Susan's Blog

Thursday, February 14, 2008

If the Shoe Fits, Eat it

I bought a big chocolate high heel shoe filled with chocolate hearts. It was sitting on a silver platter. I kept thinking and thinking, “Which friend can I give this to? Who would love to have it as much as I would?”

And then I thought, “Me.” I laughed at myself, thinking that was ridiculous and pathetic. You don’t buy yourself Valentine chocolate. But then I thought, Why not? I realized that all day I had been thinking of something in kind of a destructive OCD way, and not even being aware of it. Only aware in a subconscious way, like when you know a cold is forming behind your nose but you don’t yet have to give into it. You no longer feel good, but you are not yet sick.

I brought the light brown shoe home and left it in the pantry. I sat in front of my computer, unable to write for the first time in days. Time was dragging. I was thinking about that thing again. The bad feeling was now at my center, and I could feel myself twitching, wanting to get rid of it. Wanting to take action.

I texted Ned. I told him about my day, and about when the feeling first started. I realized, as I wrote to him, that I had actually succeeded a tiny bit in my OCD tendencies simply by the fact that I had continued to live my life even with that low-level bad feeling. While I typed, I felt the poison pounding through me, the desire to act. I suddenly flashed back to my terrible days of OCD, back when Max was a baby. How I could not even take a walk without going back to check things.

But one day, about a month into taking Prozac, I felt the craving to go back and check, just as I walked past the Stop & Shop. I was fully aware of the craving and the profound discomfort it gave me. But I also knew, with a feeling that was just as strong as the fiery craving, that I needed to experience walking on in order to build up a history of walking on. I needed to know I did it once, and could therefore survive. So that day, I walked on, without going back. I felt horrible at first, sweating and tense, but the further I got, the more I realized, “Well, it’s actually now too late to go back. I will have to live with this, with whatever happens as a result of not going back.” And I could keep going. I eventually felt a release from the need. It was over.

Perhaps the worst thing about OCD is that things are never over. But that may also be, deep down, why you do it. Because then you can live in perpetual, unreal state. A state of, “But if I do this [ritual]… then…” The perpetual state allows you to think magically, to believe that your OCD behavior can right the wrong.

I realized: you have to want something to be over in order to let go of OCD. (Well, that, and you have to have well-greased synapses.) While I was texting with Ned, I was profoundly aware of how badly I wanted to be better, to be done with this particular obsession. And then I remembered the walking-on, fifteen years ago. I thought that if I sit and absorb these bad feelings without acting on them, I will then know what it feels like to resist; to be done. But — it will mean I am done. Can I handle that?

“I’ll be home soon,” typed Ned.

I felt it lift away, like the dissipation of a bad smell. I smiled to myself. I was tired. And a little hungry.

So I ate the damned candy in the shoe, smiling.


I must see a picture of this shoe. Good for you!! Happy V-Day!!

— added by ASDmomNC on Thursday, February 14, 2008 at 8:57 pm

ASD Mom,
I found a picture very similar to my chocolate shoe, and pasted it in!

— added by Susan Senator on Thursday, February 14, 2008 at 10:37 pm

Susan,everyone needs a little compulsive thing now and then,whether it be a shoe, a hat, or something like that.Enjoy the chocolate!

— added by Anonymous on Friday, February 15, 2008 at 8:19 am

Shoes and chocolate – two of my most favorite things. I ate crab rangoons for my special treat on V – day, so I’ll pick up some discount chocolate next week. I love post-holiday markdowns.

I get a sense that your internal voice is very sharp when you list your flaws. Susan, be your own best friend – everyone who posts here gets great value from your efforts. You are a dynamo, with a lot of well-placed moxie and I envy you your rock-solid support system. Have a great weekend, and gnaw on a pump for me. Lisa

— added by Anonymous on Friday, February 15, 2008 at 3:16 pm

Lisa –
Could you email me? I need to ask you something.

— added by Susan Senator on Friday, February 15, 2008 at 3:51 pm

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