I have O.C.D.

It’s an admission.
One I’ve kept private for many years. It’s appeared on occasion but generally it’s easy to keep it hidden. It’s not your average kind of O.C.D, I do not wash my hands 16 times after using the toilet nor do I have to check repeatedly that I’ve turned the downstairs light off before bed.
Life with my abuser left me with many problems. A lack of self esteem, negativity about my body, lack of ambition, fear of risks are to name a few. I like to think I came out of that terror pretty unscathed, I mean it could have been a lot worse. However mentally, it’s impossible and unimaginable to presume my mind and heart would not be affected in some way.
He left a legacy and I carry the reminder of what he did every day.
I have closure from him. I do not think about him. I do not care to talk about him. Time has done it’s job. I do however know that he’s had a massive impact on who I am now and sadly, I am left piecing myself back together again even two years after his death.
Today I admitted it to myself.
I have O.C.D.
I do not like my things to be moved. I cannot deal with my things being touched without my permission. They just need to be left as they were. It doesn’t bother anyone nor does it cause harm but today my family experienced my O.C.D.
I tried an attempt to explain.
Every day with the abuser was another day of being watched, checked. My room was forever “inspected”. What if it didn’t meet his standards? What if I had not put one thing back in it’s place? Well then I would know about it. He’d go in there when I was out or at work. When he could take his time finding faults.

He’d pick at everything. I’d come home to find my clothes, which had been piled up on my chair, strewn across the floor with a note saying,

“A chair is not a place for clothes”.

Or some shampoo bottles that were nearly empty – stacked on my desk. He’d point out that they should have been thrown away months ago but it was not his “job” to do it.
There were times he moved actual furniture in my room to find dust, to find mistakes. He’d do it through the entire house. He had to find fault.
I hate someone, anyone, moving my things. My personal things.
My counsellor told me that you cannot expect someone to come out of something like that untouched and perfect. O.C.D. is often associated with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I suffered a great trauma with him. He controlled every aspect of my life for sixteen years even down to the way I felt about myself. I needed to get the control back. It is a complete form of control.
He controlled my money, my health, my choice in friends, my relationships, my food, my feelings, my habits, my freedom, my choices, my insecurities.
My family can’t relate.
We have argued today.
They refuse to understand and continues to make light of these issues I have.
I cannot ever be perfect.
I wouldn’t want to be.

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Before I left – Photo 1.

Before I left - Photo 1.

I look at this photo in amazement. My lonely black chair beside a singular mirror. Who lived there? Nothing suggests this is home to anyone. Yet it was my home, my prison, my shelter, my room. The red walls only magnify my emotions at the time; my anger and hurt growing from the daily abuse. The emptiness echoed my loneliness. This was what I looked at for fifteen years of my life. A blank space. I wasn’t allowed possessions, I was afraid to keep them. Mostly in fear of him and his many, many rules. The fear of him finding a personal touch or something new stopped me in my tracks. So I kept it sparse to pacify him and keep my head above the water. That was until he found a tissue on the floor or a glass on the table and the contents of my drawers would be strewn across the floor. I took a set of photos before I left the house for good. Here is a series of the sadness.

Socially Inept.

When I looked this up on Wiki, I was presented with many different examples and explanations. A term called Avoidance Personality Disorder appeared. I looked further into it. Socially inept was a term I could easily use to describe my father. I had never heard of this disorder before but nowadays there is a name for everything. It describes as similar to social inhibition, something my father often displayed in my company. However, around others, my father reveled in social situations. At his church, he appeared as a confident and friendly man. He never gave the impression that he was really a nervous and frightened little man, incapable of talking to a stranger or asking for help. These tasks were impossible to him. He hated doing them and when possible he would avoid it at all costs.

That’s where I came in handy.

Enduring his endless abuse and insults were the least of my problems, I also had to contend with his incapacity to talk to anyone unknown. I became his voice. I fought hard not to but resistance was pointless. He could argue all night if he had to. He had these problems for as long as I could remember.

The worst social situations that he just couldn’t handle were:

  • talking to women: Women were below him. He had no respect for them even when he liked them. So how could he talk to them?
  • Speaking to the authorities: A genuine fear I think of his. He hated the police yet he never explained why. Doctors were all “idiots” who “didn’t know anything”, dentists were “imbeciles with no qualifications”.
  • Restaurant staff: He never asked for help. In restaurants with me, well it was my “job” to order the food even at the age of sixteen. Worse off – it was my job to find the male toilets for him also at the age of sixteen.
  • Neighbours: The worst social situation for my father.

Many a problem occurred as did many an argument about talking to the neighbours. My abuser would not even give our next door neighbour (a woman he had known for pushing thirty years) her Christmas present! The neighbours that bordered our back garden were the bane of my father’s life. Their garden was incredibly unkempt. Weeds grew freely as did the ivy at the bottom of the garden. The dreaded ivy had made it’s way up the side wall of our house much to my father’s anger. He ranted for months about the “morons next door” unwilling to actually speak to them about his worry. The more he left it, the more it incensed him and the more furious he became. Eventually, enough was enough. My father was at the end of his tether. It was time to face the neighbours. Not him of course but me. He handed me a letter one day to post through their letterbox. It was only two doors down but he was refusing to do it himself.

