“OCD wove that uncertainty into my mind so intricately that I can no longer tell where my mind ends and the uncertainty begins.”

I grew up listening to one voice. Throughout my childhood this was the voice that I could blindly trust, the one that meant I was safe. Her voice acted as a guide, gently telling me where my decisions were taking me yet giving me the space and courage to make those choices myself. Hers was the voice that I could recognize better than my own. Hers was the voice that when I felt lost or scared, I listened for. And when I heard it, I believed it, and believed that I could find my way out of whatever darkness I had found. Because I always knew that voice was waiting for me, and that it would venture into that darkness again and again to find me, for the rest of my life. Hers was the voice I never thought I would forget.

But when that voice got lost, I did too. It was as if my mind was scrambling, grasping for anything to hold on to, anything that it could trust as much as it trusted that one voice. It felt like if I couldn’t find that voice again, I would never stop falling. And I think I’ve been falling ever since.

I wasn’t diagnosed with OCD until I was 23, but if I look back honestly I can see that my mind began questioning my voice, and the voices around me, long before that. My mind took the loss of her voice, took the loss of that certainty that her voice brought me, and began to weave that uncertainty into my mind so intricately that I can no longer tell where my mind ends and the uncertainty begins. Without the guide of her voice I began to question my decisions and my own logic. This doubt grew and grew until I began to even doubt what I was seeing or touching without someone there to confirm what my own mind was trying to tell me. OCD corrupted all of my senses, convincing me that I’d lost the only guide I have, and that without it I can’t be certain of anything ever again.

And OCD didn’t stop there. Each time I found another voice, OCD would slowly poison their words until what was finally processed by my mind didn’t resemble what I had heard at all. Until every time this person said I was safe, all I heard was that we can’t know that anymore, and sometimes I don’t even hear their voices at all.

What I haven’t been able to accept is that I stopped needing her voice a long time ago. Her voice and her words had already given me the strength I needed to hear my own voice. She had already given me all the guidance that I needed, already taught me how to trust my own mind. Because her voice had always been there, had always been heard and had always picked me up, I learned how to find my own voice without ever realizing that it was really my voice I was listening to and not hers. It was like she had stopped holding on to the back of the bike and I was peddling on my own without realizing it. I just needed to look behind me and see that she wasn’t holding me up anymore, because she’s taught me how to do it on my own and she believed that I could.

I hadn’t been able to get my head to turn and look behind me, couldn’t see that she had let go because I didn’t want to see it, didn’t want to say goodbye to her voice forever. But it’s not saying goodbye. Because her voice built mine, my voice comes from hers. And I think that if I can accept that, and find the strength that her voice once gave me and know that it’s been here all along, then I could be louder than my OCD. If I can do that, I can find my voice again. I can honor her voice again.

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