I wanted to thank everyone who has left feedback on my blog in the last little while. I do read the feedback usually (I get a bit of spam, so you know). But I am so appreciative of the new readers we get after all these years and the impact that my words have on you. I’m glad that I can help make people feel a little less alone or strange. Frankly, I’m pretty crap at in person relationships (besides my marriage), so having a blog or writing books works well for me. I can handle this level of contact and back and forth.
But this month in particular I received two comments, one about scrupulosity and one about dogs and fecal contamination issues. Since scrupulosity is a bigger talking point for me at the moment, I’ll start with the dog comment.
A lovely reader from Scandinavia asked me about my poop contamination and the fact that I have a dog. Do I still have contamination OCD? Yes. I am on medication still, but I still have issues with poop and need to make sure I am completely wiped, etc. I was terrified of being able to handle having a dog for this reason. Dogs don’t wipe. Dog’s don’t wear underwear or diapers. I mean, they do have dog diapers, but those are for emergencies and not everyday use.
Let’s Talk Poop
Honestly, it was hard at first. It was difficult to pick up dog poop and carry it with me on walks, even if it was in a little bag. It was not great when he peed on the carpet when we were training him. It was awful when we hadn’t yet figured out that he was intolerant of chicken and had diarrhea all over our West Elm couch and his crate. Multiple times. Yes, that was truly awful. But, remembering something that therapists often told me, I handled it. I was presented with terrible situations like diarrhea all over our couch twice during Christmas vacation when we had a guest at our house, and I handled it. Why? Because I had to.
OCD likes to convince us that we absolutely, under no circumstances, can deal with the thing that we fear. Hard pass. But what if? What if it happens? Most of the time, it doesn’t happen because the fear is irrational. We know that, but we still can’t get over it. But what if the fear is rational? Maybe unlikely, but still rational?
Well, then if it ever happens, you have to deal with it or you die. I mean, that’s the alternative to not dealing with it, right? Maybe you pass out, maybe you have a panic attack, but those reactions are also “handling” it in an extreme way. Somehow, you make it through.
I remember having to “make it through” before I got treatment at all and when I didn’t even fully realizing what was going on. It was like I had to make a checklist in my mind of all the things I “had” to do in order to get through this seemingly impossible situation. I had to get dressed. I had to get in the car. I had to drive to the store to buy bleach and disinfectant. I had to come home and do the laundry. I had to spray the house. I had to wash my hands. It was A very detailed and very thorough plan or plans, but I got through those times as well. Why? Because I wasn’t going to die.
Of course, there were also times when I considered not going through it. There were times when I thought dying would be the easier option. And those times and those feelings were incredibly real and convincing. Luckily, I had a family who cared for me, and who I could talk to about it. I had a mother who talked me through my options, if I refused to go back to what my life had been. I had a husband who took me to get help.
But it is possible to get through it without using the death option.
You Just Do It
But back to the dog. I got through those extremely hard times. I washed the couch cushions and sprayed them so much. Like literally so much. We still use that couch. Granted, I tend to keep to one specific spot on that couch, but I recognize that compulsion. I own that.
And I love the dog, so I continue to deal with it and take care of him. I really do love that dog. He is silly and dumb and barks at all the other dogs, but I love him. I try to keep his butt off “that” couch but he still gets up there and cuddles us. By having to pick up his poop and accept that he sits all over the house with his gross bottom, my tolerance has increased. I’m not as worried about it. I’ve accepted it.
Of course, (real dog talk here) if poop is hanging down from his bum hole or off his tail (this has all happened), I will wipe it with a wipe. I really will. He hates it. But I can’t have that.
So, you know, you find your level and you challenge yourself. But the dog has helped me, so much. He gives me a reason to get out there and walk. I usually am too self conscious to just take a walk. I walk him and don’t watch where I step on the sidewalk. I used to always watch where I stepped (for dog poop). Now, if I see it ahead of me, I avoid it, but I look out at the world when I walk.
It’s changed my life, and it’s changed my family’s life for the better to have a dog. He does bark a lot, though. So, lovely Scandinavian reader who probably knows Moomintroll and because of that I love you, please get that dog and name him after a Moomin character.
Okay, sorry, I realize I’m not getting scrupulosity on this post. But stay tuned!