Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Indelible: The Scars of Abuse

I haven't felt the need to write in a very long time.  Part of me wanted to, to let people know it IS possible to take your life back (though it takes time and I'm still working at it a day at a time) from the thief that is OCD.  The other part of me wanted to distance myself as far from this fucking mess as possible.  After all, it stole my life, my confidence, my hope, my marriage, my security, and a couple of very important, precious years with my children.  While I was still here, I was not present, if that makes sense.  If you're reading an OCD blog, it probably makes a lot of sense.

During one of our "arguments", I sustained some injuries that required medical attention.  Having given up on doctors four years prior to this incident, it took me five months to convince myself that I needed to go.  This injury is dental, and not something I could ignore for much longer.

The dentist I went to has been my dentist for 13 years, and I always regarded him as a decent guy.  I had not been to him, or any dentist, since a very bad experience with an oral surgeon in 2005.  I look much different than I did the last time he saw me; I've gained weight, about 15-20 pounds, from all the drinking I did to numb my pain.  I have very extensive scarring from the near-daily self-injury I was doing to cope with my husband's profound verbal abuse and my own feelings of loss, pain, inadequacy, anxiety, and intense frustration that only those who have suffered with OCD can fully appreciate.  Since I refuse to buy "fat clothes", I wasn't dressed very nice (nice enough, but not meticulously put-together like he remembers).  I cut my own hair now instead of going to a stylist, another bridge I burned when I wanted to the the house, but couldn't.  It took me years to find that salon.  Sigh.

I was jumpy in the dental chair.  This is my first medical experience of any kind in over five years.  My body has been damaged, my psyche has been decimated, and I learned that I'd become far more vulnerable and broken than I ever realized.  Things hurt me more physically; I swear to you I believe the hygienist doing my x-rays was a sadist.  I have TMJ, so my face feels like it's been hit with a truck since the appointment.  When the dentist explained the extent of my injuries, which was far more severe than I imagined, I took a few deep breaths and accepted it.  I would need a lot of work done.  It wouldn't be pleasant.  He took a few additional x-rays to be certain of what he was seeing, as there was a lot of damage.  While he was out of the room, I had to fight a tidal wave of emotions which threatened to reduce me to a pathetic, weeping mess right there in the office.  I resolved that I would deal with my emotions later.

When the dentist returned, he explained that what he saw was correct, and what would need done.  He said he would have to go over everything and write up an estimate.  Then he said, "But to be honest with you, I don't think I can work on you.  You're practically jumping out of the chair.  Everything hurts.  You may need a specialist, and possibly some sedation to do the extensive amount of work that needs done."

I was simultaneously crushed and terrified; it had taken so much just to trust someone I had trusted before, and now he was going to dismiss me?  I understood his reasons, but from past experience, he knows I am capable of handling the work that needed done.  I'd been through far worse!  So I said, "Look, I know I'm a basket case today; I'm having a rough time and I have a lot going on.  But I know I can do this.  Please don't send me elsewhere."

He agreed to attempt starring small; I have a tiny cavity that needs filled, and he said maybe that would get me used to having work done again.  I agreed that it was a great idea.  He said something to the hygienist, then simply walked out of the room.  It was so…dismissive, so lacking in any sort of compassion, kindness, empathy, sympathy, etc., that I almost couldn't believe it.

I've been reeling from this experience for three days now.  I hate myself for the way it went down, for the way I cannot speak confidently anymore, stuttering and stammering and unable to put my once-articulate speech together in a way that doesn't make me look and sound like a complete fool.

And it made me angry all over again.

I feel like my interaction with my dentist was much like my interactions with my husband when he was being so verbally abusive.  Please don't give up on me.  Please just understand that this isn't a character fault, I'm genuinely working hard to deal with something here.  And the dismissive way he walked out, without a handshake or a goodbye or a "see you in a few weeks".  Just like my husband so many times turned his back on me after saying hurtful things when I needed him the most.

My experience with OCD was a brutal one.  Sometimes it still is, though nothing like it was when I was confined to my house for two years, unable to even stop onto my front porch.  I no longer feel I "need" to do laundry with gloves, or wash my hands for up to five hours a night.  I don't have to sleep on the floor anymore, for fear I'll "contaminate" a bed.  I still don't like it when strangers touch my things, but I'll allow it.  I still struggle with brining germs home, but it no longer takes me all night to settle back in after a lengthy cleaning ritual.  Mostly, it was how I was treated - err, abused - during the absolute depths of my disorder that has caused the most damage.  I've been hurt, both emotionally and also physically.  Damage has been done to my body and my spirit, and I don't know if it can be repaired.  It feels as if this indelible agony has become a part of my being.  It is a place from which fear and lack of trust continues to spew forth.

OCD took almost everything from me for a while.  My husband took the rest, and then some.  I have gotten to where I am not simply without him but in spite of him.  People still don't understand.  I've lost friends, connections of all kinds, and myself as well.  I don't look the same or feel the same.  It's like I woke up after a period of years inside someone else's mind and body, but I still have my own consciousness and want it back in my old body and my pre-catastrophic OCD mind.  But I'll never have that.  I'm scarred, both mentally and physically from what this has done to me.

And I'm not sure how to cope with that.

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