This is the fourth instalment in this series that discusses the different types of OCD I have and the fears that go with them. I have researched and found this is a common theme that some people of faith will have this huge weight of guilt and shame that they’ve been carrying around because they don’t feel they have been good enough in their faith or God might be punishing them. This is certainly true for me.
I had a lot of guilt and shame growing up. For various reasons, but all centred around me not feeling good enough. I strived to be a good person, to feel like God was pleased with me. I had some health issues growing up and in my late teens/early 20’s these got worse. I was diagnosed with hemiplegic migraines around 2005/2006 and with Crohn’s disease in 2011. I spent a lot of my time growing up not well. I would have reoccurring diarrhoea, bleeding, nausea, pain and with the migraines I would have stroke like symptoms that would leave me unable to communicate, see or walk properly. I would think ‘What if I am so ill because God isn’t happy with me?’. I always wanted to help. I had started fundraising for charities from age eight/nine and I continued this on and off up until last year when physical health took a bad turn and I couldn’t physically dedicate the time needed. But I raised money through all my teens and most of my twenties. For the dolphin sanctuary, cat sanctuaries, Water Aid, Action for children, McMillan and many more.
I also had a lot of responsibility from a young age. During my teens my sister wasn’t well and while my mum worked nights I needed to watch over her. If she had a bad night I would feel like it was my fault for not watching over her well enough. I would be so worried I could lose her and just wanted to do everything I could to help her. She spent most of my early child hood raising me like her own daughter, always making sure I had everything I needed so when she became unwell, I just knew I had to do everything I could to help. She doesn’t know this but when she slept I would stay up and regularly check on her. She slept in a loft conversion which had a ladder going up to it. The ladder would be so noisy so I would use a top folded or cushion to stand on and move it up each step so I didn’t wake her because I knew she needed her rest but I worried if I fell asleep or didn’t check on her every half an hour or however often then she might need me.
My parents separated when I was very young and there were times I felt forced to choose who I would spend time with and that would make me feel guilty. I would often think, ‘If I wasn’t born then my parents wouldn’t still have to see each other and argue, if I wasn’t here they would be happier’. I felt like it was my fault they still had to be in contact when clearly being in contact didn’t make them happy, often ending in arguments. My brother and sister both left home by the time they were 16 so it was just me that still had to be between my mum and dad. I remember my sister often had me stay with her and we got up to amazing adventures doing all these fun day outs and I was spoilt by her all the time but I would also think, ‘If I wasn’t here my sister wouldn’t need to watch me or have me stay at hers so often’. It seemed I just felt like I was in the way a lot of time. I think being told I was an accident during my child hood contributed to that.
My guilt spreads into all areas of my life. I feel guilty all the time. I feel guilty if I want a break from my four young children, when I am unwell with health issues and the feeling that I am a bad mum for having children when I have health issues, I feel bad if I bicker with my husband, I feel bad if I think I’m not giving my all to my family, I feel guilty over things that I don’t think I should even be still worrying about like a few weeks ago for example, I was walking my son home from my sisters house and there was a frog in the road and I picked it up and put it on the grass but I couldn’t help think, ‘I should have put it back further away from the road, what if it hops back onto the road? What if it gets ran over? Why didn’t I move further away from the road?’. It still bothers me now several weeks on.
Growing up I would feel guilty If I cursed, argued with my mum, didn’t feel I was dedicating enough time to God, or did anything I felt was sinful and I would beg for forgiveness. I would read scripture, and highlight the scripture that stood out to me. I needed to be perfect or at least pray for forgiveness so I could feel better.
When I met my now husband, we were 18 and we knew each other for about three weeks before officially beginning our relationship. I was sure he was the one even though we were so opposite in our personalities. He was shy and into grunge and quite reserved and I was outgoing and into musicals and performing. He believed in God like me and that made me feel really good that we had similar morals and beliefs. I had a few boyfriends through my teens but I would always feel quite uncomfortable if I felt things were getting to intimate. I knew I didn’t want to have sex. I was sure I would wait until marriage. However as time went on in my relationship with my now husband, we mutually decided we wanted to take that next step to our relationship. It felt right. I knew this was the man I wanted to marry. So we didn’t wait until we were married. I carried a lot of guilt around this as time went on and although I have prayed over and over for forgiveness I have never been able to shake that feeling of shame and guilt. We got married six years later after we had our first son together. This is a good spot to leave this blog on as it’s at this point it moved into another area of OCD, relationship OCD which my next instalment will be written about.