Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Running in the Family

My sister does not have OCD. But she is a worrier. She worries mostly about her children. Yesterday she called me. She'd checked in with the special ed teacher at her older daughter's school and found out that my niece and her best friend were not in the same class next year. She asked if one of them could be switched, and so my niece was switched into the friend's class. But the special ed teacher did not tell her which teacher's class my niece been switched out of or into.

So of course my sister was ruminating: what if she was in a great teacher's class and now she'll be in a less great teacher's class? Ack, maybe I should tell them to undo it! But she didn't. (and this all ignored the fact that as far as I can tell, all of the possible teachers are actually pretty good).

As I often do, I took on her worry for a bit. I do this all the time when people share worries with me, but I was able to let it go pretty easily.

But I do often find that when I make a decision I worry that I made the wrong one. What if because of this decision I end up dead! But I can't change it, because maybe it's the OTHER option that that ends up with me dead! Which ignores the fact that very few of the options are likely to leave me dead. Not anytime soon anyway.


  1. Ann, I have a hard time giving my opinion of what someone should do--even simple things, like a recommendation to a restaurant--because I'm afraid that I'll give the wrong advice and cause harm. If I give myself leeway to do it, I can come up with all kinds of ways that I am responsible for the safety of the planet. It's hard, but I'm trying to let go . . . . .

  2. Tell your sister that no matter what happens, her daughter will have her best friend by her side :)

  3. There's that uncertainty again! You just never know which is the right decision. Sometimes you don't find out for years, and sometimes you will never find out. It was especially hard for me to make decisions with regard to my child. You just feel so responsible for another little person. But, I guess you can only do what you think is best at the time. Even if you make a wrong decision, not too many of those bad decisions are life ending or completely irreversible.

  4. Well, I can relate to your sister, as I am a worrier, usually with worries centered around my children. But I've gotten better.......all this talk and writing about living with uncertainty has helped me, even though I don't have OCD.

  5. I need your help with this unrelated question... I am deathly afraid of our garbage cans and live in TERROR of the garbage men and their trucks. I have contamination OCD and think garbage to be completely full of blood and HIV and my brain can not remember when I used to think differently. I was reading a few of your posts about you neighbor's garbage and it appears that you don't have any trouble with taking out the garbage... it is not normal for people to fear garbage?! I hope you understand that my OCD is asking :)

    1. I'm pretty sure that while most people find garbage gross, they are not afraid of it. And I've had more than one therapist remind me of all the people who take out the garbage, or throw something into the big can, then climb in the car and go to work. They might then stop on the way to pick up breakfast to eat in the car- no hand washing involved. I know my parents and sister don't wash after touching their garbage cans.

      I still don't love garbage, but I've gotten much much better at dealing with it. I've even gone so far as to move the can from the curb a few times this spring without washing afterward. Another unavoidable exposure that's helped: the trucks in our city are supposed to be "leak-proof" but they are not. They leak slimy garbage ooze at every stop, which means about 10 piles of ooze on every block, every week. I ride my bike over that ooze. Just today I ran over a pile, yes a pile! of who- knows-what that dripped out of the bottom of a garbage truck. So I've had to accept that all of the streets that I travel everyday have garbage ick ALL OVER THEM. As "they" say, when everything's contaminated, nothing is.

      SO, all that to say, we cannot guarantee that the garbage is safe. But we're all exposed to it one way or another, and we're not dropping dead.