A note to my younger self
You're going to feel a lot of shame.
Welcome to 7th grade. You did it! You’re now in junior high school. Pretty soon, a lot will change. You will finally have your first kiss 😘 …three years from now. Andddd you won’t be having a growth spurt. So you might as well just pencil in your height at 5’9 and call it a day.
Your height won’t change, but the rest of your body will. You will also begin to have weird thoughts. Uncomfortable thoughts. You will begin to think: I must be a sinner.
Soon, your OCD will introduce itself. He will tell you that your weird thoughts make you dirty. They contaminate you. You will agree. A sinful thought will run through your mind and you will think: I am dirty. And everything I look at and everything I touch is dirty.
These thoughts will not stop running across your mind. You will Lysol door handles and light switches. You will wipe your arms and legs down with bleach. You will spray your bed sheets and your ceiling and you will scrub your bathroom until you are clean. But you are never clean.
You will watch a 60 Minutes segment about a teenager who was wrongly accused of a horrific crime. A thought will cross your mind: I will be accused of a horrific crime. That thought will cripple you. It will wreck you. It will haunt you. It still haunts you.
When you get home from school, you will check the front window to see if there is a police car waiting to take you away. You will do this again and again and again. You will not stop.
You will go to basketball practice. Between drills you will run to the front of the gym, expecting to see the police there, ready to arrest you. You will not be able to focus on passing into the post or setting an off-ball screen—not with a life sentence in your future.
In college you will meet with a lawyer. You will lie to him. How do I defend myself against this? you will ask. He will be confused. He will not be any help. So you will mount your own legal defense. You will write your notes in code. In case someone finds them, you think to yourself.
You will become increasingly paranoid. I am being bugged, you think. You take your old phones and iPods into the backyard and you smash them with a hammer. You convince your ex-girlfriend to give you her old phones. You smash them, too.
You will spend hours looking over your body. You will do this every day. I have an STD. I have cancer. I have an autoimmune disease. You will lose count of how many times you get a blood test or give a urine sample or see a specialist. You will spend money you don’t have on ultrasounds and medical imaging procedures to tell you things you already know.
The noise in your head will not go away.
It will only get louder.
Welcome to a life of OCD, Peter.
You’re going to feel a lot of shame.
Apologies if this week’s post was a bit heavy. Head on over to my other newsletter for a bit more lighthearted content, if you’re interested: