Home Anxiety I Keep Dwelling on Past Mistakes

I Keep Dwelling on Past Mistakes

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From the U.S.: To preface this post, I suffer from anxiety and (I think) OCD as I’m constantly worrying/thinking about my actions or health. I’m not taking any medication, nor am I seeing a counselor; I am fighting these thoughts/feelings alone.

When I was 5-8 years old, my next door neighbor and I would sexually experiment with each other. Nothing serious, but we both see each other naked sometimes. Our parents found out and stopped the behavior.

Fast forward to when I was 13-16, I used to babysit for my younger cousins. One time, we were all wrestling on the couch (and their dog too) and I touched my younger female cousin’s butt. I don’t think I actually reached out to touch her, but it happened in the course of wrestling around. Then later (date/time/age unknown but within the provided range), I was watching them one night and I had a sexual thought about seeing a girl naked. My younger female cousin was upstairs sleeping so I walked upstairs to where she was. As I stood next to her and reached out, I realized in that moment what I was doing was wrong and inappropriate. I may have just grazed her pajamas before I retracted my hand and walked back downstairs.

I’ve never had any sexual thoughts about children or been attracted to them in any way. In fact, I haven’t really thought about these two instances until this week (7-8 years later). I’m a young, gay man typically interested in guys my age or a little bit older. Some of the guys I’m attracted to look younger (in the gay world we call them “twinks”), but I’m interested in all guys.

My family is close and I’d do anything for any of them and I would NEVER hurt them. These two instances of poor judgment are tearing me apart. Once this memory came back, I started research website surrounding sexual activity of teens and saw it was a time of sexual exploration.

I hope whoever is reading this would agree that I’m not a pedophile, nor am I crazy. I think at the time I was not fully considering what was right/wrong or the consequences of my actions. Being that I have anxiety and self-diagnosed OCD, I cannot let this go without hearing another person’s thoughts. I have never talked about this in my entire life. Thanks for your help.

No, I don’t think you’re a pedophile or crazy. You stopped yourself from acting on your impulses. You feel terrible that you even had the thoughts. But I do think you have significant OCD.

Most people are familiar with the most common manifestations of OCD like checking, ordering, and excessive cleaning. Less common is the kind of over-thinking you are reporting. That’s what the “obsession” in obsessive-compulsive disorder is all about.

The first question I asked myself when I read your letter was, “Why is this guy trying so hard to handle this on his own?” There is no need to suffer like this. There are effective medications and talk therapy approaches that can help you master your thoughts and live more comfortably.

I strongly urge you to seek out a mental health counselor for an evaluation and advice. It’s likely that a few months of therapy and perhaps some medication for the anxiety will bring this under control.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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