…”Mom, can we talk?”
That’s how it started. A simple request from a daughter to a mother for a talk. I looked at those pale green eyes and saw the storm. “Of course we can talk, what’s up?” You see, I’ve kept an open dialogue with my children. I want them to come to me with anything and everything they need. I was not prepared for what the talk was about or was I?
My 17-year-old daughter needed to talk. Now with many girls her age this would possibly be about a fight with a friend, a break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend or maybe even a bully at school. As she sat down next to me to talk, tears gathered in those stormy green eyes and I could tell this was a rough one for her. She explained that she was having trouble. There was indeed a bully bothering my child. But this was not another child or a teacher, not even something or someone I could physically stand up to. I couldn’t fight this foe and make it back down away from my child. As a mother that is an impossible feeling. One I am no stranger to, this foe that has my girl in its grip. Only, this time it was different. It was not the Autism monster that had her and she needed help understanding feelings or a social situation explained. No, this was very different.
This foe, this monster that had her in its grip was not letting up. It was something I was almost familiar with, to an extent. But little did I know that day three moths ago just how wrong I was. Just how little I actually understood what she was going through. We sat and talked and I thought I had reached the root of the problem. Something happened at school, well to a close friend and she was angry. She was hurt and felt as if it had happened to her. She feels things deeper than most. Empath is most often used to describe the way she feels towards those she is closest to. So we talked about the “thing”, I tried to help her understand why this was happening. I thought maybe she was like me, she needed to control her surroundings because it felt like she lost control after the “thing” that happened.
I was partially right. The thing had indeed set off a domino effect, one that has been building for years just waiting to be knocked over. I thought the foe was anxiety. I have severe anxiety and what she was talking about sounded much like the same, to me. In the talk she explained she doesn’t want anyone in her room. That she feels angry when they walk on her carpet and touch her things. She explained that she feels like it’s dirty, unclean and she needs it clean. So I purchased her house slippers to wear around the house, then take off at the threshold of her room. Months before this I noticed her hands were chapped and red. I thought it was due to the weather, it was winter after all. I suggested lotion. I had no clue it was much bigger than cold weather. She didn’t even know she was obsessively washing her hands. Her hands were being washed to the point of being red and raw.
She seemed better, happier with the new house slippers and “No entering Cyan’s room” rules in place. But then her Dad forgot the rule. He playfully entered her room and she later came to me in tears. She was angry, angry he went in her room and angry at herself for feeling so angry about such a trivial thing. We had another talk, and I with him about the need to respect this new need of hers. We are no stranger to these kind of things, Cyan has autism. We have a lot of “rules”.
A little time passed and she came to me upset yet again. Saying it was not getting better. That she has to change her clothes if the dogs or birds touch her. I started watching how she was washing her hands every time she touched something outside her room. I started paying more attention. Then last night she came to me needing to talk. She was in tears, she said she couldn’t handle this any longer. She admitted to not sleeping because she lays in bed thinking if the birds touched something or the dogs or outside was in her room. She was worn out, mentally and emotionally. That storm, it was there in her eyes, the frustration the torture. I quickly came to see this was not anxiety, this was not like me. This was something bigger. I text her doctor who made her an appointment for today.
After talking with him we both came to see the truth. The new foe, not so new but just bigger, uglier and stronger. She has always had issues with being touched, with things touching her that are sticky or unclean. She has always had meltdowns if others touched what belonged to her. At school the teachers watch this and accommodate her. There it was, the monster that had my baby girl in its grips. The one I could not slay for her, the one I could stand up to and shout down. It’s not a quirk. It’s a very real, very scary all-consuming foe. OCD the real disease. Not the need to have a clean house or towels in a certain order. OCD, thoughts she can’t control, rituals she must complete or intrusive thoughts eat at her until she is melting down in stress and anxiety.
I cried when Dr. Raley said the words. I felt this anger wash over me. How dare another disorder grip my child. I cried at the torture I’ve seen in her stormy green eyes. I cried at knowing this would be a hell of a fight for her to over come. But I turned off the water works, came home started researching, buying books and booking appointments with the recommended therapist. I put on my armor, strapped my swords to my back and readied myself because this Mom does not go down without giving her last fighting breath.
Hello, we just met today. I see you’ve decided to share a room with my daughter, Cyan. I see you have picked the wrong home, the wrong child and the wrong mother. You see, OCD, I have experience in fighting for her, I have experience in the things you deal out. You won’t win, she will beat you, she will overcome you because she has ME.
Ready to fight,