Contagion

Here's a break from the lessons. Below is a story, more of a cautionary tale for those afflicted with OCD, a spouse and the turmoil it causes. Take heed. Seek help if you can. You'll be thankful you did. When a marriage falls on hard times, one of the questions asked is: Who benefits? Easy. Everyone else who knows the story and is married or has a significant other.


 My wife has been gone for a month. She left me. I lost my best friend, my lover and my spouse in one fell swoop. One evening after work, I arrived home to find our house empty; no dogs, no crates, no clothes, no wife. She had taken everything of value to her and went to her parent’s. All that awaited me that evening was a single yellow paper. A Dear John… It outlined our problems and why she had chosen to leave. Most of the reasons were faults that rested with me. I have OCD. It runs my life, and so it ran hers as well. The constant cleaning, the obsessive behavior, the compulsive spending, credit card debt, loan debt, lying about finances; all faults and negatives generated by me. Though, not every problem lay with me.
She had her own anxieties and sadness. Some family related, other’s work related. She wrote that she needed time and space, and that she loved me. I was devastated. I took the yellow paper, crumpled it up and threw it in the trash. (Later I would remove the crumpled paper and keep it as reminder). I was in an immense state of denial, anger, sadness, and betrayal. Every negative feeling I had, seemed to emerge at once. Each of them was vying to express themselves externally, for increments at a time. I called her, I texted her. Every word I could produce was negative and vile. Pure reaction to what had just happened to me. She never responded. 12:00 a.m. the next day, she answered with a text. She was alright and so were our sons, the dogs. It gave me relief that she was ok, but this was just the beginning.
As the first few days moved along, I was in a fog. I was in a constant state of ambivalence towards everyone and everything. Who do I tell? Who don’t I tell? I’m embarrassed. My wife left me. She left me. Me. That’s all I could think. I was so unbearable to be around, so bad, that she left me. You’ve taken what you have and given it her, I thought. Anxiety. You’re a virus. You ruin people. You break people. It’s hard to reconcile that in your head. Because, you can’t escape yourself, you can’t discard yourself. You are you. And you are defective.
After some time had passed, I told my best friend. He consoled me as much as he could over the phone. After all, he lives 180 miles north of where we are located. My whole family is. My whole support system might as well be on another planet. I am alone. I tell my brother. He consoles me. I hold off on telling my parent’s as I didn’t know what to tell them. I eventually tell my parents. They consoled me. Everyone did their best to help and support me. But in the end, it’s just you. I had failed at life again. It had once again hit me with another devastating blow...knocked me down. And honestly, I didn’t know if I wanted to get up for another round.
As time passed, friends and family came to see me. Well, friend and father. My best friend came down the weekend after it happened. We went out and hung out. He kept me company. But, he went home. My father came down a week later. Again, we went out and hung out. He kept me company. But, he went home. While visiting my father and mother offered financial support. I took it. I eventually ventured up to NY to see my lifelong friends, hoping to find solace in their company and familiar surroundings; and a distraction from my wife. I brought up our youngest son, (dog), as we both now were accompanied by one of them through this emotional theme park. It was the best I could hope for at this point.
My wife and I eventually met face to face. At a diner we use to frequent. We met as strangers, not spouses. Each of us clearly hurt and broken. We sat to talk. We ordered food. I wasn’t hungry. She told me how she felt. How she was broken and how she had to leave. She told me she didn’t know where we’d end up as a couple. The unknown. It was scary. I asked her if she still loved me, she did. I asked her if she missed me, she didn’t. Of course, it was obvious, as she had left me, then why would she miss me? We sat for an hour and half. Afterwards, we parted ways. I hugged her, barely, and told her I loved her. She reciprocated the gesture.
I spent a week by myself. No one but me, the things I chose to surround myself with, and the husk of house I now resided within. I had lived alone prior, a year and half, by myself, in an apartment, by my choosing. Looking back, it was a mistake. I considered myself an isolated person, taking pride in a lack of need for contact. But, now, being alone was the hardest part. Fortunately, after several difficult texts and emails between us, we agreed that each of us would keep a son. She had offered before, but I declined, as I didn’t want to separate them. That night we agreed, I talked to her. The exchange was heated and emotional. That was the last time I had spoken to her. That was the last time I heard her voice. It has been a month.
Our exchanges are currently relegated to texts and emails. Talking of our day to day in regard to bills, taking care of the dogs and other light subjects. We’ve both ventured to seek therapy on an individual basis. As we both have our own separate issues. I believe she’ll be in therapy for far less time than me; as my OCD needs to be controlled for the rest of my life. Much like Bruce Banner and the Hulk, it cannot be cured, only tamed. So, instead of “Hulk Smash!” it’s “Hulk clean!” (Note: This is the first and only joke in my story, I am actually quite funny outside of this subject matter). It is something I need to contend with on a daily basis, all while keeping it in check. And accept that it’s a part of me, and always will be.
Aside from resolving to seek therapy, I resolved to purge our house of objects and pieces of interest that had caused so many problems, my collection. It has accumulated debt and depleted savings. It’s now costing me my marriage. Initially, I ventured out on my own on eBay, looking to move a few items here or there. But I met limited success. I then decided to move everything at once. I scoured the internet for anyone who could help me with my cause of a mass chachki exodus. After extensive research, I had found my suitor. They would help me move every piece I had. They had the knowledge, the network and the capacity. In the end, they were able to do in a week, what would have taken me a year or more.
So, at this point in the story, I’ve tried to make amends as best I can. I honestly don’t know what any of it will do in the long run. All I know is that I tried and I’ll continue to try. But, unfortunately, the damage has been done. My wife needs time and she’s uncertain as to how our story ends. I can’t fault her for not knowing. I broke her. And in the end, I can’t blame her for leaving. I realized that some people need bold, life changing events to shake them to their core. Or at least, I did. Change, I use to believe, was something most people could never do, an empty promise, never to be fulfilled. But, it’s easy to make such a statement when you’ve never been faced with it. Can I change for the better? I don’t know. I hope I can. Will I make every attempt to change? Yes. I’m going to try. To Be Continued…

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