happens…

Mom makes a mistake. Blake, who constantly looks over Mom’s shoulder when food preparation is involved (food that he is going to eat), points out Mom’s mistake and notes that he will now be unable to eat said food. Mom, who usually does not cook for Blake for just this reason, tries to keep it together. Maybe it was a real error; maybe it is an error only according to that interloper, OCD. It does not matter. Either way, Mom feels her heart sink. The hard work will not be appreciated by all. There is a breach in the dream for the evening. The evening feels ruined to her.

Hard as she tries, she cannot contain her disappointment. Hurt and angry words escape from her mouth, and then she escapes from the situation. She leaves the house. She walks around the block, fuming as she goes. There is so much pressure in having someone look over her shoulder. Yet, he is her son, who she loves. How can one mistake devastate an entire evening? How could she have become so foolish that she got back into the trap of believing she could do things without there being a catch? How can she be so black and white? She is angry with the situation. She is angry with herself.

She returns half an hour later still hurt, hunger gone. She walks the dogs and skips dinner. Blake walks downstairs crying his eyes out, telling Dad that he hates hurting his parents. He wishes he were dead so he cannot hurt them. He is inconsolable. Mom is upstairs hating herself, but still reeling in her own despair and afraid if she tries to say anything to Blake now she will only make it worse. She falls asleep.

In the morning light, she seeks out Blake and they talk. She apologizes for losing her temper and she reminds him that, regardless of anything that happens, it is her love for him that is more important than any meal. She notes the trap she sets for them all by placing too much emphasis on things going perfect, and she notes that she has work to do on how she reacts. She is a work in progress. She is imperfect. She is going to mess up again, but she hopes she will learn from last night. It is not easy living with OCD in the family – not easy to be a parent. She strives to keep learning, keep improving.

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8 thoughts on “In Which Mom Loses Her Temper

  1. Oh, I feel for you. We hold everything together for so long, and we ache for just a lovely, normal situation, and then the CRAP rears its ugly head and we sometimes lose it. I’ve been there so many times. Thinking of you.

  2. You are SO not alone Angie 🙂 The first thing that popped into my mind after reading your post was a phrase that is in one of my OCD self help books: “It’s not me, it’s OCD. It’s not me, it’s my brain.” What you went through isn’t your fault and it isn’t Blake’s fault. It’s OCD’s fault.

    The potential impact on a family dealing with a bad case of OCD can be devastating. I am living proof of that unfortunately. I am blessed with a small very close family: my Mom and two (married) brothers. They have supported me since I was diagnosed in 1990. 26 years! I am so blessed to have them, but my heart aches when I think about how OCD has impacted their lives. They have all made big sacrifices so that we as a family can “manage” my OCD.

    I can bore you with more details another time, but in 2000, at age 38, after being in proper treatment for 10 years, OCD turned my world upside down. I was not improving nearly enough despite the fact that I was in ERP therapy and on meds. I had worked very hard at treatment for those 10 years. But my progress was not good enough. The result: I lost my 18 year marriage, my 20 year career, and my dream home.

    For the past 16 years I’ve been trying to build chapter two of my life with very limited success. I am still in treatment, but clearly my case is “treatment resistant”.

    A bad case of OCD can literally be “Hell on Earth”. Despite that, I will never stop maximizing the use of the abilities that I DO have. There are worse diseases out there, but OCD is a tough one.

    So give yourself some well deserved credit. You and your family are coping with a nasty disease. From what I’m reading in your blog, over all you are doing an amazing job!

    Blessings,

    -Paul

    • I would just like to clarify that I am not looking for sympathy here.
      My basic message is that sometimes we are too hard on ourselves when we evaluate our own efforts to battle OCD. At times managing OCD is a VERY tough challenge. Sometimes being more gentle with the oneself is appropriate.

      We are all “dealt a hand” in life. Personally, I am trying to make the best of the hand I have been dealt… Every single day!

  3. Thank YOU for this wonderful blog Angie. You have created a place where people can support one another as we all work through the myriad of issues that OCD creates in our lives. This blog matters! I know it takes time and effort to to keep a blog “going”. I don’t have hard numbers, but I suspect you are helping far more people than you may realize!

    As you do all this wonderful work, please don’t forget to take care of YOU! As you well know, it’s very hard to find energy to help others if you are not well yourself.

    I hope you are having a good week!
    -Paul

  4. I found your blog this morning and gobbled up every last word in about 20 minutes. I am the mother of a 12 year old daughter and husband both with OCD. Frankly, it is a relief to read my own feelings coming from someone else. This post in particular struck me because, in our family, we too try so hard not to make a “mistake”. Our therapist painted a picture for me last meeting, of the family that does everything they can not to upset OCD, a family that jumps through extensive hoops on a minute by minute basis, to avoid angering the OCD monster. (Because my daughter is young, as a way to help her understand her own issue, we call him Mr. OCD and refer to him as an extra little monster in her head like the little figures from the movie “Inside Out”.) I said to her that I never really thought of our family as “that” family. And she said “oh, you most definitely are that family.” Wow, what a realization for me. So I continue to work toward awareness with compassion and patience, but G-d! how hard that is at times. I too lose my patience, and most often in the exact wrong moments, but I try to remember that I am human and imperfect too. And that love comes above it all. I will keep following your posts. It is good to know we are not alone.

    • So glad you found the blog and that it is connecting with your experience. That was a lot to take in that last meeting from your family’s therapist. It’s so positive that you are open to taking in the feedback. I think one of the toughest things as a parent is watching our kids get upset; I think it’s our instinct to try to comfort and protect them. But that OCD monster only grows bigger when we do that (Blake called his “the Kraken”). And it is great to know we are not alone. Keep reading and do feel free to let me know how things go! Best, Angie

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