I Don’t Like To Feel
I remember learning about the obsession and compulsion cycle when I first came into recovery, and writing extensively about it. Not being able to think about anything other than the object of my obsession for hours and hours, and then compulsively acting on it.
Early on, I thought the obsession and compulsion was all about drugs and alcohol, but in my writing I learned was fooling myself. I wasn’t looking at my daily behavior in my own home.
The truth is, I was obsessing constantly. I was staying up way too late in order to finish that last load of laundry. I could not think, sleep, or focus until every scrap of cloth in my house was folded and put away.
The cabinet of baby food in my house looked like a scene from Sleeping With the Enemy. If hubby grabbed a jar and set off the balance, I would squirm and wring my hands until I could go into the cabinet to set it right.
Every time the baby spit up, it was full costume change, down to the matching bib, socks, and hair bow, even if we weren’t leaving the house.
Sitting down to work on my recovery writing was the worst. I spent hours pouring my heart out, but if I didn’t like the way my handwriting looked, I’d scrap the whole page. I know now what I was doing, but I didn’t know it then. I was doing everything and anything I could do to not think about how I was feeling. Letting myself obsess, occupied my mind so I didn’t have to feel. Diving into those obsessions was a familiar pattern, but feeling my feelings was not. I fear what is not familiar.
I’ve learned to let go of some of those obsessions. By sharing them with other women, and working through the underlying reasons. Most importantly, I work through the feelings I was trying so hard not to feel. I’m happy to report there is a load of clothes in my dryer that’s been there for 13 hours. That might not sound like much to you, but for me, it’s a victory.
Lately I’ve been obsessing about food. I think about what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat, which condiments I’m going to use, and whether I eat more or less than the average woman should. ALL DAY. The obsession and compulsion cycle feels familiar, and the satisfying feeling I get when I sit down to eat is unsettling. It’s not, “Yay, I’m so hungry!” but rather, “Thank goodness I don’t have to obsess anymore.”
Until I get hungry again.
Rachel has been in recovery since October 29, 2010, and she’s not afraid to speak out about it. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two daughters.