Catherine (as Cathy was known at the time) was a single woman who liked to party, liked to drink and go out with her friends, liked to take men home occasionally, and, yes, she was a little too reckless in that regard. She meets a man that seems like someone wonderful, someone that makes all her friends envious. He is attentive and caring and involved. And then he is too attentive, too "caring", too involved. Things turn very, very bad. And no one believes her.
Four years later, Cathy lives in another city. Her friends wouldn't recognize her. She doesn't recognize herself. She doesn't go out. She doesn't drink. She barely is able to manage a job. She lives in a small, small box of a life that is filled with "checking". She checks the doors, the windows, the drawers in the kitchen. She checks behind her and before her and around her. She does it over and over and over to the point of exhaustion. She's late to work often because she is checking. Her rituals are her only means of staving off panic attacks. She doesn't feel safe. She hates and fears the color red. She is terrified all the time.
Elizabeth Haynes does a very good job, in my opinion, of communicating to the reader the prison of a life individuals with OCD experience. I listened to this book on audio, and I was almost breathless at times as the narrative took us over and over through Cathy's rituals. It was frightening. My heart went out to her, as I kept telling myself, this is fiction, this is fiction.
I am, by nature, a tidy sort of person. Always have been. I think it's what led me to major in accounting in college - numbers and columns that balance. I also love the library with the books and other items organized in neat rows. I don't like what I consider mess and become somewhat anxious in chaotic situations or places. There have been times in my life when I have been overwhelmed by circumstances or issues to the point of true clinical anxiety. I have once experienced a panic attack (it was terrible). I have not ever been in the sort of situation that the protagonist in this book finds herself. But...I can see how it wouldn't take much to get me there anxiety-wise. And that was eye-opening. Wow.
So, I found this book riveting. The language is a little strong and some of the scenes are a little violent. However, I think when you are listening to a book, rather than reading with your eyes, those things are more noticeable. At least they are to me. I'm looking forward to reading more books by Elizabeth Haynes. She's on my list for 2015. And I will never take for granted again the fact that my little quirks and small anxieties could be so, so much worse.