What OCD Looks Like In Our House These Days

When we first realized Ethan was struggling, it was because he was dealing with deep sadness over letting go of things that we would never have dreamed would have been important. I didn’t understand why it was important to him, but I felt sympathetic because he clearly was very sad. But we’re not dealing with sadness much anymore. The struggle has shifted.

In the last several months, the BIG emotions have changed. It’s no longer sadness that we’re confronted with, but anger.I thought the sadness was overwhelming. That was before the emotional vortex of anger was unleashed.

Tuesdays used to be the hardest days because it was garbage day, but Saturdays have now knocked Tuesdays out of first place. On Saturday we clean. Ethan hates to clean. There is screaming, and stomping and arguing. It happens every Saturday.

It’s hard. I felt empathy for the sadness. I don’t for the anger. He desperately wants us to know how angry he is and wants us to feel miserable with him. My job is to stay calm, tell him that he needs to do things he doesn’t want to do and that it doesn’t matter how angry he gets, he still has to do what I’ve asked of him. He has not yet learned how to pull himself out of the spiral when he gets pulled in and it takes all Nathan and I can do to keep from joining him in fits of rage.

The house standard is this: You wont get in trouble for feeling upset or angry, but you still need to clean and you need to learn to control your anger so that your actions are not destructive or disrespectful to the family.


Easier said than done. We’re all working on it. Nathan and I are working on staying calm and consistent and Ethan is working on learning how to control himself when he’s angry. Maybe I can teach him the Kramer “Serenity Now!” technique!

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