If there is one thing a person with OCD doesn’t want, it is to be on public display. At a wedding, naturally all eyes are on the bride, but there are moments when the eyes will stray to other members of the wedding party. At those moments, one does not want to be making a spectacle of oneself. That is not necessarily easy for a germophobe.
I have been a bridesmaid only twice, and I don’t know that my OCD caused me to make a spectacle of myself. Maybe being wound up from the excitement of being in a wedding for the first time caused me to act a bit silly. At the reception I actually put my flower bouquet in my mouth for a picture – my mouth! I would never do that today. I don’t know who put together that bouquet or what it touched before it was given to me. It would be so nice to be able to forget my phobias that way more often, but it is very rare.
A few years later came the second wedding. The bride and the rest of us were in a back room putting on the finishing touches, and a mutual friend, Anna, was there helping out and enjoying the moment with us. Anna was taking pictures, and my turn to be photographed came around. I stood there awkwardly; I always feel awkward when I don’t have something in my hands because I can’t simply let my arms hang at my sides. I had to hold my arms out a couple of inches so that my hands would be a safe distance away, and Anna asked me what I was doing. I smiled and pretended that everything was normal. I couldn’t come up with a good response, so I basically ignored what she said. Awkward – and it’s a moment frozen in time in that picture.
I had known Anna since childhood, so at some point I thought that she had figured out that I had OCD. I don’t know why I assumed this, especially since she had moved away when she married her husband, and we did not see each other very often. After our friend’s wedding, we did decide to get together for a girls’ day out. Since we were on the road for a while, we brought along some CD’s to listen to in the car. (This was ten years ago, just before the digital music revolution.) Anna complained that one of her CD’s had gotten smudgy. Whenever I dropped a CD on the floor, I had to run it through a cycle in the dishwasher before I could use it again. They came out so sparkling clean that I thought I would share this with her. “Put it in the dishwasher. I’ve done it. It will come out perfect.” What was her reaction? “But why would you do that?” Again, I did not know what to say to her. I think I responded with “because.”
Anna never did find out about my OCD. We lost touch not long after that day. By contrast, I have a co-worker who is inquisitive, and she is always asking why I am doing quirky things. It didn’t take long for me to realize that she was not going to stop asking, but she appeared genuine, and I eventually told her about my phobia. She is amused by my eccentricities, and I hope that I am correct that she seems trustworthy with my secrets. I don’t want anyone else to know about them.