I am responding to your request for OC experiences. Hopefully my experiences will be of some support towards your research in understanding the many individual experiences and outcomes towards OC adults.
My parents were both career minded people not wanting children until I accidentally came along well into their late thirties. They were certainly ill equipped to have children, and were fairly set in their ways by this time, both extremely self absorbed people. Both parents had siblings and parents, and came from some level of dysfunction and anger on both sides.
Losing parents early
I lost both parents in my early 20s leaving me alone in the world, as a young mother, with no tools or social guidelines of how to reach out to others. What amplifies my OC experience was that at their passings, although extended family existed, no connections had been made rendering me completely alone in my world. This would be the last time that I would see any of them again. Connections with their own families were minimal resulting in limited contact and at the time of their deaths, these positions remained polarised and distant and have continued this way throughout my 46 years. Of course in my later life I would understand better their patterns of behaviour as well as my own towards the interactions and communicative patterns such as distance/intimacy, black sheep, with all concerned. The anxiety and rifts that existed in their own first families would remain unresolved leaving these responsibilities up to me if cycles were to be broken.
I came into the world at a time when Children should be “seen and not heard” and of course for any OC, this made the experience that much more silent and isolating. Both parents were alcoholics subjecting me to extreme domestic violence and chaos which as a little child felt overwhelming and scary. I knew that I was different having no siblings, but the other madness alluded me, and I was unable to fully comprehend it until much later. I felt extremely embarrassed, shamed and bad throughout my formative years, and felt that I must have been the contributor of it all, probably due to the fact that I was frequently bounced around, with each parent scapegoating me for their own agendas. By the end of my teenage years, I rebelled leaving home and the chaos never to return again apart for their funerals.
My companions in my early years
Throughout these formative years my companions were my rather large collection of books, barbie dolls and an old piano, which filled up the spaces of my private world providing me with a feeling of “less aloneness”. It wasn’t unusual for me to spend all weekend in my room hidden away, coming out only to eat before returning. For me there has been a quiet resilience to my OC experience although not something that I attribute to an inner strength , but rather the sense of being a very small cork, floating in a big ocean, going under with every wave, bouncing to the surface at different intervals for breath – a buoyancy to the elements.
I’m pleased to say I have survived and furthermore, have begun to understand things better, due to my years of incessantly searching for answers madly trying to put the pieces together in an attempt to become whole and understand the complexities that overshadows some experiences of being an OC and a surviver of childhood abuse.
The two partners I’ve had in my life, have both struggled to engage with others, preferring to be alone, and are relatively isolated personalities. Both have had minimal connections with their own families continuing to perpetuate this sense of isolation and loneliness – they also have very few friends, networks. Both men were the youngest of their family systems, with siblings much older, oftentimes left to their own devices exhibiting similar patterns to some OC – enjoying own company. It’s no surprise that I have been attracted to such distant males in an attempt to replicate the lack of intimacy and “aloneness” experienced in childhood as an OC.
Today I have four young adult daughters, who seem fairly well adjusted given their experiences – all quite bubbly personalities. The irony here is that I never wanted children to start with, but of course, my underlining need to be needed (codependency) certainly overrode anything that I might have intellectualised or dreamt of. For me, the parenting experience hasn’t always been comfortable often-times impinging on my own need for solitude (although by nature social, I can revert back to this primitive state) of being by myself spending large amounts of time alone.
From my own insular world to having 4 daughters all under five competing for my attention and support was to say the least, overwhelming. My lack of understanding and experiences towards being appropriately socialised throughout these earlier years, including all the nuances that make up social norms has amplified my own challenges of parenting that for some, would be considered fairly normal. Reflecting back on my earlier years, my awareness remained extremely unconscious/disconnected which probably assisted me to survive my initial traumatic experiences. What was probably obvious was the anxiety that continually plagued me throughout these years in response to these demands and how I attempted to manage things.
My challenges as a parent
At each stage of my girls development stages, my own developmental experiences would often be triggered leaving me feeling extremely vulnerable, confused with nothing to compare or fall back on, wanting to withdraw, from. Once again everything appeared to be extremely magnified resulting in me seeking counselling as a way to manage the anxiety that parenting/relationships brings in an attempt to explore new and effective ways of communicating with those in my life.
Normal things like sibling rivalry, conflict, constant chatter, argumentative dialogue and the likes all required me to learn skills to assist with understanding the normality of these natural relating patterns. In the earlier years I would seek to put a lid on any sibling rivalry encountered however, a more relaxed approach is now practiced with an understanding that these communication patterns between children are normal and do not always require parental intervention in an attempt to quickly shut it down in order to keep things quiet.
The need to withdraw as part of my OC experience will always be with me and I will always be an OC at heart, I know, that when I require solace and quiet my OC is only to happy to intervene should I need it. However, The push and pull that felt so extremely intense and challenging especially throughout the earlier parenting journey has now subsided, leaving me to embrace all sides of the woman I am, OC, mother and wife. There’s room for us all.