--My mother found me in my bathroom, holding my nightgown by the hem to form an apron filled with water. I was worried an insect had touched it while I was gone.
"Don't," she said softly.
I thought for a minute, letting the water flow over the hem and all over the sink top. I knew she was right; this wasn't going to get me anywhere. But it had simply never occurred to me that I could do anything else.
Having an obsessive-compulsive impulse is like standing on red-hot coals. Every cell in your body is screaming for you to jump off. To keep standing there is so hard. It's just so hard. Leaning over the sink that night, I suddenly understood that that's what I had to do. I had to stand on the coals and take a tiny step forward. I had to feel the impulse and move past it. I got it, all of a sudden, just like that.
Maybe going away had given me some distance from my disease. Maybe, as I would soon write in my college application essays, the trip to Europe had changed me forever. Or maybe the years of checking sockets had paid off. Here, finally, was my light bulb moment. I understood how I would get better. It was a fire walk, a circus feat, a high-wire balancing act of a thousand tiny steps. It would take ages, but all I had to do right now was turn off the faucet. Then tomorrow I would inch forward some more.
But right now, it was just the faucet, a simple twist to the right. "Okay," I told my mother, and turned the water off. "Okay." I was so tired. I wadded the soggy flannel into a ball and offered it up to my mother. I was a tightrope walker charging forward, a flying Wallenda in damp underwear. Then I shuffled to my bed where I slept, and slept, and slept.
excerpt from the memoir: Devil In The Details (scenes from an obsessive girlhood) by Jennifer Traig