“If they open the door and see me then they will harass me, they are probably racists you know”.

What do you say to something like that?

“You are young. You are not threatening”.

His arguments never made sense which made it harder to refute him. He lavished in his utter nonsense. He was the only one who understood his madness. I often questioned him, encouraging him to speak to them but he saw it as patronising. I was not the parent. I was not allowed to reprimand him or tell him what to do whatever intention was behind it.

I was forced to approach these neighbours that I had never met to demand that they remove the ivy from our house. Thankfully, they were never at home. I wanted to just pretend I had seen them and lie to my Dad but the cynical and ruthless abuser would wait at the bottom of their driveway to ensure that I was doing “exactly” what was asked of me.

When the letters did not work, my father wanted to move onto the next step. A phone call. He knew the landlord of the property already so spoke directly to him. I was relieved that this was something he was willing to do. The landlord reassured him that he would take care of it.

Months went by and still the careless ivy grew.

My father was seething by this time. Insults would fly out of his mouth towards our thoughtless neighbours. It was time to take action himself. Armed with a large garden tool used for cutting branches, my father decided he would cut them off himself. He would climb over the fence and clean the bottom of their garden too so no more weeds would encroach on us. Excessive? Just a bit. Obsessive? Definitely. That summed him up.

I was horrified at the prospect of being a part of his madness. Again, it was my duty as a daughter to talk to the neighbours.

Every few years, the ivy would grow again and every few years the same arduous procedure would take place.

Even when I left home in 2010, my father would call me up to come back to tackle this unwanted problem. I became sick of it. I did not want this role he had thrown over me. I stood up for myself.

Big mistake.

“You disgusting, piece of scum!” screeched from his mouth. I had broken rule number one. I had dared to disobey him. I had the audacity to say “stop” “enough” or worse still, “no”.

I learnt quickly to always be “busy” when he needed me to save him from his social ineptitude.

3. Don’t patronise me Dad.

Finding one of my father’s patronising notes to me was quite shocking. Although I wish I kept them all for evidence, I could not stand the thought of knowing his evil letters were filling my drawers.

I must have saved this one for a reason. Perhaps I was losing patience or wanted to remind myself that these things were truly happening. Either way, I saved it. I do not know when this note was left for me or what the circumstances that provoked him to write it really were. But usually it didn’t matter what I had really done. It was probably the smallest thing that prompted him to write it. All that is clear, is that I had annoyed him. He does not talk to me like his daughter in it nor like someone close to him. If anything it speaks volumes of how he could not communicate with anyone especially his own child.

 You still have got a part filled tall glass in your room. Can you bring that down and do the rest as you have said. I do not wish to prolong this topic but why do you need to use a fresh towel each time you wash your hair and then dump it somewhere? A little effort to live in germ free conditions and a little good taste in living conditions would be appreciated.      ‘Cheers’ 

I have no idea why he signed off with cheers in inverted commas. Was he being sarcastic? Or making fun of me? Probably. He never vocalised his grievances to me when they were small. He’d write these notes and leave them throughout the house surprising me in every room. He would wait until the little annoyances built up to a point of frustration and he would take great enjoyment in each explosion of utter rage.

My father couldn’t have wanted a good relationship with me. Surely, if he did, he would have recognised that these notes were pointless and all he needed to do was communicate calmly to get what he wanted. I wasn’t obstinate. I just wanted respect.

Respect he always said I never deserved.

How could we ever live like this?

How could we ever live this way? When I look at this photo I feel sick. It’s so upsetting to think that these were my living conditions for twelve years of my life. After my mother left home, my father refused to do any housework. The kitchen (as it was so big) became messy and dirty easily. It was an arduous task that needed time. My father expected everything to be done as quickly as possible and he often demanded me to do it. He would never provide any cleaning advice or materials for me, he only ordered that it needed be done to an impeccable standard. It was ultimately my fault the the house had degenerated into the unsightly state it was. I left mess wherever I was. He said he’d always know what room I’d been in. His O.C.D was uncontrollable when we lived together. Any room that looked ‘lived in’ would be classed as untidy. My room was an empty shell (photos to come soon) with no character. I couldn’t keep anything in it, he would just find fault. He did that already, life was so bad.

The kitchen was where he spent most of his time. I liked the kitchen, it reminded me of my mother plus I loved cooking. However, as he was mostly in that part of the house, I avoided it at all costs. I only used the kitchen to make my dinner and of course, to clean it under his watchful eyes.

The dirt and grime on the floor only built up over time. As he never attempted to clean the floor himself and by the time he was assigning the job it me,  it had an enormous amount of filth encrusted on it. It became impossible to clean it normally, it needed an industrial machine. When I remarked that we should get a cleaner in, I was told I was a lazy moron who was incapable of such a basic task.

The floor was never back to a glimmering state. I gave up, as did he. For a man who was obsessed with outer appearance his house never reflected that. Why his friends never questioned it I’ll never know.

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