Last night, I sat in the fullest meeting of Austin OCD Support that I’ve ever facilitated. We had twelve people – some old, some new. Some of whom I consider in my inner circle of friends, and some I only met for the first time yesterday.
Yesterday, by the way, was a long day. I was up early, trying desperately to finish the ever growing pile of Russian homework. There were classes to be attended and I spent nearly two hours in a meeting with Irene, discussing the happenings in OCD TEXAS. When I walked out of Irene’s office and into our group meeting, I was faced with four people: three of whom I’d never before seen, and one I’d only met once before.
Holy Cow, I thought. This is going to be fun.
I love full group meetings, but I knew that last night was special. I had something to say. Something important. Something that a few people knew, but that I hadn’t shared with the entire group. And still, I sat – facilitated group, and bided my time.
He was late.
Work delayed him, and I started the meeting myself. It wasn’t a big deal – the group is my baby. I ran it before he started attending, and if he were to stop going today, I would still run it. But ever since he came, I’ve felt that meetings were empty without him.
Still, I knew he would come.
When he walked in, I smiled at him. Tried not to let my eyes linger on him for too long. I could tell he’d had a bad day, and all I wanted to do was get up and wrap my arms around him, and make things better. But I didn’t. I stayed in my seat. I fielded questions. I moved the discussion along. I felt my eyes wander to him from time to time, and I knew that other group members were seeing it too.
Finally, though we were already over our typical group ending time, the discussion got around to me. I always end the meetings, and usually if we’ve gone over time, I’ll refrain from contributing much. But last night was different. I’d been building up how to make the announcement all day. I thought I knew what I’d say. I had an elegant speech planned.
But when it came down to it, what came out of my mouth was this.
“My life has been crazy lately. Our conference was amazing, and I was really pleased with the turn out. School is a huge amount of work – I love it, but it is certainly intense. I’m putting together a show, and that’s eating a lot of my time. I’m worried about it. And on top of all that, I’ve fallen in love.”
Amid squeals and cries of delight, I continued, pointing across the room to my partner, my co-facilitator, my friend, my love, “With him.”
I promised this post a week ago, but it wasn’t one that I was willing to make until we’d told our local group. Despite the very public outing that happened at the OCD TEXAS conference, when he took the time during his portion of the panel to thank me for my work, and to say out loud that I was his partner, his friend, and his girlfriend, (and oh, how his words turned me into mush) our local group still didn’t know. I felt that we owed it to them to tell them. Especially since we’d been keeping under wraps. Because of the positions that he and I hold as facilitator and co-facilitator, not to mention my vice presidential position in OCD TEXAS and his recurring role as a facilitator and general “get things done” guy, we decided to give the relationship some time before we told everyone.
In fact, even though we’d been toying with the idea of dating since… about October… I hadn’t really told anyone. Not even my best friend. I think there was a part of me that knew it was going to be something special, and I didn’t want to pop the bubble too early.
I know that Kelly was upset with me for not telling her. In retrospect, perhaps I should have. But honestly, I’m glad we took the time we did. And now, finally? Give me a roof top and let me shout.
Nu, Tak… (that’s how you say “well, so” in Russian)
His name is Craig. I thought about giving him a spiffy moniker on here, like my best friend Kelly’s “Computer Guru,” – and I still might – but his name is Craig.
We met a little more than a year ago, when he walked into an Austin OCD Support group meeting. I swear to you all, my first thought was, “Well, he’s certainly cute. That one has potential.” And then I immediately quashed the idea, because I didn’t think it was appropriate to be having those kinds of thoughts about members of a support group I was tasked with running.
Obviously, the quashing of those thoughts didn’t work too well.
In course of a year, Craig became the co-facilitator of our group, taking care of it when I was out of town, or when something happened and I couldn’t be there. More than that, Craig took care of ME, making sure that I received as much support there as I gave. We became friends, and I learned to trust him. I looked forward to seeing him. And still, told myself that it wasn’t acceptable to be attracted to a group member.
He took a trip last summer and I spent the whole time worrying. That’s when I knew I was in trouble.
Then we went to dinner in October after the first OCD TEXAS conference, and I knew that I was really in trouble.
And by December, when he expertly handled the “I forgot to call the church and now we have to have a group meeting outside” crisis? It was going to happen.
I’m here to say that somehow, life just put me in the right place for this. I am incredibly lucky, and it is a privilege to be this man’s partner.
He finishes my sentences. He finishes my thoughts. I knows how I’m feeling without even having to look at me – and me, him. I can tell if he’s had a bad day, or if his brain is busy. I don’t have to ask. I just feel it.
He knows the OCD. He knows all of my deep, dark secrets. He understands them in me. I understand them in him. I’m not going to say that it isn’t a challenge, but it is also a relief and a blessing.
He respects me and supports me – and challenges me. He doesn’t let me pull punches. He stands up to me. He stands up for me.
He used to be a medic, and when I look at him, I can’t help but think to myself “this is a man who saved lives.” I look at his hands and think to myself “these are hands that help people. These are powerful hands.” When I watched him speak at the conference in Dallas, I felt myself fill with pride. “This man is mine. He touches people – he makes a difference.”
And with me too. This man holds me upright when panic buckles my knees. He gives me a reason to practice sunshine and optimism, and the truth is that these days, I’m working so hard to be positive and happy that I’m starting to rub off on myself. I feel safe with him and I trust him, and he reminds me that I’m stronger, healthier, and more capable than I’ve imagined. I hope that I do the same for him.
As things start to normalize, and I come down out of the dizzying reality that has been realizing I’m in a relationship (I suck at relationships, after all) and that it’s wonderful, it just feels like things are falling into place. We laugh a lot. We travel a lot. And now we’re learning now to simply be.
And I’ve fallen in love.