Not quite sure why I’m feeling down today. By rights, I should be feeling quite good; I just spent £550 on new clothes. Basic stuff I needed: underwear, bras, trousers, tee-shirts. I bought two pairs of SuperGa classic canvas shoes for the winter. I still need some wellies and walking boots and a waterproof jacket, but those things will have to wait.
Yesterday I went round to the house of some new recovery friends I’ve made recently. It was nice. I had to get a bus over there and the views en route were gorgeous. The sea. The horizon and green fields; well, what other colour are fields!
I’ve been round theirs before. Once. For some reason I feel a bit like I’m going round to my relatives when I visit A and J. My nan’s. Perhaps it’s because they’re older than me, wealthy (millionaires) and slightly of the authority type: active in the fellowship, sponsoring women, and, well, wealthy. I do like them though.
I wasn’t especially looking forward to the visit, but by the time I was leaving to go, I was feeling quite pleased I had some friends to see. They have a lovely place as well. Lots of animals: cats, dogs, ducks, chickens. Doves. Lots of space with wonderful interesting nooks and crannies and sacred spaces.
I get on with one half of the marriage better than the other half. The person who invited me was the one I seem to be more similar to. They are quieter and, to mind, less domineering that A. This played out this time around, as I expected. For example, A seemed to shoot me cutting glances on more than one occasion: perhaps I came across as a bit nosey when I touched their wedding anniversary cards that were hanging behind where I was sitting. After I did that A stopped looking at me when she was speaking. This unnerved me and left me feeling that I had overstepped some sort of boundary. Her whole demeanour was brimming with disapproval.
The first time I ever met these two was a few years ago at an AA meeting which no longer exits. For some reason the sense that she got jealous when J was talking to me stuck me like a sledge hammer. J is more approachable, which is why we got to chatting. A kept shooting me suspicious glances. I’m not sure that I always feel this around couples, but I certainly felt paranoid around A and J.
The first time I visited them my paranoia took the backseat somewhat. I still got the feeling that A didn’t like me too well, but it felt manageable. I didn’t feel threatened. This changed yesterday. To be honest I had braced myself for some sort of conflict. The time before, when I arrived and presented my contribution to the meal — two bottles of orangey stuff — A said: why did you bring this? Is this what you drink? She removed it from the fridge after J had placed my squash and juice there to chill.
I was taken aback by this, but I wasn’t all that surprised. Oh, I thought to myself. There it is (the hostility I was expecting). That was why I wasn’t especially surprised when A started to edit me out of her conversation after I dared to handle their wedding anniversary card. In fact the reason I had taken an extra interest was because I knew that it was A’s sobreity anniversary this week and I had been planning to ask J about it so that we could organise her a surprise group card.
Despite my expectations I was pretty bewildered that A was so rude. As with the drinks, they seemed quite happy to ignore all the conventions of hosting a meal in her home.
The person that A was engaging in conversation was pretty new to sobriety. A is very active in her efforts to assist newcomers. They have a lot of mentee’s. Once I considered this factor, I reprimanded myself for being put out. It was clear that A and the new person connected in their spiritual values, more so than myself and A do.
J said: lets go outside for a walk. We strolled about whilst they fed their animals: the doves and the cats. We visited the chickens and ducks.
J and A have a small house outside their front door for the cats to snuggle up in. I’d been talking about getting a cat and it happened that we both went to stroke the moggie brushing up against the miniature roof and our hands touched. This ‘incident’ aroused in me a sensation of transgression. I felt immediately worried. In truth, this sort of thing always arouses a response inside me when it occurs. Had I not been worried about A, I would probably have thought nothing of it. I’m not the sort of person that is attracted to affairs, J is not a love interest, and I don’t view our friendship as composed of any amorous undercurrents. But paranoia isn’t often based on reason.
The visit concluded happily enough and before long we all took off for the local AA group we are all a part of. When the day concluded and I snuggled up in front of the TV to watch the rest of The Informer on Netflix, I felt pretty much contented.
But my freedom from anxiety returned this morning to haunt me. Scrolling through my Guardian app over a cup of coffee something A had said flashed through my mind: I would have to kill you. They were ostensibly referring to a conversation with a person employed in a local military base. A had asked the military personnel what their job was and their interlocutor had said: If I told you that I would have to kill you.
This sentence had lodged itself in my brain. I thought of the moment mine and J’s hands had inadvertently met when stroking the cat and my mind was filled with dread. Oh, here ‘it’ is again, I intoned.
I think the ‘it’ represents the dynamic occurring at the unconscious level when I spend time with this particular couple. I really don’t think it’s ‘all in my head’. It’s there, not talking, not showing its face, but haunting from the shadows of the dinner table. The return of the repressed.
All of this was very unwelcome. I find myself in a dilemma. One of my options is an old pastime of mine — confession. I want to purge myself of my discomfort. I want it removed from my system. I’m seeing my therapist later today and will probably tell her about it. What a pain! I have such a backlog piling up since the last time we met.
Unwanted thoughts. Obsessions insinuating themselves and disrupting my peace of mind. The compulsive aspect would be the confessing. I mean, there is no danger of myself and J entering into an extramarital affair. It’s not real. I think this is what is meant by ‘Pure OCD’, a condition I have suffered from for many years.
I don’t know why I have this thing. I don’t know what it signifies. I know when it started though — I was about seventeen. It was like being attacked in the head with a sledgehammer, but I think that would have been preferable. It was the absolute worst thing that ever happened to me. I felt like I was being invaded with evil. I couldn’t keep it out. It was why, when I joined AA, I had no difficulty with the God word. I felt like I was possessed by the devil.
Finding that label helped me enormously. It was a real thing — the ‘intrusive thoughts’. I wasn’t the only person that was cursed. Thinking I might have killed someone and forgotten it didn’t make me a murderer. I was ill. I was traumatised. I was certainly traumatised.
It may not be pleasant, but at least I know what it is. The Pure OCD, otherwise known as Harm OCD is back. Another label to add to the list.